Friday, October 28, 2011

Giverny with Monet

You can sense the energy.  Our day in September was awash with colour in the gardens, a visit in flower high season (May June) must be incredible.  We arrived early, but bus loads of mostly Americans were already on site.  The grounds are quite large so the crowd at this stage was well dispersed.

A Few Flowers

All ages, sizes, and shapes were viewing the gardens in fall colours.

Start Young

And of course the lilly ponds and Japanese bridge.

Caption Required

We left Monet's grounds for a stroll through the village.  It is beautiful and quaint.  Could paint here for some time.  It began to rain and I was getting itchy to paint, so.....

Hotel Musardiere Window with the Little Box

And voila, we gets..........

And the Sun Shone on Cue

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rain Day Strategies

Mid October and the class actually showed up.  Sun was the forecast.  I never believe forecasts.  However, it started that way.

Sunny for Now

By the time I set up in the sun to keep everyone warm (9C), gave my handouts, got the experienced ones going, and began to demo, a fine mist started to come down.  That turned to a drizzle as I showed a 4 shape mass-in.  Getting the values correct turned out to be a demonstration in painting oil in the rain.  An interesting skill by itself.  And ditto for the coming snow.

Rain Bound Subject

I had talked about the difference between a sunny day producing shadows, and a heavy overcast day showing local colour and tone.  This strategy was chosen while listening to the forecast.  Contrarian.  Handouts covered to two situations.

A quick discussion about painting in the rain, and everyone scattered.

Dry, Not Warm and Cozy

A watercolourist insisted on bathing paintings in the downpour.  Heavy recovery required.  To my amazement everyone painted on.  Most were disappointed in the lack of colour.  The days of rain and wind had cleaned off a significant portion of the leaves.  I told them this was a good opportunity to paint the colour.  They didn't believe me.  Then as they settled in and started to see.......

Little Gem

A breakthrough work using a palette knife worked on this.

And the Rain Continued

Meanwhile, my setup showing local tone dripped and my paint box filled with water.  These close up positions help seeing the local tone by cutting down on the veil of rain.  But it is difficult seeing the masses for the uninitiated.  They did quite well in tough conditions in Belfountain.  Not to be forgotten.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Etretat and the Elephant

This beach town in Normandie was chosen by Monet for several painting campaigns.  It was fortified by the Germans in World War II.  The town has the spots where Monet painted marked with small memorials.  It was interesting to experience the energy, painting at the same spot.  The "elephant" almost took Monet's life on a painting outing.

Looking West

This was our only overcast day during the entire trip.  

Looking East

It is interesting to look at Monet's paintings as he developed his eye and his style.  he began with the subject being important and tight brushwork with local colour.  In his later work the light was the subject and his brushwork was enlivened and energetic.  He wasn't too interested in the subject.  The light effect on the colours interested him and his eye developed so he could see.

Monet's Painting Spot

I couldn't help but wonder how much has changed since Monet's time.  My wife commented that she could understand why the Impressionists went high key given the luminous quality of the light.  Boudin got Monet out painting in it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Montmarte and the Artists

You just have to visit Montmarte when in Paris.  The community is built on the highest hill in Paris.  About 400 feet of elevation.  The famous Sacre Coeur church dominates the skyline in its beauty.  The streets leading from the church are narrow and winding.  They all lead to the square where all the artists paint or seek portrait commissions.  There must have been 50+ wandering looking for someone to sketch on their pads.  Ensconced around the perimeter of the square are the painters, more than 100 of them.  They are in the same spot where we saw them last visit.  Tourists mingle everywhere.  (Just put up with it and enjoy)

The Square

The French easel dominates.  Many are half easels.  They multi task as easel, store front, storage, restaurant outer wall, and protection from the crowds.

Back to the Crowd 

"Watch me paint".  Look at this palette!  Whatever works.  And the colours are clean.  A preponderance of palette knives.

Back to the Restaurant

Monsieur Walles faces the crowd as if to say "look at my work, I'm back here painting."  This is classic knife painting.  He was shown around the world but now prefers to do his thing at home in Montmarte.  We bought one of his paintings.  He uses a half easel, morphed as you can see.  Another beautiful palette.  Arm motion.  His brush work is also exquisite.

Restaurant Wall

It would be like eating in an artist's atelier.  I saw nothing resembling a new easel.  It was a study in repairs, patina, and modifications.  Lots of paint indicating the miles of canvas covered.

Store Front

It is buyer beware.  A few pretty good, many not so much.   Seems to be room for all.  After lunch at the square watching the show, we wandered down hill on a self conducted walking tour.  You can see where the likes of Renior, Monet, Van Gough, "Too Loose" Lautrec and the the rest once did their trip.  Its changed but somehow that energy remains.

Half Way Down

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review and Catch Up

Ok, so the internet system I am using was not to be transmitted from France.  Naturally I didn't bring along pass words etc to send from the server.  Oh well, it was a fantastic trip.  Hot and sunny every day but one.  Cool nights - a must for me.

We visited Paris, then Giverny, then Normandie, and then a few more days in Paris.

For what it is, the little box worked well.  However, a return to a supported easel where arms length brushing can be used, was a welcome home.

After a nap, I got down to the Seine for a short sketch.  The idea was to spend an hour a sketch.  Keep the peace.  Get something that can be finished later.

Pont des Invalides

Here I have the box set up on a wall.  Not too bad.  The round surface gives a bit of instability, so I used one hand to secure both the box and the painting.  Usually that other hand hold brushes and a paper towel used to wipe the brush.  This keeps me in close to the painting.  Something I try to avoid.  You can't see it here but I carried 3 brushes (4, 6 and 10 flats) and 7 tubes of paint (White, Ultramarine Blue, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin, Viridian, Yellow Ochre, Red Oxide).  Most of the time I did not squeeze all of them out.  Helps with the time constraint.  Sold this painting wet on the spot.  A lot of people traffic.  How did they manage a wet one?  This painting was an 8x10 on linen on board.  I did others on loose oil primed lined in 11x14 format.  These worked well.  The boards are too heavy if you are travelling light.

We stayed in a French area on the Left Bank.  So we made a picnic and walked in the city of light.

Glitter and Glow