… getting through

this week I’m travelling down to the Mall Galleries in London with this painting. It’s made it through to the final selection round of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition. It’s a wet-in-wet watercolour on paper, with a little wax resist to add highlights.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read the email from the organisers. I almost didn’t bother entering and now I’m really glad I did. This next round is to choose those that go into the exhibition in the Mall Galleries from which the winner will be selected, so wish me luck!

Duality. Watercolour on paper. Mari French 2014.

Duality. Watercolour on paper. Mari French 2014.


sitting comfortably …

Just a few sketches from this week’s visit to my favourite stomping ground … Thornham salt marsh on the Norfolk coast. In celebration of the Queen’s jubilee a new bench has been conveniently sited facing out to sea along the creek. HM had her photo taken on her new bench recently with some of the villagers (Sandringham is nearby).

Thornham salt marsh. Mari French

Thornham salt marsh

It’s a popular spot for locals to rest, but despite the bright sunlight there was a cold northeasterly (there has been most of the year so far), and I had the bench to myself for an hour and could spread out. What a luxury not to be perched on a cold rock or on my waterproof mat on a tussock of grass trying not to lose my brushes or pencils in the grass. I’ll be getting soft 🙂

Emerging sun, Thornham Creek. Mari French

Emerging sun, Thornham Creek.

There was a very low tide… I’ve never seen the mud in the creeks so dry and pale. The blonde smudge of sand reflecting the sun across the near horizon seemed larger and closer than I’ve seen it before, with the channel marker posts standing out clearly. 

Changing light, Thornham. Mari French

Changing light, Thornham.


sun-spangled … wind blasted

Reeds & water, Holme, Norfolk

Reeds & water, Thornham, Norfolk

Wind like a knife against my face, arriving without pause direct from the Urals…

ranks of winter-bleached reeds bending in unison before its force.

Blinding white breakers tear across the bright horizon beyond the marsh and sandbanks…

while, overlooked by twitchers, an avocet on the ebbing sun-spangled creek.

Thornham creek (watercolour sketch) © Mari French 2013

Thornham creek (watercolour sketch) © Mari French 2013

Today was so bitterly cold I could only sketch from the car, through the open window, parked by Thornham Creek. Not the greatest sketch, but I wanted to capture the feel of the scene to store in my head to prompt a painting at a later date.

Muffled up to the eyes in five layers of warm clothes I later ventured out for a rapid one mile walk along the sea defences. Gloriously bright and sunny you’d never imagine the ferocity and iciness of the northeasterly from these photos. (I’ve never seen breakers on this part of the beach before). But it does leave you feeling wildly alive and exhilarated…

… and yes, I did see an avocet.

Thornham marsh & coast, copyright Mari French 2013

Thornham marsh & coast

Thornham creek & saltmarsh, Norfolk

Thornham creek & saltmarsh, Norfolk

Thornham, Norfolk

Thornham, Norfolk