Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What I Will Not Be Missing about Provence, France

There are certain things that I will not be missing from my painting trip to France.  Reliable internet, showers that can get your body wet all at one once and, well, I can't actually think of anything else right now.  What I will be missing are those huge artichokes from Spain that were in season, outdoor fresh food markets with stalls of roasted chicken and an unbelievable variety of cheeses, quiet afternoons spent painting at the charming Hotel du Soleil, lingering sunsets that glowed against centuries old buildings, fields and fields of red poppies, meeting up with French friends, making new friends, red doors, blue shutters, lavender ice cream, olive groves… I think the list is endless!
The fabulous Francoise and Guy, Proprietors of the Hotel du Soleil.  Thank you so much for another lovely time in St. Remy de Provence!!!

Merci Doris for all your insightful painting critiques!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Watercolor Painting In the Small Villages of Provence

Even though I have left the sunny, warm days of southern France and making my way home, I am still holding on to the essence of Provence.  I already miss the rich morning coffees, the happy faces of the students in the workshop, the lyrical "Bonjours", the scent of lavender in the air and the friendly smiles of all we meet.  Our last couple of days of the workshop were spent in some very off-the-beaten tourist paths and quiet painting sites.
This morning, instead of my brisk walk to St. Remy de Provence for a fresh baguette, I drove down a six lane highway in search of a good cup of coffee.  I am currently in Poughkeepsie, New York for a very special event.  My oldest daughter is graduating from Vassar College tomorrow and I have joined my family here to celebrate this joyous occasion.  It is always bittersweet to leave France!

Having fun exporing mixed media journaling

Painting in the quite hilltop village of Egalieres

Looking towards Les Alpilles

A friendly guy takes our photo and cleverly gets in it too

The cute Roman chapel, St. Sixte, built in the 12th Century

Very cozy French restaurant, La Pitchoune


Painting in a vineyard with an beautiful backdrop

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Les Baux de Provence

The Mistral has arrived for a few days.  Our painting site is Les Baux de Provence and we try to find a painting spot out of the biting wind.  During the Middle Ages Les Baux de Provence became the seat of a powerful feudal lordship that controlled 79 towns and villages in the vicinity. The ruler claimed ancestry from the Magus king Balthazar and placed the 16 pointed Star of Bethlehem on their coat of arms.

I found a sunny spot to paint but it was still windy!

Our picnic lunch site at the upper end of the village.  Sunny and sheltered

The view of the old castle from the vineyards below.

Helen & Marie exploring Les Baux de Provence

Cute street

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Peek Inside Our Provence Watercolor Journals

We have been busy painting on location at some wonderful towns in Provence.  Our afternoons are pleasantly spent catching up in our watercolor journals.  We have our favorite spot under the honeysuckle vines at our lovey Hotel du Soleil where we play with some mixed media and work on our watercolor paintings.  For the last two days we are experiencing La Mistral!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Painting Water Reflections in Isle sur la Sorgue & the Cafe Waiter Race

My cousine, Marie, has joined us from Paris.  What a sport!  She loves all the crazy mixed media ideas I have.  Got to love that!
The River Sorgue surrounds the charming town, Isle sur la Sorgue, as if to hug it. Walking along the canals you will notice how they run between the narrow ancient streets. There are little bridges to cross and great wheels to look at with mossy blades turning in the river.  It is also a wonderful place to paint reflections. We find a fabulous restaurant, Les Terrasse du Bassin, which turns out to be a perfect spot for enjoying the cafe as well as the perfect painting spot for painting on location.  The river seems to be calmer here so the reflections on the water are perfect for painting.

The view across from Les Terrasses du Bassin with wonderful reflections in the water
Helen's wonderful painting of the reflections at our favorite spot.

Sunday can be a fun day in St. Remy de Provence and this particular Sunday is the local waiter race. 

Waiters dressed up as chickens race too!

Glasses on the trays are are filled with liquid at the beginning of the race.  They are then measured at the ed of the race and lose of liquid is counted against the waiter.

Just a question for you - How does one walk on these cobble stone streets in these shoes????

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Following in the Footsteps of Van Gogh

One of my absolute favorite places to paint on location (in the world!) is the Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery.    The grounds are full of gardens including a lovely lavender field and a few sundials.  This was the home of Vincent Van Gogh during his very troubled time of May 1889 to May 1890. Vincent's small room had a window looking out over the gardens behind the buildings.
We use our library voices once we enter the grounds because we automatically experience a feeling of reverence and awe.  We are literally walking on the same grounds where Vincent Van Gogh walked, stood and painted.  He lived here for a year and produced almost 150 paintings! 
Painting out back
The lavender rows gave us great practice on perspective!

Our lesson for the day was how to draw and paint arches.

Suddenly a flock of French school children descend upon as and give us painting advice.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Exploring the Luberon

First thing - Coffee!
This day is absolutely gorgeous!  Today we visited two of France's Plus Beaux Village (most beautiful villages) of which there are 141.   Before we left the hotel, I demo one of my favorite ways to do quick on-the-go painting sketches.

Our first stop was Gordes where we found a wonderful place to stop to take photos.
Gordes is a very beautiful old village, perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. The stone buildings built in tight against the base of the cliffs and those perched on the rocks above, including the 12th-century castle, are made of an beige stone that glows orange in the morning sun. The view from the village is a southern panorama out across fields and forests and small perched villages to the Montagne du Luberon.

 Our first stop is the lavender factory.  We learn about the different kinds of lavender.

We stop here to take photos of Gordes, one of France's most beautiful village
We arrive at Roussillon, famous for it's red ochre with its red rocks, red stone buildings and red tile roofs.  We spent several hours here painting.

Mary Ann, Kendra, Sharon, Helen and myself with Roussillon in the background

  We buy little jars of the mined local pigments.  We also get gum Arabic so we can mix the powders to make our own watercolors.  How cool is that!
I can not resist a "boule" of lavender ice cream!

It is fun to see all the colorful baskets.  Everything here has a glow of red that bounces off the stone walls.  I feel like I could spend 100 days here painting!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Painting in our Journals

Sharon's Poppies!

Kendra's Paintings-on-the-go!

The View from our painting spot under the wisteria at the Hotel du Soleil

Helen's water reflections

Sharon painted this in less than an hour!  What a colorful spontaneous feel to this field of poppies.
First day of our workshop!  The sun is shining and we walk to the Place Favier in St. Remy de Provence to paint on-site.  It is a lovely town square with dappled light and the fountain is trickling and sure enough the town drunk is here too.  He has stationed himself at his favorite park bench and his bottle of rose wine is more than half gone and it is 10:00 a.m.  He was here 1 1/2 years ago when I brought my other group to paint and so I warn my students that it is best to stay away from him because the little bit of English that he can utter is not very pleasant.  We, though, pass a very pleasant morning working on our paintings-on-the-go.  I had the students put a watercolor wash on their sketchbook page prior to venturing out, so that we were ready to sketch on top of that on location.