sunshine and storm…

North Norfolk salt marsh with sea lavender. Abstract landscape in mixed media painting on canvas © Mari French 2018

Saltmarsh with sea lavender. Mixed media on canvas © Mari French 2018

Despite the continuing high temperatures I’ve managed to get some painting done lately in my studio (not as much as I would like!), by getting up earlier and using the few morning hours before the heat cranks up.

Inspired by my recent visits to Thornham salt marsh on the north Norfolk coast (see previous post here) and also the ripening harvest in the local fields, I’ve produced the few mixed media pieces shown here.

Ragged Marsh at Thornham, Norfolk, with wildflowers. Abstract landscape in mixed media painting on canvas © Mari French 2018

Ragged Marsh, late summer, Thornham. Mixed media on canvas. © Mari French 2018

The work at the top of this post was painted soon after a hot sunny day at the coast with swathes of purple sea lavender carpeting the marshes. The second canvas (above) was produced shortly after a spell of cloudy, humid, then spectacularly stormy weather (many hours worth of lightning, thunder and heavy rain in one evening). Interesting how the weather change seems to have affected the colours and light in the two works.

Like most of my artworks the pieces in this post are painted mainly in acrylics with the addition of a variety of other media such as inktense pencil, watercolour pencil (fixed with a little acrylic medium), and a little Posca paint pen. One of the reasons I use acrylics rather than oils is that it lends itself successfully to combination with a wide variety of other media, which is especially good for mark-making.

Ripening barley fields. Mixed media on canvas by contemporary Norfolk artist Mari French.

Harvest. Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2018

‘Harvest’ (above) and ‘Hot summer sun’ (below) are completely intuitive works. I was playing around with paint, layering it on and wiping it off, spraying it etc. just to see what happened and obviously the late summer heat and the golden fields of barley have subconsciously influenced the results.

‘Hot summer sun’ below is a bit different to the others, almost like a linocut or screenprint. Yet, recognisable imagery from my recent experience seems to be there – hot sun, black fields or cliffs depending on how you perceive it, hints of golden reeds or ripening barley. It’s this ambiguous nature of abstracted landscape that appeals to me, leaving some leeway to interpret the imagery according to our own experience.

Hot summer sun. Abstract landscape in mixed media on watercolour board by contemporary artist Mari French.

Hot summer sun. Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2018

 

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.

an artist’s journey …

Creative online platform Fleur and Arbor regularly share their space with selected photographers and female artists. I was approached by them a month ago to see if I’d be interested in featuring on their website. I was and this week I am delighted to be their guest artist.

Completing their questionnaire about my work, influences and how I came to paint abstracts was interesting and useful. I’m convinced that it’s beneficial for artists to occasionally take stock and consider how and why they do what they do. You can read my own responses to these considerations at the Fleur and Arbor website on the link below:

Q&A with Mari French