Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Painting at la Fontaine de Vaucluse and in an abandoned Ochre Quarry

Thursday (not sure why publication date is Wednesday because I didn't actually post until Friday????) we spent a wonderful day at the village called La Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, where the largest spring in France is found, and is the source of the Sorgue river. The sun shone, the temperature was perfect and the colours in the fast moving water were intense blues and greens. I love painting reflections in water, and so was delighted to walk, snap photos and feel inspired.

I finally settled on a view.......


Friday morning we painted at an old ochre quarry near Les Bassacs. We arrived about 9:15 and the view I wanted to paint had many interesting cast shadows. I tried to paint quickly and get down the darks and some mid tones, but the light kept changing.
I did finish the painting (left) in situ but felt it neede some colour correcting back in the studio, and so the final version (right) is a little different, though the photo is too light, and the painting has a stronger ochre tint. Now that I see them side by side I think I like the first version better! C'est la vie!
Tonight is our vernissage and then last dinner. I am almost packed and already anticipating the next two travel days, to Marseilles and Paris, then to Toronto and finally to Guelph and home. 


I am a day behind in writing these posts......yesterday we went to Bonnieux, a lovely village with wonderful views within the village itself, as well as big landscape views towards the horizon.

I painted a tree - don't ask why I chose that from all the other great possibilities, because I have no answer!  
So here is the view and my interpretation.

In the afternoon I worked on another painting that I really like, of a meadow with this lovely big tree, around the house in Les Bassacs.


Fauvism in Rustrel

There was a warm mistral leger blowing on Tuesday this week, so we painted in the small village of Rustrel where there were streets that afforded some shelter from the wind. This is the view I chose on a quiet side street; it had an interesting combination of building shapes, rooflines and angles, as well as some green trees.  I have really been trying on this trip, to paint the local colours of what I am looking at, but today, despite the lovely subtle ochres, grey violets and greens, I decided to embrace fauvism and work with an intense colour palette and flat, lightly modelled color shapes. Et voila.......
Back in the studio after lunch I worked on a small abstracted version of a landscape I posted yesterday, and thought I think that I probably overworked it, I am still quite pleased with it, and see some potential for a much larger version when I get home.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Week 2 in Provence Begins

Our second week began with a morning painting session in the village of Goult. I decided to once again paint some of the crazy topiary trees that punctuate the cemetery landscape there. Here is my set up and the resulting painting.

In the afternoon we painted in the studio and I completed two more works that I am quite pleased with.
That's 7 hours of painting - and right now my right shoulder-neck could use a good massage. Hopefully dinner, wine and a good night's sleep will do the job.



Friday, 22 May 2015

Friday and Joucas

The good weather returned on Friday and we spent the morning in the village of Joucas painting. I found a spot just below the walls and streets, beside the winding road that leads up to the village. From that vantage point I had a choice of three interesting views, and the challenge became one of how to choose. After far too long thinking about this, I finally decided on the one that put my back to the sun.
All week I have  been trying to see, mix and paint the actual colours in the Provence landscape - something I rarely do because I don't do a lot of plein air work, and I quite like a more expressive palette. As I worked out my composition for this painting however, I decided to simplify the tree and building shapes, and try to make it all more abstract, and play with colour.
I was able to complete most of the painting in two hours and then another hour in the studio to tidy it up. Not much like my earlier work this week, but perhaps more like me.

Thursday and the Mistral

Thursday was not a good painting day. The mistral continued to howl, and despite the sun, it was not particularly pleasant to be outside painting. Instead I walked around and took photos of the vineyards near Les Bassacs, and then tried painting in the studio, using one of the photos as a reference. It was not terribly successful. In the afternoon we went to the village of St. Saturnin Les Apt where I took more photos.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Day 3 or is it 4?

Days are starting to slide into one another. The infamous mistral wind is blowing and weather is fresh, and at least sunny. Because of the weather we stayed close to home this morning, painting around the house at Les Bassacs. The challenge was to find a spot out of the wind, but not completely in the shade as it would be too cool. So down a path and voila the view seemed fine, and I could sit in the sun and in fact was rather warm. Three hours later I had painted these.....based on the view across the fields. I was happy with both - which was a good thing because the afternoon's excursion to an old abandoned quarry did not inspire me, though I did take many photos that may prove useful later this summer. After a day of wind and sun, good food, wine and conversation, sleep beckons!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Provence, Day 2

 This morning we drove a short distance to the small village of Murs, and painted there for about 3 hours. There were lots of good views, but finding one that also provided some shade and even ground was a bit of a challenge. Over the three hours the light changed, of course, and so did my painting. It felt like all I was doing was mixing warm, then cool, then warm greens - until finally I just threw in some purple and turquoise, eliminated some of the troublesome buildings, and ended up with this.

After lunch I painted from the view from the studio window as it was hot and sunny and I had had enough of that in the morning. This is a view that I really like for it's abstract qualities, and strong colour. Voila the view and painting - a quick one!


Day 1

I arrived at Les Bassacs in the south of France, last Saturday evening after two flights and lots of waiting time between. Over a delightful dinner with wine I met my fellow painters - a group of similarly aged, independent and interesting women.
Sunday started with a morning visit to the wonderful market at Isle sur la Sorgue, and after lunch, a visit to the nearby Chateau de Bourgane to paint.
Our instructor for the week, James Bland, a painter from the UK, suggested we start with large simplified shapes of colour values using a fairly limited range of colours - white and the primaries. I have been thinking recently about how one "starts a painting", trying to be more conscious of my process, and looking for ways to refine or improve it. Following his suggestion, I blocked in the big shapes with colour values, and then began to refine, but not add too much detail. This is what I had after about an hour and twenty minutes, and I quite like it. 


This was also the first time using my 'new stuff', i.e. the easel with tray and box attachments and tote bag on wheels. The bag was great - I dragged it everywhere, and was happy to have it, though I do have to improve how I pack it, but I know that will come with use. The easel was OK, but not great. My main criticism is with how high I can raise the painting surface. I am 5'6" tall and I found that my painting surface was barely high enough to be comfortable when painting. I did like the 'tray', however, as it held my paper palette and was therefore quite useful.
All in all a good start for the week. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Provence, encore

The Luberon Valley
My bags are almost packed and I am mostly ready to go, to Provence, to Arts in Provence in the hamlet known as Les Bassacs, to paint for the next two weeks.  This will be my third time there in four years, and in this case familiarity breeds anticipation and happiness, to see, and paint that landscape (or at least give it my best shot) once again.
Last year I chose to work with watercolour and gouache which meant that I did not have to schlep heavy acrylic tubes of paint etc. and an easel around, and that made life much simpler. This year, however, I will take both watercolour and acrylics and hope that with some equipment changes – a wheeled tote bag and new easel that has an attachable tray surface -  previous difficulties will be resolved. voila...this is my new Swiss Gear Bag on wheels, which can also convert to a back pack, and will be my flight carry on bag too. I know that I am going to really like this bag -it’s not too big, not too heavy, but roomy enough for all the stuff that has to go into it once I am out en plein air.

......and this is my light weight collapsible tripod easel, now improved with the addition of a tray that attaches below the painting surface and a small plastic box that attaches behind it. Though each object is not large, each will provide some necessary storage/surface on which to place paint tubes and other items that one seems to need or use while painting. My default table in the past, was the ground but the constant bending to retrieve things was not good for my back so this has to be an improvement – don’t you think?  
......on y va!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Moo and Ba

10" x 12"  water colour and watercolour pencils on paper

12" x 9"  watercolour & watercolour pencil on paper
Some more recent, experimental painting-sketches done in my sketchbook. I really like both for their painterly, spontaneous look. To achieve this I drew quickly and simplified form,  I then added broad strokes of juicy colour and wash and then additional watercolour pencil marks for emphasis. I would love to do this on a very large canvas with liquid acrylic paint.....and maybe I will.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Small Paintings, Big Ideas

Field of Dreams
13" x 10"  watercolour & pastel on paper

In the weeks I was not posting last month, I was painting, but nothing too serious or time consuming, in my sketchbook, experimenting and having fun. Isn’t painting always fun? Yes and no. It is engaging and challenging and obsessive and mind consuming, and yes, often fun and satisfying. Did I say frustrating? I am not sure what I would do if I didn't paint!

7" X 5" mixed media on paper
(watercolour, gouache, pencil crayon, pastel)

Post Modern Apples
6" x 7.5"  watercolour & pastel on paper

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Three More Apples Makes Eleven



Well, I may have been ‘on track’ to complete 30 apple paintings in as many days, but my momentum has been been stalled by life - but more on that later in the week! I have, however, completed eleven and will suspend the challenge until I can get back to it later in June. I have to say that it has become a challenge to come up with variety, especially in composition when you are trying to restrict yourself to only one or two objects or shapes. I could widen the media I am using, however I wanted to only use acrylic paint. More to think about!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Four More 'Apples a Day'

The other four apple paintings I painted in the first 8 days of my self-imposed challenge of 30 apples in 30 days - all on 6"X6"  acrylic paper.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Painting an 'Apple a Day'

I am not a daily painter in that I start and complete a small painting each day – but I do, usually, paint every day, working on several canvases of varying sizes. Of course that daily activity is affected when life takes over, as it does from time to time.

Last week I set myself the challenge of painting an apple a day, for 30 days. It sounded relatively easy – one subject (hence no deliberation over what to paint), and a small 6" x 6" format (so not taking a lot of time). The biggest decisions involved were to be the position of the apple, its placement in the composition, and the artistic interpretation.
On the first day I painted one (#1) - and the next day I painted two (#2 and #3). I found that while waiting for paint to dry I wanted to start another, or having squeezed out too much paint and not wanting to waste it, it was easier just to start another.  I also really began to like the exercise and trying to figure out yet another way to paint basically the same subject.  At this point I have painted eight in as many as days and thus am on track to finish the 30 in 30 days, but in my own not quite daily way. So now that I am publicly committed to painting 22 more, it's time to start work.