4 Reasons to Make Multiple Canvas Paintings (Diptychs, Triptychs, etc)

Published on Dec. 4th 2008


I don’t know why, but there’s something very appealing about a painting done on more than one canvas. You’ve seen them before. . . the most common types of multiple-canvas paintings are diptychs (two-canvas paintings) or triptychs (three-canvas paintings). With four canvases you’d call it a quadtych, and so on.

If you take a look at a traditional diptych or triptych, you’ll see that it’s not just a series of images that go together—instead, a single composition stretches out over each of the canvases, creating one painting out of many smaller parts.

Because of that, framing each canvas individually is not really an option. Multiple canvas paintings should be painted on professional-quality gallery wrap canvas, and hung close together when finished.

So why would you want to paint on multiples? Here are four reasons I’ve discovered:

1. More canvases add more interest

One advantage of painting on multiples is that a relatively mundane subject, (such as a bouquet of flowers) can take on a whole new dimension.

Poppy Garden 2

Poppy Garden II, above, is one of my triptychs of flowers. The end result is much more dynamic and interesting than a single-canvas painting would have been.

2. Multiple canvases make transportation easier

If you’re in the habit of painting large works (abstracts, in particular) then one of the most obvious advantages to multiple canvas painting is the ease of transportation.

Grand Canyon, 06608

At four feet by four feet, this piece certainly would have been a good choice for a multi-canvas painting.

3. You can get great deals buying multiple canvases.

Art supply manufacturers are always trying to sell canvas multipacks. For example, I recently did a painting on four 9 inch museum wrap canvases from Dick Blick.

Poppy Profusion, black

Not only is it cheaper to buy several canvases at once, but the four panel presentation makes a dramatic, contemporary statement on the wall.

4. Multiple canvases will spark your creativity.

Single canvas paintings are run-of-the-mill. Try something bizarre with your next painting, like this self-portrait I recently completed on nine 4″x4″ mini canvases.

Self Portrait, picasso

As you can see, mini-canvases can be rearranged like a puzzle. My favorite arrangement was the Picasso-inspired portrait above.

If you’ve never painted a diptych or triptych, I’d encourage you to try it out. Or, get a lot of mini-canvases and really go wild. Once you do, however, don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to return to the single-canvas lifestyle!

To see more of Carol Nelson’s paintings, please visit www.CarolNelsonFineart.com

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