rust & stone…

Rusted artefact 1, mixedmedia on paper. © Mari French 2017

Rusted artefact 1, mixedmedia on paper. © Mari French 2017

I recently hit one of those annoying self-doubting phases all artists seem to experience occasionally, just wondering where I was going with my art, and what if anything is inspiring me now. I kept nagging myself that, since I returned from my two week art residency at Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall in the spring, I hadn’t really explored all the rich inspiration I’d found, apart from the four canvases inspired by the rocky coastal coves that I’d produced for the mixed exhibition at Artichoke Gallery, East Sussex (till 23 September 2017.

To be fair on myself, part of the reason is that I was busy finishing/framing existing work and getting it out there to galleries – existing and new, and fulfilling various art commitments such as the Norfolk Open Studios. It’s been a pretty busy year for me so far for exhibiting. Something I really can’t complain about as it’s a big and exciting part of the job, or it should be!

But, of course, like most artists I’m happiest when I’m creating. So I decided to just play for a few days – experiment with different media, collage, etc. – and try to take the pressure off myself. And, as often happens (thankfully!), something started to click (and yes, you’ll have noticed I’ve been in this situation before!)…

Rusted artefact 2, mixedmedia on paper. © Mari French 2017.

Rusted artefact 2, mixedmedia on paper. © Mari French 2017.

Lo and behold, after messing about for a few days, I became strangely drawn to a lovely gold ochre gouache colour coupled with dark blue ink and collage. The limited palette and strong shapes reminded me of something.


I realised that the work I was creating was not only influenced after all, by the Cornish sea coves around Penwith, but more specifically was subconsciously referencing the old rusting fishing industry artefacts I kept coming across scattered around and embedded in rocks and boulders – winches, chains, mooring rings etc. Objects that are in the process of decaying back into the elements they were formed from. Of course the large circle might also be seen as referencing (albeit subconsciously) the Men an Tol, the Bronze Age hole stone near Morven, to the north west of Penwith. Circles figure a lot in my recent work!

So this is the latest theme I’m exploring. The works shown here are medium-sized (approx 40x30cm) on paper. If you’ve enjoyed this post and you’re interested in reading more of my art progress, thoughts and adventures, why not sign up for an email notification when I post to my blog.

9 thoughts on “rust & stone…

  1. So, SO true. I have never felt totally tripled by these periods of doubt/drought. But I have felt shackled, un-equal to the task of figuring out how to proceed or what direction to turn in. Frustrating. One friend though called these periods “fallow times” … periods of letting the weeds grow in the field or garden … to replenish the soil.

    • ‘Fallow’ is a good description John. I think as you mention, frustration is probably the dominant feeling. I recognise these spells now for what they are, which helps a lot. Thanks for reading the blog and for your insightful comment!

  2. Reading a tweet by Peter Joyce recently, commenting on similar feelings after a very successful exhibition! I think it’s all a part of the creative life we lead!

    • Definitely Sue! I think it’s essential for the joyful parts of the creative life, though it certainly doesnt feel like it at the time! Show me an artist who never has doubts and I’ll show you a liar! Thanks for your great feedback.

  3. As you know Mari, I totally empathise with the ‘What am I doing, where am I going, am I any good ‘ feelings….struggling with it myself at the moment. You are quite right, we put such pressure on ourselves to create masterpieces every time it ends up stifling our creativity…. So pleased that you are beginning to find your way forward… these new pieces & I look forward to seeing you develop further xx

    • Thanks for the valuable and appreciated feedback Carolyn. I find it helps to put into words what’s bugging me or exciting me in art, hence the blog. If it helps another artist to know they are not alone in such doubts and dilemmas that makes it even more worthwhile. Xx

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