In January

January always feels peaceful. Long breakfasts, golden light, long shadows just before sunset, cozy winter days.

There are these annoying little things I suddenly see how to fix around the house, just because it’s the start of a new year. Like, if we store this frying pan upside down instead, I can reach it on the top shelf without having to climb on a chair.

I sat at my desk every day.  I can see, now, the enormous amount of work I have ahead of me. I can feel the difference between saying “I’ll create images”, and actually creating images. It’s kind of embarrassing. And so I sit and draw, and fail, and learn. I train my eyes to see the colors. I have questions ready in my mind so I know what to pay attention to when I go for a walk. I cringe at the sketchbook page of the day before when I get ready for a new day. It feels really, really good to have reached that step.


Memories Of Warm Summer Days

Fireweed in the summer night light

dry moss

Baltic sea beach

strawberries from the garden

gray sky over the river

Mountain lake and sunset

Mountains and orange sky


rapsberries from the garden

drought in the forest

summer sky

baltic sea rock beach

beetroots from the garden

Fireweeds and gray sky

noctilucent clouds

Never had I seen the forest so dry or heard the moss creaking under my feet.

The dust from the dirt road to the seaside was flying around the car, falling on the wild blueberry bushes and staying there, a coat of gray on the forest floor that no rain came to wipe off.

Nestled between the forest and the Baltic sea were little summer cabins, little summer paradises, brought back to life for the warm weeks of July. The sun was hot, the wind was warm and it felt easy to get into the water. I’d thought it wouldn’t be warm enough for anything but a quick dip, but it was delightful to bathe and swim for a while. It felt just like when I was a kid and my family spent the end of our summers by the Mediterranean sea.

The grass in the garden had stopped growing long before Midsummer. The raspberries started ripening so early that we pondered cancelling our trip to the mountains and stay at home on jelly duty.
As we picnicked by the river after an unexpected pause to set up the spare tire, we watched the sky darken and wondered: will there be a thunderstorm? Will we get rain to cool the air a little? Or will the thunder start another forest fire?

We set the table in the garden every day. When the sun had turned and we could be in the shade, we picked the raspberries. Late at night, when it was a little cooler, Mom and Dad and I cooked many jars of jelly.

There was a watering ban, so we collected water went we showered and carried watering cans to try and save my vegetable patch. We couldn’t do miracles. But there were few pretty beetroots and some delicious strawberries.

Come August, there was a warning for cyanobacterial bloom at one of the nearby beaches.

The night sky got slowly darker. I was the days when you gaze up and spot a star and think: funny how I’d forgotten about that! I got a text from my brother one night. “If you look North, you will see noctilucent clouds”.




water droplets

The new year began with snow days, a stack of library books and long breakfasts by candlelight.
I love the slow, peaceful pace of things this time of year.

It’s no accident, I suppose, that the cozy winter mood I find myself in when I think about my resolutions for the new year – read books ! write more ! Post one painting a week ! Create a weekly routine and stick to it ! – unavoidably results in a spectacular implosion (and a severely neglected blog) once April comes and the year’s seed catalogue (or French politics) starts focusing all my attention.

Yet as I heard people here and there talking about choosing their guiding words for 2018, « routines » was the word that kept coming to my mind. Yes, routines, for everyday life and for creativity, is what I intend to work on this year.

I feel optimistic, because I know I am not starting from scratch. For one thing, I finally feel confident now that the creative path is the one I want to pursue. For another, living in a place I call my own, with a decent set of tools at hand, and for a few years in a row, has been liberating. It has helped me realize that creating routines doesn’t necessarily requires setting a rigid timetable and relying on a level of willpower I don’t have to make myself stick to it.

It works much better for me to pay attention to the way I organize my space to make sure that everyday life doesn’t get in the way of my creative work.

We’ll see how it goes !
Happy new year, you all ! I’ve missed you !

Illustration Friday Lately

This week I put away my watercolor brush and made a batch of wheat paste to create this collage with bits and pieces of junk mail. The theme was “hot“.
It’s the first time I try making something in this style, and it was so much fun. I think I’ll try again.

hot ||| collage || by marion
Illustration Friday, week 14: HOT

Usually, I use junk mail to cut out letters, like I did last week. The theme was “umbrella“.

Umbrella || mixed media illustration by marion
Illustration Friday, week 13: UMBRELLA

The week before that I went digital and tried to make the word “slow” fit into the shape of a snail. I like the idea but unfortunately none of the two is very visible.

Snail || digital drawing by marion
Illustration Friday, week 12: SNAIL

And the week before, the gnomes locked themselves into the bathroom to dress up as punks.

Punk || Watercolor and color pencil illustration || by marion
Illustration Friday, week 11: PUNK

Now it’s time to brainstorm on this week’s theme: illusion.


The gnome seems to have tips for getting a scoop!

The journalistic meaning of “scoop” was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this week’s prompt – blame it on having English as a second language (or on following the French presidential campaign?). However there are plenty of ice cream scoops over at Illustration Friday.

Around here, ice cream weather isn’t there yet:
winter evening mist

Some Things

March is there already! My weeks have been full of sketching and drawing and painting and well, I’m certainly not complaining about that. It looks like I’m spending a lot of time on the Internet too though, since the list of links I want to share with you here is growing and growing. Here are some of the artsy ones:

  • Some interesting thoughts on doodling. In a word, I guess: don’t overthink it.
  • Something “fishy”. I’m always amazed when I come across the work of artists who can create something simple, beautiful, playful and useful and the same time. I guess there is something in Julia Castano’s work about being able to keep seeing the world through a child’s eyes. And the Artistic Moods blog is a really great place to find other artists that have this talent.
  • Speaking of seeing the world through a child’s eyes, Juliane is blogging again. Her work is wonderful! I love the way she gives life to the beautiful dolls she makes through her photos.
  • Something new in my inbox: Eileen, whose creative prompts really helped me get to work back in December, has just started a newsletter in which she shares what inspires her.

Have a great weekend!

The Monster Under The Bed

This week I continued working on drawing perspective. Lately I’d been drawing rooms from the point of view of an observer facing the wall, and this time I wanted the observer to be looking at the angle of the room. It meant switching from one-point to two-point perspective, which I’m so glad I finally did, because it opens up so many new possibilities.

Since the monster under the bed only comes out at night, I also had to start thinking about light and shadows, something that’s on my creative to-do list. Spontaneously I’m drawn to bright colors and in my head this bedroom was full of bright painted furniture, colorful patterns on the bed linen, the wallpaper and the pictures on the wall.

But by moonlight? A black, gray and blue palette only? Tricky!

Here is some food for thought from my helpful twitter friends:

  • Debra sent me this article about painting night scenes.
  • Kristin recommended: “err on the light side, you can always go darker. Using a color opposite on the color wheel is a good way to darken hues.” (which I really need to explore, since I tend to always use black when I need to darken a color).

Conclusion: I definitely want to learn more about color theory. Do you have any tips or resources to recommend?

PS: Plenty of inspiring other interpretations of “heroic” over at Illustration Friday.




It’s tea time! How about a little picnic in front of the wood stove?

This is my contribution for Illustration Friday’s promt “tea”. This week, my focus was on planning the whole drawing ahead so I could paint everything on the same layer instead of adding bits and pieces using collage. I do like the collage technique, especially to create some shadows. But I have to be honest: sometimes I just tend to use it just because I’m lazy!

Here is what I did this time:
1. Spend more time  than usual drawing the whole thing in pencil, using photos as reference for the perspective.
2. Paint in watercolors
3. Add some lines and texture with color pencils.
4. Use white acrylics to paint the vapor swirls.


Love Is Not Just Chemistry

Although I am not an active member of the scientific community anymore, I do stand — as a trained physicist and as a simple citizen — with scientists facing attacks from ultra conservative administrations and all kinds of obscurantist forces.

This is why I haven’t drawn this heart full of physics, chemistry, biology and other natural sciences : because I am convinced that giving the humanities extra support is more important now than ever.

Whether they like it or not, the problems that scientists are facing under administrations like Trump’s or with climate change skeptics are not scientific, they are political. In other words, scientists need tools to be able to deal with this reality : just because people know the facts, it doesn’t mean that they will chose to act the way you think they should.

And isn’t this precisely what the humanities are about ?

You are very welcome to download these printable versions:
A4 pdf  || A6 pdf
Please link back to this page if you repost these images/files elsewhere. For personal use only. Thanks !