I happened to have seen an interview with James Rosenquist on the Ovation channel’s Artland series. He is a refreshing man who speaks about his early days as a commercial sign painter, which is where he learned the skills needed for his large scale paintings today. He made it clear he wasn’t one of those “wall dogs”, a name given to artists who were given the job of painting the walls before the design was applied. He describes how he had to repeat the image of a beautiful woman until he was able to do it in his sleep. He has an enormous studio in Florida where he creates large paintings taken from the collages he creates. He feels the size of his work is what gives it power. Yes, size matters here. It’s at the core of what makes his work stand out. When asked if he had problems transforming small ideas into larger work, he laughed and said, “Never.” He claims his painting translates well to size because he can handle the paint.
I loved hearing this since I’ve been saying forever, the larger my work gets, the more noise it makes. You can’t walk past a large canvas without glancing at it. While I don’t have a large factory-sized space to work in, I’m becoming more adventurous in how I work. I no longer think small and that’s the difference in the conception of new work. There’s a sense of ambition and scope in larger paintings which presents a greater challenge. You have to be a good painter to pull it off. Flaws are easily noticed when skills are not at their best. However, there’s also a kind of freedom that comes with using large brushes. It’s a more physical experience, and for me, that's what energizes the work.
I'm becoming more inventive these days as my canvases grow larger. By thinking large my collages are getting more ambitious. This gives the paintings a new kind of excitment. I'm experimenting again and this has me in my studio pushing myself again. I think we should never allow ourselves to become lazy or complacent and by working out of my comfort zone I'm able to grow as an artist.