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

memory of sunlight…

Memory of sunlight 1. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

Memory of sunlight 1. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

I love the ethereal effects resulting from natural light pouring through windows onto walls, especially in older buildings.

I photographed these images in my home earlier in April, as the afternoon spring sunlight flickered and filtered through to produce this chiaroscuro play of light and shadow on the wall. 

Memory of sunlight 2. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

Memory of sunlight 2. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

Straight from my digital camera, they’re not altered or enhanced in any way, apart from a slight cropping on one. If I could produce this kind of image in my painted artworks I’d be one happy bunny.

I’m a bit obsessed with photographing light in this way (you can see more of my images in the photography gallery in the menu above).

Memory of sunlight 3. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

Memory of sunlight 3. Digital photo, Mari French 2014

 

 

round like a circle …

I’ve noticed I use the circle quite often in my artworks. Recently I’ve been playing around with mixed media – tissue, acrylic, inks – without specific subject matter in mind, as a sort of midwinter exercise. It’s good to take the pressure off, when deadlines permit. 

Anyway, although these are possibly still works in progress, while pondering them I started to muse on the nature of my marks and, as I said, the prevalence of circles in them (see also the present header image) …

Untitled, mixed media on board. Mari French.

Untitled, mixed media on board. Mari French. 

Some of mine fairly obviously represent the sun and moon, especially as many of my paintings are inspired by the landscape; also ponds (circular ponds are prevalent in my local agricultural landscape); mine stacks (aerial view) or holes in the ground in my Cornish works. 

But aside from literal interpretations, it can be interesting to see what alternative meanings the circle might represent … the more abstract connotations. Look up ‘circle as symbol’ online and of course there are a multitude of entries. I’ve quoted just a few here which I find worth considering. I particularly like ‘the cycle of time’ ‘the great rhythm of the Universe’ ‘potential’ and ‘infinity’ …

The circle is a universal symbol with extensive meaning. It represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God (‘God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’ (Hermes Trismegistus)). As the sun, it is masculine power; as the soul and as encircling waters, it is the feminine maternal principle. “It implies an idea of movement, and symbolizes the cycle of time, the perpetual motion of everything that moves, the planets’ journey around the sun (the circle of the zodiac), the great rhythm of the universe. The circle is also zero in our system of numbering, and symbolizes potential, or the embryo. … http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/C/circle.html

The Circle is the most common and universal signs, found in all cultures. It is the symbol of the sun in its limitless or boundless aspect. It has no beginning or end, and no divisions, making it the perfect symbol of completeness, eternity, and the soul: The circle is also the symbol of boundary and enclosure, of completion, and returning cycles… http://symboldictionary.net/?p=1914

Circles commonly represent unity, wholeness, and infinity. Without beginning or end, without sides or corners, the circle is also associated with the number one…

Protection. Circles are often seen as protective symbols. Standing within a circle shields a person from supernatural dangers or influences outside of the circle. Conversely, a circle can also be containing, keeping that which is inside from been released.

Sun Symbols. Circles are frequently used as sun symbols, as well as representing things associated with the sun. The astrological symbol of the sun is a circle with a dot in the middle. The same symbol is often used to represent gold, which is strongly associated with the sun.

The Element of Spirit. The element of spirit, seen as an element equal or superior to the physical elements of fire, air, water and earth, is commonly represented by a circle.  http://altreligion.about.com/od/symbols/ig/Geometric-Shapes/Circles.htm

Untitled, acrylic/mixed media on art board. Mari French.

Untitled, acrylic/mixed media on art board. Mari French.

 

Collagraph print, Mari French.

Collagraph print, Mari French.