Hello everyone. It's the beginning of September and time for me to introduce our new Feature artist this month. Mary Jansen. She is an amazing award winning artist in the world of watercolour miniatures. For those of you that are unfamilair with miniatures. These are painting less than 4 by 6.5 inches!!! Many of Mary's paintings are much smaller than this (some even as small as 2.5 by 3 inches) but are painted with such detail and precision!
So please give a warm welcome to Mary and her miniature paintings.
Isn’t there always a sense of loss when one finishes a painting? I think for many of us that is true.
Painting is a partnership between the revelations of the soul along with the disciplines of application. One cannot function properly without the other. Over the years one tends to develop that symbiotic relationship and create a style. For me I have devoted much of my creative energy to the world of miniatures. Here I feel safe and secure in the world of the small.
I’m not sure why I love to paint small. I suspect it has something to do with my childhood. When I was young my mother taught me to take notice of the world close up. She would give me a loop of string and instruct me to cast it over a random piece of earth and then sit quietly and observe the contents of that periphery. Never was this exercise a disappointment for there is a fascinating world “in small” that is often overlooked. Elegant little flowers, fascinating insects and interesting grasses and fungi reveal themselves to those who have the patience to observe. In the same sense I find that painting miniatures provides for me similar stimulation as I strive to add detail that might otherwise be overlooked.
Miniatures are a growing art genre in the United States. Miniature portraits were popular among the European aristocrats back as early as the 17th century and were often the only visual reference one had in the initial process of selecting a politically powerful spouse from a distant country, (ah politics!). Those portraits were often painted on ivory or vellum with oils or casein. Since then miniature art has expanded to include all topics of interest as well as a broadening variety of mediums. The basic regulation that most contests abide by is the requirement that the subject matter be no larger than 1/6 its original size. This gets tricky if one enjoys painting insects!
"Red Eyed Flights"
I find that painting with watercolors on a hot pressed Crescent Watercolor Board provides the best mediums from which to work. The board is smooth but not so slick as to offer staying power for the several washes of paint applied. I am continually on the lookout for different types of substrate for detail is crucial in miniature competitions. The brushes are ridiculously small! I have several that I use but my old friend is a 20/0 round that I find most reliable. With this kind of work I of course need the assistance of a magnifying glass, (and unfortunately, reading glasses as well!) I don’t want to skimp on the detail work.
But detail, though important, is not everything in the miniature world. Judges look for exquisite lighting, character of subject matter and composition to name a few. It takes just as long if not longer to compose a miniature painting as it does a larger one for the same considerations apply in the tiny format.
It’s a thrill to attend any of the miniature shows throughout the country. There are so many that it is not possible to compete in all of them. Two of the larger international shows occur in the winter and most miniaturists attempt to participate in those. One is the MASF show in Dunedin, FL. The other is the MPSG exhibit in Washington D.C. I have won top awards in both as well as in several other shows throughout the country. Please stop by my blog some time and take a look: marymjansen.blogspot.com
"Afternoon at the Fair"