veils of colour…


My first oil painting in nearly forty years! I love the soft veils of colour possible with oils. I normally work fast, hence my usual use of acrylics, but I so enjoyed this!

Untitled abstract, oil on canvas.

Untitled abstract, oil on canvas. Mari French 2014


Regular visitors to this blog will know I’ve been working in acrylics, with and without other media, for a number of years, so it will be interesting to see which way I eventually go now.

After painting this I enjoyed bashing acrylic onto another canvas, wiping off etc. Acrylic seems to appeal to the impatient exuberant side of me, whereas using oils I found calming, almost meditative. (unfortunately the light wasn’t great, hence the not very sharp photos).

Untitled abstract, oil on canvas. Studio.

Untitled abstract, oil on canvas. Studio. Mari French 2014


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.


driven to abstraction…

two canvases I’m working on this week… 

These were existing pieces that weren’t work for me. My thinking was if I wasn’t happy with them and reluctant to hang/show them then I may as well be bold and change them. So I decided to take the plunge and paint over/adjust them, to differing degrees, to see what might develop. 

Has it worked? Not sure yet, I need to live with them for a while.

Feedback would of course be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Abstract 1. Mixed media on canvas, 50x50cm. Mari French 2014.

Abstract 1. Mixed media on canvas, 50x50cm. Mari French 2014.


Abstract 2. Mixed media on canvas, 50x50cm. Mari French 2014.

Abstract 2. Mixed media on canvas, 50x50cm. Mari French 2014.