Rocks, stones & coves: Cape Cornwall residency 2017

Towards the Brisons, evening. © Mari French 2017.

Towards the Brisons, evening. Mixed-media on canvas. © Mari French 2017.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to spend two weeks on my own, on my second art residency at Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall. Some of you may remember my staying here in 2014, but whereas previously I’d produced work inspired by the ruined tin and copper mines and the raging stormy sea, this time the weather was more spring-like and I wanted to concentrate on the energy of the sea filling and emptying, not only Priest Cove, but also the many small coves along the wild Penwith coastline.

My attention was also captured by the semi-natural bathing pool nestling in the rocks below the house in Priest Cove. There was much more sunshine and light this time and the pool was like a mirror reflecting the sky; often its stillness was in sharp contrast to the crashing waves just beyond. The pool was the still point in the moving scene of the cove; reflective in both senses of the word, filled by the sea, controlled by the moon, partially man-made, part bounded by rocks. In my subsequent work the pool has become a calm space, contrasting with the energy of the mark-making around it. The effect sets up a tension which I like.

Bathing pool, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

Bathing pool, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

Experimental ink studies, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

Experimental ink studies, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

I also produced a series of rapid, small experimented ink studies (above) as I sat next to the pool in the sun, using the pool water to give a marbling and granulated effect. I’m hoping to develop these further at some point.

Mirroring the sky © Mari French 2017.

Mirroring the sky, Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017.

The geology of this area is so striking, from white egg-like boulders and the twisted striations of minerals threaded through massive jagged black rocks in the sea coves, to the tumbled stone scattered across the moors. I can see it featuring in much of my future work.

Rocks near Boat Cove © Mari French 2017

Rocks near Boat Cove © Mari French 2017

Boat Cove stones © Mari French 2017

Boat Cove stones © Mari French 2017

Over the course of the residency, I became aware of lines, suggested and real, threading a dimensional net around this coastal place: on and below the sea’s surface – the regularity of shipping lanes, the varying routes of small fishing boats, the patterned pulses of light from the lighthouses at Wolf Rock and Long Ships, the movement of wildlife; in the air – the soaring flight of sea birds and regular small passenger planes lifting off from Lands End airport. Lines began to appear in my sketchbook and swirling over the paintings I was working on.

Studio work, Brisons Veor © Mari French 2017

Studio work, Brisons Veor © Mari French 2017

Plein air painting, Brisons Veor © Mari French 2017.

Plein air painting, Brisons Veor © Mari French 2017.

I’ve been trying to loosen up my sketching for some time, which in the past tended towards more figurative renderings of landscape. It was rewarding to be able to spend more time working on abstract ways of sketching for future reference. See my last post for more sketchbook spreads from this residency.

Sketchbook, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

Sketchbook, Priest Cove. © Mari French 2017.

Unlike my first residency, where I was free to paint what I wanted, this time I knew I needed to supplying work for a mixed exhibition at Artichoke Gallery near Tunbridge Wells, when I returned and I wanted to use the residency to produce a few canvases to fit their exhibition theme ‘Across the water’. (The first and last images on this post are two of the canvases to be exhibited.)

Working in the studio, Brisons Veor. © Mari French 2017

Working in the studio, Brisons Veor. © Mari French 2017

Along with wealth of material from Priest Cove, the discovery of exquisite little Boat Cove tucked into the coast near Pendeen Light, with its mass of tumbled rocks and stone and remnants from the fishing industry (still carried out there on a small scale), provided the stimulus I needed. The resulting canvases (see Artichoke Gallery link above for all four works) were painted to the pulse and crunch of waves on the rocks beneath the studio.

Bathing pool, Priest Cove © Mari French 2017.

Bathing pool, Priest Cove. Mixed-media on canvas. © Mari French 2017.

 

 

 

emergence …

Ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Since my last post, I’ve been continuing my experimental studies with acrylic ink and developing some of the earlier ones. The addition of more mark making with Inktense pencil, Posca paint pens and white acrylic paint has resulted in landforms emerging – reedbeds, flooded marshes, saltings, banks – reminiscent of the Norfolk saltmarsh coast, which continues to inform my work.

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Experimental study, ink/mixed-media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2017

Recognition & resonance: Venice (ii)

Venice lagoon series. Mixed media on paper. © Mari French 2016

Venice lagoon series. Mixed media on paper. © Mari French 2016

I had a creative block after getting back from Venice (see previous post here). Floundering around wondering whether I should be painting inspiration from my holiday or continue with the ongoing saltmarsh coast series. Seems obvious now, but anyway, as suggested by a facebook artist friend I cut up a pile of small pieces of Hannemuhle watercolour paper and decided to just please myself and experiment with whatever medium took my fancy, taking the pressure to perform/produce off and have fun.

To my surprise what emerged was a collection of abstract little jewel-like images in which, without too much effort, I could recognise imagery from my recent experiences of Venice and its lagoon. After a few days of experimenting like this I felt confident enough to work in a similar fashion on larger pieces of watercolour board. As you can see from the images posted below, there’s a lot of splashed about ink (acrylic and Quink), oil pastel, Posca paint pens, inktense stick and acrylic paint.

Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2016

Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2016

Around the same time whilst researching Venice’s lagoon online, I was delighted to come across the beautiful and evocative La Venessiana blog/website. Set up by Venetian resident Iris Loredana, it shares seasonal family recipes for Venetian food and perfumes and celebrates the seasons and secret places of the city and lagoon. One post particularly fascinated me, giving little-known (to me) facts and background on the islands of the lagoon and the lagoon itself. For instance, I had no idea that the sea lavender that I love to paint on the north Norfolk coast also grows on some of the quiet lagoon islands (plus many more unexpected and interesting connections and resonances for me between the saltmarshes of Norfolk and Venice). Recommended reading for anyone with an interest in authentic Venice and her environs.

Approaching Mazzorbo. Mixed media on paper. © Mari French 2016

Approaching Mazzorbo. Mixed media on paper. © Mari French 2016