Early autumn sketching at Thornham reedbeds…

Another recent walking and sketching day at Thornham on the Norfolk coast. This time I concentrated on the entrancing light, colour and movement in the reedbeds as they subtly change with the approaching autumn.

Looking over the reedbeds towards Holme church from the raised banks around Ragged Marsh is one of my favourite views. The wind rustling through the silvered stems and purple-grey feathery heads is very calming. I used mainly watercolours with just one abstract using the brush pens that I mentioned in the last post.

I also did a watercolour sketch of the otherworldly ‘stumps’ looking out over the creek and marsh.

I remembered my camera this time and even caught a starling murmuration as well as the odd rusted artefact!

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

winter marsh…

Creek, Thornham saltmarsh.

Creek, Thornham saltmarsh. © Mari French 2016

I read in an anthology this week, one author’s opinion that saltmarshes are one of the bleakest places in winter. Well, although they can be perceived like that in very poor weather, on a jewel of a day like the ones I experienced this week, they can be surprisingly beautiful.

This sketching trip was to one of my usual haunts, Thornham on the north Norfolk coast. It was too cold to sit about for long but I got a couple of rough watercolours done. Sat by the coal barn sketching the small boats on the creek against the sun, I was almost blinded.

Boats on the creek, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Boats on the creek, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds are an important part of the ecology on this coast, as with many such places in Britain. Their soft pewter feathered seedheads ripple like an inland sea. The stems are pale burnished gold in the winter sun and I find them hypnotic. I keep coming back to them recently, both physically, mentally and in my work.

The other motif that keeps catching my eye, are the cradled pools and creeks of azure blue – reflecting the sky but much deeper in colour. They sit like brooches on the bronze brocade of the marsh. I feel the stirrings of an abstracted response to these with simple layered colour and texture.

Reedbeds, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds, Thornham. Sketchbook spread © Mari French 2016

 

Rope and seaweed, staithes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Rope and seaweed, staithes, Thornham. © Mari French 2016

 Reedbeds, looking towards Holme from Thornham. © Mari French 2016

Reedbeds, looking towards Holme from Thornham. © Mari French 2016