Solstice… sun & storm clouds

Beach at Holme Dunes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Beach at Holme Dunes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

I eventually managed a couple of days sketching recently at Thornham on the north Norfolk coast. The first day, summer solstice as it happens, a couple of weeks ago now, was deceptively hot with a pleasant breeze. I walked along the raised paths which were lined with a mass of billowing yellow rape, towards the boardwalks through Holme dunes to the wide glorious beach.

Accompanied by the calls of Lapwings and the song of skylarks, bright sun with dark clouds behind me. Bees buzzing, the mud flats greening up in places with vivid samphire. After a few rumbles of thunder, the looming clouds moved away leaving contrails and cirrus clouds sweeping the bright blue sky. 

Thornham salt marsh with yellow rape. © Mari French 2016

Thornham salt marsh with yellow rape. © Mari French 2016

 From my sketchbook notes…

Incredible play of light today from the sun/storm clouds over the marsh and grazings to brilliant sunshine over the dunes, beach and sea. Windy but warm. Indigo, turquoise and cerulean bands of colour on the sea. The sand ranges from palest ivory pink to deep Sienna where it is still wet near the sea. Winding shallow creeks meander across the huge expanse of beach.

 

Thunder in the distance. © Mari French 2016


Dunes, Holme Beach. © Mari French 2016


Samphire, Ragged Marsh. © Mari French 2016


Sun and sand, Solstice. © Mari French 2016

harvesting inspiration…

detail © Mari French 2012

detail © Mari French 2012

…a few sketches from a recent exploration along local country lanes, during the harvest season, led to some promising experimental imagery…

track through ripening barley

track through ripening barley, watercolour/ink pencils.
© Mari French 2012

above… I thought purple skies in a couple of instances would get across the heat of the summer day better than the usual blue.

Rain clouds over ripening crops

Rain clouds over ripening crops
© Mari French 2012

at last … I discovered that this particular blue/purple crop (below) I’d noticed recently, was the herb Borage (nice edible flowers), and not flax or linseed, which seemed more prevalent last year.

stubble and borage crop

stubble and borage crop, watercolour/oil pastel
© Mari French 2012

…and subsequent experimental images, created as soon as I got back, inspired by the field imagery, using ink-stained tissue paper, sponge rollers etc, deliberately avoiding using usual media like pencil, brushes… I want to take these further sometime soon.

experimental 1

experimental 1
© Mari French 2012

experimental 2 © Mari French 2012

experimental 2 © Mari French 2012

experimental 1 © Mari French 2012

experimental 1
© Mari French 2012

experimental 3 © Mari French 2012

experimental 3 © Mari French 2012

silver linings…

the heavy rain is back but it can have benefits for the artist…

I find it much more interesting to sketch looming storm clouds whilst sitting in a car looking out over summer farmland and empty country lanes, than sunshine and blue skies…

Storm clouds near Shernbourne, Norfolk

Storm clouds near Shernbourne, Norfolk
© Mari French 2011

Exploring quiet country lanes between Anmer, Shelbourne and Ingoldisthorpe on monday, I came across these fields of ripening barley and a field of purple/blue flowers (crop?) which I couldn’t identify.

Blue field under stormy sky, Ingoldisthorpe, Norfolk

Blue field under stormy sky, Ingoldisthorpe, Norfolk
© Mari French 2012

I used oil pastel here for quick blocking in of features before flowing wet in wet watercolour over the top (first time I’ve tried this technique outdoors and it gives useful, speedy and lively results as the pastel acts as a resist to the paint. I like the broken colour and flecks of paint that result.

Barley field under storm clouds near Anmer, July '12

Barley field under storm clouds near Anmer, July ’12
© Mari French 2012

I was listening to ‘The Quiet Room’ from the album ‘Piano Stories’ by Debbie Wiseman –  a piece of music which goes well with the subject and place for me.

I’ve built up a library of atmospheric music via I-Tunes from noting pieces heard on Classic FM/BBC Radio 3 and the like.