Self-taught miniature artisan Michael Reynolds of Miniatures Limited based in Atlanta, Georgia, started creating miniature paintings seven years ago because he saw an opening in the market and relished the simple challenge of doing it. Reynolds spent a year perfecting his miniature painting technique. My miniature painting technique is unique because I use mixed media. He selects paintings from real life art masters, particularly portraits from the 16th and 17th centuries, and recreates them in one inch miniature scale. Reynolds doesn’t limit his work to one artist, but he does try to get into the mindset of the artist whose work he is attempting to recreate.
To work on miniature paintings, Reynolds goes to a quiet space, plays music, and hones into the history of the artist in question. Stepping into the artist’s shoes is part of his creative process as well as researching through auction house catalogs. These books can offer a wealth of knowledge and, more importantly, dimensions when considering proportion and scale. This helps keep everything in the right perspective while also staying true to the original masterpiece.
Since a traditional canvas weave is too large for 1:12 scale, Reynolds utilizes unbleached muslin coated with a white base paint as the foundation for his miniature paintings. Proportion and scale is essential so Reynolds will apply a sepia copy of the artwork to the white muslin canvas. This helps keep everything in the right perspective while also staying true to the original masterpiece. Reynolds’ miniature painting technique is unique because he uses mixed media, any combination of acrylic, watercolor, and oil paints, even colored pencils.
For a one inch scale miniature portrait painting, Reynolds may use colored pencils on a face, acrylic paints on clothing and oil paints for the background. Reynolds will determine the level of control and detail he needs to achieve, and then selects his media accordingly. For me personally, miniatures express my creative life’s work. Since mixed media can produce an uneven finish, Reynolds developed his own aged sealant that when applied over a miniature painting, gives depth, realism and an antique effect. Most of Reynolds’ miniature paintings measure 1½ to 2 inches in height and can average up to two days for completion.
Reynolds attributes his miniature painting success to his whole life experience. He draws on his extensive theater background in costume design, and the many colorful artisans he has met over the years for inspiration. To Reynolds, collecting miniatures is like writing in a journal. It is a reflection of someone’s life experiences and how they express themselves. For Reynolds, miniatures express his creative life’s work and it is also a fun way of doing it.
For more information about Miniatures Limited, visit miniatureslimited.com
Art is a LIVE Section series of articles showcasing scale miniature art.