Sunday, 27 February 2011

ACEOs - Teeny, Tiny Art!

A while back when I first started blogging and finding other arty blogs I kept coming across the acronym ACEO which seemed to be really popular amonst other artists and discovered that it means Art Cards, Editions & Originals. 

These are basically artist trading cards and they only have 1 main rule which is that they must measure 3.5 inches x 2.5 inches.  They were originally so that artists could trade these amongst each other but then they quickly realised that the public couldn't join in as they had nothing to trade and so artists started to sell ACEOs to the public at really low prices. This means that people can buy either printed editions or original artwork for as little as maybe £3-£5 per painting. 

Anyway, I decided that I would do a series of ACEOs based on my holiday photos of Skye. I did two today.  The advantage of painting on such a small area is that it doesn't take as long; the disadvantage is that everything has to be really tiny to fit on the small area!

I'm not entirely sure if I am happy with these but, as they are my first attempt at ACEOs, I'm not going to beat myself up about them.  I still wanted to use the pointy style but it does require a really fine paintbrush and because the details are so much smaller it does require patience and a steady hand.  It is quite hard not to end up with muddy colours, which I think is what happened to the first one of Staffin Bay.  The other problem I have with painting landscapes is that without a manmade object to give it detail, I suspect my fields, mountains and sea just turn into big blobs of nothing very distinct!  I did incorporate a fence post into this (which did actually exist in the photo I took) to try to give it some kind of focus but I'm not convinced it works.  In fact, I fear it may even look a little rude!

This is just slightly bigger than the actual lifesize painting
The next one I tried was one of the telephone box out in the middle of nowhere.  I decided to use more ink in this one with just a sort of wash of watercolour over it.  I did like it, until I got impatient and tried to paint sky inbetween the red of the phone box before the red had dried and ended up with a sort of pink sky!!

*Note to self - yes, watching paint dry is boring, but it's better than a rubbish painting because you're too impatient.

Anyway, tiny paintings may be the way forward and I will work on some more of Skye and see if I can improve upon these next time.


  1. Love the telephone box ... can sort of see what you mean about the 'rude' bit in the first one, but it's still really great.

  2. Ah, so THAT's how you really celebrated your birthday up there...was that fence post a slip du Freud? ;)

    The telephone box one is lovely! Feels so grey, but probably how it really was (I love the blues in the rude one)

  3. hahahahaha, I'm still laughing at your rude fence post. Nevertheless, I really like this painting and the one of the telephone booth.

    Soooooo jealous of your trip to Skye. It looks amazing. I've put it on my list.

    BTW, I'm going to try and see the sketchbook project before it goes on tour. What is the name you submitted your book under and what was your theme? I'd love to try and look it up.

  4. Ha ha! Yes, that fence post is strangely phallic, isn't it?

    I like both of these- even the bits of pink sky in the telephone box windows. I particularly like those because that's the sort of silly mistake I am likely to make, too. It doesn't detract from the artwork, however!

  5. I always admire people who can do ACEOs and miniatures. It is not only about making things small, but also creating a composition that is small and not constrained. I love watching paint dry, and it is actually imperative to do that when working with glazes like I generally do. It sounds that it is important with miniatures as well. These are very nice, Nicola! How many are you planning to do?

  6. I would love to see a YouTube clip of you doing this...I cannot IMAGINE how you can paint on such a small-sized card! Love both of your paintings, especially the second one. It seems a little sexy and romantic to me, for some reason. :)

    Keep up the good work. When I have a little more time, I'll come back for inspiration and get myself going again.

  7. That phone booth is so charming. Lovely first go at ACEOs!

  8. Thanks Auds - I'll give you a wee ring soon as it's been ages!

    Drama Mama - I couldn't possibly say! ;0) Yes, it was grey most of the time. I'm not sure why I used so much blue in the first one as that photo was also really grey - artistic licence, I guess!

    Carol - you absolutely have to go to Skye some time - or any of the Scottish Isles. I haven't been to the others yet but looking at photos they all seem equally beautiful. If you do get over to Scotland make sure you pop over to Ireland on the way and stop for a visit!

    Aitch - it is so good to hear another artist say they also make these sorts of mistakes! It is a learning process I suppose but everyone else's work always seems so perfect and polished (or maybe they just don't post the near-misses!!)

    Alex, I really need to learn more about how to properly apply watercolour - I still don't really know how to do glazes or anything like that. I think that's why I like the pointy-ness as it is quicker and suits my impatience (although the same is so not true of the pointy ink portraits!) I'm not sure how many I'll do - I have a few more favourite photos so I'll probably try to do those as ACEOs as well.

    Lulu - it wouldn't make for a very interesting you tube clip - mostly me chasing the card as it keeps sliding around our new glass topped kitchen table!! I need to find a non-slip drawing board to put it on!! Otherwise its just a tiny paintbrush and a bit of squinting!

    S.E - Thank you. hopefully I'll improve with practice.

  9. before photography became my life....i used to do mixed media art and for a bit, a small group of us made and traded the artist trading cards. i haven't made any for years and if you'd like to have some, let me know. i still have few of my originals and some from trading that you would probably love.....
    also, in may, i'm going to be doing a give-away on my blog for a new mixed media art book that just came out. the author is mary beth shaw if you want to look her up....we have been friends for years and i can't wait to see her book let alone give one away.....squeal !


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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