About Rebecca Crowell

I work on all sizes of paintings, from the smallest (6”x6” or 8”x8”) up to my largest yet, 96" on the longer side, and have given thought to issues of scale both for myself as I work, and for the viewer.

When I paint something large, I love the sense of being surrounded by the paint, of creating something ambitious and striking. I feel invigorated and less constrained by the edges of the panel, and enjoy making more sweeping gestures and the thrill of large fields of color. The challenge, though, is to create something that is strong and sure enough to justify its own scale. There needs to be something monumental about the piece, a presence that will hold up in its largeness over time and repeated viewings.

At the other end of the size range, very small paintings should be intriguing enough to withstand closeup viewing--to have presence though occupying little physical space. As a painter it's very pleasurable to give due importance to slight shifts in color or texture, or to a few lines or some interesting mark-- and to know I will communicate that to viewers, whose faces will likely be inches rather than feet away from the work. On the other hand, if small paintings are all about subtlety, with no strong aspect of color, contrast or other dynamic element, they will be lost in many viewing situations. In my own small pieces, I try to develop something that will draw a viewer in from across the room, then be captivated with nuance.

In between these extremes of scale are paintings of medium dimensions, in the range of 30” to 40” on a side. I think the challenge here is to rise above what seems an ordinary or expected kind of scale. To stand out in a world of objects of similar size--not just other works of art, but all the things in ordinary homes and buildings that vie for visual attention--windows, computer screens, furnishings. While this presents a challenge, it's also a strength--this is an accessible scale, that requires no special exhibition space, and feels comfortable to people as an object to contemplate. For the artist, issues of scale can be put aside in favor of focus on other considerations.

– Rebecca Crowell

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