3S5 landscape & folk horror (dark cornwall)

Given all the various things that have to be focused on during Feb and March, the FH work has taken a bit of back seat. My plan is to focus on this in April. In the meantime, I’ll be jotting down ideas and notes for where I will take this body of work.

My current thinking: using signifiers of possible things that could have taken place there (environmental storytelling) with an AR layer taking the shed painting that I think worked best and making a larger version as the basis for that

Black house myth – painting done in situ in the abandoned house up by Men en Tol.

Botallack…engine houses…memorial traces.

I made a Turner study in prep for some large landscapes focused on marking making, atmospheric, indirect painting, glaze management – with a ruin as a motif (all nods to Benjamin on ruins alongside both Wheatleys, Ben and Dennis).

Stage 1 (PVA and pigment; short ground)

Stage 2 adding force and detail to be covered over by oil glazes (still working with PVA and pigment)

Stage 3

Stage 4 oil glazes going on building complexity and optics
Stage 5 Final pass before varnish and wax (vignetting, more glazes, oiling out)

Lots learned about rheology and layer management – as well as use of warms and cools in terms of edges and optics. (posted the sketch on fb and someone bought it)/

Oil Sketch Prep en plein air to inform a Turneresque approach to a series of ‘dark cornwall’ landscapes (with the aim of sustaining my practice by selling some of these!)

En plein sketch (The Crowns engine houses at Botallack)

First layer down – Canvas PVA and pigment; dries super quick! 1m x 1m. Going big for impact. This acts as a ‘pilot’ for the rest of the series that will follow. Recognising the attraction of the landscape here and the ‘market’ but still retaining a bit of a folk horror vibe to help bring something of my aesthetic to bear proceedings. I’ll also take some of these to the ‘haunted landscape’ conference where I am speaking in June. This work is also keeping me painting while I write, with colleagues,’ bids for E3 and Co-Star funding (both focused on the use and support of immersive for creative industries in the region). If I don’t keep drawing and painting things feel too stilted and janky when I get back to it.

Second layer still working with the PVA-pigment mix before moving to oil stage. The ‘iconic’ Cornwall image is very much designed to attract a gallery! While at the same time, I am learning a lot about managing transparency/opacity, glazing and mark-making. All this will hopefully inform the main body of folk horror work that will come later (after the March show is done and funding bids are in!)

19/02/23 Third stage – oil glazes – all in one go while the oil layer is malleable. It all got rather darker than I thought it would be (the photo also makes it look darker perhaps). Certainly moody! The reduced area of force helps with that. I’m not sure about this in two minds – in trying to get something more saleable, I’ve turned too far to the dark side (again…). Will try a few more experiments. Had interestingly diverse feedback from facebook and instagram. Some liked the drama, but I had one thoughtful response from a friend who knows the work that I put up in the Crypt show in November. She said, in response to my comment that it’s a bit melodramatic ‘It is a rough ancient landscape, scarred with a mining heritage. It’s also stepping away from what I think of as your very unique work in the recent Crypt exhibition.’ This is food for thought. I will continue with the Turneresque experiments though for a while to see where it goes, if nothing else it’s a lesson in freeing up the painting and mark-marking. The ‘dark’ might be turned even more towards the ‘dark cornwall’ theme that fits into the folk horror matrix. Next stage will be to build in more optics using a mix of oil paint and wax.

22/02/23 I’ll do some Tempera and oil colour beginnings for a series of these ‘dark cornwall’ landscapes so that I am working on 5 or 6 at the same time. Might be a good use of some older paintings that I have hanging around – No use them hanging around for ever!

25/02/23 added oil bars (R&F) and strengthened the darks to help make for a more dramatic contrast and atmosphere (been out of action for a few days bid writing and being ill)


Between work tasks that are rather overwhelming at present due to staff changes meaning more staff to manage and 2 funding bids, I set aside some time to make some ‘colour beginnings’ using the painting above as a pilot.

My intention here is to build a body of work in a similar style all focused on the ‘energies’ of the coastal landscape around the West Penwith coasts (known as the Tin coast). Using elements of Turner’s approach (late Turner), larger formats, PVA/pigment underpainting (loving working with pigments). These make for a group of 6 paintings destined for the PZ studio show at the Daisy Lang studio (and the open studios). I will make 3 more once these are finished.

Working across a number of paintings certainly helps give a comparative steer – difference seems to be breed evaluative thinking and a sense of movement/progress. It helps with finding colour combos that work and to see visual rhymes, as well as furnishing a feeling that I am working with the properties of paint rather than making it work for me in a more illustrative way.

I am considering ways to augment these paintings in a meaningful way, but for now, it’s all about earthy and windy energies. This dovetails into the 3D animations I made for the dolls house. Maybe could be considered as moving away from folk horror in an illustrative sense, but my view is that I am still working with Courbet’s sense of the energy of the earth (animism) and Turner’s sense of the energy of light (the sun as ‘deity’ often appears in folk horror (vis end of The Wickerman).

FH was always intended as a ‘prop’ for the broader intention to explore such things as the material of paint. FH then is informative of the way I am trying to find how paint can be used to express the energies of Cornwall’s very energetic geology and weather.


Two days quite intensely focused on painting and on the final oil layers of glazes and impasto on the colour beginnings. I was quite free in my approach, following my nose while keeping to the Turner/Martin Kinnear process ( ie – in order – optically active substrate; colour beginning (bright translucent underpainting); detailed underpainting; force; houding glaze (big glaze); model into glaze; impasto).

What I liked:

  • the flickering sense of light
  • moving towards a larger canvas in terms space to work within but also the scope for a larger perspective
  • a more considered approach to composition offered by working across a bunch of paintings together (at the same time in the same space).
  • the physical energy of actually making these – not sitting pushing pixels or using a tiny brush (hurrah).
  • A sense that the method and subject feel unified (thanks to JMW Turner..broad shoulders of that giant).
  • that they might be of interest to gallery helping pay for courses
  • that this approach encourages me to go out of my front door to gather material and information.
  • that the approach is quick and energetic rather than labouring for months just fiddling on the same piece of work.
  • I feel energised by this approach and the results – something about it feels more open and freeing.

Things to take forward for the next batch

  • keep in mind the use of contrast in underpainting layers (wide tonal contrast) so there is something to cut back to in the final paintings.
  • Add more detail too for same reasons – all up for obfuscation.
  • Keep colours limited and use the same colour glaze for the whole series to create unity (ie blue or transparent orange).
  • Keep notes on colours & compositions that I think work.

By tanyakrzywinskablog

After working in the computer industry and spending some years conducting research into cinema and digital media, I became convinced that the innovative qualities of videogames as participatory media required closer academic attention. As such I have spent most of my career championing the inclusion of games within the academy, and arguing for games as an art form, a role I continue as a Professor at Falmouth University. Alongside this, and my scholarly work on the Gothic, I also maintain, in various forms, a visual art practice. This blog comes out of enrolling on the MA Fine Art degree programme at Central Sr Martins. It is mainly a record of my reflections on the work that I have undertaken for the degree. After having written about folk horror in games and cinema as an academic, this blog will focus on folk horror as a focus for my art practice.

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