evolution of a painting…

I recently came across these digital photos of the creation of a work I have on display at the Burnham Grapevine Gallery in North Norfolk just now. Titled simply ‘Red landscape’ it is approx 40x40cm, acrylic/mixed media on canvas like a lot of my work. I thought it might be interesting to show how the painting evolved.

step1 © Mari French 2009

step1 © Mari French 2009

Obviously step 1 above sees the work some way on in its progress. I started by covering the box canvas with a smooth texture paste that I use, spread liberally and loosely with a palette knife. Before this dried I embedded various materials into it such as fine muslin and string, also pressing pieces of corrugated cardboard (peeling off the covering layer on one side, revealing the ridges) to create interesting areas of texture. Then, using a large (4 inch) soft brush – I applied a mix of burnt sienna and yellow ochre mixed with matt medium all over. When that was almost dry, I swept paynes grey across parts of the upper middle and lower foreground, resulting in the above image (step 1).

step 2 © Mari French 2009

step 2 © Mari French 2009

In step 2 above, the sky area, horizon and foreground are suggested with parchment (a pale cream colour I find a bit gentler than white) giving some definition to what I could now visualise as a fieldscape, albeit an abstracted one. This was allowed to dry thoroughly.

step 3 © Mari French 2009

step 3 © Mari French 2009

Step 3 demonstrates the rather drastic technique I often use of sweeping darker paint over  the canvas with loose strokes concentrating on getting into all those bumps and ridges of texture. Before it dries I wipe most of it away with damp rags (have to be pretty quick here). Although this may seem a waste of time (and paint!) I find it gives a subtle depth to the final painting. Incidentally I use a hairdryer to speed up drying times for most works.

I then warmed up the painting with more burnt sienna and yellow ochre mix, and yellow ochre on its own, used fairly dry so it retained the brush strokes, to indicate ‘field’ areas. The finished work is shown below and also a close-up detail showing how the paint clings to the texture of the muslin etc.

Red landscape © Mari French 2009

Red landscape © Mari French 2009

'Red landscape' detail © Mari French 2009

'Red landscape' detail © Mari French 2009

2 thoughts on “evolution of a painting…

  1. Love the textures here – you have a lightness of touch with it Mari. I love the feathery texture of the muslin particularly. Thanks for sharing the build up – fascinating stuff 🙂

    • Thanks Elaine. Muslin is wonderful, as is ordinary garden string. the muslin can be pulled and torn and frayed too, with the little resulting strings being particularly interesting trailing across part of a painting. I’ve recently tried a very loose hessian (intended as garden sacks for leaves) which is interesting too, although not as subtle. On my new saltmarsh board paintings I’ve been crumpling (strong) tissue and pasting it to watercolour board before painting on it with acrylics, which also gives lovely texture. Am becoming quite a womble collecting bits and bobs of stuff I can use – I love mixed-media!

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