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What I Will Not Be Missing about Provence, France

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!
Exploring the Luberon

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!

Painting in our Journals

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.

Exploring St. Remy

Exploring St. Remy

Students are starting to arrive in St. Remy de Provence.  The weather is beautiful, sunny and warm with a slight breeze – perfect for painting plein aire.  Helen has never been to St. Remy de Provence so we walk around the town.  The ancient village is surrounded by an old Roman wall.  We find a fountain dedicated to Nostradamus, born here and credited with predicting numerous events in world history, from the Great Fire of London, the rise of Napoleon of France and Adolf Hitler, to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.  
Walking around the old town we end up at La Place du Favier – this will be one of our painting site.
Janviere, Mary Ann and Sharon exploring La Place Favier, St. Remy de Provence

Janviere finishes her beautiful poppy painting!

 We enjoy a pleasant afternoon painting at our peaceful Hotel du Soleil.  We have the whole place to ourselves! 

Kendra and I show our paintings

Sunlit wall in St. Remy

Here is my journal painting of the sunlit wall in St. Remy

After everyone has arrived we have a scrumptious sunset dinner on the terrace: pate, carrot salad, tabouli, an array of French cheeses, saucisson and of course French bread and Cote du Rhone wine.  We have the most spectacular apple tart for dessert!  The perfect sweet for a fabulous day!
Oh and I almost forgot, but here is a close up photo of my petite palette used for painting-on-the-go that Laure asked to see!

Fun With Brush Strokes – Impressions of a Landscape Painting

Fun With Brush Strokes – Impressions of a Landscape Painting

Quick 5 minute study of a landscape

As I get ready to teach my For Beginners Only Class, I am having fun remember the joy of discovering what your brush can do on the watercolor paper.  It is so exciting to watch the colors mingle and combine to create new and unplanned colors.  Why not have fun before you sit down to some serious painting.
Pick 3 colors (I used Cerulean Blue, Quinacridone Sienna and Nickel Azo Yellow).  Start with the blue at the top for a impressionistic landscape.  Switch to sienna and then yellow as you near the bottom.  Before the painting starts to dry,  mix the yellow and blue for some greenery.  As you paint, play with your brush to see how many different types of strokes you can make: soft edges, hard edges, dry brush strokes, flicks, splatters, twirls….. Just play and don’t worry about what the painting will look like. 
I would love to hear back from you….Let me know if this was a fun thing to do!

Making Plans for Painting in Provence, May 2011

Making Plans for Painting in Provence, May 2011

I met with Helen yesterday about our upcoming May 9-19 trip to Provence, France.  I am getting so excited about it that I can’t sleep past 4:30 in the morning.   We will be visiting  Roussillon know for it’s red-ochre colors and designated one of the most beautiful villages in France.  Here is a photo that I took when I was there with my family in 2003.  This photo is inspiring me to get to my studio today to paint!  Daniel Smith Art Supplies has a color I haven’t tried yet – Burgundy Red Ochre.  Described as a granulating, reddish-brown earth color, it sounds perfect for trying to capture the ruby glow of Roussillon.  They also have free shipping, so now is a good time to stock up on supplies if you need anything.