5 Tips to Downsize a Painting You Love * Pause and Paint

5 Tips to Downsize A Painting You Love

This is the original photograph and painting (30 X 40 Oil on boxed canvas) 













I created this painting of my cousin 8 years ago. It was inspired by a pretty photograph she shared with me. Nancy and I have a special relationship. I call her “my cousin my sister”. Recently, I created a small version of this original painting for her as a gift. I love her dearly and I hope this small gift will uplift her. Even-though she is going through difficult time with her health, she finds ways to always make people smile…she inspires me.

Here are 5 tips you can use if you wish to downsize a large painting. Bonus: Refine your art.

Make Your Space Comfortable

Before you start your painting, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and light a few scented candles.  I love to create a cosy feel in my studio. This will not only helps with your inspiration but it also helps with flow and focus while painting. Make room to create in your house. It doesn’t have to be a big space… just big enough to offer a small “retreat” in your home. You can go to this special place to pray, meditate, draw and color!  Here’s a guide to designing a home art studio. 


Choose Similar Colors

If your goal is to stay as close as possible to the original that’s fine but be sure to leave room to innovate and make the painting your own. I personally stayed very close to the original painting with my colors but I knew I would change some of the texturing and transitions of the painting  because of the size of the canvas. My goal from the beginning was to make sure I would re-create the feel and flow of the painting. The colors and very small details of it’s composition were very important to me and I loved how the final painting is just as interesting to look at than the large one. Smaller art often have more impact then large canvases! Here a cool article on small art with impact.


Use Transfer Paper

This technique is simple and it’s the easiest way to create an outline on your canvas if you are not comfortable with drawing. First take a good photograph of the artwork and print the image to the desired size. Use it as a stencil to transfer your artwork. If possible, make the image black and white so that you clearly see the outline. Press hard enough so that you can see your outline through a darker paint! For my painting, I was using red for the background so I made sure to apply enough pressure to see the lines. Here’s a link to a more detailed way to use this technique.


Keep the correct Spatial composition

In order to create the desired feel and to convey the mood of the larger artwork, make sure to respect the proportions of the original piece. At one point I tried to change the placement of the woman’s shadow and it changed the entire feel of the painting! I am glad I was able to play with the paint and change it back to where it belonged.


Make It Your Own

As you paint your small canvas using a larger artwork as your inspiration, don’t feel like you must remain fully true to the colors and texture. Your small canvas should  convey emotion and mood which can be harder to achieve on a small canvas. Think outside the box and add intuitive techniques that are different then the original. This will keep the integrity of your own style.


Refine Your Painting

When you are done with your painting, take a few steps back and look at the overall feel of the painting. You can look back and forth between the small and large paintings. Your eye is your best ally when determining if anything needs to be added, altered or even removed. Yes! Paint is fixable and you control the final outcome. When I observed my small painting, the shadow of the women was not well placed. I decided to make last minute changes and it made all the difference! Take your time when you complete your small painting by refining your outlines and adding highlights. Adding little details will give your small painting  just as much impact as the large one!

Please share your thoughts and let me know if you are inspired to paint on a smaller canvas.

See Video Here:


Lord Help Me To Flourish (A Coloring Devotional)

Your DIY Guide to Designing a Home Art Studio: 

Small Paintings Can Make a Big Impact: 

How to Use Transfer Paper


Nathalie Villeneuve is a Canadian-born visual artist. Her paintings are best described as Expressionist meets Parisian chic. Villeneuve’s, strong influence of Franz Marc, a German printmaker considered a pioneer of the German Expressionist movement, creates a series of heavy lines contrasting bright colors fading into soft brush strokes on canvas. Her body of work depicts women in dance, cinema, photography and even the mundane such as sitting at a Cafe or by the beach. The scenes she creates on canvas consists of elegant, long-legged feminine figures gracefully perched and seem frozen in time during moments of peaceful reflections. Villeneuve, a Meriden resident has shown her artwork at various galleries and venues in Connecticut and Canada. She now has a growing body of collectors throughout the U.S. Northeast. Ms. Villeneuve studied at the Dicksen Art Center/UCLA under Professor Roger Herman towards receiving her Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Art. For more information: www.NathalieVilleneuve.com

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos /

    What an absolutely fantastic tip. You can use this for anything and I am going to try it for an idea I have been kicking around.

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