Lorraine Loots is the talented artist behind the small detailed paintings from the series titled 365 Paintings for Ants. We interviewed Loots to find out more about how the collection came about and where she grabs inspiration.
How did you come up with the idea for this series?
Ironically, the idea came about after I had decided that I didn’t want to pursue a career as an artist after all. I didn’t want to stop painting though, so I constructed this borderline-OCD project where I had to spend an hour a day creating something. The only thing I could finish in that time frame was a miniature, and so 365 Paintings for Ants was born. 365 Postcards for Ants is the second phase of that project.
Why did you title the project ‘paintings for ants’? What size are you pieces?
The pages I’m working on are about 10 x 10 cm, and the images themselves vary from 8mm to 30mm in diameter. When I just started doing miniatures, people would say: “Oh, that’s nice. But what would you do with something that small?” I just started saying they were made for ants.
What inspires your daily creations?
At first, I would paint whatever I felt like: everyday objects, or whatever I came across that day. But as people started booking dates, they got excited about the prospect of being able to make suggestions for what would be painted on their day, and I liked the idea of drawing inspiration from that. In 2014, I decided to structure it more carefully, limiting the suggestions to Cape Town related themes and accepting no less than 5 suggestions per date. This would ensure that I could still choose something that resonates with me, and at the same time, prevent the project becoming purely commission based. For 2015’s project, I decided to pick four of my favourite themes and paint whatever I feel like on the day. I needed a bit more flexibility after 2 years of non-stop painting.
Have you always painted on such a small scale?
No, but I’ve always loved detail. Painting smaller pictures just allows me to put in the amount of detail I want to (otherwise it would take me a lifetime). I also love the intimacy of it – the fact that you have to get so close to the image to really appreciate it.
Do you use a magnifying glass?
What materials do you work in?
Watercolor only, for now.
How long does each piece, on average, take to create?
At first, I would have to paint them in an hour or two, but now that it’s become a full-time job, I allow myself to indulge and will sometimes spend up to 9 hours on one miniature. In general though, between 6 and 8 hours.
Do you sell the works?
Yes. The 2013 collection was sold out (with all future dates booked out) by mid December 2013, and 2014’s collection was sold out in July 2014. I also have limited edition prints, 2013 + 2014 Retrospective Prints (large posters containing all 365 miniatures completed in that year), as well as a limited edition retrospective book comprising 2013’s 365 paintings available. (all through my website : www.paintingsforants.com – except for the few remaining 2014 prints/postcards which are currently only sold through www.lorraineloots.com).
The 2014 Retrospective book is scheduled for release in October this year. The books will be unlimited (and therefore much more affordable) and will be widely available. More details to be shared throughout the year.
2015’s paintings are all being auctioned on Instagram, and a limited edition of 10 prints of each will be released for sale at the culmination of the project (later this year).