Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Good Morning all. I'm back from a five week vacation and up with the birds again. Sky is blue with some clouds, no rain...yet, but then, I'm in Holland so that is soon to come. A stark contrast to the sun that drove us to afternoon siestas in Provence. The drive in the van was a huge success. I got all my art supplies in and guess what, used about one third of them. But I had it all with me, just in case. What I took: stretched canvas, drawing paper, watercolor paper, pencils, a few conte crayons, erasers, my new French easel, paints, rags, small watercolor kit, brushes, Liquin and a small bottle of turps, plus a couple of small extra jars and my two old camera bags for carrying stuff, digital camera and even some acrylic paints to try out. What I used: One pencil, eraser, sketch book, digital camera, one canvas, oil paints, brushes, rags, jars, camera bag and easel. Oh, and I forgot my stool and sun hat. That probably isn't even one third. Next time I go lighter, but you have to understand...I had a van! I could have four times all that stuff. But it's a drag loading and unloading, so I won't. Next time.
Once in Provence, Apt to be specific, I wandered around for a few days looking for spots. I stuck near the house at first, but soon strayed. The farthest I walked was over a hill/mountain, about an hour. I discovered a nice garden with a very friendly dog. We got to be pals as I sketched some ideas out. He almost followed me back home so I was obliged to discourage him. Definitely a message from Leon as this dog had the same character. Leon once followed a hiker to the top of Le Revard to get rewarded by chocolate (big no-no for doggies). But I digress...
Finally I decided to drive out and up to Caseneuve to check things out. This is a quiet village with a castle as its central point. Wandered around there a bit and was just ready to give up and try another spot when I found this charming garden in a sort of alleyway. Then I remembered, yes, that is what I like about these villages, the small personal gardens people make for themselves in little niches. Their little corner of the world. This little corner became my corner for two weeks. Actually, my first intention on vacation was to do small quick studies, but we all know about intentions. I found a great spot for my easel, protected from too much sun and wind in a corner of two walls. I could also get up on a step an look down at it from a distance. What I didn't forsee was direct sun on the canvas and the shadow of the phone pole, both of which got me into a sort of dance as time went on trying to evade them to see my canvas and paints.
I wonder, is there any such thing as the perfect spot? Probably not. What made this spot even more perfect were the nice neighbors. They stopped regularly by to see what I was up to. And it wasn't on the main tourist roads so, though I got a few tourists wandering through, traffic wasn't too heavy. Nicest of all were the neighbors who were right next to me. From the beginning they were very encouraging, even putting off their trimming of the hedge so I could work in peace. One cold morning, yes it got cold a couple of days, with the Mistral, they lent me clothing to keep warm as I was painting. I guess the sight of a shivering painter was too pitiful. Later, we had tea and they even let me take pictures of their kitchen, with all it's French country charm. (I'm taking a series of photos for study of various kitchens.) In the end they bought the painting! Who could ask for more?