ice cream colours for Spring…

First day of Spring © Mari French 2018

First day of Spring © Mari French 2018

Since that sunny first day of Spring sketching in the reed beds at Burnham Overy Staithe, which I wrote about in my last post, I’ve had a wonderful time with a new palette of luscious colours, all inspired by that light-filled day at the coast.

Some of my social media followers have described these as ‘ice cream colours’, which I rather like. There’s a lot of happiness and pleasure in the works too. Sometimes we artists can struggle and fight with a painting to bring it to fruition, but the works here seemed to emerge while I was enjoying playing with the paint. And isn’t it great when that happens!

Burnished light © Mari French 2018

Burnished light © Mari French 2018

Some of these paintings are in my current solo exhibition ‘Fragile coast’ at Grapevine Gallery, Burnham Market, North Norfolk until 5th May. You can read a bit more about the exhibition and my recent work here.

New spaces © Mari French 2018

New spaces © Mari French 2018

 

 

Spring in the reed beds …

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2018

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2018

I stepped down the steep bank of the sea defences and out of the cold wind. Now on level with the huge swathe of reeds, the warm sun on my face, I could hear so many different birds belling, fluting and chiming, out of sight among the swaying blonde wands. Overhead, flocks of Brent and Pinkfoot geese clamoured and a pair of red kites circled in the sun.

This was last week on the first day of spring and I was walking along the marshes and creeks at Burnham Overy Staithe on the North Norfolk coast. Blue skies and bright sunshine drew me out sketching for the first time in ages and it was bliss to be out under that huge blue open dome of sky (apart from that cold wind of course).

Sketching reedbeds in spring sunshine. © Mari French 2018

Sketching reedbeds in spring sunshine. © Mari French 2018

There were so many bird species about, including a group of six avocets, the poster birds of the RSPB, with their upturned slender beaks, they danced their delicate crane-like courtship dance on the shining mudflats.

 

It may come as a surprise to some who see my work, but the calls, flight and tracks of coastal birds are often referenced in the guise of abstract meandering marks in my paintings. Along with the movement of the wind in reeds or over water, jet trails in the sky and my own wanderings, this is one of the techniques I employ to evoke a sense of my experience of a place.

Below is one of the resulting small mixed media works I produced in my studio this week, all fired up and inspired by that glorious day sketching the reed beds. I’ll post more soon.

'Reedbeds 1' © Mari French 2018

‘Reedbeds 1’ © 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.