How do you decide what size surface to paint on?

The idea of trying to ship a large painting scares the heck out of me so I usually stick to 8 x 10 inches or smaller. The choices that I make on sizes seem to relate more to practical considerations than to the art itself. I would like to have more flexibility on the choice but I do frame a few myself and I know how expensive it can be. I can buy Plein Aire frames in standard sizes from Jerry’s Artarama inexpensively. Odd sizes need a custom frame and I would have to take out a mortgage. I have to think someone contemplating buying one of my paintings would be factoring that cost in. So I tend to stick to 5 x 7, 6 x 6, 6 x 8, 8 x 10. How do you decide?

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I have the same feelings Gary. Shipping costs from UK govern my choices. I have recently shipped 2 canvases 12 x 12 inches along with two on board. The weight of the package meant I had a charge of $35 unframed. Larger canvas would require additional packaging too. Practicality versus art. The upside of this is smaller paintings are often attractive to buyers as they need less wall space and might be more affordable for collectors. Anne.

I met an artist who paints very large. She lives in Wisconsin and had a solo show in Truckee, CA. I asked her how she went about shipping them all. She said that all her canvases are custom stretched and once she finished and they were completely dry, she took them off the stretcher bars and rolled them all into one big, sturdy tube for shipping. Cost was under $200 insured for over a dozen pieces. The gallery then re-stretched and framed them. She obviously had a close relationship with the gallery.


I have had some in the 10’ range and rolled as well, shipped for $200-250 I think. Where I do get into trouble are the over sized, non roll-able pieces. Sometimes I have to cancel a sale bcuz the shipping will be more than the art itself!

But I guess my reply should really be in the shipping category:


I paint on canvas from a roll. When I am finished I can then crop it or leave as is. Then I glue this to a gessoed masonite panel using PVA glue. If the painting does not work out I don’t feel so bad about throwing it away.


I use a similar approach. I paint on rolled canvas cut to standard sizes. If the painting is successful, I stretch it using pre-cut stretcher bars. But you could also glue them to panels if you prefer.

I didn’t think a piece could be stretched after painting if it wasn’t stretched while painting. Know what I mean? Doesn’t it distort the piece? I guess Carlene’s are glued and not stretched but stretched after painting?