top of page

Working up to larger works

This week has passed with a few exciting developments that I wanted to share with you.

I have been working on small works while this COVID-19 thing has been going on for the last 9? weeks. (Since before Easter anyway). I haven’t really had the head space or time to work on larger paintings. Instead, I have been putting my available time into making smaller works with the intention of developing these into larger works. These have been small sketches and small paintings that measure no larger that 25 x 25 cm. They are quick to do, thought provoking and experimental.

When I work on a larger piece, I find I need lots of mental space to plan and think and create. Stand back and contemplate. Try shapes, marks and palettes. Compare the larger shapes, lines, feel to the smaller sketches and painting trials. I do layer over layer over layer until the colours feel right and deep. I don't always get it to work, but sometimes magic happens.

However, like a lot of people, I’ve been a bit busy at home in between small paintings and sketches, helping my kids with their learning from home, and feeding them every ten minutes and cleaning and tidying and taking out what seems to be excessive, additional amounts of rubbish! (has anyone else noticed this?) I literally haven't been able to make larger paintings.

After a comment from my son, that I seem to be working on too many small paintings or on the computer a lot and not actually painting any big paintings, I realised he was right. I decided that the canvases leaning up against my wall really needed to be started. Together he and I started two 1m x 1m canvases in parallel that very afternoon. It was fun. We made some sketch marks with charcoal on the canvas. Painted in some under layers and off we went.

I often let my kids paint under layers to my paintings. I’ve have done this for years. They seem fascinated by the process of painting and love it when they can be part of it. It lets them feel involved in the process and actually helps gets me started too. We painted together into the night making large areas of colour, lovely marks and more charcoal lines. He was really serious about it. He even asked me to credit him with helping paint the work when it was done, which of course I will do.

However, I did get a bit carried away with the flow of it all after he went to bed, and I added more layers and marks and ironed out the shapes a bit. What he helped with wasn't wasted though, as the two larger paintings now have lovely deep blues and greens to the lower left and right. They are now two new landscape paintings. They look pretty good already - well I think they are coming along nicely! Still need a few tweaks. But he has pushed me along to do this. And I am really grateful for that nudge. I will ask him to help name them – because he is actually really good at that part too – for a nine year old, he has rather a poetic soul - but don't let him hear me say that!

Here are a few action shots of work in progress. The bottom right is a detail shot of the larger work and currently where we are at.

Lots of progress with marks and colour and movement. Tell me how these make you feel - I'd love to know.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this blog or my artwork, please pass this on to them.

Until next time, stay safe and well.

Narelle xx

This blog is by Narelle Callen, of The Callen Collective. You can find more artwork at

If you are an artlover, artist or just love to see the process behind how the artwork is made, subscribe for news like this, the occasional offer, and be the first to see my latest artwork.

36 views0 comments


bottom of page