Contest Drawing – Tiny Art

A co-worker told me recently about an interesting art show coming up; it’s called the 2nd Annual 5x5x5 Show Miniature Works at the River Oaks Square Arts Center in Alexandria, Louisiana. This guy makes custom fishing lures, and entered some in last year’s show. Even though I’ve never in my life entered anything into an art show, I suddenly had this wild idea to go for it. I’ve still got this itch to draw, so why not give it a shot?

More information on the River Oaks 5x5x5 Show, check out the Call for Entry:

River Oaks is inviting all visual artists to participate in the Annual Miniature Exhibition 2017 ~ The 5x5x5 Art Show. This signature, seasonally planned display allows patrons to purchase unique, original works of art for holiday gift giving or as additions to their expanding collections.

  • Image size should be no larger than 5×5 or 25 square inches.
  • Original works only
  • Open to all media
  • When matting the mat should be no more then 2” on top and sides and 3” on the bottom. Mat must be off-white or white in color.
  • There is no color or material restrictions for framing. Framing should suite the piece and be ready to hang.

As with my last drawing, I decided to go with my little ones as subjects. The challenge here was, of course, the size. Once I started, I realized 5 inches by 5 inches is really small, and made it hard to add detail. And without detail on distinguishing features, it really takes away from drawings that are going for realism. First, the outline/starting point:


And, ultimately here is what I ended up with. It’s decent I suppose, but I’m honestly not sure that this is “art show” quality. I think it does look like my girls for the most part, but it just wasn’t big enough to get into finer shading and light lines.


Based on the statistics provided by WordPress, I know it’s not a huge amount of people who see each of my posts. I’ll probably get a surge of a few dozen views, then a long term small trickle. Because of that, posting surveys most likely has limited effectiveness. Regardless, I think I’ll throw a survey in here, to see if readers think I should go ahead with entering this one. I’ll probably do it anyway, because why not; but let’s see what random people from the Internet say!


  • Ah, now I see the art that was shown in the competition. Nice! You are clearly able to capture peoples expressions well.

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  • I think drawing figures on a small scale is really, really challenging – I have tried doing them on ATC’s (Artist Trading Cards – 4″x2 1/2″ – Basically tiny works of art that are traded in various ways between artists, or sometimes sold – called ACEO’S) But, to me they are not the best subject for that! If you are needing to achieve a likeness, I think the best way to go is to go big, not small, because it’s so much easier to be accurate about the features…if you go small, every dot and line is important and significant in suggesting the reality of that person. But that’s just my 10 cents!

    • Ahhhhh, so THAT’s what ATC stands for! Very interesting, I had no idea that even existed. I think I’ve got a lot to learn about the art world, thank you for that insight.

      I certainly agree with you though – I prefer larger workspace

      • Don’t feel bad, I only discovered their existence earlier this year when an online art forum I belong to decided to do an atc exchange. I had no idea about them before then, google the subject, there are whole huge websites devoted to the trading of ATC’s! 🙂

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  • You’re good. Go with the first sketch. Keep it loose. Gestural. While there’s a lot of things I like about the second one… the expression you’ve captured on the little’s ones face, I really dig the simple contours of the first one just as well. Good Luck!

    • Much appreciated! That’s good advice, keeping it loose. I was definitely struggling to do just that with the small size.

    • What Jake says – that’s exactly what I was thinking, too. You have a sensitive touch with the figures, and even though it’s contour only, the lines speak clearly. (if you do go with the first “rough draft” you might consider varying the line weights for interest. I’ve entered small works shows and they’re fun. Good luck.

      • Thanks for that – I’d like try a few drawings where I don’t bother with the detail, and just flow with some basic contours. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some of the other tiny art in this show!

      • I happened upon an interesting article on the illustrations of Arthur Rackham. When I looked at his B&W sketches I immediately thought of you. You may enjoy looking at it and maybe you’ll observe something from the great artist.

      • Wow those are great, I had never seen them before. That’s kind of you to say there’s any similarity between those and my sketches, but I’m definitely nowhere near that guy’s level. You are sure right about him being a great artist, thanks for linking that. I really like them, especially that one with the Cheshire Cat in the tree. Very cool.

  • What an interesting idea for an art show!! I love drawing and painting ATCs… much smaller than 5×5 (x5). I think drawing BIG is important for learning… but drawing small definitely teaches you things, too… what lines are REALLY important, that art can be created fairly quickly, etc. definitely go for it… maybe cut several 3 inch pieces or paper and just go for it next week. Choose the one you love the best!

    • You speak the truth on that for sure; this has been a crash course in which lines would accurately represent a person. Like, which precise mark will make my little ones actually look like themselves?

      Thanks for the encouragement! By the way, this might be a dumb question, but what does ATC stand for? (ex. “painting ATCs”)

      • “Artist Trading Cards”… I belong to a group of women (and men, but really… it’s just women) who are very creative and love to make, trade, or just give these tiny pieces of art. The only rule really is that is HAS to be 2 1/2×3 1/2 inches. And can’t be sold (then it is an ACEO, Art Card Original and Edition) but can be traded or used almost like a business card. It can be drawn, painted, collaged, doodled, whatever. 🙂 It makes painting on a 4×5 page feel luxuriously large haha!

      • Wow, that is really cool. So, where do you trade them? Just whenever you meet other artists at exhibits, or are there trade shows or something for different disciplines?

        I think I mentioned in another comment, but I seriously had no idea such a unique thing existed in the art world. It’s fascinating!

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