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Rethink small paintings

Robert Dutton explains how re-evaluating your approach to using big brushes, even for small paintings, will help to move your art in new directions
Buzzard over the Moors, Royal Talens Ecolone acrylic inks and Amsterdam acrylic spray paint on 100 rag content watercolour paper 140lb (300gsm) Not, 8╳6in (20╳15cm). Using big brushes on a small scale has really worked here

Ihave to admit that the thought of working small used to fill me with dread, but over the years much has changed about my art-making process. I’ve come to re-evaluate the ‘bigger is better’ myth and, in the process, my work has shrunk in size but expanded in so many other ways.

Small scale does not necessarily mean scaling down your brushes. On the contrary, a painting created on a small scale with brush sizes 24 and 30, and 2in flats, is really liberating and quite exciting. Regardless of size, if you use large brushes to begin your paintings you’ll develop ‘big brush’ handling skills as you work. The marks you make will look bolder and more impressionistic, and give an air of confidence to the final results. You will soon discover you can make a wide variety of marks with one large brush and that it will take the place of a draw full of specialist brushes.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our April issue, packed with inspirational how-to articles by our esteemed artist contributors and tutors. Improve your watercolour painting and colour-mixing skills with Hazel Soan, Paul Talbot-Greaves, David Howell, Judi Whitton, Julie Collins and Paul Weaver, plus learn how to make and use your own reed pen for expressive drawings with consultant editor Jason Bowyer. Enjoy Adebanji Alade's advice on how to sketch your children or grandchildren, and enter our fantastic new monthly sketching competition with great prizes every month and the chance to see your work publicised! If you haven't tried acrylics before, get started with help from Jo Quigley, and then capture the effects of sparkling light in seascapes by following Jenny Aitken's demonstration. We also include insights into how cover artist Paul Regan paints his atmospheric night scenes of urban streets, how to drive sales of your paintings in the digital domain, why you should consider using big brushes for small paintings and how drawing from the cast can be so important for your portrait painting skills. And don't forget to enter our 2018 Open Art Competition with over £17,500 worth of prizes to be won, and the chance to see your work exhibited! See pages 12-13 for full details