Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Original Painting by Sea Dean
7" x 5" on canvas panel

To view my Gallery please visit Daily Paintworks

SFA is now a common abbreviation, so I've added the search category to my blog labels. SFA stands for SMALL FORMAT ART and refers to pretty much anything under 100 square inches. 

The SFA movement was born out of the daily painting movement, largely because it is almost impossible to paint a large painting every day, especially because most artist in the movement have a day job and a family. Many daily painters start with ordinary sized canvases but soon find they can't keep up and gradually reduce their format until they find one or two sizes that they are happy with. Below are some of the common choices in North America.

Popular SFA sizes

9" x 12" - 12" x 9" - 10" x 12" - 12" x 10" - These sizes were popular with oil and watercolour painters a few years ago before the daily painting movement took hold, but frames are harder to find these days because they serve a smaller market. This is now becoming a rare format for SFA artists.

100 square inch or 10" x 10" - daily painters rarely paint larger than this

8" x 10" or 10" x 8" - This is a large photo portrait size and so frames are readily available almost anywhere

6" x 8" or 8" x 6" - I use this in 140lb WC paper, Canvas Panel and Gallery Wrap Canvas. Some 5" x 7" or 4" x 6" frames that include mats are this size. Take your tape measure to make sure.

6" x 6" - The most popular square daily painter frame. Usually sold as a gallery wrap canvas and doesn't require framing. 

5" x 7" or 7" x 5" - This is a small photo portrait size and again frames are readily available

4" x 6" or 6" x 4" - Otherwise called POSTCARD or OSWOA size (ORIGINAL SMALL WORKS OF ART). This is the standard photo size when you have them printed in a pack, so again frames are very easily obtainable.

2.5" x 3.5" or 3.5" x 2.5" - ATC or ACEO - A popular size in Europe and the USA. This ATC (ART or ARTIST TRADING CARD) size emerged from the sport card trading market and artists started to use the size for advertising handouts in lieu of a business card. The miniature works of art started to be traded and then artists realized they could make money by selling them. That is when the name was changed to ACEO (ART CARD EDITIONS OR ORIGINALS). As the name suggests they can be originals, but are more likely to be something painted in 5" x 7" format and then made into a reduced print and sold as a limited edition.

Other sizes

5" x 5" Frames can be found in big box craft shops
4" x 4" Usually the canvas comes with a frame which is handy
3" x 4" Small watercolour and pastel pads come in this size
3" x 3" Fairly rare
2" x 1" and 1" x 1" - Teeny Tiny and usually for the novelty market with a little easel
SFA is a great way for artists to create a large portfolio in a short period of time: It is also a wonderful way for people on a limited budget to start a collection. The added bonus is that as patrons purchase the works, they are supporting the growth of the artist and upping the value of their collection, so it's a real win win situation. Many SFA artists go on to create a brand and are highly sought after in the regular art market with many sell out shows each year.

Cat # 14121 Paris in Magenta