Trees in St Saturnin les Apt, watercolour on paper, 20x20cm
Cabanon and tree in Provence, watercolour on paper, 18x26cm
Steps into the garden, oil on board, 24x34cm
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm
Busy with my people’s project, I just wanted to do something different. Something completely free and unrestrained. Taking large formats of paper and canvas, I put down the brushes and used only my hands and rolled towel paper. even though it feels a bit like first grade finger painting, there is a liberating feeling that results from “playful” and experimenting occasions like these.
1.Tilleul tree in gouache on paper. For the first tree, I shaped the thick trunk with a large brush and for the leaves, added gouache pigment with my fingers, sometimes very wet so the color runs and sometimes I dotted only dry splotches. Not a very significant result, but it did loosen me up, like all these free, expressive exercises always do. this one really looks like a first grader “picture”!
1…tilleul tree in gouache on paper, 65x50cm…
2. Prune tree in oil on canvas. For the second tree, I used a large canvas, primed it with a layer of thin gesso, “shaped” the tree trunks and branches with modelling paste and painting knifes, and finished off with a last coat of thinned gesso. After leaving it to dry overnight, I built up the tree trunk with layers of oil pigment, using a rag to wipe and build up up the layers. The leaves were all added with crumpled toweling paper and lastly spatters of oil pigment with a large brush.
2…prune tree in oil on linen, 92x73cm…
3…apple tree in charcoal on paper, 65x50cml…
To do excercises like this:
- Use large sheets of paper or canvas or cartons. Off cuts from boxes can work as well
- Wear old clothes.
- Work where you have enough room/space…even outside on the lawn, or go to the park.
- Choose something around you like large shrubs, trees, flowerbeds.
- Use only big tools…big brushes, pieces of rag, knifes, twigs, and of course, hands(You can treat them afterwards with some good creams!)
- Work on the WHOLE paper, even if you run off the page.
- Stand back, up often and look at your creation from a distance. Don’t consider right or wrong or any painting rules.
- Consider only marks, color, texture, shapes.
- When finished with one, put it aside and immediately start another…with another bush another scene.. don’t go back to a previous painting, rather start another one.
- Don’t think, just do.