Fear of the Big Page

I’m not sure if it’s just me but I hate the idea of wasting materials.  My most expensive sketchbooks are waiting until I’m “good enough” to fill them, I dip my paintbrush into tiny amounts of precious Daniel Smith watercolours, and I cannot make myself use an entire sheet of A4 watercolor paper at once.  Maybe this is the curse of the beginner?  I’m hoping to one day get over this hurdle and recklessly fill an A4 (or larger!) paper one day to create an actual finished piece.

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For now I have been doing very small practice paintings on sheet folded into 4, so A6 size.  They are quick and so fun to do.  I get to try different techniques and see what works and just play with colour without fear.

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My ultimate goal at the end of this year is to have produce at least 1 finished work that I could hang on the wall.  I am in love with sketching and little practice paintings but I can’t say they are “finished”.  Maybe this is a reflection of my own personality that I find this so difficult to do?  Fear of commitment?

Any of you out there find it hard to work big?  Or to create what you would call a “finished” piece?  How do you approach a project like that?

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16 thoughts on “Fear of the Big Page

  1. I hear you about wasting supplies! I am so cautious even frugal….that I probably end up hampering my creativity more than unleashing it. And I have too had difficulty knowing when to put the brush down…..I think that happens to a lot of people. I love that tree you have on here….I think that is worthy of a frame!

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  2. I’m always afraid when I sit down to paint; it doesn’t matter what materials I’m using or what size paper. I find working small makes me more inhibited and detailed. But I actually haven’t tried any large painting in awhile. I’ve only just started painting again after many years away.
    But these are beautiful. Just because it’s loose doesn’t mean it’s unfinished.

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  3. I am very afraid of working on larger sheets. I bought two larger sketchbooks recently. I fear wasting paper but I am also pretty sure I don’t have the skill to make meaningful marks at that scale, since I can barely handle “tiny.”. But I want to give it a try too.

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  4. Yeah, I’m this way with a lot of things! I buy cheap, plain writing notebooks so I don’t feel like everything I write in it needs to be a masterpiece – & the same with drawing. I’ve mostly been getting cheaper sketchbooks because I don’t feel like I’m good enough yet!

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  5. Mel, oh my gosh – I can relate. We have that in common. But I am thinking of framing my grapefruit – I signed it yesterday and thought I ruined it by signing it! Imagine that! Let us not be afraid and just go for it. Small, big, framed or not.

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  6. PS I like these little works. You can frame miniatures too – they make charming gifts and can go in mini frames with backs that stand up and sit on a shelf. Get one printed on a mug – cheaper than paying for professional framing !

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  7. Isn’t it funny how even the littlest things make us feel like we’ve ruined something? I was watching a video of Charles Reid and he did a bit of totally random splatter just so he wouldn’t get too attached to a particular look of the painting. He “spoilt” it but it was still great as it was.

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  8. I think this is totally okay! I often stock up on cheap sketchbooks with lots of pages so I don’t feel like anything is too precious. I think when you move to watercolour things change a bit because paper makes such a big difference. I’ve just bought some full sized sheets (A1) to fold into little accordion sketchbooks, which makes it feel like a great deal and more manageable.

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  9. For a while when I was just starting out on drawing I used cheap copy paper. I never felt like it was too precious to use and I could just recycle the bad ones (lots and lots of them). But once you start using a sketchbook you realise that it’s quite nice to have that record of your journey and I enjoy flipping back through my earlier work (and cringing!)

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  10. I know what you mean, sometimes being frugal means that you just aren’t getting enough out of your art. Watercolours particularly seems to reflect this as cheap student grade paint or paper never performs well and can just be so darn frustrating. Sometimes we just have to dive into the deep if we know it’s something that means a lot to us. And thank you so much for your kind comments! 🙂

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  11. This is such a great attitude and I find the same whenever I sit down to sketch or start a painting. I seem to spend more time fretting about starting than painting but once I get going I feel so “in the zone”. I’ll have to trust this will work with bigger paper for me too.

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  12. Those little works of yours are great! You could use them in a collage, in a triptych, etc. This feeling of being stingy is universal and wide-spread I think. I will say that once I gave myself permission to honor my art by using good quality supplies, and *gasp* favorite fabric scraps I had hoarded and began to actually use these precious things in my making, my artwork responded and gave back to me, validated me, and was thereby more appreciated by the people who acquired it. And besides, it is so much fun to splurge on another pen or moleskine journal or tube of paint because you joyfully used up the other one!

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  13. I’m with you on that. When I flip back on my old drawing, I also notice what I could have done better, but each drawing brings me right back to what I was doing at the time. Even what I was thinking and who was around. Thanks for the comment.

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