Miniature paintings can be defined in a number of ways: technique, size and the proportions of the depicted subject to the actual object portrayed. Miniature art began in the Western world with the illumination of manuscripts. These tiny paintings included portraits of angels and saints as well as scenes from daily life in the Middle Ages.
After the invention of the printing press, manuscript artists began to paint miniature portraits and other small works of art for private patrons and royalty. These works were sometimes carried in a bag or pocket by the owner in the same way that we carry photographs of loved ones today.
The miniature technique calls for a level of detail that requires close observation. A variety of painting materials and surfaces can be used. A miniature should include basic principles of composition and color variations.
The size of miniatures can vary widely. Some professional standards set miniatures at 5×7″ or less, including the frame. Other guidelines allow for much larger works of up to 11×14″. Some experts discard the idea of size altogether and look solely at the “miniaturization” factor. This means that as long as the objects depicted are smaller than actual life-size, the painting could be as large as a mural.
Miniatures are gaining in popularity for a number of reasons. The generally smaller size makes them appropriate for wall display in apartments and small office spaces. Groupings of miniatures can also be used to decorate larger interiors as an alternative to single full-sized images. In addition, miniatures are generally much more affordable than larger paintings. Those who appreciate the uniqueness of original art can enjoy miniatures without the commitment of a sizable investment.
Table top display is another way that small pieces of original art such as miniatures can be used to decorate shelves, fireplace mantles, coffee tables and so forth. Miniatures are wonderful decorative items for your home and make perfects gifts for friends, family, employees, co-workers, business clients, and new homeowners!