New Challenge!

Miniature paintings!

This challenge was inspired by Elizabeth Amanda Elgin's lovely miniatures! Check out her photos if you haven't seen them: Elizabeth's photos

If anyone else has some examples that they have done, please post them in the comments as well!

So this is an easy challenge to describe!

Paint any subject you like, it just needs to be 7" or less on any side. Hmmm. That would be about 18 cm or less I think...

Canvas, panel, paper, whatever you like!

More "points" for painting the smallest!

(we aren't competing so there aren't really any points)

Let's work on this through August. Post your work whenever you are done - add the word "Challenge" in the title so I can put it in our album.

Be sure and list the size, medium and surface in the description!

This will be fun! And I think you will be surprised, the paintings may be miniature, but the challenge isn't!

Are you in?

Here's a couple of 6" x 6" from a while back - I think I'm going to try even smaller this time! I have some 3" canvases lying around :)

Also - Click here to watch The video series on how to paint the 6" x 6" geraniums painting you see below. 

As you can see - you can either go the route of painting a large scene very small - or closing in on a small area , painting it only 1/2 or 1/3 its real size -

P.S. For those of you working on selling your paintings, these sell really well! And you can price them reasonably because they are so small...

Let's work on this one through August.

When you are finished with your painting or paintings - upload them as a photo (click here to go to the upload page) and I will add them to the album. If I miss yours, please let me know!!

Be sure to put "Challenge" somewhere in the title of the photo so I know you want me to add it!

Click here to go to the Challenge album to see what we have so far!

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Hi, I got this idea of miniatures a couple of weeks ago and planned to put them on my own wall.  I had 3  frames I wanted to use and the size of the paintings is 10 cm x 15 cm.    I painted them on aquarelle paper with my acrylics.  I really enjoyed painting them!  Hope you will like them too


Beautiful Berit! That's about 4" x 6". Love them!

I love this idea! I have a ton of small canvas boards and 6x6 canvases.

May I submit more than one?

Does 6x8 qualify?

Yes, the more the merrier! They need to be no more than 6" on a side, so the 6x8 is too big :)

Thanks Karen -

I have 5x7 and 6x6 canvases.  Looking forward to working on this one.

I will be going on a Plein Air oil trip next week and would like to take my acrylics with me and take a shot at the miniature En Plein Air.  Other than a the studio methods to keep the acrylics wet, do you have any suggestions?  I bought some Golden Open.  A friend said she uses them outdoors.


Hi Lori!  I bought some Open paints for a plein air session with Michael Chesley Johnson a few years back.  I did not really care for them, but that is a personal thing.  If you use a "wet" palette and have a fine mister, the regular acrylics stay workable long enough for plein air.  The secret is to only put out colours as you need them rather than filling the palette from the start.  If you will not need your yellows until later in the process, leave them in the tube!  Using a monochrome underpainting for values and shapes limits the colours you need up front.  If an area starts getting the least bit tacky, move on to another area.  This applies to Open colours as well.  After the area dries a bit more you can go back for another layer.

Seal your canvas/panels with GAC100 before you leave!  This will make the surface much less absorbent and the paint will dry a bit slower as a result.  I found a final prep coat of GAC100/gesso in equal proportions works well; the gesso gives some tooth, but the GAC keeps it from absorbing too much water from the paint layer.  Spritz the painting surface with water before starting to paint.  This will also reduce the absorption of water from the paint film, plus extend the wet time a bit.

When you go on a plein air session, it helps to have all of the prep work done and is a big asset to have a some practice so you know what is involved and have a feel for how you will deal with the process.  I wish I had spent more time in this regard prior to my plein air trip!  Above all, have fun!!

I have tge GAC100 that I have used to seal masonite before gessoing for acrylic paintings in the studio.  I also use a staa-wet palette and mister so I'm covered there.

It's supposed to be exceptionally hot here in Illinois over the next week and oils can get too mushy to work with mid afternoon.  I have Atelier, Holbein and Utrecht that I use for studio painting.  I'll bring a limited palette of those too -  just in case I find the Golden Open difficult.

Thanks for the tips.  

Plein air is VERY different than studio painting.  I've only be going outside for about 15 months. It took me a while to get used to switching gears.  

It's a constant learning/growth process.  Here are some tips:

1. Develop a quick set up.  (I use a pochade box and tripod)

2. Start with small panels - 8x10 is good

3. Look for a subject that has good value ranges. 

4. Get sketch and tonal washes down on the canvas fast.

5. Limit your time to 2 hours start to finish.  1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours for the actual painting. This pushes you to avoid details too early on and avoid to many light changes.

6. Go out with other, more experienced Plein Air painters.  We all learn from each other.


Keep your brushes clean.

Hi Lori,

Great advice from Charles as always!

I, too don't like the open acrylics. It depends on the techniques you have developed. If you are using a lot of laying as I do, you probably won't like them. They stay wet longer, so you can't easily paint over and change what you have done as they will mix with the wet paint below to create mud. You have to use more oil painting techniques - scraping away areas you want to change, painting your shapes up to each other, instead of one over the top of another. That kind of thing. You won't be able to use the foliage techniques I use with the small round bristle brush as the strokes don't stand on top, they blend together. Anyway, as Charles mentioned - a matter of personal preference and what better suits your technique.

I just use my stay wet palette when I'm using my french easel - or put wet paper towel and palette paper right on the palette of my smaller guerilla box.

A small water mister bottle will be your best friend! I stop and mist very often when I am outdoors...

Be sure to set up in the shade - this is key not only to keeping your paints moist, but to seeing your color accurately.  You want both you and your palette and your canvas all in the shade.

I have an umbrella I take along in case there isn't a convenient tree.

Above all - Have fun!

Hi Karen -

Thanks for the advice.  This is a new adventure for me, painting in acrylics outside the studio.  As I told Charles, it's going to be hot next week and I appreciate your input on how to work outdoors with acrylics.

Hopefully, I will have some good painting to share!


Berit's lovely paintings at 4x6 inches qualify as true miniatures. For this challenge it probably does not matter, but I have learned that in the world of Miniatures Collectors/skill, a Miniature is less than 25 square inches for the image. How it differs from a "Small painting"  is that the subject painted should be no larger than 1/6 it's true size. For example, my squirrel painting is less than 25 sq inches, but the squirrel is larger than 1/6 lifesize, so this is a small painting,not  a miniature.    

I picked up a lighted magnifying glass at my local drugstore (didn't want to buy one of the desk mounted ones until I decide to really pursue this specialized field) and it is very helpful, but you have to train your brain a bit for when the brush hits the surface. depth perception altered a bit.   If you want to see some amazing miniatures and get ideas, visit

I just ordered a 20/0 round from as I'm working on three zebras within a 4x5 surface. cross-eyed.

Karen, love your 6x6's above - especially that creek!

Thanks for that info Elizabeth! Fascinating - 1/6th size. Wow, let's not try any ants then! Haha!

I think for our challenge we'll just stick to the 6"/15cm or less to a side. But it's really nice to know the real definition!

And thanks for the link! Lovely!

only important if you want to enter them in a miniatures show. I've learned each show then also has a frame width/outer dimension limit as well.  And they judge them from a distance - is there enough value change/design to draw your attention? And then with a magnifying glass - is there a quality of detail when magnified that it still looks like a painting you could hang above the fireplace?  Interesting and challenging. 

But for the challenge, 6 inch is very small if you've never tried to paint small!!  


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