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                Big is Huge

                        How to make a huge statement with big art.

A big painting leaps on anyone who walks in the room. You don't stand a chance. You can pretend not to notice it, but you did, and you are. Even if you don't like it what it has to say, you're going to hear it. Buying a big painting for your living room is sort of like inviting Donald Trump to a dinner party; he's either going to make the whole thing work or you're going to be trying to feed him enough drinks that he'll fall over and shut the hell up.

A big painting can be so powerful that we need to be careful with it. It can easily turn into a dictator. Everything in the room will be instantly changed the minute it hits the wall. Some things that used to play a prominent role will be subdued, while others may find themselves finally getting noticed. Everything in the room will be perceived in relation to the painting. 

Whether you're trying out a new big painting or working with one you already own, it may help to experiment with various ways of either softening or empowering it. You can often take the edge off an artwork that's a little too loud by giving it some friends to hang out with. Perhaps a vase or a small plant; something to moderate some of it's attention grabbing tendancies. Lighting also makes a huge difference. A soft light, perhaps one with a lower wattage and/or lumens value, will sink the painting into the background. A whiter light tends to make colours leap out, while a warmer one tends to tone things down (coming soon, a very illuminating newsletter on how to light your art).


On the other hand, maybe you want all that painting's got and then some. Give it space on the wall, a place alone to show off; then hit it directly with a halogen or LED flood, perhaps a 50 or 75 watt with higher lumens. To experiment, pull the shade off a lamp and put in a LED or halogen flood, then point it at the art. Move in and out, side to side; watch how colours shift, how the painting's impact in the room is enhanced or subdued. If you find a new way of lighting the piece, you may end up needing to install a new fixture, but it's often very much worth the effort. Lighting is one of the most influential factors in controlling how your art appears in a room.

You can also bring out particular colours in the piece by adding more of those colours around the room in accents, using pillows, flowers and fabrics.

I'd now like to question, and hopefully explode, a commonly held belief: big paintings only work in big rooms. To me, this is simply not true. It's all a question of how much of an impact you want to create and how you balance the elements. A big painting can really bring a smaller room to life, giving it some punch and personality. Sometimes ideas we learned growing up end up causing us to see things in very limited ways, thereby dulling our creativity and hence, our evolution. I've experienced this many times in my studio. An unconscious, long-held way of perceiving will all of a sudden break free, and I'll see the painting in a whole new way. This often leads to an exciting shift of direction I never would have taken if not freed from my old paradigm. Moments like those are much of the reason I love art so much, a day in my studio becomes a wild adventure from which I return transformed. Of course this kind of "AHA!" can be enjoyed by anyone anywhere; it's sitting there in the shadows, waiting to pounce — but it's polite, it needs someone willing to be pounced on. That's you, be pounced!

Another way to look at your room is by sensing the intensity of particular areas. Where do you want the power to be? Where is someone being drawn as they enter the room? Is six or eight feet of oil-on-canvas colour, hitting you like a tsunami, what you're after? Is that what you'd first like to experience? What in the room is jumping out? And what's sinking back? A lot of rooms are fairly flat in this way, but they don't have to be. Dark colours recede, bright colours come out. Create depth where you want it. Artists do this all the time, and you, my friend, are an artist, creating a very large, very significant piece of art. This is work of art you actually get to live in.

Speaking of wall colors, they play a huge part in the look and feeling of any painting. How would that amazing artwork change if given a darker wall to dance with? A dark wall will dramatically alter and enhance the intensity and depth of the room and the painting. Once again, many of us have grown up thinking that all the walls have to be more or less the same or similar colours. It's another old program worth investigating. After all, creativity is about creating new things, not just doing yet another version of our same old tried-and-trues.

A large work of art has the power to be the focal point for not only an entire room, but possibly your entire home. Imagine the potential! You can completely change the way everything else in the room looks and feels by the addition of a powerful piece. And it really gives you a chance to express yourself, a statement of epic proportions.

One of my goals is to do a painting that's so big the whole world will see it from their kitchen windows. I won't tell you anything more about it, except that the minute people see it they're going to run out into the street and start kissing each other.


In future issues of The Painted Lamb, we'll address other important issues, such as how to light your art and art framing. You think your art looks good now? Wait, my friend, just wait...

Jay Roma Lamb

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Solace in Cobalt. 48 by 48 inches Glass frame

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