“A world may be no bigger than two-pence,” wrote 17th-century poet Margaret Lucas Cavendish. This is a real possibility with the miniature paintings of Lorraine Loots (pic), which are no larger than 3cm across, such that you could, if you wanted, hold her worlds in the palm of your hand.
Loots, who is from Cape Town in South Africa, is in Singapore for her first solo exhibition in Asia, which opened recently. Gallery K+ in Scotts Square will be showing more than 100 of her Paintings For Ants until the end of next month.
She has created five new paintings of iconic local sights for the Singapore exhibition, including the Raffles Hotel, People’s Park Complex and Haw Par Villa. These were painted from images sent to her by K+, which has been courting her to exhibit in Singapore for three years. She says she looks forward to visiting these places in person for the first time.
Loots, 32, has been painting miniatures for about four years. Although she took art classes in school, she did not intend to become an artist and ended up juggling a number of jobs, from production management to waitressing. Wanting to get back in touch with art, she challenged herself to paint once a day.
She started with miniatures because they were the only thing she could finish in an hour – all the time she could set aside in a day to paint. Those were the early days. Her paintings are now so complex that it takes a week to finish one, which can be as small as 5mm across.
As she uses so little paint that it would dry in the time it takes her to move the brush from palette to paper, she mixes the colours on her fingernails, which she can place right next to the artwork.
The paintings on show range from a tiny pygmy jerboa – a desert rodent – to a mini singer-songwriter David Bowie in his Aladdin Sane incarnation. They include her Microcosm series of astronomical phenomena, such as planets, constellations and nebulae.
“I like painting the biggest things I can think of in the smallest possible space,” she says.
Also on display is her series of painted literary classics, each book about the size of a 50-cent coin. They range from a Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre to, quite appropriately, Arundhati Roy’s 1997 novel The God Of Small Things.
Loots, who has an Instagram following of 301,000, held two sold-out workshops, each for 20 people, over the weekend where participants learnt to paint miniature orchids.
“In this world, everything keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Loots, who is married to her manager and has a 18-month-old son. “It is easy to be overwhelmed by all this sound and colour. What I like about miniatures is the intimacy of it – you have to stand still, come very close and focus on the small things.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network