all in the detail…

Reedbed sketch (detail) 1 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 1 © Mari French 2017

Funny how the mind works isnt it? Just browsing through my current sketchbook wondering where to get my next inspiration from and of course it’s all there in front of me (which is the point of my sketches after all, apart from the enjoyment of exploring a place and training myself to ‘see’).

Reedbed sketch (detail) 2 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 2 © Mari French 2017

But although I paint abstract landscapes, I don’t find it easy to abstract from my own sketches, so I’ve come to the conclusion – why not photograph some of the details/colour combinations in my sketchbooks that most interest me and crop them down, in effect abstracting them further? Removing them from their literal context while keeping the colours and marks formed intuitively from studying the subject (in this case reedbeds). Thus creating fragments of inspiration and signposts from my own work, at one remove from my original interpretation, to lead me to my next abstract landscape.

Reedbed sketch (detail) 3 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 3 © Mari French 2017

Blindingly obvious I suppose to some, but sometimes I tend to miss the obvious (am I the only one?). Perhaps getting too bogged down in the well-known ‘must produce work for exhibition/sale’ scenario and forgetting the vital process of mining one’s own sketchbooks and workbooks for my own subconscious insights into a subject.

I prefer not to work directly from my sketches to develop paintings as I find myself getting bogged down in trying to replicate (even subconsciously) the freedom of marks and effects that give life to the sketch, inevitably resulting in (for me) a stilted overworked final piece.

Reedbed sketch (detail) 4 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 4 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 5 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 5 © Mari French 2017

Many of my sketches use watercolour, sometimes ink, wet-in-wet, a technique I love for the glorious random accidental effects that can occur, often suggesting landscape forms. Looking at the cropped details of sketches in this post, I can see how the wands of the reeds, white spaces of the paper showing here and there and feathery ‘bleeds’ of paint/ink now take on a more prominent abstract element in the composition. And that gorgeous granulation! Also interesting is how small details can suggest the larger landscape. (I must apologise here for one or two rather blurry photos).

Reedbed sketch (detail) 6 © Mari French 2017Reedbed sketch (detail) 6 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 6 © Mari French 2017

I don’t expect to replicate these effects, especially on a large scale, but, I’m reasoning, if I print out cropped abstract sections from my reedbed sketches I will be effectively removing the recognisable parts of the image, leaving myself with inspirational pieces of colour, light and atmosphere with which to influence my subsequent series of work; suggestions rather than templates.

Reedbed sketch (detail) 7 © Mari French 2017

Reedbed sketch (detail) 7 © Mari French 2017

I’m sure many artists will do this already, but I’m excited to fall upon this idea as a way of working to abstraction from my own sketchbook. I’d love to hear techniques you use to create looser/abstract pieces from your sketches, if you want to share them please do in the comments below.

rust and totems …

Window_clips.JPG

I am finding industrial landscapes, objects and interiors as potentially a rich source of inspiration for my abstract artworks as rural landscapes. In fact I can see a kind of landscape in some of my photos here.

The rich patina of marks, scuffs, rust, paint and general usage all bear witness to an intriguing, sometimes forgotten, history, whilst their shapes, colours and textures will undoubtedly haunt my future work.

A quiet beauty… a totemic presence…

Some people are a little bemused by my new love, others see it as a natural progression of my artwork and love it enough to buy it, for which I am very grateful.

These are a just a few of my own photos of humble places and objects, which I find I keep coming back to, so I thought I’d share them.

grinding mill 1. digital photo. Mari French 2014

grinding mill 1. digital photo. Mari French 2014

 

grinding mill 3. digital photo. Mari French 2014

grinding mill 3. digital photo. Mari French 2014

 

grinding mill 2. digital photo. Mari French 2014

grinding mill 2. digital photo. Mari French 2014


grinding mill 4. digital photo. Mari French 2014

grinding mill 4. digital photo. Mari French 2014

 

Rusting ladder, Newlyn. digital photo. Mari French 2014

Rusting ladder, Newlyn. digital photo. Mari French 2014


 
 

Whelk shed. digital photo. Mari French 2014

Whelk shed. digital photo. Mari French 2014

 

Chain & rope. digital photo. Mari French 2014

Chain & rope. digital photo. Mari French 2014


Hayloft nail. digital photo. Mari French 2014

Hayloft nail. digital photo. Mari French 2014

purple obsession…completed!

…as promised here are the final stages of the tulip painting, described in my previous post.

Below you can see how I added purple to the lower foreground to tie it in with the flowers themselves, knowing I would be painting over most of it, but allowing enough to show through to create depth and interest.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

I then brightened the foreground up again loosely with pale green (actually lemon yellow and white), wiping it back in places to allow the lower layer colours to show through. I was after an impression of these wonderful tulips bursting through spring foliage in the May garden, in sunshine.

I next added dioxazine purple and quinacrodrine carmine to the flowers to bring out their colours. I’m grateful to Elaine Phipps, a fellow artist and friend, whose recent description of tulip petals as being like ‘plumage’, is such a brilliantly apt description of them.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

Once thoroughly dry, I covered each bloom with pieces of easily removable self-adhesive brown tape so I could refresh the upper background with a layer of brighter paint – you can see this in the detail image below.  Tearing the tape into small pieces makes it easier to pull and push them into the natural shape of the flowers.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

When I was happy with that area I removed the tape – a moment I love as the colours now sing out against the brighter background.

As you can see in the two lower detail photos (which I really wish were actually large final works- how happy would I then be!), I then worked into each bloom with watercolour pastel in shades of light purple and carmine, to bring a liveliness and light to the flowers, giving them more definition.

You can also see where I earlier splashed fine drops of dilute purple paint to enliven part of the work, and again to tie in the rich purple with the background.

© Mari French 2010

© Mari French 2010

The last two images show the finished piece and the work in position at the Norfolk Open Studios group show at South Acre Church near King’s Lynn, a lively and varied exhibition which I spent all day on friday, along with 11 other artists, hanging (more of which in my next post).

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

South Acre show, Norfolk Open Studios © Mari French 2011

South Acre show, Norfolk Open Studios © Mari French 2011