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 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.


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 - where Van Gogh painted Starry Starry Night - and St Remy de Provence 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

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 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 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!

My very first oil painting

Well - there really isn't another title which describes its significance. I've been getting round to painting in oils for the last five years.

Yesterday morning I watched Sarah paint using the alkyds and then secreted myself away in the nearest decent shade and had a go for myself.

Got to go and start another one now. We're learning not to waste the early morning hours before it gets too hot

This morning at 6am we waved "Goodbye" to Ronelle who has returned home for a family celebration this weekend

Thursday, 16 June 2011

At Home in Provence

Watercolour - Robyn Sinclair
26 x 36 cms

So much to paint, so little time. What a joy it is to live with three other painters!

The Pine Tree (work in progress)

Pastel drawing of a Pine Tree (work in progress)
I started this yesterday having found a spot in complete shade in the morning. it was very, very hot here yesterday.

we watched the lunar eclipse at 10pm last night while stood in the warm night air on the road outside the house.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A Little Night Painting

Painted by Sarah Wimperis. 10.30pm.
I am so in love with this place already.

Breakfast sketch from the terrace

Breakfast sketch from the terrace
11 " 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine
I've been doing this sketch for the last three days while sat on the terrace outside the house in the early morning.

The tones and colours change very fast as the sun gets higher in the sky.

On the morning I started the various airlines had created some fabulous vapour trails for the sky. This is a painting which really needs to be portrait format to get the full drama of the sky.
This is also a sketch of mini mountains next to Mont Ventoux- check out the number of pyramids you can see.
This is also probably a view which will get painted in oils in due ciourse

Today I'm collecting Sarah Wimperis from Marseiiles airport - she's arriving at 5pm.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Painting vineyards and orchards in gouache

Yesterday Robyn and Ronelle arrived - one after the other with a microsecond pause between them - as they had met up on the road, having come from two completely different directions.

Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent walking around exploring our immediate neighbourhood followed by show and tell sessions for all our various art materials and art books which we'd brought with us.

This morning we walked down a local road to paint a scene not far from the house.

I painted in gouache for the first time in decades!

I managed to restrain myself from getting the coloured pencils out until after we'd returned to the house and had lunch. I now have two photos of before and after coloured pencils.

This was the before and the after is at the top of this post.

Morning painting in gouache

I'm hoping Robyn and Ronelle will start posting their work soon as well.

No sooner said than done, Katherine!

Gouache on blue ground

This was an experiment on a thin blue craft paper. I'm still trying to sort my gouache palette for Provence. Not there yet by a long shot.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sunday lunch and sketching at Hotel Crillon Le Brave

Yesterday I did a mini stockup at the supermarket in Bedoin and then went to find some lunch.

I knew there were a couple of places at Crillon Le Brave which did decent meals and had views of the surrounding countryside from their terrace. So off I went having decided I'd eat at whichever I found first.

Lesson #1 - Satnavs can't cope with hilltop villages. The streets get too narrow. This can lead to taking an inadvertent wrong turn.

Lesson #2 - I haven't lost the skill to do the endless three point turn when car has gone down the wrong alley and is now poised with nowhere else to go to go and the camber is very wrong on both axes. Take a deep breath and start very slowly to turn the car round still works fine!

Lunch was taken at the Hotel Crillon Le Brave which has a splendid terrace and very nice food too.

Here are the five sketches I did. They are:
  • The view from where I was sat in the restaurant at the Hotel Crillon Le Brave
  • My lunch: mediterranean fish soup, aioli and croutons; tuna steak, shaved fennel salad and aioli tartine and a floating island in lavender
  • The view from the terrace of Mont Ventoux and Bedoin in the distance

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A photoessay of Provence

I'm now in Provence and settling in - which in my case focuses on how to make the technology work so I can post to the blogs as I go rather than saving it all for when I get home.

I'm getting there via download of images from SD card to ipad, manipulation in photogene, upload to Flickr, change status to allow download to Julian`s computer and then upload to the post. All he while trying to get used to a French keyboard which is decidedly not Querty.

The house is going to be an ace base, the three cats have already adopted me, I had a very sound night's sleep and I think this is going to be a very happy holiday!

Ronelle and Robyn both arrive tomorrow and Sarah flys in on Wednesday so today I'm doing a bit of shopping and then going out for the day.

I've decided not to neglect Making a Mark completely and I am going to try a photo essay of Provence - and post one photo a day - of something that has made a mark on me.

Today it's the photo taken just before the one you see above - of the sky over Mont Ventoux as the sun rises at just before 6am.

I was out there before 6am on the little road in my PJs documenting the visuals - so now we know what time to be up, brushes at the ready, to catch one of the best skies of the day!

Friday, 10 June 2011

How will I get to Provence?

What has been my three companions' big question since the idea of Provence came up months ago,has now become my biggest question! I was the only one who had no problem with transport, since I live in Correze, which is not too far from Provence and I had my own car. But suddenly, along with the sudden change of weather and all the rains pouring down in France at the moment, I had a sudden change of circumstances too, along with my own rains of hiccups pouring down on all my fancy intentions!To deepen the scars of damage, we have a long weekend in France and the whole continent is on the travel to some far off destination.

Well, my name isn't Ronelle for nothing. I will dig up an alternative....

Maybe I could take Bella out of her facelift surgery for a week...?

Or perhaps Gaitchi could get me there, but will I want to be stuck with a painful derriére for a week...?

My cute bicycle is a dainty solution...but oh , all those uphills..!!

I could of course put on my running shoes, but seeing I've only started back on running recently, I'm not sure I will reach the Vaucluse before Christmas..?


But, get there I will, and I'm leaving on Sunday morning first thing...even if I have to ride on my own thumb!


The Grillade Gourmande, Epernay

I had an absolutely splendid meal last night at the Grillade Gourmande in Epernay - the town which is the home to the great champagne houses of France.

After a very long day (up at 5.30am and an awful lot of travelling) I was very ready for a bit of a treat. Armed with my Michelin Guide to hotels and restaurants in France, I decided to try this restaurant as it is listed as a "Bib Gourmand" which means "good food at reasonable prices".

I had the Menu du Terroir Champenois so the only champagne I had was in the sauces!

Apologies for the colour - I`ll redo them when I get home

I also tried a new strategy. I managed to get all four courses onto a double page spread of my large folio Moleskine (size A4) - and, if I say so myself, the sketch is a wonderful memory of an absolutely delicious meal. (the image is to follow when I work out how to upload pics while on the move).The courses were as follows:
  • Foie Gras de Canard au Ratafia de Champagne chit en terrine et configure d'oignon au vin rouge Terrine of duck fois gras cooked in Ratafia Champagne with red wine onion marmelade
  • Filet de Bar Grille aux Asperges Verts Grilled Sea Bass with green asparagus Champagne sauce
  • Pigeonnea de Champagne dessose cuit en feuillete, jus redoit au Chardonnay Local boned young pigeon with foie gras cooked in flaky pastry case
  • Fraises au Poivre Noir au Champagne Rose Strawberries with black pepper and frozen rose champagne
I'll do the translation when I post the images of the two sketches I did. (now posted)

[Note:  See an updated and longer post about my stay in Epernay in Épernay and The Grillade Gourmande on my sketchblog Travels with a Sketchbook.  The sketch has been further developed to eliminate "dead cow" - see the comments - and it also includes another sketch and photos]
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