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Big wonders captured in small paintings

GEORGETOWN, KY-- Often, when Gary Bertram gets out his paints and brushes, he's working on a life-sized painting-- that is, if the life is the size of a butterfly. But he also paints, trees buildings and waterfalls that are no bigger than the butterflies. He decided to try painting miniatures to be more productive, realizing it was taking him months to turn out one piece of art when he worked on a larger scale.

Bertram says after doing a few miniatures, he fell in love with them and has been painting that way for the past five or six years.

It's challenging, of course, being able to fit a big scene into a tiny space. It takes a steady hand, clear focus, and sometimes, a stroke of good luck.

"People ask me all the time, ' how do you see that small?' " Bertram says. "I've learned over the past two years, it's not what I see, it's what I feel."

He says he has to feel how much paint is on the brush. Too much and it clumps; too little and it runs. Especially when he gets down to the most minute elements of a painting, such as the antennae on a butterfly. Then he uses a magnifier to help steady his hand.

When he goes to art shows, Bertram says people are fascinated by the miniatures, probably because they can take in the whole work without shifting their gaze.

"In a miniature, one of the things is you see the whole composition at once."

And there can be more than meets the eye. For example, a magnifying glass reveals a beach scene includes swimmers and sun bathers.

You wouldn't want to display paintings like this something like this on a large, blank wall. They would get lost. Bertram says many people display them with easels on their desk or mantels.

"If they do hang them, a lot of times my patrons will buy groupings in sets of two, thjree or four."

Although the paintings are little, Gary hopes they illustrate the wonders of a great big world.

"I think every artist wants to feel when they create something that it expresses a part of their heart and their joy," he says. "I want people to see that I love God's creation."

Gary Bertram's basement studio is his happy place. It's where he puts things in perspective.

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His work will be on display at the Kentucky Crafted Show at Rupp Arena April 22 and 23.

Click here for Gary Bertram's website.

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If you have ideas for Spirit of the Bluegrass, email Marvin Bartlett at: news@foxlexington.com

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