watercolor on paper, 30″ x 22″
The nice thing about painting outdoors is that the images of what I paint is sometimes burned into my memory. I find that if the location had a lot to offer in a spectacular sense, new images begin processing themselves in my head. Unknowingly, I memorize much of the character of the place after staring at it and painting for three or four hours.
My stint at the edge sunflower field near the farmhouse where I stayed in France was no different. Also, the vision of the different shaped fields, all tilted and undulating into the distance, was something I just could not shake. At my desk at work, I found myself sketching as I was on the phone. Before I knew it, I had the elements of two or three interesting paintings . . . .each offering different challenges.
The challenge in this piece was to not allow myself to become tight and edgy. In watercolor, looseness can be fascinating, particularly when an image is represented well without actually stating it. I find that more of a feeling occurs when that is accomplished; Thus, the goal of avoiding a tight rendering. Also, green can become very tiresome in a painting, especially if it is large like this one. I had to resort to blues and violets to bring about the sense of greenery here. Those colors set off the yellows and occasional orange, obviously.
Gradations of intensity and textures play a large role in this piece to bring about the feeling of space.
As for the execution, big, really big, brushes were used to saturate the whole page with initial color while the vertical paper gave gravity permission to do the painting. Then, mark after mark with progressively smaller brushes, ‘things’ began to appear in the paint without painfully executed edges . . . .just suggestions. Gradually, over three to four days, the painting developed with a lot of time and consideration between applications of paint.
watercolor on Arches 15″ x 22″
This day was a “day off.” We had been touring The Perigord Region
pretty hard for seven days straight. We needed to rest and relax. . . .So, I took a ‘busmans holiday’ . . . .I snuck away and painted. I did so with the complete support of everyone. I had packed up my backpack and walked a half mile up hill and set up on the corner of this sea of sunflowers that stretched into many, many acres. What a sight! What a perfect spot. No one to bother me. The birds chirping. The sun playing tag with the slightly overcast cloud cover. It was perfect . . . . . . . .except after I had put this whole rig of easel, umbrella etc up in the slight breeze, I discoverd I had left my water at home!!! NO WATER for painting? Now what?
I had a small bottle of water for drinking . . .and it was a warm day . . .I would need it. Or, could I get away with using it? . . .. . . .Rather than fold up the works . . .or worse, leave it sit while I hike back to the house . . . . . .and risk being side tracked by wife or the group requests, I dug in and used teensy bits of water at a time. Someone eventually happened by and I sent them to my wife to send a messenger with more water. It worked.
It ALL worked that day. I love the way the painting came out too.
“One of Those Days”
Photo by Diana Bailey
If you had to spend two weeks with people like this, would that be heaven . . .or what? These folks were soooo special! We really had a blast with each and every one of them!
One of the Medievil villages we spent time in . . .and the wonderful things to see, eat and do during these open market days certainly gave us plenty of painting subjects! I did one of this scene en plein aire . . . .and one of the group took it home toToronto.
Late in the trip, we visited the countess and her stunningly beautiful chateau and winery. This location proved to be a favorite of all of us. It also happened to be the site of the first battle in the 100 years war.
This is the quick watercolor painting I did for the countess as a gift of appreciation for hosting us at here unbelievable home. The scene above is what I was looking at while doing this piece. The attempt was to suggest the colors of autumn in the tightly pruned vineyards. What a place!!!
We are home!! After 3 weeks of looking at phenomenal art, touring, painting, eating, drinking, eating, touring, drinking, eating some more and having a few munchies now and then, with wine, of course, we arrived home and fell into bed. First thing this morning, I pulled up all the photos taken. These are a few that will give you a quick slice of the absolute Nirvana we experienced with some very special people. There will be more to show and tell later.