harvesting inspiration…

detail © Mari French 2012

detail © Mari French 2012

…a few sketches from a recent exploration along local country lanes, during the harvest season, led to some promising experimental imagery…

track through ripening barley

track through ripening barley, watercolour/ink pencils.
© Mari French 2012

above… I thought purple skies in a couple of instances would get across the heat of the summer day better than the usual blue.

Rain clouds over ripening crops

Rain clouds over ripening crops
© Mari French 2012

at last … I discovered that this particular blue/purple crop (below) I’d noticed recently, was the herb Borage (nice edible flowers), and not flax or linseed, which seemed more prevalent last year.

stubble and borage crop

stubble and borage crop, watercolour/oil pastel
© Mari French 2012

…and subsequent experimental images, created as soon as I got back, inspired by the field imagery, using ink-stained tissue paper, sponge rollers etc, deliberately avoiding using usual media like pencil, brushes… I want to take these further sometime soon.

experimental 1

experimental 1
© Mari French 2012

experimental 2 © Mari French 2012

experimental 2 © Mari French 2012

experimental 1 © Mari French 2012

experimental 1
© Mari French 2012

experimental 3 © Mari French 2012

experimental 3 © Mari French 2012

sketchbook browsing…

Brancaster creek - sketch © Mari French 2011

Brancaster creek - sketch © Mari French 2011

Trawling through my sketchbooks today, for inspiration and to print out and paste into my current workbook for reference.

Some of these are recent… some older, but it was interesting making their acquaintance again.

Thought I’d share…

Rain approaching - watercolour sketch © Mari French 2011

Rain approaching - watercolour sketch © Mari French 2011

haybales catching the sun - watercolour sketch © Mari French 2011

haybales catching the sun - watercolour sketch © Mari French 2011

Poplars and poppies - sketch © Mari French 2009

Poplars and poppies - sketch © Mari French 2009

Reedbeds, Blakeney - sketch © Mari French 2011

Reedbeds, Blakeney - sketch © Mari French 2011

Other artists may experience something similar, but I only have to look at these to be whisked back in time… I can remember what I was thinking about, sensations, weather… it tends to be true for most of my finished paintings too.

Barleyfield - sketch © Mari French 2010

Barleyfield - sketch © Mari French 2010

Harvest - sketch © Mari French 2011

Harvest - sketch © Mari French 2011

October shoreline - sketch © Mari French

October shoreline - sketch © Mari French

winter sketching…

A few recent (rough) on-the-spot sketches from my second winter in Harpley, Norfolk. From snow to thaw… I love the way the snow is held in the furrows, and the etched patterns left by the tractors. The soil in these parts is a reddish-brown in most places.

It was usually so cold I’d have to sketch inside the car (with the window open to help retain the atmosphere and keep the colours true – car windows tend to have a colour caste). The ‘Harpley old mill’ sketch though was done from memory shortly after returning home from a walk in the snow, and is of the disused windmill (no longer with sails) on the hill above the village.

Harpley old mill in snow, watercolour sketch, © Mari French 2010 November, woods near Wicken farm © Mari French 2010

Though I use acrylics/mixed media in the studio, I love working with watercolours wet-in-wet for my outdoor sketches (often coupled with a water-soluble pencil or drafting pen). It’s more immediate and I get very excited by the unpredictable results of the colours bleeding into one another causing ‘blooms’ and ‘backruns’, which can be used to represent trees or hedges or clouds.

A good colour mix for winter skies like these is burnt sienna or raw umber plus french ultramarine. I usually try to note down weather conditions or colours or other things from the scene that will help jog my memory back in the studio. I often see wildlife at close quarters on these sketching trips – hares, pheasants, stoat, barn owls – perhaps because I’m sitting so still and quiet, usually on peaceful rural roads.

(By the way, if you click on the pictures, you’ll get a larger image to view.)

Norfolk farmland in winter, watercolour/wax on paper © Mari French 2010

Hedge in winter, misty day, acrylic ink/watercolour © Mari French 2010

Hedge in winter, misty day, acrylic ink/watercolour © Mari French 2010

From my sketchbook - winter, Harpley. © Mari French

From my sketchbook - winter, Harpley. © Mari French