Sunday, July 24, 2011

More plein air painting at the Provence workshop

"Almost Heaven"
Saint Saturnin Les Apt
Church in sunshine

"Late Day at Saint Saturnin Les Apt"
Church in sunshine

Painting at Saint Saturnin Les Apt after our picnic dinner
Cloudy day painting on the easel and sunny day painting below

Tonight we would enjoy a picnic so we could paint in the late day light . David ferried us to a town just a few miles from Les Bassac over narrow country roads, pointing out the vineyards at the winery that is the source of our lovely table white and red wines. We arrived around 4 p.m. on a hillside across from an active church and the remains of the walls from a chateau that housed the towns. The remains sit high above a gorge containing the town reservoir. This narrow strip of hillside drops hundreds of feet on the other side as well. In more peaceful centuries, the town has moved down the hill where there are luscious red rooftops to tempt an artist skilled in perspective.

Joan and I decided we had to climb down our hill, cross the top of the dam, and walk up the narrow cliffs to the church. Joan and I got a real bonus. The church was open with a couple touring the inside so we walked in. The church is a lovely old place with original paintings, simple chairs set up for service, and a small altar. It was obvious that the locals worship here to this day. A woman appeared and waved a large key, letting us know that she was locking up now.

We had a mixed lighting situation. Maggie told us we must be prepared to do two paintings simultaneously, one cloudy and one sunny as the colors and relationships will be very different. I got ambitious and started a large cloudy painting. Oops, there goes the sun, so I grabbed another piece of paper and without any lines, used Maggie's lesson on carving out the negative shapes and dark shadows to begin a sunshine painting. Whenever the light changed, which was frequently, I grabbed the other painting and continued to work.

Maggie got to teach me on the spot, which I appreciated. The clouds kept covering the sun, then breaking. We could easily discuss the differences in color and relationships. The first painting at the top of the post is my sunshine painting and the third photo shows it resting on the ground under my cloudy skies painting. Already the light and shadows were changed in this photo from the time I began the sunny painting.

If you are considering painting plein air and wonder about setup, the third photo shows you what I take in the foreground (the stool and other easel belong to others):
  • Sun Eden easel (I left the very large backpack at home as I needed to travel light), purchased online
  • Kiva backpack, very light and folds into itself when empty to become a lightweight purse on a strap (great when I shipped my art supplies to Joan), purchased at an outdoor sports store; the easel sticks up above the top and I pull the flap over it
  • Homee half palette to hold tube paints placed on the easel tray; once filled, I wrapped it inside a plastic bag and hand carried it upright to the locations, purchased online.
  • AquaTote collapsible plastic cloth bucket to hold my water, which I carried in to disposable water bottles in pockets on the side of the backpack; I hung the bucket by the handles from a hook under the easel tray, purchased online
  • Various sizes of Arches 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor blocks (equivalent to quarter and half sheets); I found the half sheet size nice for doing simultaneous paintings when I divided it with masking tape; the blocks eliminate the need to carry a support
  • Small selection of brushes in a homemade roll-up cloth brush holder.
  • Camera, drawing implements, kneaded eraser, sketchbook, tube paints, masking tape
  • Layers of outer clothing
  • At home I might add a three-legged stool, though I generally prefer to paint standing up
I packed the painting supplies and my clothing in one piece of luggage, the size one up from a carryon, for checking on the airplane, thus my limited wardrobe in the photos. We did some laundry by hand and hung small items on a little rack in Joan's room and larger items on the clothesline.

Eventually we took time out for a lovely picnic of puff pastry with break crumbs, cheese, tomatoes, and garlic; couscous; carrot salad; local cheeses and breads; and vanilla mousee accompanied by the local wine. The area had a huge cement picnic table and some of us smaller folks looked like Lilliputians perched on it.

Marie awaits our picnic dinner

It was back to painting and I began a second clear sky painting, never able to return to the large cloudy painting because of the sky conditions. The second painting is the second piece at the top of the post. You can even see the difference in lighting situations between the first sunny painting begun about 4:30 and the second one begun about 7:30. I leave you with a third lighting condition that I never got to paint. I took this photo as we were preparing to leave for the evening. The Artmobile rolled downhill filled with a group of contented and tired artists.

Soft evening light -- a future painting?


AutumnLeaves said...

I'm loving traveling each day with you! Also liking that loose style you achieve. Fabulous!!

Mary Paquet said...

Thanks, Sherry. The loose style is especially achievable when I follow Maggie's advice to carve out the negative shapes and shadows. I had fun!

hw (hallie) farber said...

What an amazing place and it's so nice to read about how you prepare for a workshop--such organization. These works are so different from your early ones; great progress.

janice said...

I am vicariously experiencing your Provençal workshop! It looks as though you had a wonderful time and I've enjoyed the photos, paintings and commentary so much. Thank you.

Barbra Joan said...

Mary, I've arrived here lol ! and am so enjoying my trip with you..
I've read and looked and looked and read... I can't decided what I love the most about your trip, the adventure, the places you've been or the paintings.. Just went through all of it .. word by word,
Beautiful !!!! Barbra Joan

Mary Paquet said...

Friends, I was called to Jury duty for a criminal case, so I haven't had much time to post or read comments.

Hallie, thanks all around! I seem to be a compulsive organizer.

Janice, how nice to know that you have enjoyed the posts about Provence. Thanks!

Barbra Joan, you are such a dear person, and I am happy you are enjoying my latest adventures.

Dan Kent said...

All of this is so interesting, thank you - both about the simultaneous paintings for changing conditions and what you brought with you. En plein air in watercolor - never thought of it really. Wonderful!

Mary Paquet said...

Hi, Dan. Watercolor works really well for on location, except if its raining! It's easy to clean up and you don't need to take mediums and cleaners with you, like for oils. I always feel very contented when painting in the midst of nature.