Monday, June 20, 2011

French Escapade - Oppede le Vieus

Our last day of painting on the French Escapade Watercolor Workshop in Provece, Jackie drove us through the countryside and up a winding road to the top of a rocky ridge in the Luberon mountains to Oppede le Vieux.  This village is so tiny and out of the way that even Rick Steves has not discovered it!

The villagers are busy restoring its twelfth century collegiate church and for those with hiking legs and safe shoes there are ruins of a medieval castle to explore on top of a rock outcropping.  Several artists writers and celebrities have found this site and restored old sixteenth and seventeenth century homes to their authentic character.  Needless to say I saw paintings everywhere I looked.

Here are some photographs to make all you painters out there green with envy.   If you wish to create a painting from one of my photos and need an enlarged image just email me (click here) or use the comment section in this blog and I will email the image to you.  Please do not copy any of the paintings posted on this blog, they are copyright protected by the artists.

I wonder who lives here…an artist?  A writer…perhaps Peter Mayles?  He wrote his popular book “A Year in Provence” somewhere in this area.

This lady must be a local artist.

These walls were built all over this area with “dry stacked” rocks meaning no mortar or cement.  Look at the way they stood the rocks on end on the top of the walls, very clever.

Several of us hiked to the church that is being restored.  Then we climbed up to the ruins of a castle from the Middle Ages and took photographs.  However, perching on the rocky outcropping to sketch did not seem to be a wise idea, so we returned to the village below and found wonderful scenes to sketch and paint.   Here are some views of the old ruins, there me be a painting in here somewhere…

Linda and Barbara ordered drinks from one of only two cafes in this tiny village and spend the afternoon sketching.

Linda parked under a tree and tackled a stone cottage with the church on the hill above it.

Jan created this fun painting looking up at Oppede le Vieux from the parking lot.

I plan to return with Jackie on another French Escapade to Provence in the future.  So start saving your travel money and frequent flyer miles now so you can join us next time.  To request to be on my mailing list use the contact me page on my website, here is the link  To see more about Jackie’s French Escapade trips click on this link

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Following Van Gogh’s footsteps to St Remy

We painted along the paths were Van Gogh used to walk during the year he spent at the old monastery Mausole of St Paul in St Remy near the end of his life. He created 150 paintings here and 21 of them are displayed as reproductions on sign posts on the property.

We posed for our group photo with one of the sign posts featuring a Van Gogh reproduction.

Wow poppies! They were finished blooming and mowed when I last visited Mausole of St Paul in 2005 so this was quite a surprise! I took many photos hoping to paint them when I get the chance. I started an ink sketch of them on the airplane on the flights home, I will post it when it is completed.

Linda A, the color co-ordinated photographer!

Jan, our most serious photographer.

The courtyard of Mausole of St Paul

St Remy September 2005

Here is how it looked in 2005, or at least how I sketched it in my watercolor journal back then.

Margaret measuring to get the proportion correct.

Here are the olive trees Van Gogh painted.

You can see the same tree on the left in his painting.

We liked this tree in the same olive grove.

Linda C’s wonderful sepia ink sketch of the big olive tree.

Here is Linda with another sketch of the olive trees.

Barbara and Linda A. at work sketching the olive trees.

It rained a few drops and was cold for a couple of hours that day. Then the sun returned….nothing like what was happening at home back in California! I got an email from Burke that said, “Hail, rain, thunder, tornado warnings, just another spring day in California!”

Jan found a comfortable seat to sketch in the van.

As teacher, I try to spend my time helping students so if I do get a sketch done it is a quickly. I did the ink sketch of this tree in less than 10 minutes, added the watercolor in about a half an hour. I thought it was kind of a comical tree with its huge twisted trunk and just a few small sprouts for limbs at the top.

St Remy, Bonnie's tree

I did not see this little sketch Bonnie did that day until I read her blog. It is so free, gestural and perfectly captures the twisted shapes of these trees.

Bonnie enjoys creative writing as well as painting so she spent part of her day here writing. When she returned home she posted her story about St Remy and painting in France on her blog. She is a wonderful writer, I urge you to click on this link and read her blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Isle sur la Sorgue, France on market day

This is one of the most colorful villages in Provence and I love taking students to paint here. It sits on an island in the Sorgue river and has very colorful shops and restaurants. Each restaurant has its own color scheme, no two alike, really colorful.

We were here on market day. This market is one of the largest Provencal markets in all of Provence. We spent the morning shopping and taking photographs. Then while we enjoyed lunch in a restaurant the vendors packed up and left so afterward we could find a spot to paint. Great planning Jackie.

(In case you are wondering Jackie is the owner of French Escapade, the tour company that operates this wonderful trip. To learn about her trips click here

There use to be waterwheels like this all over this area, now only about a dozen remain. Check out all the moss on this baby!

The pink restaurant

And the green one, like I said, a most colorful village!

Market color

more color

Linda finds one she likes.

more market color

happy dog, not sure about the Frenchman

This might become a painting.

nice reflections

I took this photo for my husband Burke. This guy was fly fishing right in the middle of town, not exactly the kind of peaceful mountain river kind of fly fishing scene that Burke likes. I did not see him catch a fish.

Linda C never missed a shot even if she had to use Jackie as her tripod!

And I loved her pink hat. I think workshop teachers should require all students to wear pink hats because I never once lost Linda, I just looked for the pink hat!

I photographed this lady sleeping on a cement bench in the park across the river from the colorful cafes. The bench she occupied would be the perfect spot to sit and do a watercolor sketch in our journal of the village. By the time we arrived after lunch, she had gone, the photo below was our view to paint.

Here is the scene we were capturing in our watercolor journals.

Jan’s tables and umbrellas

Jan’s work has a wonderful whimsical charm to it. She did many of these tiny sketches throughout the trip and all have her individual style.

Linda A did this one I think. She finished it after I took this photo, but since this is the only photo I can find, I am posting it. Again another artist captures the charm of Isle sur la Sorgue.

I think this is Margaret’s drawing. Barbara did a charming one too but it was in light pencil and I don’t think I was able to photograph it.

Everyone else left the cars out of their sketches, but I included them in my sketch because they gave me the opportunity to say “this is Europe”. The cars in Europe are smaller and different in shape than most of ours in the USA. I kind of liked this one as an ink sketch so I did not add color to it.