Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 3 of Provence plein air trip

St Maxime across the bay to St Tropez

Day three of my painting trip to the Cote d Azur saw me travelling to St Maxime where the day was overshadowed by drizzle and flat lighting. We began at one end of the beach to view the famous St Tropez across the bay. All the wonderful luxury yachts anchored off the harbour were a delight to see.
This painting I stood for 1.5 hours in the rain to complete, so glad I paint mostly in oils. We never ventured further round to visit that renowned place instead heading back toward St Rafael for my second painting of the day

                                                           Small harbour at St Maxime

 I had spotted two places on our way to St Maxime and so desparately wanted to return to them and paint. Now I have no names of locations for these next two paintings other than they are to be found near to St Maxime heading for St Rafael. The first of the two was a small harbour area cut into the rocks almost lost with Cannes in the back ground. It was a stunning vista and tremendous place to do a study. Another 8" x 10" oil and number two of the day, taking around 1.5 hours to complete.

                                                           House on the point St Maxime

The last painting shows signs and glimpses of light peeping through as the day was ending, the distant mountains behind what I think was Cannes shone as the sun descended for the day, the landscape glowing at last from a day deprived of sunshine. So to my two friends great delight, I think, though not so convinced, I declared that I really wanted to do this scene. Michael and his Uncle Jacque put on a smile and indulged me. They were great and Jacque was an experience all to himself, as well as being my minder and interpreter he was a great chap to be around, even if we could not fully understand each other. We at least got the basics sorted out, which obviously included Vin Rouge. This scene we found ourselves perched high in a car park, it took me nearly 2 hours to complete. I so enjoyed all that the image had to offer, in terms of composition, and facets, the light from the clear Mediterranean was exquisite. It was a great days painting. We left late, but although I was tired I felt fulfilled by my work on this day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day two in France

La Grand Rue, Callian . Oil on panel 12" x 8"

For my second outing in this wonderful place called Provence I was once more back in Callian, a hill top town steeped in history. I asked to go back to it because  I had noticed this fantastic old street at its heart and dearly wanted to have a go at painting it. Well two and a half hours later it was kind of done, chasing light was my enemy as always. I was pleased with the result, but boy was I ready for a glass of wine at lunchtime, and some bread and cheese of course. Standing for all that time and putting so much energy into a passage is very exacting and deserving of a break.
The Muse's House, Callian 8" x 6" oil on panel

After lunch was over I stayed at the cafe and noticed this beautiful display of flowers overhanging a balcony next to me. Well I had heard that an extremely old lady who in her day had been a muse for a well known artist locally lived in the house and was a complete recluse. I had to paint it, indeed the elderly resident was watching me, as several times the curtain would move and part slightly allowing her a glimpse of my activities from her darkened room. I hope that she would have approved of my efforts.
I will add more tomorrow.  I will show you day 3 in the Cote D Azur at St Rafael beach.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cote d Azur and En plein air

I have just come back from a trip to the South of France where I had been invited by a friend to come along to see Provence and paint a little.
I had always heard that the light was so special in the region, and I have to say for once all such statements were indeed fact. It took me a day or so to get my eyes set just right. What a beautiful place to paint in 30+ degrees, outstanding.
I really was going to confine my works to the coast, marinas and boats, but I found the small narrow streets of ancient French villages an absolute draw as well. The polished cobbles and narrow walls of three and four story hilltop village houses were very impressive with old paint peeling shutters and not a plumb wall in sight. Some of the streets I stood in with outstretched arms, I was able to touch the buildings upon either side. It was crazy, but true, and life has gone on in these places for hundreds of years. They are beautiful places and so steeped in history too.
I did not leave out the coastal areas, indeed they also featured prominently during my 11 days of painting, from St Maxime to Cannes.  I painted scenes looking toward St Tropez though never actually reached that huge city, and sadly never made it to Antibe where Monet painted so many scenes of the many bays there. Another trip will have to be arranged next season for sure.

 This was the first painting that I managed to complete on the afternoon of my arrival. I hope the residents of Callian felt that I managed to do the rear steps of their church justice as I sat under a parasol sipping red wine and eating bread and cheese.The panel is a 12" x 8" oil and took around 1.5 hours to complete. The light was fantastic I am really pleased with the way this one came out.

This next one was a 4" x 12" oil on panel of the beach at St Rafael I just liked the mountain in the background for this painting.  It took around the 1 hour or so to finish, after which I hit the med for a quick swim.

I will add more of the new paintings over the next few days.

I am now back in the studio and full of exciting ideas for new works. Watch this space.....