Art at the edge: developments

Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018
Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018

At last! Having had an enforced break from painting for a few weeks since before Christmas (hope you all had a good one!), my thoughts are turning once again to my most recent source of inspiration – Dungeness. Read my previous post ‘Art at the edge: Dungeness’ for more on how a recent holiday led to my fascination with this unique and strange place.

Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018
Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018

In this post I’m sharing a few recent pages from my current workbook, which I’ve produced since the small paintings in the last post, and I’m working through ideas for a series of mixed media pieces, inspired by my experience of Dungeness, hopefully eventually leading to large canvases. I’m hoping to get back in my studio soon to carry on developing these.

Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018.
Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018

You can perhaps see from these experimental pieces that, as with my other work series, I’m exploring the shapes, linear motifs and colours that the place suggests to me, rather than trying to achieve anything recognisable, so I’m using a lime green for instance, to evoke the weird evening light (not grass!) and to suggest the latent power of the nuclear power station squatting on the edge of the area. I’ve previously used very little green in my artwork, but it feels right here somehow. Linear marks recall power lines, pylons, remains of tracks in the shingle, fences, telegraph poles etc.

Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018
Dungeness workbook page © Mari French 2018

In building up the workbook pages shown here, I used torn up pieces of scrap monoprints I’d produced with a gelli plate, while loosening up and playing with colours, textures and ideas. Then layered over with gouache, acrylic, homemade stencils and collage elements till I got the effect I wanted. I keep a box of scrap prints, textured card and assorted materials close to hand for when I’m messing about in the workbook, either incorporating them or using them for impressing or printing shapes. Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder!

insight… in sight…

Thinking more about the subconscious process behind my art lately …

Work emerging from the studio the past two weeks appear again to be channelling my time spent studying and sketching reedbeds and pools/channels on the north Norfolk saltmarsh coast.

Initially these were experimental pieces with mixed-media (inks and acrylics etc) on watercolour board and paper. But having left them alone for a few days, then coming back and working into them with that lovely rust colour for instance, they definitely evoke reedbeds and water to me. The first one below from a close viewpoint, the second from further away.

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Untitled. Mixed media on paper © Mari French 2017

But I’ve also been considering this: they’re not just about distilling what I see or feel, my work seems increasingly to recall my physical experience; the journeying and exploration of my chosen terrain. So some motifs may appear more than once and at different scales, because I see the same place/object or experience the same feeling or sensation several times as I go, turning and watching, stopping and walking back to study some more.

Having been working towards abstraction in my interpretation of the landscape over the past decade, it’s intriguing (and a bit thrilling) to get this insight into the way my own process works.

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Untitled. © Mari French 2017