a safer distance …

I’ve been developing my sketch ‘a safer distance’ further (see previous post ‘passing time’). This artwork is acrylic ink and tissue on watercolour paper, approx 40 x 45 cms. 

The original inspiration was the crumbling interior of a 19th century dynamite store at Cape Cornwall, a place I’ve visited a few times this year (see my post on the art residency I took at Brisons Veor). The small austere structure, perched on the rocks above Priests Cove, was originally part of Cape Cornwall Mine. The bolts and bars in the fabric of the interior walls were bleeding rust in a very interesting way. I seem to be very attracted to industrial archaeology lately.

I like that I can see other imagery in this. It feels there may be potential for a series here.

A safer distance. Acrylic ink/tissue on paper. Mari French 2014.

A safer distance. Acrylic ink/tissue on paper. Mari French 2014.


Old dynamite store, Cape Cornwall. Mari French 2014

Old dynamite store, Cape Cornwall. Mari French 2014

a bit of a do …

Incoming tide. Mari French 2014

Incoming tide. Mari French 2014


… it would be great to see you at my upcoming solo exhibition ‘Coastlines’, which will be showing at Greyfriars Art Space, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, from 27 September to 11 October 2014.

The theme is inspired by my residency at Brison’s Veor, Cape Cornwall earlier this year and contrasts that wild, rugged coast with the very different North Norfolk coastline close to where I live, and where, as regular followers of this blog will know, I often walk, sketch and paint along the saltmarshes and beaches.

On the opening Saturday (29thSeptember) I’ll be having a ‘bit of a do’ between 12 noon and 4pm to launch the exhibition, with wine and nibbles, you’d be very welcome!

a sea change …

Coastlines, abstract painting in purple and blue.

Coastlines, abstract 1. Mari French 2014


I’ve been using a lot of blue lately … Prussian, turquoise, aqua… mainly due to painting like mad for an upcoming solo show at Greyfriars Art Space in King’s Lynn, this September.

The exhibition will hinge on the theme of coastlines, namely the rugged and dramatic coast of Cape Cornwall, where I spent an art residency back in March, and the contrasting and more serene (usually!) expanse of beaches and salt marsh that make up the North Norfolk coast, where I often go walking and sketching.

But I hit a creative block last week… couldn’t face more blue seas, not for a while anyway. I was stuck… stalled… needed a jolt to the system. What to do? Actually, what a lot of artists turn to in these circumstances… a change of palette (a change of subject matter is not really an option at the moment and not necessary, I enjoy painting coastal landscape, I just needed a fresh angle).

I turned all my recent coastal paintings to the wall, put my usual acrylic tubes out of the way and grabbed Permanent Rose and Cerulean blue (okay, still blue but somehow different when used with pink!) along with a luscious plummy Inktense stick and set to it with abandon on two fresh canvases I’d prepared with texture paste. (as you may know I prefer not to start with a flat surface).

I then needed a contrast, so used a mix of lemon yellow and white, with a touch of Chromium oxide. These are the results, still in progress, I’ve added a few more brush strokes since, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I like the zingy colour contrast and lively lines. In the second canvas (below) I’ve used paynes grey with a brush instead of the Inktense stick.

Coastlines, abstract in pinks and blues.

Coastlines, abstract 2. Mari French 2014 


It may seem obvious, but it’s something I have to remind myself of now and then… as artists we don’t have to follow rules, use representative colours, shapes, imagery etc (unless we want to)… we can please ourselves… make it up… 

I wish it was as easy as it sounds. I’m learning that it takes practice, and a bit of ‘to hell with it here goes’ to ring the changes. But it’s worth it for the sense of exhilaration produced. I believe it’s important to please ourselves as artists if we want to produce work of integrity and develop our own style.

No doubt I’ll still feel the urge to paint less abstract landscapes/seascapes, but I can’t help wondering if at some point in the near future I’ll be producing work more like these. Either way, this seems like a necessary stage (see last comment below).

And for those interested, below is the painting I was working on before the artworks above. I’m pleased with it, and I know there are plenty of people who will prefer it. But you don’t progress if you don’t experiment/play, right? In fact, if I hadn’t experimented in the past, I wouldn’t have had the ability to produce that loose lively abstracted area in the foreground suggesting waves crashing on rocks. Thoughts on this topic or on the paintings are, as always, very welcome.

Towards Lands End. Coastal abstracted painting.

Towards Lands End. Acrylic on canvas. Mari French 2014.