Friday, 17 June 2011

Cornwall and The Problem Of Scaling Up

Valerie has persuaded me to put some of the Cornwall sketches on the blog.  I am also struggling with the concept of scaling up small work painted directly - ie on the spot in one session - to larger paintings in the studio.  We bearded Ken Howard about this at the Enid Lawson Gallery the other day and he said 'use a really big brush', which makes sense until you try it!  One of my biggest problems is careless brushwork.  I have a tendency to dodge that moment when you have to make really positive marks with a fully loaded brush.  I can get away with it in a small painting but not in a big one.  Anyway, I am trying to scale up some of the Cornwall work so I will show large and small together.  I also love developing pastels based on oil sketches.  Let's look at that aspect first:

This is the original 8x10 inch Pendeen sketch showing the Enys rock and Levant mines beyond

And this is the slightly bigger pastel based on it.  I prefer the original but doing a pastel often sets me off in a new direction - not this time!.

Now the scaling up problem.  Two examples, first the 8x10 inch view of Irish Lady and Land's End in oil:

Now the 16x20 inch based on it:

You can see that I have altered the composition and slightly lowered the point of view.  It is OK but the foreground is somehow less interesting at that scale.  I was surrounded by seagulls (and guano) so maybe I should have put them all in!

In contrast I think one of the Pendeen paintings has scaled up quite well.  I did some tiny acrylic sketches of the Enys from Pendeen Old Cliff.  The 7.5x5.5 inch sketch became a 14x18 inch oil painting.  Here is the sketcvh:

And this is the studio version:

I have pushed the colour a bit and some of the brushwork is deliberately crude but I think it works.  I was quite pleased with the other Enys pair and maybe I will post those another day.  Finally, one of my favourites from 23 paintings done in 5 days and a morning - Sunset at Sennen on my last evening there (8x10 inches).


  1. Tim, a warm welcome to the world of blogging! You're a natural :o) I really enjoyed these posts. Super work, cracking sunset and some great insights into the issues of scaling up (which I also struggle to contend with). I envy your conversation with the great KH, he is a living legend! His brushwork is masterful and he never seems to need to resort to any sort of brush 'trickery' to make things work out so well. His judgements are so spot's like the brushwork is the icing on the cake!

    All good stuff but the large Irish Lady seems to have worked really well, as has 'The Enys' (great work on the sea). Look forward to seeing more of your posts.

  2. Hi Tim.
    Just found your blog on Valerie Pirlot blog. I like your paintings Tim, and intend to follow your blog. I use`to go to Wales rather a lot all by myself to do some serious walking and a bit of climbing where I could. Now that was it seems a hundred years ago. I do envy you Tim being able to go out in any weather to paint and walk. The best of luck to you mate. All the best.