The days are growing shorter and our time in Provence is coming to an end. We shipped our art bags home yesterday and will leave for Collioure on Saturday.
It has been a very fine time here, living in a wonderful house, Le Petit Mas, in the middle of an olive grove. We’ve had delightful hosts, Marie Noel and Franck who answered our many questions; explained that the strange sounds we heard in the middle of the night were sanglier (wild boar); printed documents for shipping our art bags home; plied us with treats of homemade pistou soup, breads and jam and olive oil; and who guided us to the best cheese and olives at the weekly market.
We’ve been blessed with a visit from our dear friend JP.
And we’ve been surrounded by the sights and sounds of Provencal and inspired by the spirit of Van Gogh who spent a year of his life at Saint Paul’s asylum which is within walking distance of where we’re staying.
Provence is famous for its lavender fields. Unfortunately, we have never been here when they are blooming, but we are surrounded by images of those fields. This painting is my vision of those fields dominated by my own personal tree.
Three images have been my major inspiration this past month; the flamingos at the Pont de Gau in the Camargue; the stately plane trees that line the roads here; and the Alpilles mountains which frame the Lac Peiroou at the end of the road where our house is located. Most of my work has been plein air studies of these images, a continuation of my attempt to see shapes and lines. There are also a few pastel paintings. I’ve included a number of charcoal and pencil studies for completed paintings after hearing how much some of you enjoy seeing the process.
I’ve been fascinated by the plane trees since our trip in 2011 but didn’t know how to approach painting them. The drawing classes we’ve taken with Howard Hansen this past spring have helped me to find a way to see them. I still have a lot of plane tree paintings in my head. Here is one pencil sketch, and a pastel painting based on ‘test’ shadows that have made it out of my head:-) A test is a piece of paper I use to try out combinations of pastel colors while working on a painting. I finished one painting, washed the pastels off the test paper, liked the shadows that were left, and let them lead me to a painting.
The Alpilles at Lac Peiroou flow in sensuous shapes with mysterious caves. I spent a long time doing plein air sketches there attempting to capture those shapes. Then I came home and did something quite different for me: an abstract study.
On another day we climbed up into the Alpilles and did a few sketches high above Lac Peiroou where I indulged my color fantasies with felt pens.
Some days we painted on the patio out our front door taking inspiration from things we found while walking on the property, or inspired by the trees in the yard, and objects from inside Le Petit Mas.
It was the Camargue with it’s stunning landscapes and brilliant flamingos, a place that has haunted my imagination since our visit in 2011, where most of the images came from that I worked on this month. There will be more of these as well. For now, here are a few of the plein air sketches and a watercolor abstract that I did while visiting there. Also, a few sketches and two pastel painted at Le Petit Mas.
Thanks for joining us on this adventure.