Proctor Academy's European Art Classroom has arrived in Aix-en-Provence, France and jumped with two feet into their term abroad studying art history, painting, sketching, and traveling Europe. Enjoy Pilar's reflections from the first two weeks of the term in this week's blog.
“We’re in France” - PEP
The supposed Nor’Easter delayed our start to the term, but using our resourcefulness we were able to navigate the twists and turns of traveling. The first day in Aix we only had six students. We went to eat at a beautiful outdoor restaurant, a jungle of pastas, plastic vegetables, and the occasional piece of bread hung from the pergola. We dined on fantastic salads that made American salads look sparse and dull by comparison.
A discussion endured on how we were going to navigate the city with many of us having little experience in the language. We discovered that the best way to improve was to immerse ourselves whether it be by asking for directions or simply ordering in French. After the meal we wandered the city following history through the narrow alleyways and cobblestone paths.
Later that night we had another wonderful meal cooked by Dave and watched a movie about wine called “A Good Year”. The next day we went back in to Aix and went to lunch at restaurants of our choice. We ventured into the Cathedrale Saint Sauveur, the oldest place in Aix, where Dave gave us a short history lesson and pointed out the architecture as well as the art within. We learned about the Cardio and the Axio which are the oldest streets in any Roman town. The Cardio runs perpendicular to the cathedral and the Axio is parallel.
While exploring Aix we learned about the Troubadours and how bars were put on windows to prevent them from sneaking in and seducing people’s daughters. We discovered a cute little guitar shop with ornate hand crafted guitars.
When we returned to the house in Vauvenargues we enjoyed some downtime and than had another delicious meal that we made together. The next morning we journeyed to a serene little town named Niolone, it was right on the water.
We sketched the wonderful view and ate a small picnic lunch. We drove to the airport where we played a game of foosball with some local little ones while waiting. We also played a few bonding games in the parking lot as we waited for our last member to join us. March 25 all the puzzle pieces were put in place, European Art Classroom 2018 was finally together.
As we drove from the airport back to the house Peppy declared “We’re in France” signifying the beginning of our time together and the gratitude we had for being able to have this experience. Our first day of classes was a sunny day. We attended French using Rosetta Stone, then got introduced to our Art History course, and then went to Literature at a Cafe called Cafe Festival in Aix, where we would attend every literature class and where I would always order the tasty Cafe Viennoise. During literature class we discussed our book “The Mystery of The Lost Cézanne” by M.L. Longworth which I would highly recommend to any foodie who likes art. Afterward I ate a crepe while sketching at the Pavillion de Vendome which was filled with flowers and had a bright blue fish pond.
We went on our first plein air excursion at Puyloubier a place with views for miles and blossoming flowers and vines. We enjoyed a picnic with some yummy cheeses.
We even visited a vineyard and did some wine tasting. The next two days we followed the schedule. Wednesday we attended language than had “Mercredi Mystere”, a day of plein air painting without instruction, followed by exercise time, “souper”, and studio time.
Thursday we attended classes and ate lunch in Aix. Friday we had language than went on a promenade not far from the Aqueduct Rochefavour and walked around a small hilltop town called Ventabren that was full of cats, pastel houses, and religious niches which reminded everyone of Whoville. That night after exercise time we had pizza and watched a very intense movie called “Perfume” which was uncanny because I am currently reading the book.
On Saturday we visited a exhibition in the quarries called Carrieres De Lumieres and I would have to say this was my favorite moment of the week. In the quarries moving images of Spanish artists were projected in the darkness, this included one of my favorite artists, Pablo Picasso.
After the exhibition we went to St. Rémy where we ate and then toured the hospital/asylum that Van Gogh was once in. We got to see his whole room from which he painted the famous “Starry Night” and even did some sketching of the grounds. When we got back to Aix we went out to eat at restaurants of our choice and saw a harrowing movie called “The Rider”, which ended in some tears.
Sundays are rest days, time for us to reflect on the week, and create art from what inspired us. It is also time for us to continue to connect and become close.
So far the experience has been powerful and I only hope we will remember this for the rest of our lives because not everyone gets to have what we do and it’s important for us to recognize “We’re in Francccceeee!”