New Paintings of France
For those of you who aren't familiar with my french paintings in general or my recent paintings, here are a few examples of my labors of the last 6 months, these are all painted from life in oil on canvas or masonite.
Above is a painting of the roof tops of Uzes from a friend's building's roof. The title of this one is Tour du Roi (Kings Tower) oil on canvas (28 x 23). The Tower in the foreground is the oldest of the fortifications built here when the ruling family became the first organized Duchy, which makes the first family of Uzes the oldest nobility in France and closest to the King. Because of the light and dryness of the air and altitude the sky is incredibly intense. The stones are all earth tones (grayed down naples yellow). The terra-cotta tiles were made by hand so long ago that the men wrapped them around their legs to mold them. The romans invented this style of tile making and heavily influenced the architecture. The tiles vary in color so much; indian red, indian yellow and raw umber mixed with white. I'm unable to get my favorite maroger medium so I'm mixing linseed oil, dammer varnish and turpentine.
This is a painting of the doorway leading from the kitchen to the hall and into the garden of the Presbytere, my house in Pougnadorresse . I call this The Door to Provence oil on canvas 20 x 24. The exterior door is Basque red and the interior door is a really interesting color called Indigo Blue (a color made with Casein a paint made with milk) To recreate those colors I mixed Prussian and Cobalt blue then greyed them down with Ivory Black and white to get the correct softness. The yellow wall is also a color made with lime and casein created it with an ochre that is mined here (or used to be) to reach that effect I used cadmium yellow with some yellow ochre and cadmium red. The lighting is really the subject of the painting, which creates a difficult process with a warm colors. It can quickly become too dark, so its like walking a tight rope if you get a little off it becomes flat, but if you get the values right you can create transparency and a feeling of sunlight.
This is the view of the backside of Pougnadoresse looking towards the Cote du Rhone Valley, where all that wonderful wine is grown. I call this painting The Hillside (27 x 16) The mountain range in the distance is the beginning of the Alpiles, Mont Ventoux is just behind the tree (the windiest spot on earth). Plutarch climbed that mountain and wrote about the climb to the top. Its also the only part of the Tour de France that Lance Armstrong never won. The view reminded me of the work of George Inness an american landscape painter influenced by the Barbizon painters. I spent a lot of time on this painting, luckily the weather was splendid in the late spring.
Here is a vineyard of Cote du Rhone grapes waiting to become wine, the town in the back ground is called Tresque. I painted Vineyard in Tresque (15 x 32) on a masonite board. Tresque is an ancient village famous for its water, people make pilgrimages here in the summer to line up for the water. I saw my first Lynx while painting this.
Here is another rooftop, Rooftop Self Portrait (15 x 16). This one I painted from the terrace of my studio in Uzes, I am lucky to have a large terrace, which is almost the same size as my small studio, from my terrace I can hear families shopping and chatting with vendors in the market, bells ringing and whistles blowing. Uzes makes the most beautiful ambient cheerful noise of any place I've lived. The building in the background is missing it's bell, its the School of Music with a very active curriculum. I'm proud of the fact that all those tiles look like tiles because they have so many different colors and the rooftops in the distance was a challenge also, the whole thing was an exercise in perspective and the silhouette of myself painting with the shadow made such a specific light that I could only work on it just before lunch for about 2 and a half hours a day. That one has many days in it. The mountain painted in ultramarine to the right of the chimneys is called Mont Bouquet. I also loved the verticle design element of the Italian Cypress.
This is my first still life, Breakfast (29 x 10) executed in my new studio in Uzes France. I don't have many belongings here yet to paint so I chose to paint breakfast. I probably shouldn't mention how wonderful the bread is here. The cup and saucer was actually on loan from the PMU Cafe nearby. Black doesn't really exist in nature so its a study of white, which is to say that there isn't much pure white either. I glanced back at the grape fruit and the light on the fruit was what interested in me in the subject.
Vincent's Chair (16 x 13). The subject of this painting was purchased at a local Broquante (flee market) for 7 euros, I had to have it because it looks like the same chair that Vincent Van Gogh painted. When I came back to get it she had raised the price to 14 euros because someone else had told her about the Van Gogh Connection. This painting of the chair at the top of the stairs of Le Presbytere (the home in Pougnadoresse is called Le Presbytere because it was once the home of the priest for the small Romanesque chapel adjacent) The scene is a bit bare and indicates the direness of the situation, the chair is bathed in light because the house has no roof. There is also light coming through the small window in the wall behind the chair. The secondary light lends dramatic effect to the madonna figurine, a symbol of hope amongst strife in the ruin of a house. The little window is called a bulls eye, and has a narrow strip of iron to support it, it is only used in stairways in the local architecture.