Big Little Rascal

Big Little Rascal

Acrylic on canvas

48” x 60” (122cm x 152.4cm)

A daily activity which happened quite regularly after getting home from school as a kid was to watch “The Little Rascals”. It was impossible to watch them and not enjoy their hijinks. Even now, decades later I still find them just as entertaining and so do my own children.  

Occasionally they become subjects in some of my work and every one I have done has sold. Usually to someone who recalls their own stories watching them as a child.  “Big Little Rascal” is my most recent painting of one of them. I was inspired after seeing a large black and white original Chuck Close portrait at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


I have been a fan of his work since I was first exposed to it while pursuing my own degree in art. Until being able to get up close and personal with one of his original “realist” portraits,  I didn’t realize how similar our techniques were.  I decided to pay homage to one of his works entitled “Big”. A 9’ tall self-portrait.


Instead of doing my own self-portrait I reverted to a favorite childhood memory and to keep it thematically consistent with the pieces I have been doing in my current body of work I decided to borrow his title and incorporate a bit of wordplay, “Big Little Rascal”.     


I also did something different from my normal portrait painting style which is usually very tightly detailed. I left everything soft a fuzzy except for the eyes. From a distance, your eyes tighten the slightly fuzzy image naturally. As you walk closer your eyes try to focus, but can’t until they look at the eyes of the painting, then your own eyes come into focus and relax. It creates an unusual visceral sensation which makes the piece more interesting than just a big picture of Alfalfa.


Johnston, IA, USA

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© 2020 Keith A. Nelson