getting messy with monoprinting…

Pulling the monoprint © Mari French 2017

Pulling the monoprint © Mari French 2017

I’ve wanted to try monoprinting for some time. The one time I had a go (years back) I was not impressed (excuse the pun) but I think I’d used the wrong type of paper, plate and temperament! A monoprint (or monotype) is a unique print taken from a plate on which ink or (in my case) acrylic paint has been spread with rollers. Marks, textures impressed into the ink/paint and shaped masks (eg. paper) can all be used to create and enhance the final image.

Recently inspired by the beautiful and original monoprints of artist Tonie Rigby I decided to try using a gelli plate. These are very popular at the moment but I’ve not been taken by the proliferation of bright colours and patterns often produced. Gel plates can be a bit tricky to get used to and some artists dislike the texture, but apart from the shape (A4, I prefer square sizes, so may have to cut mine down) I quite liked the slight give of the gel.

Having been stunned by Tonie Rigby’s ‘Urban boxes’ work (see her blog link above), I wondered if I too could achieve something different, a progression of my current painting series maybe. If nothing else it would be interesting and hopefully, fun to try.

 

 

Well, today in the studio it was definitely interesting AND fun. I produced over a dozen bits of rubbish before I started loosening up and getting messy, employing more painterly techniques, which is when I work best. I used various acrylic paints and watercolour paper. As with my paintings I wanted to experiment – what would happen if I used this or tried that? …

I must admit I actually liked the look of inked up gel plate itself, perhaps because the transparent surface added another dimension. Today’s work was just the beginning, I’ve just started and have a way to go yet, but I’ll keep at it. Will post more of my monoprinting attempts at a later date.

 

in the zone …

Byzantine winter. Mixed media on paper. 25x55cm. © Mari French 2017.

Byzantine winter. Mixed media on paper. 25x55cm. © Mari French 2017.

Well, having decided to go for blue autumnal sky colours with dashes of gold etc this week inspired by clear days at the coast, I found myself in the studio yesterday, messing about mixing up moody bruise colours – enlivened with coppers and bronzes. Sometimes it’s as though something else takes over and says ‘no, we’re doing this today’.

I was completely in ‘the zone’, that fabulous desirable state all artists crave but which doesn’t happen often enough! I was completely running on instinct and my subconscious, with a handful of brushes loaded with pigment and lots of hands-on pushing the paint around with the side of my hand and fingers. Crucially, I then slowed down and moved in close, taking my time with tender considered marks, enhancing the shapes and ‘openings’ in the paint.

This time the work above emerged and I had that delicious feeling of ‘just right’ as I stepped back from the easel. What a lovely change from the feelings of frustration that are all too common when painting (or creating anything).

Byzantine winter (detail). © Mari French 2017.

Byzantine winter (detail). © Mari French 2017.

All too often I skip that last stage, the slowing down and considering. I usually have a tendency to go all for it, with lots of energetic paint application and markmaking, which can often make for exciting work and I love it. Sometimes though, I have a feeling I’ve just gone that little bit too far and unlike in digital painting there is no ‘undo’ function. It’s all part and parcel of learning through constant work of course. But when you get that ‘oh’ moment… it’s wonderful.

The trick now of course will be to continue in this vein, to get back into that ‘zone’, because I want to produce more of these.

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.