Paint it red

How big is a digital image? Yes.  

How big is a digital image? Yes.  

I have been thinking about scale in art. Not within a picture, but of the picture itself. All of my recent paintings have been very small; each under 12" in size. Drawings or paintings which I make on my iPad really have no scale. If I view an image on my phone it is tiny, but on my TV it is huge. I could project them on a wall, or print them on a billboard. Their scale is arbitrary.

There is an old art school joke: “if you can't paint it well, paint it big. If you can't paint it big, paint it red.”

Making a big thing is always impressive no matter how terrible it is. Like the portion sizes at Denny’s, bigger is better even if it’s garbage. But if that fails, you can use the color of blood to trigger an emotional connection.

I think this is still true in gallery circles. But those circles are tiny dots when viewed from street level.

In America, the smartphone has redefined pictorial scale. Height and width is now approximately 3" by 5" inches. But depth! Depth is infinite.

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, are all infinitely deep. There's alway more that you missed, there's always more when you refresh. Always.

Artists who have successful Instagram accounts never stop producing. It's a constant stream or an infinitely deep well you can lose yourself in, one tiny square picture at a time.

When art lovers go to a museum they capture what they see and share it with their phones. The grand scale of a Pollock is reduced to an index card flowing by in the infinite stream.

Anything an artist creates now must work on this new scale or it won't be seen.

Michael Barrett

Tacoma, WA 98402