Fragments and reflections…

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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.

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!

IMG_4462

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

reed-fringed pools… spangled light…

Recent walk and sketching in early spring sunshine (and Baltic easterly!) at Burnham Overy Staithe, on the north Norfolk coast.

Reed-fringed pool, sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2017

Reed-fringed pool, sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2017


It was spring half-term so there were quite a few groups of people about and the usual dog walkers. Always happy when a dog bounces up to inspect what I’m doing 🙂 The sunlight through the reeds and spangled reflections in the pools was a joy to observe. Handily placed benches help too!

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2017

Reedbeds, Burnham Overy Staithe. © Mari French 2017

 

Burnham Overy Creek & breakwaters © Mari French 2017

Burnham Overy Creek & breakwaters © Mari French 2017

Abstracting the creek © Mari French 2017

Abstracting the creek © Mari French 2017

 
Tide retreating, Burnham Overy Staithe © Mari French 2017

Tide retreating, Burnham Overy Staithe © Mari French 2017

Returning to the car my attention was caught by large flocks of smaller birds lifting up into the air en-masse from the grazings, although the larger geese didn’t seem bothered. I stopped to use my monocular and spotted a Marsh Harrier swooping along the edge of the field and hedgerow, flushing the birds out. It swept swiftly up and along a few times then landed out of sight, possibly with a catch. I was hoping I might have caught it on my photos but it was too fast.

Birds flushed by harrier, Burnham Overy grazings © Mari French 2017

Birds flushed by harrier, Burnham Overy grazings © Mari French 2017