sea fever

Tidal flats

Tidal flats, acrylic on board. Mari French 2014.

 … the sea has been in my blood it seems this week. An exhilarating visit to Brancaster and Titchwell beaches on the North Norfolk coast last weekend, where I also explored a creek new to me, resulted in several busy painting sessions back in my studio.

Tidal flats 2

Tidal flats 2, acrylic on board. Mari French 2014

The recent tidal surges and storms were evident in the scattered remains of some of the dunes across the tidal flats, but on the whole the stunning beaches were back to normal. The looming cloud formations betrayed the approaching change in the weather but added to the dramatic scenery.

Brancaster beach, Mari French 2014.

Brancaster beach, Mari French 2014.


Brancaster beach, Mari French 2014.

Brancaster beach, Mari French 2014.


Creek, Titchwell. Mari French 2014.

Creek, Titchwell. 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.

 

wellies and watercolours…

Thornham saltmarsh, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham saltmarsh, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham creek & marshes © Mari French 2010

Thornham creek & marshes © Mari French 2010

A selection of photos and sketches from a recent visit to Thornham marshes, on the north Norfolk coast, in glorious sunshine. At high tide the saltmarsh and creeks are inundated by seawater – it’s a place of dual characteristics which fascinates me.

I’m spending time studying this area with the intention of working up a body of paintings (another one!) for exhibition. The tide goes out fast here leaving shining mud banks reflecting the blue sky and is a feast for wading birds (the area is a mecca for bird-watchers).

Old silvered tree stumps and rows of dark posts in the mud – remains of staithes (jetties) – provide useful vertical contrast to the expanse of horizontal bands of colour and texture. The creek winds out to the pale strand and dunes in the distance, and indigo strip of sea.

Although it was sunny there was a very cold breeze, so as well as wrapping up well, I made use of the disposable hand warmers I got for christmas. These come in a multi-pack and as soon as you tear open the cello pack they start to warm up and provide very good heat for several hours (although they’re probably not very eco-friendly). They’re also small enough to fit in gloves (or even wellies for a quick warm up!) – highly recommended for outdoor sketching.

Thornham creek, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham creek, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham stumps, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham stumps, from sketchbook © Mari French 2011

Thornham creek & marshes © Mari French 2011

Thornham creek & marshes © Mari French 2011