Little time to write, but we have finally found a place where we can email. We are in century-old territory of France with many very small villages, hence the Internet is not easily available.
I woke up with John Denver's tune, "I'm leaving on a jet plane..." It seems like a good omen and I have always liked the song. Years ago, when I once strummed on the guitar, I even attempted to sing & play it!
Why do overseas trips make you feel like you are going to be gone for months? I guess travel is anxiety producing, plus the excitement of the unknown at the other end. And then there are all of those airports, planes, customs, etc. We cannot wait to get there. It sounds like it will be a beautiful time to visit and I hear that the food in the Lot region is marvelous and affordable. Hope to be able to keep you posted.
Materials for Plein Air Painting & Paynter
Keep it light. That is my motto when preparing to paint on location and particularly for painting in France. Most plein air painters use a collapsible wooden easel - that easel style has been used for over 100yrs. - whereas I prefer plastic because it is lighter. In the photo, I have included my backpack (which can also be converted to roll on wheels), a light weight easel & attachable tray for the pastels, sketch book, fixative, water, laytex gloves and the necessary hat. Along with small boxes of pastels, several miscellaneous items (rag, tape, clamps, sunscreen) are inside of the backpack.
Now, you may be wondering about that furry critter in the lower left hand corner? I knew he would be introduced to this blog at some time and I did not know when. He decided, under no direction from me, to show up for this photo op. May I introduce Paynter, the studio cat. He apparently decided that I had forgotten to put him on my list of art materials! (Of course, he managed to push everything over as soon as I left the room.) Despite his lobbying, he will not be travelling to France with us.
"Black Forest Prairie" - 9x7 pastel study
It has been several months since I have painted on site, therefore, in preparation for our trip to France, I thought I best to do a couple of trial runs. Here is a quick pastel painting I did just a mile from my home. A storm was going to arrive that afternoon and I was nearly blown off the field as I was finishing this study. Yes, the sky was blue at that time, but the wind was picking up from the north. (Later that night 4" of snow arrived.)
This practice run also helped me to remember the various art things I need when I am out in the field. Such as: my view finder, rag to clean the pastels, sun screen, etc. I have discovered over my years of painting out side, that I am always looking for ways to make the experience go more efficiently. It is a challenge to carry one's studio on their back! :)
"The Iris Lady" - 12x12 oil on gallery canvas
During the past 6-8 weeks as I have been reading about southwestern France (known as the Quercy Region & northwest of Toulouse) and studying up on my French, I have been trying to decide which painting medium to use while I am there. Should I use oils or watercolors? Finally, I settled on pastels, which is the medium I have used most often while painting en plein air. Packing for our 2-week excursion has also been full of decisions. I would rather forget about the clothes and just bring art materials!
Then there is the wonder of what will inspire me while I am there. What will the colors be? The light? How will the French respond? My husband, Bob, and I will be staying in a small village along the Lot River. Rolling fields of malbec grapes will be, hopefully, in bloom, inter-spersed with oak trees, and high cliffs along the river. Castles and century old buildings are supposedly also up for the offering. Sounds like a candy store to me!
Meanwhile, I have been painting daily in preparation for a large 2-person exhibition coming up in November, at the University of Minnesota Arboretum. A thousand acres and over 1,000 flowers, serve as our inspiration. My goal has been to complete 12 (of the projected 25) paintings before I depart for France. This is a recent painting, nearly finished, of an iris. I wanted to capture her elegance, as well as make you feel as if you are right in the garden.