insight… in sight…

Thinking more about the subconscious process behind my art lately …

Work emerging from the studio the past two weeks appear again to be channelling my time spent studying and sketching reedbeds and pools/channels on the north Norfolk saltmarsh coast.

Initially these were experimental pieces with mixed-media (inks and acrylics etc) on watercolour board and paper. But having left them alone for a few days, then coming back and working into them with that lovely rust colour for instance, they definitely evoke reedbeds and water to me. The first one below from a close viewpoint, the second from further away.


Untitled. Mixed media on paper © Mari French 2017

But I’ve also been considering this: they’re not just about distilling what I see or feel, my work seems increasingly to recall my physical experience; the journeying and exploration of my chosen terrain. So some motifs may appear more than once and at different scales, because I see the same place/object or experience the same feeling or sensation several times as I go, turning and watching, stopping and walking back to study some more.

Having been working towards abstraction in my interpretation of the landscape over the past decade, it’s intriguing (and a bit thrilling) to get this insight into the way my own process works.


Untitled. © Mari French 2017

emerging again …

Emerging forms (ii), acrylic/mixed-media on canvas, 100x100cm. © Mari French 2016

Emerging forms (ii), acrylic/mixed-media on canvas, 100x100cm. © Mari French 2016

… and here’s the next one in my latest series. Lots of thick juicy acrylic paint contrasting with a variety of marks and thin veils of overlying colour. I love this palette just now.

Definitely a feel of the coast here, but something more that I haven’t pinned down yet. I’m enjoying the sense that these works seem perhaps (to me) to have further meaning, from my subconscious or from observation. Meanwhile I’m allowing things to emerge in their own time.

emerging blooms …

Mixed-media on canvas, 100x100cm. © Mari French 2016

Mixed-media on canvas, 100x100cm. © Mari French 2016

After struggling with a couple of canvases this week, I was beginning to lose the plot with this one. Remembering what I’d recently been advised* – ‘Don’t let your painting know you’re scared of it’ – I threw caution to the wind and began editing the image by vigorously covering certain areas with paint, then adding a variety of marks with oil sticks, paint pens and ink pencils. 

Some marks were robust, some delicate and twirling or meandering. Several of the latter seem to be suggesting etoliated, wiry but fragile blooms? I love this colour palette, luminous, soft and atmospheric.

Standing back, I’m quietly excited by this one.


Emily Ball, artist & tutor.