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What is Miniature Art?

Miniature art is fine art. Miniature art is a specialty art, not a novelty art. Through the ages it has been considered an art form. Miniature art is most often extremely detailed work, exquisite in color with a strength of composition which can more than compete with larger paintings. A compositional guide requires a gentle, no more than 1/6th scale of the actual subject.

A miniature usually takes as long or longer to produce as a large piece of art. A fine miniature can be magnified many times and it will still hold together as a fine work of art of much greater size. Most artists can work large, but few have the skill and discipline to work miniature. 2008 Award winning artworkThis unique art form, based on a minute scale, traces its roots back to the book paintings and illuminated manuscripts of the 7th century.

There is much debate as to if there is a technique to be considered as the best, more accurate, or most correct technique... Techniques such as stippling, hatching and pointillism are sometimes only discovered under magnification. The answer is to study others from past to present.Whatever technique is used, it should meticulously handled and the workmanship flawless. Miniature art sometimes defeats the spectator's belief as to what is possible for the artist to create in such a small space.

Man's fascination with creating in small scale has been evidenced in many of the world's civilizations. Ancient Greeks adorned their walls with small murals while coins and rings bore engraved portraits. In the Middle Ages, monks often embellished manuscript pages with delicate illuminations and bordered them with a red lead pigment called minium from which miniature later evolved.

Elizabethan England was noted for its miniature portraits on vellum and later ivory, which served much as small photographs do today. A very personalized form of art, it was easily carried in pocket or locket. The period of exploration and colonization brought the miniature to America's shores where its European heritage soon reflected the influences of the New World and its challenges and freedoms. The advent of photography in the mid-nineteenth century drastically reduced the appeal of the miniature portrait. However, the love of creating art "in the small" did not die.

The end of the last century and the early years of the twentieth century witnessed the revival period of interest in miniaturism followed somewhat later by the current resurgence. Today's practitioners of American Miniaturism reach far beyond the portrait field, embracing a wide variety of subject matter, media and techniques.

On the practical side, miniature art, with its minimal space requirements and favorable cost comparisons, places original fine art within the reach of both art lovers and collectors.


The Miniature Art Society of Florida, Inc., is one of a number of non-profit groups in the United States involved in contemporary miniaturism. Founded in 1974 in Clearwater by Bede Zel Angle, Dunedin artist and teacher, it has grown from two dozen early organizers to more than 400 members in the United States and several foreign countries. It has brought Clearwater and Florida to the forefront in the rising resurgence of interest in miniature art.


The Society encourages artists to become involved in the exciting world of miniaturism. It seeks to broaden the awareness of the public and collectors to the delicate beauty and refinement of this venerable art form. Its scholarship efforts assist talented young artists of the future.


The first exhibit of contemporary miniature art on the Suncoast was presented by the Society at the Florida Gulf Coast Center in 1975. An invitational show, it featured several hundred works of award winners from the United States.

This was followed in 1976 by the First National Miniature Art Show at the Bank of Clearwater. An open competitive show, it was succeeded by 13 international shows held at the former Kapok Tree Restaurant.

The Fifteenth International Show was held at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg in 1990, followed by the 1991 show at the Summit Conference Center in Clearwater. The 1998 Show was held in the prestigious Belleview Mido Resort Hotel.

Over the years the Society has also exhibited upon invitation at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and in 1989 joined with the Tampa Museum of Art in a unique show of historical and contemporary miniatures.

Some of its permanent collection of over one hundred pieces may be seen at Clearwater East Library and is exhibited each year at the International Show. It traveled in 1989 to select Suncoast locations of Fortune Bank. During the same year MASF artists donated ten paintings to the city of Clearwater for presentation by Mayor Rita Garvey to its Sister City, Nagano, Japan.


The MASF Permanent Collection began in 1976 with the objective goal of the Society purchasing outstanding artworks representing contemporary miniature art. This collection is displayed at local libraries in the Clearwater, FL region and at special events. It is usually on display in connection with the annual MASF International Exhibition each January. The Society published Catalogue of the Miniature Collection in 2000 highlighting the works aquired up to that date. The MASF Permanent Collection numbers over 125 works as of 2009. Five panels of the MASF Permanent Collection went on year round display at the MASF office at Sterling Commons in Dunedin, FL in October of 2009.

A few of the Collection's cases are provided below.


Ideas for Displaying your Miniature Paintings

Download the MASF Color Brochure: MASF Brochure (PDF)


The Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF)
1497 Main Street
Box 323
Dunedin, FL 34698 USA
Email MASF: admin@miniatureartsocietyofflorida.com

All images © MASF and the respective artists. Artwork featured on this website has been awarded in a MASF Exhibition or is part of the Permanent Collection. Photos courtesy of Andrew Gott and Wes Siegrist. Miniatureartsocietyofflorida.com/miniature-art.com is the official website of The Miniature Art Society of Florida. All artwork, images and contents of this website are © Miniature Art Society of Florida and the respective Artists.