Miniature art features prominently at the Dunedin Fine Art Center

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DUNEDIN — This month, 800 artists from around the world will bear witness to the existence of beauty on a small scale. On Sunday, the Miniature Art Society of Florida will open its 37th annual exhibition and sale at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Visitors to the center will find a miniature world affixed to panels around the room, with magnifying glasses conveniently placed for close-up viewing.

The paintings, most no larger than 3 by 3 inches, catch the eye with their bright colors and attractive frames. They feature a seemingly endless variety of landscapes, wildlife, still lifes, shipping scenes, and floral arrangements, among other subjects.

While some miniaturists also paint on large canvases, others remain faithful to the small world. Elaine Thomas of Palm Harbor, a member of the society for more than 25 years, said she never enjoyed painting on larger canvases as she does on tiny pieces of ivory, a synthetic form of ivory commonly used.

“Paint is still paint,” Thomas said, “but would you rather live in a mansion or a cozy condo?” Artistically, she says, she much prefers living in the smallest places. This year, for the first time, Thomas is painting in oil on ivory-covered postage stamps measuring 1 by 1 1/2 inches. These are his smallest paintings to date.

Clearwater artist Kay Petryszak, vice president of the Miniature Art Society of Florida, said challenges abound for miniature painting artists and for those who put on the show.

The artist, who uses oils, pencils or watercolors to paint the delicate work while looking through a magnifying glass, requires concentration and patience.

“The miniaturist must create a complete composition in a tiny space,” Petryszak said. “Judges look at composition, lighting, mood, color and use of detail.”

A clear example of excellence in this art form is a 3 by 3 inch watercolor by Arkansas artist Lynn Ponto-Peterson called the Nutmeg Lantern, which won Best Show this year. The painting features an earth-toned pot atop a lace doily draped over a thick book. Several cobalt blue glass bottles and a single lantern stand near the jar. Light shining through the glass appears to bounce off the jar, giving the viewer the impression of looking through a window at the actual objects.

Petryszak said it takes expo organizers a full year after one show to prepare for the next. The process of receiving the artwork, unpacking, categorizing and numbering each piece, and preparing a catalog are just a few of the many tasks handled largely by volunteers.

“The hardest part of the show is making sure nothing gets lost or damaged after it arrives,” she said. “Then everything must be carefully numbered and categorized.”

Some parts fall into more than one category. Pieces from artists submitting work for the first time are placed in a separate category.

Each year, a select panel of five artists, all of whom have won awards at past miniature shows, award 60 awards in areas such as Best Show, Overall Excellence, Best First Entry and separate prizes in each category. of media. Petryszak said the prize money, totaling around $15,000, is mostly donated by local art collectors and art lovers.

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As with art on larger canvases, prices vary. The asking price for the award-winning Nutmeg lantern is $950.

“I would say the typical price range is around $250 to $1,000,” Thomas said, “but some parts are over $10,000.”

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