It is very very hot and humid. Everybody is moving around like limp fish. The horses are in permanent rest under the apple tree, the cats don’t lift an eyebrow when I walk past the them and even the chickens lay motionless in the shade of the hibiscus bush. I was busy, or trying to be. I took down washing, hung the next basket full, every time walking past the chickens. When they didn’t move when by the third pass, I thought they might just keep that pose for another 30 minutes. Et voilà, indeed they did, or almost. This was fun.
oil on board, 30x30cm
So two new plein air paintings are almost dry.
I started off with doing paintings just around the house..familiar ground..juts to get my confidence back. I can’t start off new with concentrating on all the aspects of plein air techniques, as well as handling people watching. The most difficult part of getting back into it, was staying with large shapes and not moving into picky painting. To help me with that, I had a limited palette of 6 colours and only two large flat brushes – a large one for getting down the main shapes and a slightly smaller one towards the end, getting down the impressionistic strokes.
…four à pain..
oil on linen, 24X33cm
I almost gave up halfway through the first painting(seen below), since I couldn’t recognize any thing on the canvas at that stage, but I knew I would sulk for the rest of the month, so I had no choice but finish it. I am fairly happy and I know the process will just get better from now on… given that I continue painting of course!
oil on board, 33X42cm
I just realized once again…it isn’t the completed painting that gives me the biggest kick, but the process that leads up to the end result. Now that I have some two or four paintings finished, busy drying, my biggest excitement is not seeing them in completion on the easels, but feeling the itch to start a new canvas.
Working solely with painting knives and oil paint…no medium. I quite enjoyed this…very messy and I look as messy as the painting, but I really had fun in doing this little painting! I’m getting there…
…a bunch of red onions…
oil on cotton, 20x20cm(7.9×7.9″)
Now that I have the gallery, I have to do more studio painting, since I can’t lock up every day and go painting plein air. I’m having a hard time though, adapting to studio work “in public”. I’ve always preferred working privately in my atelier at home. Now I’m very self conscious and I worry about every stroke when there are eyes on me. I get distracted easily by what is going on outside and by people wandering in and out. I initially thought it wouldn’t bother me too much, but it does. Maybe down the road it will change.
…Two and half pomegranates…
oil on board, 40x40cm (15.7×15.7)
I’ve fallen into the habit of starting something in the atelier/gallery and then get completely distracted, leave it, bring it home and finish it here at night. Like this painting. And it results in not being me. I find the light very different, the atmosphere is different and even my mood is different. Working on the same still life in two different places just doesn’t sit right with me.
This is a very careful little painting, with no interest. If I look at it, I see a painting done by someone who was afraid to PAINT! Which was exactly the case. There is still this fear and uncertainty that has crept into my oil painting, as I’ve mentioned before.
I was never very fascinated by still life before and I still don’t get very excited about it. But there is a certain kind of meditation that creeps into doing a still life. I experienced it here in the barn at night, when I’m alone and painting on the still life…I sort of like the quietude that a still life conveys. Being someone who doesn’t have a “calm” personalty, I discovered that doing a still life is quite therapeutic for me. I think that is what will make a still life work for me…reaching that moment when I can feel my painting’s quietness, but without having it look and feel static. I will post some more still lifes later.
I have been working a bit more in gouache and oil in the fields…doing the few hay balls still lying around in the fields here and there. The following pieces are only exercises done on site in plein air. I’m working hard at just interpreting, not rendering the reality, but only the essentials.
Close-up two was done using only fench ultramarine, white an a touch of black. I’m quite happy with this one…
I am finding that I enjoy gouache more and more. I like the touch of it on the paper’s surface and it is creamy enough for me and I can work thick with it or thin in washes. I also particularly like its “flat” two dimensional appearance, which looks very “painterly” to me.
…Bales of hay in gouache…
These two gouaches were done on a large sheet of light grey laminated paper/carton paper (65x50cm..25.6×19.7″)
I did a small oil as well.. I have to regain my confidence in oil as I lost it completely during an experience a few weeks ago. I’m hesitant, I don’t really know what to do and where to go to on the canvas. But maybe it is a good thing too…maybe something new can be born from this. I hope so.
…bales of hay in oil…
oil on linen, 33×24.5cm (13×9.7″)
I love the bales of hay standing all around the countryside at this time of year, soon to be stored for the winter. The days are hot and the evenings linger long before the starry nights set in. Perfect summer days. Today was one of those days. The temperature stood a 41 degrees C(105 degrees F) when I took my oil paints just down the hill to capture the hay balls before they’re stored away. I used an old flop painting and started painting over it. Don’t think I’ll do it again, I felt distracted by the already painted scene on the board.
…three bales of hay study…
oil on board,
I have a new project this summer. I woke up one day a few weeks ago and decided I want a little gallery/atelier in Beaulieu. After searching and asking around, I came upon a tiny location, right in the medieval center of Beaulieu sur dordogne, opposite the beautiful old church. I hastened to get my things in order…what things?…drove up to Montlouis to fetch “stuff” to fill my gallery with, drove back 5 hours, offloaded, had a glass of champagne to celebrate this new”craze”, went to bed and unlocked my tiny gallery/atelier the next morning to welcome my first visitors..oh no sorry…clients? Lo and behold, I sold quite a few things!
Et voici mon gallerie/atelier.
…arrival and downloading…
Changes I’ve made: I have an olive tree in a big pot instead of the two small pots, because people nick my stones and use the pots as ash trays…imagine!!
…just finished offloading…
I have postcards made of my artwork and bookmarks and edition prints. People can also browse through watercolors and drawings…which sell very good. And most of all, people enjoy fiddling through the sketchbooks and many want to buy, but of course the sketchbooks aren’t for sale. Next thing that interest them, is to buy a sketchbook and some materials for themselves, because they are inspired by it all. That is so exciting and now I’m preparing small “sketch kits” that people can buy for their holiday or as a gift with my own small handmade sketchbooks.
..opening the first day…
Since taking these photos, I’ve made a lot of changes:
The kids’ corner is bigger with their own little gallery against the wall. they LOVE this and the gallery is already filled up with their dawings: the principle is that they do a drawing for me and they can choose a lollipop from Pierrot Gourmand(see photo below) I provide all the paper and crayons and aprons, all they have to do, is make a drawing/painting).
My goal is probably not to get rich from this little gallery, but to make people aware of art and the fact that art doesn’t have to be expensive or for an exclusive part of the population. I want to show that a gallery doesn’t have to be boring, but can be fun and there can be something for everyone. I would like to have people feel the joy of buying a handmade postcard rather than a boring mass produced postcard from a tourist stall. I work in the gallery while people are browsing and talking to me and asking questions and so far, it seems as though they are enjoying the ambiance and feel of my little gallery, me working there included. Many have made comments on the nice smells of the citrus solvent I use, they enjoy touching and picking up, looking from up close. they even enjoy my music, which is mostly Edith Piaf and the poems of George Brassens and Léo Ferré.
I also have a theme each week or so, focusing on an artist, putting out books and info on this artist, what he did, images, reading material etc. This is still tough for people and most walk by, but there is the odd one who stops and reads.
Will I succeed in bringing art to the common man on the street? If I can reach only one person, then yes, I’ve succeeded.
We had terrible winds when I painted this painting. Everything tumbled over every now and then. So I feel quite proud that I’ve completed it.
… red roof…
oil on linen, 46x38cm (18″x15″)
…red roof: close-up…
And here is my preparation stage, the very first washes.
I have so much to learn when it comes to plein air painting. My biggest problem is usually finding the best viewpoint. Sometimes I impiulsively like a spot, just to realize after a while that the paintings doesn’t have any strong focus point, or the basics are weak(the shapes) or there is no interest, or it is too static. In this case I find that I have no real interest, no excitement, no strong focal point to hold the viewer captive, not enough strong movement to lead the viewer around the painting. So. Off to a next effort!