sunshine and storm…

North Norfolk salt marsh with sea lavender. Abstract landscape in mixed media painting on canvas © Mari French 2018

Saltmarsh with sea lavender. Mixed media on canvas © Mari French 2018

Despite the continuing high temperatures I’ve managed to get some painting done lately in my studio (not as much as I would like!), by getting up earlier and using the few morning hours before the heat cranks up.

Inspired by my recent visits to Thornham salt marsh on the north Norfolk coast (see previous post here) and also the ripening harvest in the local fields, I’ve produced the few mixed media pieces shown here.

Ragged Marsh at Thornham, Norfolk, with wildflowers. Abstract landscape in mixed media painting on canvas © Mari French 2018

Ragged Marsh, late summer, Thornham. Mixed media on canvas. © Mari French 2018

The work at the top of this post was painted soon after a hot sunny day at the coast with swathes of purple sea lavender carpeting the marshes. The second canvas (above) was produced shortly after a spell of cloudy, humid, then spectacularly stormy weather (many hours worth of lightning, thunder and heavy rain in one evening). Interesting how the weather change seems to have affected the colours and light in the two works.

Like most of my artworks the pieces in this post are painted mainly in acrylics with the addition of a variety of other media such as inktense pencil, watercolour pencil (fixed with a little acrylic medium), and a little Posca paint pen. One of the reasons I use acrylics rather than oils is that it lends itself successfully to combination with a wide variety of other media, which is especially good for mark-making.

Ripening barley fields. Mixed media on canvas by contemporary Norfolk artist Mari French.

Harvest. Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2018

‘Harvest’ (above) and ‘Hot summer sun’ (below) are completely intuitive works. I was playing around with paint, layering it on and wiping it off, spraying it etc. just to see what happened and obviously the late summer heat and the golden fields of barley have subconsciously influenced the results.

‘Hot summer sun’ below is a bit different to the others, almost like a linocut or screenprint. Yet, recognisable imagery from my recent experience seems to be there – hot sun, black fields or cliffs depending on how you perceive it, hints of golden reeds or ripening barley. It’s this ambiguous nature of abstracted landscape that appeals to me, leaving some leeway to interpret the imagery according to our own experience.

Hot summer sun. Abstract landscape in mixed media on watercolour board by contemporary artist Mari French.

Hot summer sun. Mixed media on watercolour board. © Mari French 2018

 

Sea lavender & dark skies…

Sea lavender sketch, Thornham saltmarsh

Sea lavender sketch, Thornham saltmarsh. © Mari French 2018

Due to flagging and wilting in the extended heatwave of the past 7 weeks, I’m playing catch up with painting and social media etc. I’m really not good in the temperatures of 34C plus which we’ve had lately.

Anyway, enough grumbling! We had a fantastic lightning storm last night and torrential rain, so I’m feeling a bit more refreshed and don’t need to water the garden for a few days. This post is really to tell you about a sketching trip I had to Thornham salt marsh on the North Norfolk coast a week ago, when it was a bit overcast and threatening rain (though it didnt) and so much more comfortable for walking and sketching. (I did post some of these images on Facebook etc, so they may look a bit familiar to some of you).

Sea lavender and dark skies, Thornham, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Sea lavender and dark skies, Thornham, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

I’d driven up to Thornham to catch the swathes of sea lavender that carpet much of the Norfolk marshes this time of year. But I was also astonished by the profusion of wildflowers (despite the drought, or maybe because of it) and butterflies along the paths on top of the sea defences – mallow, wild fennel, corn cockle, wild carrot and something with exquisite clover-like white and blue flowers which I haven’t yet identified (see lower left image). Feel free to enlighten me!

 

I started off with gouache, which I’m enjoying using more frequently recently, combined with other media like pencil and Posca paint pens. But I soon decided to switch to wet-in-wet watercolour as the gouache was drying too fast and causing the brush to drag. I thought wet-in-wet might allow me to evoke the looming skies and shadows on the marsh more effectively. I love the way the creeks reflect the light, especially as the skies darken.

 

Sea lavender, Ragged Marsh.

Sea lavender, Ragged Marsh. © Mari French 2018

I’ve since been getting back into the swing of painting in my studio (only in the mornings for now, too hot after lunch), and I’m having fun putting some of these influences to use on canvas, which I’ll show you in my next post.

 

four seasons in one day…

Thornham saltmarsh, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Thornham saltmarsh, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Rain, sun, stormy, bright… apart from snow, I experienced the full gamut of weather conditions yesterday at Thornham on the North Norfolk coast. It makes for interesting photography but renders sketching out in the open a bit tricky. Plus, it was really cold and windy.

Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Rain over Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

As I arrived at Thornham bonfire smoke was drifting in over the marsh with the sun illuminating marsh pools and reedbeds. I started walking along the sea defences from Thornham towards the dunes at Holme, having been stuck at a desk with various urgent tasks all week I was desparate to get out.

At one point I was sat on a bench in beautiful warm sunshine with a great elevated view overlooking the bird reserve lake and reedbeds. Then the rainclouds came over and drops started falling on my sketchbook. It looked fantastically dramatic though!

Viewpoint with handy bench! Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018Viewpoint with handy bench! Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Viewpoint with handy bench! Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Holme bird reserve, Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Skeins of geese were noisily flying over as the weather front was quickly blown eastwards and the sun came out again. I took the opportunity to walk over the dunes to the shore for a quick glimpse of the sea (always a tonic in the winter), then headed back the way I came, anticipating the next squadron of rainclouds that I could see on the horizon.

Holme dunes , Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Holme dunes , Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Thornham creek, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Thornham creek, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

The old coal barn at Thornham was lit up in the sun against the brooding sky, with boats and wooden staithes poking up along the creek next to it. It’s a captivating subject although my sketch of it was pretty rushed and a bit blobby!

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Old coal barn, Thornham, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Old coal barn, Thornham, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018

Old coal barn, Thornham, North Norfolk. © Mari French 2018