Fragments and reflections…

Struggling to put thoughts into words over the past few months… fortunately not struggling quite as much to put brush to paper (or canvas) though. It’s been too long (again) since my last post so I’m going to give you a quick recap on what I’ve been up to, just to get myself started writing posts again.

After the tulips artworks I created back in May (here) I went on to develop a very satisfying small series of garden abstracts which proved very popular. One featured in Artists & Illustrators Magazine (October 2020), others were snapped up by galleries. All my love and appreciation of the sanctuary of my garden is embedded in these works. I relished this luscious limited palette; note that green! I rarely used green much before in my paintings, but this series just called out for it’s freshness.

‘Abundance’, mixed media abstract painting on paper. © Mari French 2020.

’Abundance’ (above), acrylic/ink/gouache on paper.

When I was eventually able to get back to the North Norfolk coast my love of the salt marsh and reed beds emerged again. I was back in my element and the lush berry colours of the abstract garden series developed into a more subdued bruised version, influenced by the turning colours of the Autumn – all green-greys, grey-purples and bronze.

Earlier in the year, feeling unable to paint, I’d spent time creating calligraphic papers for collages,with roughly written words relating to bird flight, reed beds, reflections, light etc in inks on tissue. Some of these were perfect for adding to these mixed media abstracts, adding a kind of fragment of message to the image.

‘Equivocal’, mixed media abstract painting on paper. © Mari French 2020.

And below are a few of the on-the-spot sketches at Thornham, Brancaster Staithe and Burnham Overy Staithe, that inspired the above…

“The early stages of a painting are not the time to engage your critical thinking. Let the work show itself”

and finally, I can’t remember where I read the above quote, or who wrote it (sorry), but it has been invaluable to me lately in allowing myself to rely on my intuition when starting a painting (although I sometimes forget!). It’s now stuck to my easel as a reminder. I ignore it at my peril, the painting never works when I try too hard.

ending the year on a high …

I’ve had a couple of lovely surprises, regarding my art, this last few weeks and it’s been great to finish the year on such a positive note.

First of all I was selected as ‘one of 50 finalists out of thousands’ by Artists & Illustrators magazine Artist of the Year 2016 competition, for my painting ‘Flight’ (below). 


As one of the finalists ‘Flight’ will be exhibited in the Mall Galleries, London, in February. There will be several prizes awarded, including the Readers’ Award, which is still open for voting, which I’d very much appreciate.

I also found out this week, that I’ve been accepted for Cley Contemporary 2016, which is part of the North Norfolk Exhibition Project (NNEP). This highly-regarded contemporary annual art festival is held in the beautiful St Margaret’s Church in Cley-next-the Sea, showing artwork by a selection of national and regional artists. I’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past to get in, so I’m delighted to be accepted this time. Especially as the guest curator for 2016, Hugh Pilkington, has said:

… I thought it would be interesting to identify what is the contemporary art being made in Norfolk today, how large is the audience and who are the patrons that might support that work. 

​Who are the artists who could make up a new Norfolk or Norwich School? Who are the successors of Cotman and Crome; of Self and Ackling; of Emerson and Payne Jennings? Who are the landscape painters? Who are the abstract painters? Who are the sculptors? Who works in other interesting and challenging formats? …

We will be given the brief for the work for Cley Contemporary in February. The work will be site-specific which will be an interesting challenge as Cley has a beautiful stretch of Saltmarsh coastline – one of my favourite subjects, as you may have noticed on this blog!


Areas of Light. One of the images in my submission for Cley Contemporary 2016. Mari French 2015

Areas of Light. One of the images in my submission for Cley Contemporary 2016. Mari French 2015

Cley Marshes. © Google Maps.

Cley Marshes. © Google Maps.


Lastly, I’d like to wish all my readers a wonderful Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year! See you in 2016.