the earth bleeds …

Regular followers of this blog may remember my previous posts describing visits to the tin mining area of Penwith, near Lands End in Cornwall and the almost alien industrial archaeology there. If not, you can check them out here, here and here.

Below are the two most recent mixed media artworks I’ve produced on this theme. Again I’m exploring my response to the red iron oxide covered ground, the bright turquoise verdigris leaching from the copper adits where they emerge from the sea cliffs below the mines, the stark finger-like stacks pointing skywards.

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Acrylic paint, tissue, acrylic ink and inktense blocks have all been used. The support was Daler watercolour board, which will take quite a lot of wet media if adequately taped down.

It’s an absolute joy to be an abstract artist and come across such rich source material…

I have to go back …

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chasing the light …

Two new artworks from my current series ‘Towards the Light’…

See previous posts Towards the Light and Shadow & Light which explain the inspiration for these.

I’m still thinking up a title for the first one below, which I only finished today. That glorious plum colour in the shadows is a glaze using an Inktense block I bought a few days ago, the first time I’ve used them (although I do use the Inktense pencils for sketching).

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Untitled, Mari French 2013

I’ve entered the first two of this series (Flight, shown below, and Towards the Light, shown on earlier post) into the National Open Art Competition, so fingers crossed! If they don’t get through I’ll be trying them in other open competitions – I think they’re some of my strongest works.

These are a bit of a departure from my usual landscape work, as regular visitors to my blog and followers of my work will realise. I’m enjoying working on them.

All Acrylic/ink/mixed media on watercolour board, approx 20 x 30 inches.

Flight, Mari French 2013

glorious colours…lethal earth…

In early September I spent a week on the Penwith peninsula of Cornwall. This area is well-known for its stunning coastline, artists and the many standing stones and stone circles.

Cape Cornwall from Pendeen Lighthouse © Mari French 2011

Cape Cornwall from Pendeen Lighthouse © Mari French 2011

Sketch of Cape Cornwall, from Pendeen Watch © Mari French 2011

Sketch of Cape Cornwall, from Pendeen Watch © Mari French 2011

At St Ives I visited the 150 year old art studios at Porthmeor, with their large boarded sail-loft type spaces and huge seaward windows overlooking the Atlantic rollers on Porthmeor beach. Really difficult not to be envious of such light and space for painting. One of the artists, John Emanuel, originally from Cumbria, has been resident at the studios for 30 years. He had a fascinating book of photos of the studio interior recently published so I bought a copy.

Sketching at Mousehole, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Sketching at Mousehole, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

I also spent a glorious couple of days tracking down some of the industrial archaeology of the area’s past – tin mines, near Land’s End, which I wanted to sketch. Levant mine, on the coast between St Just and Pendeen is now a National Trust site but this didn’t intrude on the potent atmosphere of the ruined engine houses, chimneys and arsenic works.

Ruins, Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Ruins, Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

mine chimney, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

mine chimney, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

The spectacular setting, on the coastal path high above the sea, added to the sense of drama… a gift to the artist and photographer, although I didn’t see much evidence of the industrial side of Cornwall in the galleries at St Ives.

ruined arsenic works, Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

ruined arsenic works, Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Levant mine originally worked copper till the 1850s, then tin. Arsenic produced as a by-product of the tin mining was, horrifyingly, scraped off the inside of the chimney by men and young boys, by hand, with little more than a cloth to protect their breathing. The arsenic was produced for dyes, pesticides and medicine!

Sketch of Levant Mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Sketch of Levant Mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

I was excited by the vivid red and ochres, both in the buildings and bleeding through the ground of this eerie landscape. Beautiful and potentially lethal…

…an interesting possibility for a body of work I thought, also appreciating the contrast of the industrial subject within the landscape.

Traces of jewel-like minerals can easily be found in the scattered rocks and the earth around the site.

Even the bracken and other vegetation on the moorland above the mine seemed to mirror the colours of the earth and ores.

interior of ruined mine - Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

interior of ruined mine - Levant mine, Cornwall © Mari French 2011

rocks at Levant mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

rocks at Levant mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Levant Mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011

Levant Mine, Cape Cornwall © Mari French 2011