From Nikki you have heard of the Tête, which towers above our home here in Vauvenargues. From Tori you have heard of our custom napkins and pre-dinner traditions. But...do you ever wonder what happens when we venture outside of Vauvenarges?
With my painting pack in back, camera bag in front, and canvas carrier slung across one shoulder I walk, placing one yellow rainboot in front of the other. My attention quickly shifts from my footing as Dave announces, “…here is where Paul Cézanne stood and painted Mont Sainte Victoire over seventy times.”
After putting on my painting smock, I set up my tripod and pochade box, where I will mix my paints. I then clip my turp jar and side tray to the edges of the Pochade box. I place my paper towels and brushes on the side tray. I take care in squeezing my paints onto my palette, first Phthalo Green, then French Ultramarine blue, and after that Alizaren Crimson, then Cadmium Red, then Cadmium Lemon Yellow, and lastly, Titanium White.
Before painting a thin base layer of paint onto my canvas, I take a deep breath and I think of everything Dave has taught us so far: “step back every few minutes, attack the painting, hold your paintbrush like a sword.” I begin. It isn’t long before my mind drifts to the land of creamy brie cheese, crispy Rustique baguettes, and salty tapenade. My stomach rumbles. Focus, I tell myself. I step back to admire my painting; Mont Sainte Victoire is a hodgepodge of grey and purples and the land below it a sea of greens. Frustrated with what I’ve done so far, I remind myself that what we are doing is not simple and Paul Cézanne did not become a master overnight. I work for another thirty minutes before deciding that if I work any longer, I might overwork the painting. Before packing up my things, I step back once more. Although my painting looks nothing like Cézanne’s or Dave’s or any of my peers, I like it. My reward, a picnic.
Picnics and plein air painting. Here we call It “promenade.” Four days a week, we do this - venturing to a different spot each time. To learn, to create, and to reflect.
Last winter, during this exact time I was on Mountain Classroom, writing my blog about solo where I challenged you, the audience, to be completely alone with yourself. I was gifted the opportunity to come on European Art Classroom this winter and so I will challenge you again, but this time, to create. It is not easy, but be patient with yourself, because when you create something you are remotely proud of, success tastes even better than creamy brie cheese.
Below are some pics from the week.
Dave and Nikki in Lambesc.
In the Olive grove.
Cucuron on a windy day.
The Wednesday graded still life.