Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Provence Workshop; discovering Bonnieux.

After flight delays that prevented me from making the rendezvous with my dear friend Ellen, and three of our students, I finally arrived at de Gaulle airport, in Paris, and caught the last train to Avignon.

Ellen had booked me in First Class, and what a pleasure it was, speeding through the French countryside,
at the end of the very long day, for the three hour trip.

At one point this group of giggling young women paraded down the aisle. They were from England,
and were touring France with their friend, for her extended "Bachelorette" party.
They'd spent the day at Disney World.

Here is a quick compilation sketch of bits of farm architecture glimpsed among the hills, forests, and fields.

Although my taxi had delivered me to our hotel well after midnight, I was up bright and early for
my first day in the beautiful medieval town of Bonnieux, in the Luberon Valley.

Of course, I was not the only one enjoying the early morning sunshine.

On the left is our hotel; our "home away from home," for the week, "le Clos du Buis."

And here is the very same view, many, many generations ago.

I decided it was time to have some breakfast, and joined friends Tema and Ellen,
who were also starting their day, with what looked like soup bowls of coffee. 

This was the buffet that awaited us every morning, in the dining room.

My morning fare; the beginning of a week of eating delicious foods, morning, noon, and night.

I spent the rest of the morning roaming the narrow streets, until I found a subject to paint.
And oh yes, most importantly, a place to set up my easel, in the shade.

Here is the water color I did that morning. The rest of the students would be arriving the
next evening, on Sunday, and then our week together, in Provence, would officially begin.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Provence, Chadds Ford, and Reality.

For me, making the aesthetic leap from teaching my Painting Workshop in Provence, followed
by last weekend's outdoor festival in Chadds Ford, PA, was a natural one.

Old stone buildings, like that of colonial settler John Chadd, the smell of wood smoke curling into
the damp morning air, and reenactors in period garb; I'm a sucker for the romance of history,
no matter where I encounter it. It's the Illustrator in me, for sure.

On this particular weekend I am one of many artists and crafts-people who are pitching their tents
on the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society, for the "Chadds Ford Days" annual festival.     

I find the subjects for most of  my "Pleine Air" paintings in Maine, South Jersey, and along the banks of
the Schuylkill River. Here are two done in Chadds Ford, in the past year.
"The Brandywine, Looking North."  Oil on panel. 5 X 7"   $110.00 unframed.

"Kuerners; Homage to Andy and N.C."  Oil on panel  12 X 24"   $1,900. framed

Saturday was sunny and beautiful, with over 4,000 visitors meandering the grounds. I decided to
entertain the throngs by setting up my easel and finally finishing a painting I'd almost completed
in Maine, the previous summer.

Here is the finished painting. I love New England homes that are attached to their barns.
They move across across the landscape, in so many varied configurations. Oil on canvas, NFS

Just in case you think it was all just fun and games; at one point I forced myself to test the texture and taste of this weighty Funnel Cake. (urp!) No easy task.

Unlike our sunny Saturday, Sunday loomed gray and threatening.

While a gentle rain fell, I shared the shelter of the John Chadd house with these lovely women,
a mother and her daughter.

But we artists were an optimistic bunch, and just in time for the opening, the rains passed.

To pass the time between visitors to my tent, I did this ink line drawing of two new artist friends,
Kieth Hoffman and Bruno Baran. Each is a really good landscape painter.

Happily, the rain held out for the rest of the day. As I emptied my tent and packed up my
paintings, I thought of Andy Wyeth, whose winter home was about a half mile down the road.

Just a few weeks earlier, while in Maine, I had spent a night baby-sitting my granddaughter,
Diver, at a bar in which Pierce and  Maggi were performing. We were in
Port Clyde, where Andy and his family had for so many years spent their summers.

    I kinda' like the idea that Andy's spirit will continue to trek the landscape, in Maine and in
his beloved Brandywine Valley, forever seeking the subject of  his next painting.