Solstice… sun & storm clouds

Beach at Holme Dunes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Beach at Holme Dunes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

I eventually managed a couple of days sketching recently at Thornham on the north Norfolk coast. The first day, summer solstice as it happens, a couple of weeks ago now, was deceptively hot with a pleasant breeze. I walked along the raised paths which were lined with a mass of billowing yellow rape, towards the boardwalks through Holme dunes to the wide glorious beach.

Accompanied by the calls of Lapwings and the song of skylarks, bright sun with dark clouds behind me. Bees buzzing, the mud flats greening up in places with vivid samphire. After a few rumbles of thunder, the looming clouds moved away leaving contrails and cirrus clouds sweeping the bright blue sky. 

Thornham salt marsh with yellow rape. © Mari French 2016

Thornham salt marsh with yellow rape. © Mari French 2016

 From my sketchbook notes…

Incredible play of light today from the sun/storm clouds over the marsh and grazings to brilliant sunshine over the dunes, beach and sea. Windy but warm. Indigo, turquoise and cerulean bands of colour on the sea. The sand ranges from palest ivory pink to deep Sienna where it is still wet near the sea. Winding shallow creeks meander across the huge expanse of beach.


Thunder in the distance. © Mari French 2016

Dunes, Holme Beach. © Mari French 2016

Samphire, Ragged Marsh. © Mari French 2016

Sun and sand, Solstice. © Mari French 2016

grit & glue … collagraphs & carborundum

Moonlit lochs © Mari French 2013. Collagraph & carborundum print.

Moonlit lochs, collagraph & carborundum print. © Mari French

I recently attended another two day printmaking workshop, this time on Collagraph and carborundum, with tutor/master printmaker Laurie Rudling. The venue was at Cley on the north Norfolk coast, and was part of the Cley 2013 art festival.

This was the second of Laurie’s printmaking courses I’ve attended, the first being two years ago (see previous post). I needed a refresher because by the time I got a press and a studio to use it in I had lost all confidence in using it on my own (more the technicalities of the press rather than the actual printmaking … stupid, I know).

Basically collagraphs are prints made from collaged ‘plates’ – usually just thick card, layered with many different everyday materials eg. wallpaper, plants, cloth, tissue, string, ad infinitum, glued to the base. The plates are then sealed with several coats of varnish and inked up for printing. The addition of carborundum (a type of grit) enables large areas of denser colour (see the mountain area in the larger print above).

Although some prints, such as linocuts, woodcuts etc, can be obtained by hand pressure to a certain extent, collagraph prints do really require a press due to the complexity of the image and need to force the paper into the gaps between the collaged materials.

The small prints below were created by painting with PVA glue on sandpaper block, as simple as that and yet it is possible to achieve a range of interesting effects. I particularly like the sea area in this one. Overturning the usual notions of colour use in the second inking up gave an interesting result, almost an Arctic night image.

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Anyway, I aim to get my press up and running this week, it would be great to have some prints to put in my solo show at Greyfriars Art Space in King’s Lynn in September alongside my acrylic/mixed media works.

For more detailed information and inspirational images on Collagraph printmaking one of the best books on the subject has to be ‘Collagraphs and mixed media printmaking’ by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke.