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Painting Larg(er) - intimidated!

I’ve been commissioned to paint a large (for me) seascape, around 24x30 or 24x36 (still have to figure out exact proportions). What practical advice do you have for me, because I’m suddenly very intimidated! Like, panel vs canvas - I’m thinking of Raymar lightweight panels, the piece will have to be shipped, but are they durable and stable? (I don’t love stretched canvas but I’m concerned about weight). Do I need to buy a bunch of bigger brushes? Do I need a bigger space so I can stand back farther? (My space is small - I usually carry the piece to another room to look from afar) What about easel? I know that size is not huge, but for me it’s big, so if anyone has wisdom on how you’ve had to adjust materials or technique to accommodate a larger size, please share.

Also side note: this will be a large version of a smaller one I already completed. Should I hide that one from myself to avoid trying to replicate every brushstroke? I originally used a photo for reference.

I have done a large painting from a small one several times, and find it quite liberating working bigger. One was a 36"x36", the largest one I’ve done so far, from a 6"x6". I used the small one more of a concept for composition and colors. You can’t really copy the painting, but you can use the idea of the painting, get the same feeling in it. You do need some bigger brushes; for the large parts of the sky I used a house painting brush that I had. So it depends on what you have laying around if you have to get any new ones. Painting with a too small brush is like cleaning a floor with a toothbrush. No fun.
At the time I did not have a big easel, so I put newspaper on the wall, hung the stretched canvas over that, and did the painting while it was hanging. So if that’s an option you can do this, unless you were already going to buy a new easel. For large paintings I paint on stretched canvas or cradled wood board. I like the wood board best. I have not painted on canvas panels the size you want to do. It is possible for large panels to warp if not cradled. I have not shipped anything that size, but I imagine the boards are less likely to break than a stretched canvas. You say you don’t love stretched canvas, so then why use it? Paint on something you like. And relax, have fun! :slight_smile:

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It can be helpful to hang it on the wall instead of an easel if you have a small space.

Try looking at the painting in a mirror to give yourself another point of view. Yes to large brushes, the largest you can fit on the panel comfortably.

Mix a lot of paint, too–more than you think you might need. You can always remix unused paint back into something useful. I prefer panels but I have not shipped one that large before, only delivered.

Something you might look into is gatorfoam board. Gesso it, or wrap linen/cotton over it and then gesso that. There are different thicknesses and I know some people use thicker ones for large pieces. Right now I’m working 20x30 on 5/16" gatorfoam but I wouldn’t go beyond that since it could snap.

You will grow so much by working larger! It can be hard to go back, lol. Be brave, and good luck!

Thank you for the tips! I think Raymar has linen on foam core so maybe that’s a good option. Their website says it won’t warp. I will need a couple of bigger brushes I think. Is the cradled wood heavy? Do you have a maker you like for that?

I didn’t think about mixing volumes of paint…that will be a personal challenge as I tend to be stingy with my paint anyway. Stretching my boundaries I guess! I will definitely consider foam core. May be the best option in this situation.

That’s good; I was not familiar with the Raymar, sounds like good quality. I just weighed one of my 16"x20" cradled boards: about 2.5 lbs. Not too bad. I get them from dickblick.com
And I agree with mixing volumes of paint! I tend to not put out enough paint either. You’ll figure it out!

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I myself did a commission for a large seascape. The buyer loved another like it that I sold so I was aware of her likes. I suggest most any rigid board, canvas or panel. Is it to be framed later on?
Working flat on my art table sometimes useful for larger pieces, provided you upright it to view occasionally.
Always good to have a variety of size brushes on hand. I hope you can relax and enjoy… Once it is started, the rest should fall into place. I know-beginning it is such a challenge!
It really is a pleasure as well as a compliment to get a commission art job.
~Karen

Hi, congratulations on your commission! Brilliant! My tips: buy Command canvas hangers and stick them on the wall as an easel. You can remove them afterwards. Here’s my large seascape in situ where I painted it.

Buy another 200ml tube of Titanium White. In fact - buy two :joy::joy:
Buy or borrow a very long ruler, like the one in my photo, to make sure the horizon line is dead straight. This is very important. I had the sea sliding off the earth initially.
I used palette knives a lot, as well as a couple of fatter brushes.

This is a Windsor and Newton box frame canvas. The trouble with panel at this size is it might warp? TBH I have no idea what the shipping cost would be in the US. But I have had large canvases sent by courier from the art supply store, which did not break the bank and kept the packaging, re-wrapped it when the paint was dry and shipped it out the same way. At least it arrived secure and undamaged.

Finally, check with the client they are really really sure about the size they want. I painted this for a competition entry but failed to check the small print only to discover it was six inches outside the upper size limit and thus remains hanging on my wall to this very day :roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes:

After a summer of plein air and smaller panels, I am back to the studio and translating the plein air studies into larger. (The easel currently holds a 40x54)
I find it really freeing after working so small during the summer months. Someone in the comments mentioned to mix more paint than you think you need. YES. Do that. Do not skimp on the paint layers. Big brushes - yes. And use long handled brushes - gives you more range of motion, and deters fussing/noodling over the small stuff.
As for a support, I love a stretched canvas, and I don’t find a 24x36 canvas a problematic size to ship. Have fun with your project!

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Thank you Karen, yes it will be framed but not by me. I do feel very honored that my friends have made this request. They want one just like a smaller one I did, so that will be another personal challenge, as I dislike doing things twice. But I love the scene, so maybe it will be ok.

Thank you! Lots of good advice here. I never thought about the command strips but what a great idea. And the horizon line! Thanks for the reminder.

Karen, I think I need you standing over my should coaching me. Thank you for this.

Tonya, You are welcome! I am a way better painting friend, than coach :slight_smile:

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I love the Centurian Linen panels that Jerry’s Artarama sells. Set of 3 panels 24x30 costs $70.81 (23.60 each). on sale now. And 24x36 is $79.57 on sale. They are oil primed linen on a board. I have not had any problems with them warping, are light weight and easy to ship. They are much nicer than stretched canvas and don’t get holes punched into them. They are lovely to paint on.

I paint with water mixable Cobra paint, and use the Centurian acrylic primed panels. Unfortunately the acrylic primed ones do not come in those larger sizes.

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I think the other replies are a font of great advice already, but just want to give my input with working large scale and the mention of panels. While I’m unsure about the brand, in my experience switching from small to large format painting (due to assignment constraints in college) I regret ever using panels above size 11x14".

Some of my favorite pieces are warping out of control, and will need stretched soon on a frame. Even though the company claimed the panels don’t warp, they may, and with a commission it may be worth it to get either a stretched canvas, or if you do not wish to use that then perhaps a wood panel that wouldn’t warp. Good luck with your painting, in any case!

I generally paint on 8x10 panels. However, for larger paintings I prefer gallery wrap stretched canvases. If you buy online from places like Dick Blick, the prices are very reasonable and you can reuse the shipping box to mail the finished painting.

It sometimes helps to paint a smaller version but also makes it harder to approach the subject fresh. Larger brushes are a must. Be prepared for it to take much longer, even with larger brushes. It also seems to take more layers of paint for me. It’s much easier to paint details on a larger canvas but that can be a drawback it it bogs you down.