Confinement & cul-de-sacs…

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”A time of gifts’ © Mari French 2020

I’ve never left my blog unwritten for such a long time before. It’s good to be back. In the past few months of the Covid crisis, I just haven’t been able to summon up the will or the words to write about my art. As for the art itself, like many artists in these strange times, I’ve been floundering around a little lost for a while. With 3 exhibitions cancelled/moved online, Open Studios also cancelled, galleries closed etc, it’s hardly surprising I suppose. It’s not that I haven’t been painting, and I’ve made myself go to the studio to do something a few times a week at least, it’s just that each spurt of creative activity – sketching, collage, painting – has seemed to fizzle out after a short time. Cul-de-sacs I’ve started to call them.

However, each little cul-de-sac has produced some interesting results, so perhaps they hold some promise for a future way forward; like one of those narrow hidden footpaths you can often use for access to the area beyond the cul-de-sac, the one cars can’t take.

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Ploughed fields & tree belt, near Anmer. Sketchbook. © Mari French 2020

With anything more than a long walk forbidden here in the UK, in the last few months, coastal visits weren’t an option (I live 20 minutes drive from the beautiful North Norfolk coastline, where the reedbeds and saltmarshes are a great source of inspiration), I’ve been out sketching the local fields and farmland – something I haven’t really done since moving to Norfolk 10 years ago.

I loved the way the early spring sunshine caught the ploughed fields, exaggerating the russet and ochres of the sand and chalk soil. And the hares were out in force chasing each other in large groups. I haven’t taken these any further though, hopefully at some future point…

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Ploughed field, Anmer Road, with flint. © Mari French 2020

Meanwhile, at the airbase, outside my studio, is a large cherry tree which was covered in deep pink blossom back in March. It was only when a glorious deep pink started to appear in a series of small experimental works on paper, that I realised how the blossom had entered my subconscious. These works look great on some lovely small white cradled wooden panels I’ve bought. I really enjoyed these but as I said, it wasn’t long before I started to flounder. I keep going back to them, so they’re going to get picked up again at some point.

Later in spring, mostly confined to my garden (I know, I’m lucky compared to many) and with almost a month of warm sunshine, my glorious tulips, ‘La belle époque’, just had to be sketched. Then in the studio, I set about abstracting them, in both mixed media and collage, which I enjoyed, before (yes you guessed it) I once again hit a cul-de-sac. Still, I’m excited by the potential of these small works so who knows.

Below is the mixed media collage I produced as part of this abstract tulip work  (all the papers using in it were created by myself, including the calligraphy). Which reminds me I haven’t posted the experimental collage I was developing back in February before the virus hit, so I’ll add them to the next post (it won’t take as long as this one post did I promise!).

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‘Palimpsest’, mixed media collage © Mari French 2020

new greetings cards…

art cards © Mari French 2011

art cards © Mari French 2011

I’m now pleased to be able to offer 3 quality printed art cards showing my work … a chance to own a little piece of my art or send as greetings cards or notecards.
Two landscapes and one of the ever popular purple tulips paintings.
Each is blank inside and cello wrapped with envelope. (The back of each card has a small printed image of the cover print).

Currently retailing at £2.50 each I’m offering a set of 3 for my blog readers and facebook followers, for £6.00 inc p&p.
Paypal accepted or cheques, please ask me for details.

art cards © Mari French 2011

art cards © Mari French 2011

purple obsession…completed!

…as promised here are the final stages of the tulip painting, described in my previous post.

Below you can see how I added purple to the lower foreground to tie it in with the flowers themselves, knowing I would be painting over most of it, but allowing enough to show through to create depth and interest.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

I then brightened the foreground up again loosely with pale green (actually lemon yellow and white), wiping it back in places to allow the lower layer colours to show through. I was after an impression of these wonderful tulips bursting through spring foliage in the May garden, in sunshine.

I next added dioxazine purple and quinacrodrine carmine to the flowers to bring out their colours. I’m grateful to Elaine Phipps, a fellow artist and friend, whose recent description of tulip petals as being like ‘plumage’, is such a brilliantly apt description of them.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

Once thoroughly dry, I covered each bloom with pieces of easily removable self-adhesive brown tape so I could refresh the upper background with a layer of brighter paint – you can see this in the detail image below.  Tearing the tape into small pieces makes it easier to pull and push them into the natural shape of the flowers.

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

When I was happy with that area I removed the tape – a moment I love as the colours now sing out against the brighter background.

As you can see in the two lower detail photos (which I really wish were actually large final works- how happy would I then be!), I then worked into each bloom with watercolour pastel in shades of light purple and carmine, to bring a liveliness and light to the flowers, giving them more definition.

You can also see where I earlier splashed fine drops of dilute purple paint to enliven part of the work, and again to tie in the rich purple with the background.

© Mari French 2010

© Mari French 2010

The last two images show the finished piece and the work in position at the Norfolk Open Studios group show at South Acre Church near King’s Lynn, a lively and varied exhibition which I spent all day on friday, along with 11 other artists, hanging (more of which in my next post).

© Mari French 2011

© Mari French 2011

South Acre show, Norfolk Open Studios © Mari French 2011

South Acre show, Norfolk Open Studios © Mari French 2011