Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More on the landscape workshop

"Heavenly Light"
Bonnieux, France

Michelle in Bonnieux where Joan and I painted the light and shadows on the church

Each painting session began with a ride in the van to our location. Joan and I fondly dubbed it the Artmobile. Loaded with easels, each painters supplies, and the painters, the Artmobile headed out over the tiny roads of Provence to deliver us to the location where we would paint for several hours. Here are Joan and I ready to board.

On Monday we were challenged with rain, an unusual event in this Meditteranean climate in July. We went to the village of Murs in the morning to paint looking up at the village. The lesson was on how to paint on a gray day. The difference is stunning -- there are no shadows, but there are some indications of light and dark planes. After one false start and some advice from Maggie, I completed this light sketch. At one point we had to secure our easel and paintings and take cover in a stand of trees until the rain lightened up. Maggie is spare with detail and this painting has a bit more than she would have painted.

"Rainy Day Mondays"
Murs, France

Marie from Paris paints the walled city of Murs on a rainy day

With the challenge of rain for the afternoon, Maggie decided to paint either in the studio or on the grounds of our home. She offered to set up a still life, which Joan and I decided to paint. I learned a lot from this little exercise. I was busy carefully using my dowel stick to draw the still life when Maggie came by and told me to stop because the result would look like a coloring book. She said the reason we take drawing lessons is we have the knowledge to branch out. She demoed creating just the negative shapes with her brush and oil paint. I was reminded of Michelangelo saying the figure was in the marble and he just removed the parts that were not the figure. I first protested that I couldn't do this in watercolor, but Maggie insisted I could, and I did. Though this sketch is much too light for a finished piece, it is painterly and I like it. The evening ended late after Maggie gave a lecture on color, just in time for our next day's challenge.

A study of light and shadow on a still life

The following day dawned with bright sunshine so it was off to the walled village of Bonnieux to learn about the color of light and its complementary shadow color. As we watched Maggie do a quick demo of the village portal, it was obvious that the sun would be brutal, so Joan and I selected a shady spot in a park. Here we painted one small portion of the old church. The painting is displayed at the top of this post. Maggie told me this was quite a successful piece. Maggie had us start with an underpainting of light and shadow shapes and then add bits of color to define the textural qualities. I followed her directions using yellow/orange for the light and blue/red for the shadows. I had time to look over the village wall and enjoy the valley filled with lavender fields, so very Provence.

A view of the lavender fields and mountains from Bonnieux

After lunch and a brief rest, we piled into the Artmobile for our journey to Piberny, between the villages of Lacoste and Bonnieux. We would be left her from 3:30 to about 9, with a lovely picnic. David, our host and a superb artist, stayed to paint that afternoon. We stood looking up at Bonnieux on one side and the mountain range that includes Mont Ventoux of Tour de France fame on the other side. We were in vineyards and orchards. I made a failed attempt at painting a large landscape and quit before I finished. Maggie explained that I did not limit the scene enough. Lesson learned! My friend Joan was far more successful, doing a beautiful vista that included the vineyards.

(c) by Joan Kendall

After our lovely picnic in the cherry orchard, everyone spread out to do a painting under fading light. I did a 15-minute sketch of Bonnieux which Maggie really liked and would later include in our show, even though it was not complete. She said you can get away with that with watercolor. We drove back to Les Bassacs in soft evening light.

Bonnieux from Piberny where we painted and had a picnic

A 15 minute sketch of Bonniex from our picnic spot


AutumnLeaves said...

What a lovely series of paintings! I too like that still love; rather lovely! There is something about that last piece that draws me as well. Lovely seeing the shapes come together to a beautiful painting!

Barb Sailor said...

Lovely paintings, all of them. I especially like the first one and also the light and shadows still life. What a wonderful workshop!

Mary Paquet said...

Sherry, Maggie kept emphasizing shapes and relationships. I got some good lessons in simplification, too.

Barb, I always appreciate your comments. The first and last were both very fun to paint. Sometimes a painting comes off the brush easier than other times.