Reedbeds and reflections…

River Wensum at Sculthorpe Nature Reserve © Mari French 2017

River Wensum at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve © Mari French 2017


Delighted to discover a new reedbeds landscape this week, this time at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, just outside Fakenham. It’s only 8 miles from my home but although I was aware of it, I haven’t visited before (a mistake), as I normally head for the north Norfolk coast and the saltmarshes and reedbeds there. 

Sunday was a blustery and changeable early spring day, with scudding clouds and more bright sunshine as the day unfolded. The reserve is larger than I thought with extensive winding boardwalks providing comfortable and easy exploration. Lots of benches too. I had my camera with me but no sketchbook, which I’m going to put right on my next visit (soon). 

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Birches embracing, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Birches embracing © Mari French 2017

Mere and reedbeds, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Mere and reedbeds, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Reflections and bridge, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017

Reflections and bridge, Sculthorpe Moor © Mari French 2017


I loved the variety of habitat – white birch trunks standing out against the furze of woodland, the meandering river Wensum, its banks lined with pollarded willow, catkins already out, reedbeds and open meres (with great views from several hides). Lots of birdsong, which you’d expect in spring in a place popular with birdwatchers. Speaking of which, the peace and quiet was more noticeable and welcome given that any visitors encountered were talking fairly quietly being there mainly for the birds and wildlife.

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017

Untitled. Mixed-media on paper © Mari French 2017


Movement of wind in the reeds and bulrushes, sparkling sun on the water, movement of branches, reflections, fenceposts punctuating the reedbeds … these obviously all fed into my subconscious because a few days later in the studio, after some experimental markmaking, I produced these mixed media on paper pieces, which I’m rather excited by! (And yes, I did see some interesting birds).

falling back to earth …

My most recent painting, shown below, is another mixed-media on paper (approx 55x44cm), titled ‘Falling back to earth’, but one which took me rather by surprise. I’m conscious that most of my work still has discernible land/sky horizons, and while I’ve enjoyed producing them, for a long time I’ve wanted to allow the work to become more abstract, though still influenced by my experience of the landscape. 

Then this one happened, seemingly out of the blue, though of course that is too simplistic. I know this will be a culmination of what I’ve been painting over the past months/years – all the ‘successes’ and ‘failures’, but it feels completely subconscious. 

Falling back to earth. © Mari French 2016. Expressive mixed-media abstract on paper.

Falling back to earth. © Mari French 2016

I feel more confident in leaving lots of white space now, or editing into the work with white. 

(See some of my recent work here). 

I’ve also used a new blue-grey here too from Amsterdam acrylics, which combines with the red and the pink quite satisfactorily. And, crucially, I’ve stopped myself overworking the piece!

These occasional surprises are one of the joys of experimental painting for me.

Falling back to earth. © Mari French 2016. Expressive mixed-media on paper, framed.

Falling back to earth (framed). © Mari French 2016

Salt & sand…

Salt & sand series. Mixed media on paper, 70x50cm.

Salt & sand series. Mixed media on paper, 70x50cm. © Mari French 2016

Two of the artworks I’ve been producing recently for my solo show at the Grapevine, Burnham Market, late June. 

This was in between sorting out framing/delivery etc for my solo exhibition at Anteros in Norwich, which has just finished, new work for Thompsons Gallery in Aldeburgh, a new piece for Cley Contemporary in July and also works for several more art fairs coming up at Hampstead and Tunbridge Wells in June for Sheridan Russell. 

I think I’m in a roundabout way apologising for not having posted on here for a while, but as you can see, I’ve been pretty busy.  I’ll try to catch up with my posts soon as I can!

Salt & sand series. Mixed media on paper, 70x50cm. © Mari French 2016

Salt & sand series. Mixed media on paper, 70x50cm. © Mari French 2016