A mix of miniatures

Every year since the late 1990s the Australian Society of Miniature Art has held an awards exhibition here in Sydney. I’ve been a member of the society for longer than I care to remember and have put work into the awards exhibition nearly every year since it has been going. Sometimes I win prizes, sometimes I don’t but it’s an exhibition that is always a pleasure to be part of. The standard of work is incredibly high, the best holds its own with ‘normal’ sized work without any difficulty.

There are eight categories: drawing, watercolour, printmaking, oil painting, acrylic painting, mixed media, 3D and hand made books and this year for the first time, abstract. Members of the society can put in up to 4 works, non-members one. There is a rigorous selection process and work that doesn’t fit the criteria, or is of poor quality is rejected. Prizes are given in each category, plus a Best in Show, Best Traditional work, Most Innovative work and there is also a prize given for a particular theme each year. This year it was ‘In My World’ which could be interpreted broadly. A different judge is appointed each year, and it is always interesting to see the different ways they make their choices. This year it was Judith White, a well-known artist in Sydney, and she gave a great deal of thought and consideration to her choices.

The main ruling that work must adhere to in order to qualify as a miniature is that two-dimensional works can have a perimeter of no more than 40 cm, ie 10 x 10 cm or 12 x 8 cm, or whatever fits within that. Many works come in well below that size. Also, the brushstrokes used must be small, no clumsy marks, and any subject matter must be miniaturised. Three dimensional works can be no more than 15 cm in any direction, including any base or plinth and hand-made books must be made entirely by the artist, and when closed the face be no more than 40 cm perimeter.

This year all my works ended up being abstract, mainly because that seems to be the direction I am taking in all my work at the moment. No prizes for me this year, but if you would like to see the works that won, go to the miniature society (ASMA) website here.

Below are my entries this year.


‘Fleeting Thoughts’. This is a concertina book in a box, made from etchings, monoprints and drypoint prints, with added pen and collaged names of European cities taken from an old map. The box is 4 x 2.5 x 2 cm, and the concertina opens to 47 cm in length.


‘Garden of My Mind’. This was in the Mixed Media section and also in the ‘In My World’ section. This is an element from a monoprint that I have worked into and elaborated with coloured pencils. The diameter of the circle is 6 cm.


‘Opulence’. I put this one in the drawing section. The initial faint base image was created with a blot of Liquid Pencil, which I drew into with graphite, and also scratched into it. This one is 6.5 x 9.5 cm.


‘Secrets of the Harem’. This was in the oil section, and is oil paint on a piano key, 4.5 x 2 cm.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

13 thoughts

  1. I like all four of your entries. “Fleeting Thoughts” is rather journey-like to me (even without knowing about the map) – and musical notation is something else which comes to mind.

    “Garden of My Mind” is perfect for “In My World” section, as, being spherical, it is rather a world in itself – also like a lunar world. “Maru” comes to mind – the Japanese word for circle. It is the suffix of all their ship names – with the idea being that each ship as it leaves port, will return home again. (Oh my, I’m back on ‘journeys’.)

    “Opulence” is truly rich. While being completely abstract, it is suggestive of luxurious materials and silver threads that only money could buy.

    “Secrets of the Harem” is also gorgeous – a tiny multi-coloured jewel.

    I had a look at the website. It is a treat to look at as, just like you say, the art is extremely high quality. There is no art work in the group which makes me question why it got an award. What a lot of inspired people in your art group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for such a detailed and thoughtful response! I was aware Japanese ships had Maru in their names, but had no idea of the meaning, and it is lovely, very philosophical – something I will tuck away when thinking about titles in the future!

      I do like the idea that there is a sense of a journey in ‘Fleeting Thoughts’, I felt that myself. I was looking for something to develop the simple concertina, words of some kind, and a friend offered me an old map with tiny place names. As I pasted them on, I realised that many of them had a red road either running through them, or beside them, so I decided to connect them with red ink, and that seemed to complete the work. (It continues on the other side too.) I very much enjoyed making ‘Opulence’, it had all sorts of little hidden shapes and forms that I could develop, and I’m delighted you could see what I was trying to achieve! I’m also pleased you looked at the website – its good to know that you could see the quality that is there!


      1. When I was writing my responses to your pieces I thought, oh dear, your abstracts always remind me of something NOT abstract. I can’t seem to help seeing real things in abstractions. I hope you don’t mind. But then, you give hints with your titles, so one can either take the abstraction at face value or go on a thought-trip with the title. It is rather lovely when one makes work open to interpretation – giving the viewer more input than if it the work was absolutely ‘a real thing’.


        1. To me an abstract work always has to evoke a response and that has to be a connection to a real object or idea – if an abstract doesn’t do that it simply becomes decoration, so I am very happy to hear your responses and thoughts that are are prompted by the work. I admit that titles can give a nudge in a particular direction but I love hearing the ideas that come from people who have been sufficiently engaged with the work. These ideas often send me off in new directions, so are always welcome!


  2. Anna, your work is amazing, so much detail and such a wide variety of approaches. I am so inspired by your passion and results. This body of work is sensational! Thank you for including the website, such talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Cathe – as always when I was putting these images together I thought how diverse they are (which always worries me a bit!) but I’m glad you enjoyed the variety! (Your book arrived from Karen yesterday, so now I’m thinking dog! Your drawing of Cooper is wonderful, beautifully drawn, and it really conveys his character.)


      1. They cover a large span but I personally love the diversity. Good to know books are starting to move again. Thank you for your kind words on Cooper. I think he is much more handsome in person but we do the best we can!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful exhibition. My idea of miniature painting was little things done in traditional oils, but looking at the winners blows that notion away! My favourite of your work (although difficult to choose!) is ‘Garden of my mind’, perhaps because of the subtlety and blending of the colours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That perception of miniatures is very widespread, (and is still true of some of the English and American miniaturists) so as a society we spend a lot of time trying to convince the rest of the world that they do have a contemporary place in the art world! We do have some amazing artists in the group, many who work larger as well, but some who exclusively work in miniature.

      ‘Garden of My Mind’ is actually one of a series of small circular works, I’m still thinking about how I will present them, maybe as a group, or another concertina book … I’m delighted you like it, thank you!


  4. What lovely work you create. I’m so glad I visited your post today. I’ve been hoping to find an art project that I can do with my grandchildren. They range in age from 3 – 12. I love the idea of a concertina. I think they will love the concept and it can be adapted to everyone’s ability. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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