sea of purple …

Sea lavender saltmarsh, sketchbook spread.

Sea lavender saltmarsh, sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2016

This week, I tried a new coastal sketching route (for me), along Green Lane at Thornham and out onto the Saltmarsh via a rough bridle way. I was stunned by the swathes of purple sea lavender stretching out to the dunes on the horizon. I’d seen this on Norfolk saltmarshes in other years, but never such an expanse.

These plants are completely covered by high tides, there was one the night before – evidence in the form of small dead crabs among the sea lavender – yet they thrive in this hostile environment.

Thornham marsh © Mari French 2016

Thornham marsh © Mari French 2016

I spent several hours over two days walking, sketching and taking photographs. Again, I was keen to interpret this in an abstract way with various media, concentrating on evoking the wind, bird calls, light aircraft overhead, the rustling of reeds etc.

Thornham marsh © Mari French 2016

Thornham marsh © Mari French 2016


Sea lavender, Thornham. Sketchbook © Mari French 2016

Sea lavender, Thornham. Sketchbook © Mari French 2016

 

Thornham Saltmarsh, sketchbook.

Thornham Saltmarsh, sketchbook. © Mari French 2016

 

Sea lavender, Thornham.

Sea lavender, Thornham. © Mari French 2016


Marsh pools, Thornham Saltmarsh.

Marsh pools, Thornham Saltmarsh. © Mari French 2016


Thornham Saltmarsh, sketchbook.

Thornham Saltmarsh, sketchbook. © Mari French 2016

 

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.

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