Sizing up to art

Section of my display wall at The Other Art Fair Bristol, showing three sizes of artwork

Section of my display wall at The Other Art Fair Bristol, showing three sizes of artwork

Earlier in May I produced two postcard sized paintings for a fundraiser event ‘From ArtCan with Love’ at the Fitzrovia Gallery in London. These were 10 x 15 cm in size and smaller than the typical sizes of work that I have usually produced. Making these two smaller images, allowed me to paint with impunity as I found a freshness and fluidity of painting, especially when using the same sized brushes that I did for my standard larger work.  I found the process immensely satisfying and it reminded me of my early painting years, especially at college in the mid-1990s, when I created similar small-scaled pictures, often in plein-air environments. During that time it was practical and enjoyable for me to carry a small sketch pad outdoors and set up a painting scene in-situ. The pictures I made during this period often measured less than 30 cm in length.

A fellow artist at the ArtCan event commented on how my paintings worked well postcard size and she recommended that I include a range of similar sized works into my next art event, The Other Art Fair Bristol in July. My primary goal for the art fair was to scale up my paintings and produce larger paintings measuring 50 x 70 cm, but I also took my fellow artist's advice and created a series of postcard sized works which worked well as a collection in the show.

Though I avoid producing and displaying work ‘by the metre’, the display at the fair gave visitors a choice of painting sizes and scales in a uniform and consistent way. It also gave me ideas to take forward such as new solutions to working with different sizes and materials, brush sizes and framing options. The larger paintings that I produced for The Other Art Fair were an interesting challenge in that I used similar sized brushes as my smaller medium sized works. The results were not too dissimilar in feel but it was a challenge to achieve without using larger brushes to ‘scale up’ the mark making.

Such differences in picture scale are not easily discernible when viewed via a computer or smartphone, where images sit side by side and formatted to fit the screen. Another friend of mine recently commented on this when he visited my  online pages from He was intrigued at how the images appeared the same size on the web page but the measurement details of each picture often differed greatly. This however got me thinking about how quality of brush and line work appear on a computer screen when pictures are formatted to the same size.

Sometimes a smaller painting can be as monumental as a larger one, even in real-life. Pablo Picasso is a testament to creating grand paintings on a small scale such as his neo-classical statuesque depictions of mediterranean life in the 1920s . The most important thing for me is maintaining an integrity and style in my work.