collagraph experiments …

Collagraph with transfer and chine colle.

Collagraph with transfer & chine colle. Mari French 2014

This week’s experiments with printing collagraphs… incorporating printed material (both found and self created on Lokta paper). 

The subject matter in these is deliberately more abstracted than my recent collagraphs. The plate was mount board with texture paste brushed on (perhaps a little too much on the last one below ‘Fathoms’). I use cerulean blue ink a lot, but mixed this time with a little raw umber, which gives a lovely depth of colour.

Really enjoyed producing these and I’ll be experimenting further along these lines. I’ll keep posting the results.

Collagraph with transfer and chine colle

Collagraph with transfer & chine colle version 2. Mari French 2014


Fathoms. Collagraph with transfer & chine colle. Mari French 2014

Fathoms. Collagraph with transfer & chine colle. Mari French 2014



a sea change …

Coastlines, abstract painting in purple and blue.

Coastlines, abstract 1. Mari French 2014


I’ve been using a lot of blue lately … Prussian, turquoise, aqua… mainly due to painting like mad for an upcoming solo show at Greyfriars Art Space in King’s Lynn, this September.

The exhibition will hinge on the theme of coastlines, namely the rugged and dramatic coast of Cape Cornwall, where I spent an art residency back in March, and the contrasting and more serene (usually!) expanse of beaches and salt marsh that make up the North Norfolk coast, where I often go walking and sketching.

But I hit a creative block last week… couldn’t face more blue seas, not for a while anyway. I was stuck… stalled… needed a jolt to the system. What to do? Actually, what a lot of artists turn to in these circumstances… a change of palette (a change of subject matter is not really an option at the moment and not necessary, I enjoy painting coastal landscape, I just needed a fresh angle).

I turned all my recent coastal paintings to the wall, put my usual acrylic tubes out of the way and grabbed Permanent Rose and Cerulean blue (okay, still blue but somehow different when used with pink!) along with a luscious plummy Inktense stick and set to it with abandon on two fresh canvases I’d prepared with texture paste. (as you may know I prefer not to start with a flat surface).

I then needed a contrast, so used a mix of lemon yellow and white, with a touch of Chromium oxide. These are the results, still in progress, I’ve added a few more brush strokes since, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I like the zingy colour contrast and lively lines. In the second canvas (below) I’ve used paynes grey with a brush instead of the Inktense stick.

Coastlines, abstract in pinks and blues.

Coastlines, abstract 2. Mari French 2014 


It may seem obvious, but it’s something I have to remind myself of now and then… as artists we don’t have to follow rules, use representative colours, shapes, imagery etc (unless we want to)… we can please ourselves… make it up… 

I wish it was as easy as it sounds. I’m learning that it takes practice, and a bit of ‘to hell with it here goes’ to ring the changes. But it’s worth it for the sense of exhilaration produced. I believe it’s important to please ourselves as artists if we want to produce work of integrity and develop our own style.

No doubt I’ll still feel the urge to paint less abstract landscapes/seascapes, but I can’t help wondering if at some point in the near future I’ll be producing work more like these. Either way, this seems like a necessary stage (see last comment below).

And for those interested, below is the painting I was working on before the artworks above. I’m pleased with it, and I know there are plenty of people who will prefer it. But you don’t progress if you don’t experiment/play, right? In fact, if I hadn’t experimented in the past, I wouldn’t have had the ability to produce that loose lively abstracted area in the foreground suggesting waves crashing on rocks. Thoughts on this topic or on the paintings are, as always, very welcome.

Towards Lands End. Coastal abstracted painting.

Towards Lands End. Acrylic on canvas. Mari French 2014.


hot off the press…

Printing collagraph with Chine Colle. Mari French 2014

Printing collagraph with Chine Colle. Mari French 2014


I recently moved the printmaking side of my art business to a new venture in my home village of Harpley, Norfolk. Norfolk Design Gallery is where glass artist Fi Kilpatrick, architect Lara Hall and myself work at our respective crafts and display and sell our own work and that of other makers and artists. 

I’ll still be painting from my lovely rustic studio but printmaking at the new place a couple of days a week. I’ve been getting set up the past few weeks but have been creating and printing collagraphs the past week. 

I’ve just tried out the technique of Chine Colle, which is where thin piece/s of coloured paper, such as Japanese handmade papers, are placed onto the inked-up plate with the addition of a little dilute paste and run through the etching press. The paper then becomes laminated to the printing paper with the inked image over the top. It can add an interesting dimension to a print. 

My first results you can see here. I’ve used a lovely buff coloured Lokta paper, which has small flecks of natural materials in it, for the chine colle. This was also the first time I’d used shellac varnish (also known as Button varnish) in thin coats to seal the plate before inking, instead of the water based DIY varnish I usually use, as I’d read it can allow more of the texture to be retained.

This particular image is based on sketches I produced on my recent art residency at Brison’s Veor, Cape Cornwall.



Collagraph with Chine Colle. Mari French 2014

Collagraph with Chine Colle. Mari French 2014

A couple of other collagraph plates, below, that I’ve recently been working on… I prefer the actual plates to the results sometimes!

Collagraph plates. Mari French 2014

Collagraph plates. Mari French 2014