Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Les Couguieux

Ruth has created a set of photos of Les Couguieux on Flickr - which she has compiled for the New York Times.... Sounds like there might be another article in the offing!

In the meantime see photos of the BEFORE and AFTER of where we ate, played, painted, bathed and slept back in June.  I still think of it - a lot!  However those autumn colours are to die for!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Seat In The Shade

oil on canvas 120 x 80 cm or 47 x 31.5 inches
I had to post something else up on this blog as the picture that Katherine posted of me, night painting, really began to annoy me as it popped up in the side bar of my blog!  
This is a big studio piece that I did for my recent exhibition at Beside The Wave.  Obviously larger studio works are done from photographs and I know that many people see that as "cheating" somehow.  Personally I know that many many artists use photographs but very few admit to it, it seems to be a bit of a naughty secret.  I don't see anything wrong with using as much information gathering media that you can lay your hands on.  I know one artist, Paul Lewin, who makes soundscapes which enhance his work and put him into the "zone" to work on his studio based paintings.  Another, Miles Heseltine,who takes very deliberately rubbish videos of the place he wants to paint and plays them over and over while he paints. 
 I do think that if you are going to use photographs then it is vital that you also work outside, en plein air, or draw and sketch as much as you can.  This practise really helps you use the photo properly, lets you control what you put in your painting and avoids a slavish copy.  We look and see very differently to the way a camera does, we are interested and stimulated by strange things while a camera sees and records all.  You need to make yourself aware of how you "see" before working with a photograph.
Anyway the exhibition went very well, my work sold well.  I was pleased by what sold and surprised by what didn't sell, some of the strongest peices didn't sell which only goes to show that there really is no way of predicting what makes somebody buy a painting!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A little night painting

Now I'm back home I've started to load all my photos into a Flickr Collection - Provence 2011 - for all to see - minus a few which will only be shared with those who visited Provence!

I thought I'd post a few of these to the blog so you can see what you would have seen while we were there if we hadn't had the lightning strike.

The first is to show you that Sarah not only produces lots of paintings - but also that she does it at all times of the day and night!

Here's a photo of her night painting on the night when we had the total eclipse of the moon.  That's as in plein air oil painting at night!

Sarah Wimperis - plein air oil painting at night

Friday, 8 July 2011

How Much Paint?

How much paint does a painter paint when a painter paints Provence?
Well this may tell you:
In two weeks I did 59 paintings.  13 small oils and 13 bigger ones, 11 larger watercolours, 11 medium watercolours and 11 tiny gouaches.
This is a picture of my oils just before I packed them to go home:
I wont bore you with the list of colours but they were all brand new when I arrived, white was finished and Paynes Grey and Vandyke Brown were unopened.  Interestingly taking them on the plane home was no problem. They were packed in my bag for the hold.  I had my old watercolour box in my hand luggage but that only caused the customs guy to talk about painting for a while, he was a keen amateur artist!
Here are some images to give you an idea of the various sizes of paintings done while Painting in Provence.




So to sum it all up, the average number of paintings done per day was 5, don't count the days arriving or leaving.  I have a lot of work for follow up paintings, some work for exhibition in August.  I took too many clothes.  Didn't drink enough wine.  Met two very lovely people Robyn and Ronelle.  Got to rather like scorpions and felt "energised" by lightening.  Didn't miss the tyranny of the Internet when we lost it, in fact it has made me think about how I use it.  Wished that I had had a car but was quite glad that I didn't, I wouldn't have liked the long drive home that everyone else had and I would have brought far too much "brocante" at the antiques market.  Best of all I fell in love with Provence.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Oil painting #4 - the view from Julian's studio window

This is the small oil painting I did of the view from Julian's studio window after I gave up wasting paint on the canvas boards and gave them three coats of gesso instead!

It was done the day after the lightning strike when the weather was a bit odd and I was waiting around to see "what needed to happen next" re the telephone and modem - so staying near to the house seemed like a sensible idea.  Ruth did a sterling job in England sorting out the telephone people while I dabbed at the board with some paint!

Oil Painting #4 - the view from Julian's studio window
5" x 7" oil on board
I feel I have to keep saying that those vineyards really are dayglo green at a certain time of day - their colour absolutely staggered me the whole time we were there.

The painting is on a small 5" x 7" board and the smoother surface of the sanded down gesso certainly helped me paint.  I also learned how to scratch out and what happens if you use a bit more paint and a bit less solvent.

I made a mistake with this painting in trying to include the roof of a small outbuilding which made absolutely no sense to the painting unless you knew what it was - which was when I learned about how you can paint things out of the picture!

The main benefits/lessons for me were
  • finding out how much I liked working at an easel in a studio!  That's not something I routinely do and I now have to think about how this might be remedied in "real life" - as opposed to "Provencal life" which is now becoming something of a dreamlike state!
  • learning just how difficult it is to find a subject which works in terms of composition, colour and brushwork when painting a small painting.  My admiration for those who can do this grew in leaps and bounds - especiallyin relation to the local landscapes produced by Julian.  
The need to simplify much more is I hope a lesson well learned.  I'm not saying this painting is in any way good - it's just the product of a learning process and hopefully that's one which I will use to re-engage with oil painting in the near future. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

A View of Mont Ventoux - WIP

I tried to finish this pastel - of a view of Monet Ventoux with the vineyards in the foreground - on my last evening in Couguieux. The light beat me in the end so it's not finished.

I think I'm calling this one a large scale study for another pastel yet to be completed. You'll recall I've already done one sketch of this view in Mont Ventoux and the vines http://paintingprovence.blogspot.com/2011/06/mont-ventoux-and-vines.html

The view is from the bend in the road where I took the photo of a sunrise over Mont Ventoux in my PJs on the the first morning of my stay.

I'm now off to Calais via Boulogne for the last leg on Frency soil of my trip home to London. I'm then catching the 6pm Eurotunnel train and hopefully getting back to London sometime around sevenish - having collected my lost hour en route!

Then it's down to sorting out all the stuff that's not been posted as yet!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Heat of the Day

Shadow Shed.  Oil by Sarah Wimperis

Washing Line and Pegs.  Oil by Sarah Wimperis
House in the Hot Sun.  Watercolour by Sarah Wimperis.
 Here are a few little paintings, done in the heat of the midday sun in Provence, with the sound of the cicadas making the heat even more intense.  Dry grass and dusty earth and the smell of pine resin. 


The Demoiselles de Coiffees - WIP

I'm now on my way home and am posting this while sat in a hotel in Bourg-en-Bresse.

It's a good time to try and to post some more of my sketches and pastel works in progress which haven't yet made it on to the blog given to only being able to post images via Flickr.

This work in progress is maybe about 60% completed - enough for you to see where it's going and not enough for me to be happy with as a completed work. It's on half a sheet of Art Spectrum Colourfix.

I spent a lot of time while at Couguieux directing people to the path where you can see these amazing landforms. There was a point where we speculated about putting up a picture and a finger saying "They're that way" but I don't think any of us had the correct french for it.

I was very disappointed not to be able to make it to Rousillon on Thursday. Most of the day was given over to trying to find a hotel for last night's stay. What I hadn't realised was that France hits the road as soon as the schools break up - the traffic I saw going down the Autoroute de Soleil yesterday were awesome.

My sat nav decided that the traffic was way to heavy to let me go via the autoroute and took me via the D7 and D8 up the Rhone Valley where I drove through very many vineyards and lavender fields.

However if you want to paint sunflowers go to the fields south of Bourg-en-Bresse either side of the A42 - there are numerous amazing fields of sunflowers.

Today I'm off to more vineyards on the Cote d'Or which is where the best red burgundy wine comes from.

Friday, 1 July 2011

A potager in Provence

A potager in Provence by makingamark2
A potager in Provence, a photo by makingamark2 on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
This is Ruth's potager (vegetable garden) at Couguieux with Mont Ventoux in the background. it's a little way from the house and all the water has to be transported by hose and watering can.

This sketch was done in my last full day in Provence. it's not finished - it got too hot to continue where I was sitting. However I like the composition with Mont Ventoux in the background so will probably have another go at creating a drawing of this view.

The good news is that I am typing this while sat at the dining room table. The man from the telephone company came this afternoon and plugged in the new modem and did various testing stuff and pronounced the wifi as working but the connection to Julian's computer to also need replacing. Which means I continue to be limited to posting via Flickr - and one pic at a time. There is a backlog!

I've got the art books and painting stuff packed. Just got the clothes to do but before that I'm going to have a go at finishing the big pastel of Mont Ventoux before packing clothes and concocting a meal from what's left in the fridge.

Last night I had my "treat" meal out at Le Mas des Vignes and the sketch of that will follow in due course.

A Little More From Far Away

Rainy Day.  Oil. By Sarah Wimperis.

Midnight, Summer Solstis.  Oil.  By Sarah Wimperis


Blue Chair. Oil. By Sarah Wimperis.
Having got home and unpacked my bags, mostly painting equipment and paintings, I have done a final count up and seem to have managed to have done 59 paintings in two weeks.  I am terrible at doing things after the event, blogging stuff that has been done and when the time has past I find difficult.  Not having the Internet for a week has also made me realise what a fantastic archiving system having a blog is! 
So while it is all fresh in my mind and before I get right back into illustration work and more painting I shall be making a page at the top of this blog, and on my blog The Red Shoes which will show all 59 paintings, large and small, oil, watercolour and gouache, good, bad and indifferent.  It is an archive, you might be interested to see what one, slightly obsessional, painter can do with two weeks.  I also want to say that every one was painted "en plein air" and "alla prima"  In other words, painted on the spot and in one hit!
I will, in later posts go through the materials used and any tips that I have learned from this trip.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Sarah Wimperis is Home

Crillion Le Brave Steps, watercolour


Pots on the Terasse, Gouche, small.


The Rode Home, Gouche, small

The Well, Gouache, small

Vine, Gouche, small
I am home, finally, back in Cornwall after two plane flights, a car journey, night at my mums, to collect the dog, and a long drive down to the heel of Cornwall.  My dear Big Dave has made a lovely meal and I have a large glass of wine.  I miss Provence already and am about to indulge myself with a viewing of Jean de Florette.  Can I be homesick for somewhere already?  On my last full day I got up at 5am and climbed part way up the magical mountain, Mont Ventoux, between ancient crags of white bleached limestone.  I placed my right hand on a rock face and rubbed some red sand around it, time travelled, and while I was travelling a bit of my heart became part of that mountain.
I will post more pictures tomorrow, in the meantime I hope you enjoy some small gouache paintings of a very special part of the world.

Artichoke flowers, St Remy de Provence

Artichoke flowers in the Market of St Remy de Provence

Yesterday was a very long day and sketching was confined to lunch at La Maison Jaune - but I've not photographed this as yet.

We left the house just after 7am and Sarah was dropped off at Marseilles airport at 9am. I then drove across the Crau Plain and the Alpilles http://www.beyond.fr/sites/alpilles.html to St Remy de Priovence which has its Market on Wednesday. I visited the Market, took lots of photos of yet more provencal food and flowers, had a lovely lunch (sketch to follow), visited the Van Gogh Museum and then visited St Paul de Mausole, the monastery hospital where Van Gogh sought asylum for a year after he became ill in Arles.

See http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2011/06/van-gogh-and-st-paul-de-mausole.html

Back home by 7.30pm - to review the contents of the fridge which need eating!

This morning I had a minor meltdown as I began to realise the whole of France is taking to the road this weekend as the schools break up on Saturday and their "grand vacancy" starts as mine ends.

After 3-4 hours of phone calls and lots of pouring over my Michelin map and red book I finally got sorted. I almost didn't want to look when I came down to the hotel to post to the blogs. however it seems as if I've picked a good hotel and decent places to eat on Saturday evening and Sunday lunch.

For those who know their wine, I'm planning a trip down the Cote d'Or on Sunday morning and lunch at Gevrey Chambertin.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Late Sunday afternoon

Late Sunday afternoon by makingamark2
Late Sunday afternoon, a photo by makingamark2 on Flickr.

I've had my eye on the wisteria round the door to the dining room since the beginning of the holiday. Late Sunday afternoon I rose to the challenge.

I think it was the rather interesting shadows cast by the chair which provided the stimulation to "have a go".

there won't be a post tomorrow morning as I'm taking Sarah to the airport at Marseilles for her flight home. She's done some 50+ paintings since she arrived so will have a lot to post when she gets home. The oils are now packed and she's now switched to watercolours.

Tonight we're going back to Vieux Four at Crillon Le Brave.

Tomorrow I'm planning a Van Gogh side trip to Arles http://www.beyond.fr/villages/arles-provence-france.html - where Van Gogh painted Starry Starry Night - and St Remy de Provence http://www.beyond.fr/villages/st-remy-de-provence-france.html where he painted a number of his more famous paintings. I'm going to look to see whether the Van Gogh trail is stilll there at the sanitorium where I first found it 20 years ago.

Then there was one. I'm looking forward to seeing posts from Robyn and Sarah posting again from their own computers.

PS. Julian and Ruth - I've just picked up the new modem from La Poste so you can start to arrange the works.

Monday, 27 June 2011

A work in progress

A work in progress by makingamark2
A work in progress, a photo by makingamark2 on Flickr.

I forgot to take a photo of the two sketches I did yesterday so am posting this photo of the work in progress.

It was a very hot day so we had a rather lazy Sunday sketching and painting on the terrace. This one started as a detailed pen and ink sketch which I always find very meditative. This sketch will be called "a quiet place in Provence" and the subject is a wall which changes colour all through the day.

Today we're going to sketch/paint the hilltop town of Gordes - see http://www.beyond.fr/villages/gordes.html

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Crillon Le Brave vista

This is the view from the terrace of the Hotel Crillon Le Brave. We paid a visit on Thursday for Robyn's "treat" meal out. This was the view from where I sat.

Today Robyn is driving back to her home in Italy.

Sarah is sat next to me in the Hotel Relais de Mont Ventoux - and is up and running with Internet access on her iPad. she's going to see if she can upload images via the photo gene options.

Then we're thinking about going to paint lavender near Sault. However there's a road race we need to avoid - the Optic 2000. I was filling up with diesel at the Lavender Garage in Bedoin this morning with a Ferrari and a Porsche and fit young men in racing gear. I don't seem to be able to get away from young men who like fast cars on this holiday!

we' also looking at and we might be investigating the option to post to

Friday, 24 June 2011

Mont Ventoux and the vines

This is a sketch for a pastel I'm thinking of doing. I've christened my new A3 size Moleskine Sketchbook this week and this is the third sketch in it. It's a big view so it seemed sensible to work out how it worked and what colours a involved before I start thE pastel - which might wait until I get home.

Sarah sends her regards but is unable to post following the thunderstorm. I can only post via my Flickr account and the hotel bar of the Hotel Relais de Ventoux.

Today we discovered that there are road works and we have no water so I had a wash with "wet ones" and am hoping I'm not offending the locals!

Fortunately coloud pencils don't need water.

Today is Robyn's last day and she's getting ready to go home in her lovely new car via all the tunnels and viaducts which connect the South of France to the North of Italy.

Meanwhile Sarah is painting a blue chair and lavender.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Artist at work

Artist at work by makingamark2
Artist at work, a photo by makingamark2 on Flickr.

A slight element of trying to emulate John Singer Sargent painting Claud Monet going on here! you can see preparatory pen and ink sketches on Flickr.

This was done before the massive thunderstorm at 3.30am on Wednesday morning. The first crack of thunder was so loud and so long I thought a plane had crash landed nearby. I've not heard or seen such a major thunderstorm since I was last in tropical latitudes.

Many thanks to Ruth and Julian who are trying to sort out the problems with burned out filters/sockets etc from a barn in Oxfordshire.

in the meantime, I get to access the Internet from the Relais Hotel in Bedoin which has kindly allowed me to use their Internet.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A thunderstorm in Provence..

My three artist buddies are stuck in the Vaucluse without phone, without internet, but hopefully with enough cherries to keep them going! They had a huge storm last night which struck out the phone and internet and fired right into the wall sockets.
This storm has been brooding since the day before I left and I sat on the side terrace the afternoon sketching the skies over Mont Ventoux. It was hot and "lourd" typical storm weather and that night we had but a few large drops.

...clouds over Mont Ventoux...
gouache on paper
(started out as a watercolor flop and then I painted over it with gouache...here in Correze!)
So I hope we'll see some still lifes from them while they are confined to the house and surroundings today. Julian and Ruth have magnificent pottery which just beg to be painted. I got so enthusiastic about pottery when I was there that I am now looking out for some beautiful pieces of my own, even though I never though myself a pottery person!


I got to do only one still life of some of their pottery and if ever I would steal something from their lovely home....it would be this set of coffee pot and mugs and bowls...helas, my mom brought me up with a conscience, so it is still in the cupboard of Les Couguieux, but I at least have a sketch!!
Hang in there you three and do some still lifes in the meantime!!!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Still Life in Provence


Gouache on handmade rag paper - by Robyn Sinclair
22 x 30cm

I'd love to stay and chat but the Other Two Painters are off on an afternoon painting adventure and I'm supposed to be cooking dinner.

This was painted on a special piece of paper gifted to me by a dear Sketchercise friend. Thanks, Alison. I love it!

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

A quick sketch from Sunday lunchtime when I sat next to one of the five branches of the Sorgue River which run through L'Isle sur la Sorgue and sketched the town and a very small part of its famous Sunday markets

L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Also see:

Monday, 20 June 2011

Two from Sarah

Blue skies and beautiful shadows in the early morning.  Little oil by Sarah Wimperis and after she had done this she toddled off to do yet another painting of the Potager.  This time with a view of the mountain in the blazing midday sun.

Potager in the Midday Sun by Sarah Wimperis.
There are many more of her Provencal paintings over on her blog The Red Shoes

Saturday at Couguieux

Saturday started a bit grey and cloudy - but got better.  I went back to coloured pencil sketching while I pondered on the oil painting of the day before.

Here's a couple of sketches of our immediate surroundings at Couguieux.

The first was done in the morning when it was still rather grey

The wall at Couguiuex
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine
The next done was done in the middle/late afternoon as the sun came out and the blue sky reappeared

The Terrace at Couguieux
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine 
Now I`m off to gesso some canvas boards!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Dinner at Restaurant du Vieux Four, Crillon Le Brave

On Ronelle's last evening with us, we went out to dinner at the Restaurant Vieux Four in Crillon Le Brave.

Two sketches this time - one of the food and one of Sarah and Robyn who were sat opposite me on the terrace with their backs to Mont Ventoux and Bedoin.

Meal at Restaurant Le Vieux Four Crillon Le BraveMy three courses comprised
  • Duo de Chevre - tapenade at tomatoes cerise (Goat's Cheese with tapenade and cherry tomatoes)
  • Filet de Loup Rot, creme au basilic (Fillet of Sea Bass and Basil Cream sauce) and
  • Veloute d'Abricot Carimelise et son sorbet (Caramelisd apricot veloute with cherries, red currants and a red berry sorbet)
I switched between drawing the meal and sketching Sarah and Robyn - to comments as to how I might improve how they were looking!

Sarah and Robyn at Crillon Le Brave
We nearly got our departure just right as the heaven opened and rain began to plop in large drops just as we were getting up to leave. Fortunately it was on of those downpours which is heavy for a couple of minutes and then eases off

We scooted back to the car stopping en route - at Sarah's request - for a quick spot of night sketching

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The second oil painting was another story

I enjoyed painting my first oil painting. However the second (and the third - which was a repeat of the second) were a different story.

I think they were both pretty awful - which was quite depressing

I had to give myself a pep talk of the "It takes a long time to acquire skill - you can't expect to be good straight away" variety.

I found the paint quite sticky to work with compared to the previous day and need to work out whether it's the weather or me.

Here's a shot of it in the field - literally - before I had a go at "improving it". I tried another version - equally bad.

The second oil painting - in the field and unfinished

Sarah's Saturday watercolours

Crillion le Brave at Night.

The Ruin Afternoon Sun.

A couple of watercolours by Sarah Wimperis who is enjoying this paint fest enormously.

Landscapes and Ruins


Ochre Bluff - watercolour by Robyn Sinclair

I gasped when I saw it, thought I was back in The Alice. Then I tried to paint it and but it turned out like a great wedge of watermelon.

The Ruin - watercolour and pencil - by Robyn Sinclair

Now they're telling me it's time to eat again!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Safely home..


I'm home safe and sound after a very long trip with the road loaded with caravans and trucks and slow drivers!
...two views on Mont Ventoux...



My trip to Provence was very quick....only a short few days, but precious quand même! since I didn't make any postings directly from Provence (things always work out different than we plan), I will catch up from here with sketches, writings and photos.

...morning croissants and painting...


For now...Thank you to you three "Juliettes" I left behind there at the foot of Mon Ventoux, for a wonderful week in your company, I had a great time, in spite of forgetting half my art stuff here at home.I will truly treasure these few days just as much as I will treasure these new friendships which now take on a color different than the "virtual" ones they were. Keep well and continue having fun...clink those wine glasses tonight and remember a glass for me ...

...the blue shutters of Couguieux...
pen and watercolor wash on watercolor paper




Ruths Potager With Storm Clouds Gathering

Oil on board, by Sarah Wimperis.  More paintings of Provence are posted on her blog The Red Shoes because she cant stop painting and this blog isnt a one man show!
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