Cornish sketchbook at Open Studio

Gosh its been quite a while since I last posted on here. It’s been such a busy couple of months. I’ve been away on a 2 week art residency at Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall, which I’m planning on writing about soon. But in the meantime here’s a quick look at the sketchbook I worked in whilst there, which will be on show at my Open Studios May 27, 28, 29 and June 9, 10, 11 as part of Norwich & Norfolk Open Studios 2017. My studio is in Harpley, Norfolk and you can get more details and a map here. Hope to see you!

reed-fringed pools… spangled light…

Recent walk and sketching in early spring sunshine (and Baltic easterly!) at Burnham Overy Staithe, on the north Norfolk coast.

Reed-fringed pool, sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2017

Reed-fringed pool, sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2017


It was spring half-term so there were quite a few groups of people about and the usual dog walkers. Always happy when a dog bounces up to inspect what I’m doing 🙂 The sunlight through the reeds and spangled reflections in the pools was a joy to observe. Handily placed benches help too!

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2017

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2017

Burnham Overy Creek & breakwaters © Mari French 2017

Burnham Overy Creek & breakwaters © Mari French 2017

Abstracting the creek © Mari French 2017

Abstracting the creek © Mari French 2017

 
Tide retreating, Burnham Overy Staithe © Mari French 2017

Tide retreating, Burnham Overy Staithe © Mari French 2017

Returning to the car my attention was caught by large flocks of smaller birds lifting up into the air en-masse from the grazings, although the larger geese didn’t seem bothered. I stopped to use my monocular and spotted a Marsh Harrier swooping along the edge of the field and hedgerow, flushing the birds out. It swept swiftly up and along a few times then landed out of sight, possibly with a catch. I was hoping I might have caught it on my photos but it was too fast.

Birds flushed by harrier, Burnham Overy grazings © Mari French 2017

Birds flushed by harrier, Burnham Overy grazings © Mari French 2017

winter marsh…

Creek, Thornham saltmarsh.

Creek, Thornham saltmarsh. © Mari French 2016

I read in an anthology this week, one author’s opinion that saltmarshes are one of the bleakest places in winter. Well, although they can be perceived like that in very poor weather, on a jewel of a day like the ones I experienced this week, they can be surprisingly beautiful.

This sketching trip was to one of my usual haunts, Thornham on the north Norfolk coast. It was too cold to sit about for long but I got a couple of rough watercolours done. Sat by the coal barn sketching the small boats on the creek against the sun, I was almost blinded.

Boats on the creek, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Boats on the creek, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds are an important part of the ecology on this coast, as with many such places in Britain. Their soft pewter feathered seedheads ripple like an inland sea. The stems are pale burnished gold in the winter sun and I find them hypnotic. I keep coming back to them recently, both physically, mentally and in my work.

The other motif that keeps catching my eye, are the cradled pools and creeks of azure blue – reflecting the sky but much deeper in colour. They sit like brooches on the bronze brocade of the marsh. I feel the stirrings of an abstracted response to these with simple layered colour and texture.

Reedbeds, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

 

Rope and seaweed, staithes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Rope and seaweed, staithes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

 Reedbeds, looking towards Holme from Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds, looking towards Holme from Thornham. © Mari French 2016