Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Anatomy of a Miniature - Part One

by: Richard Humphrey
Dedham, MA
Dedham Guild Gallery Member since 2011

All of the Miniatures in my Online Portfolio ( and those that are
currently in the Dedham Square Artist Guild Gallery started out following these guidelines.

Beginning with a 5 x 7 inch canvas board, or in some cases, an 8 x 10, I’ll cut the board to
the dimensions of 2 ¼” x 3 ¼” giving me four pieces of canvas board to work with. About the
size of a standard Business Card. (See Photo 1)

Continuing on, the canvas boards are pre-primed with an acrylic gesso, however, in some cases, 
I’ll want to re-prime them in black, grey or an additional coat of white. I’ll apply upwards to four 
coats of primer, depending on the smoothness I want to achieve. Tools that I use for this process 
include a palette knife, a two inch bristle brush, a foam brush, and / or a sea sponge. 

Once the gesso is dried (I usually allow 12 to 24 hours between coats), it’s time to decide whether
or not to apply a colored “ground”. Materials that you paint on – canvases, wood panels, paper,
even rocks – are referred to as “supports”. “Grounds” are usually thinned color, allowed to dry,
be it acrylic or oil paint, applied to the “ground”. It creates background color for your next layer
of paint to show throw. I’ll use reds, yellows, blues and browns, depending on the subject matter.

Moving forward, I’ll select my brushes. I have a range of brushes that I use from applying large
areas of colors to “drawing” pencil thin lines. My brushes for these Miniatures include:
                   #6 Flat Bristle Brush                                                #2 Flat Bristle Brush
              #2 Fan Bristle Brush                                                #6 Round Bristle Brush
                   #4 Round Bristle Brush                                            #5 Round Soft Hair Brush
              #4 Filbert Soft Hair Brush                                        1/4 inch Angle Shader Soft Hair
                   1/8 inch Angle Shader Soft Hair                                #1 Liner Brush
              #0 Liner Brush                                                       3/0 Liner Brush

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