Enormous Tiny Art at Nahcotta in Portsmouth

Do you get intimidated by art galleries, and never dream of actually buying something? There’s a way to get past that – start small with Enormous Tiny Art at Nahcotta in Portsmouth.

"Lilacs II" 10" x 10" x 11 1/2" oil on panel by Amy Brnger.

"There's some sort of barrier that makes people uncomfortable buying original art," says Deb Thompson, owner of the Nahcotta gallery in Portsmouth. "They feel  that buying art is a massive investment."

Of course, it can be a massive investment, many hundreds or thousands of dollars. But Thompson says there is a way to have original art in your home without spending big bucks.

Buy tiny art.

Tiny art is, well, tiny — 10" x 10" or smaller. It can be oil paintings, illustrations, dioramas, really any large art that can be writ smaller. And the best part — it costs way less.

"The price point is anywhere from $20 to $1,200," says Thompson. "The average is $175-$200." She adds that the affordability makes original art feel more inviting, more accessible, providing an entryway into an unfamiliar world.

Seven years ago, Thompson and the Nahcotta staff decided — as part of their mission to get original art into the hands of as many people as possible — to launch an Enormous Tiny Art exhibition. As many as 40 artists from a variety of disciplines provided six or more pieces for the exhibition, creating a display of about 300 pieces. "The result was," Thompson says, "way past anything I could have imagined. We saw that it really had legs." Exhibitions have been held twice a year ever since, in February and September.

One of the artists who's participated from the start is Amy Brnger. Her oil-on-panel artwork (shown above) is mostly flowers in a style that, as she says, "has some relationship to Impressionism, but it's not 100 percent." Her main concern is creating a surface that is rich with color and texture. While Brnger does mostly larger paintings, she says she likes working in a small format: "It forces you to loosen up. On a small surface, you can really play around."

Tiny art seems to be win/win for both artists and potential purchasers. As Thompson says, "Once people have the experience of buying art, they often come back for more. It's incredibly gratifying; we feel like we're doing our little part to break down a wall."


Enormous Tiny Art exhibitions take place twice a year, in February and September, at the Nahcotta gallery. During the rest of the year, one wall of the gallery is devoted to tiny art. A wide range of selections are available year-round online at enormoustinyart.com.

If you're interested in submitting work, you can find submission guidelines on the ETA site.

In May, Allison May Kiphuth's work will be on display at Nahcotta. The show, featuring the Seacoast artist's tiny dioramas,  opens May 2 and runs through June 1. You can see her work here.


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