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The Almighty Ensmallulator: Seeing the Big Picture

a painting seen through a magnify glass


Picture this: It's a late night in your petite painting studio. Uncertain about the composition, you step back to get a greater field of vision, and knock over your paint palette onto a freshly primed canvas. Your brain, addled by a day of coffee and starvation, has lost the connection to your body. You respond by wildly flinging your arm out hoping to prevent the disaster and, instead, effectively knock your fresh coffee all over your laptop. Curse words.

Let me introduce you to the ensmallulator which has a similar appearance to a magnifying glass. Ensmallulator is just my made-up name for this amazing tool. It essentially works in the opposite way of a magnifying glass. Also, it could possibly prevent you from walking backwards and knocking things over in the process. Studio disasters suck!


a painting of a woman seen through a magnify glass

You might not have known that this little tool existed, but it is actually worth it's weight in gold. I love it. If you work on a large scale in a small space the ensmallulator will work wonders for you. The actual name for this tool is a reducing lens. It gives me a great field of vision on my work and helps me visualize how the work could be viewed in a larger gallery setting. In a gallery setting the viewer has the option of viewing the work from a greater distance. With this tool you will be able to tell if your work is going to stand out in a large exhibition from across the room.


In the photograph above, the image seems to become crisper through the lens. This feature may have the benefit of causing you to notice an area of the work that needs to be enhanced or edited. We artists rely on a strange type of visual imagining at times. We stare at our work and really concentrate on picturing additional elements in our work-in-progress before we take the plunge. So this device is really handy to have as it can assist this process, and certainly gives you the option of viewing the work in a slightly different way.

You can probably pick one of these up at an art supply store but I think you would have a better chance of ordering online. If you do try your local art supply shop, remember to ask for a “reducing lens”.  Asking for an “ensmallulator” will cause the clerk to back away from you slowly.
You gotta try this tool out, it's like having an analogue version of a shrink-ray.


ensmallulator / magnify glass

Image source

About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio

Read more of Rebecca's posts

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