This week has been a frustrating one for me because of trivial obligations like an annual doctor’s appointment and buying food. Activties like this cut into my painting time. So I have not finished the Irish painting that I am working on.
Since I frequently think of my journey from never having painted to now, I thought I would write about a painting that I did three years after my first painting class in France. This time the painting class was again in France, but not where I had originally painted. It was in Collioure on the Mediterranean where it meets the Pyrenees.
Collioure, France, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches. Ann Hart Marquis
Collioure is a very picturesque small town that has drawn many painters including Matisse, Derain and Dufy. It is referred to as the birth place of the Fauvism movement in painting. This class was taught by the same teacher I first had in Soréze, France. She considered herself an Fauvist painter. She was responsible for my first exposure to Fauvism.
As you can see from the above painting, my drawing skills were still lacking as were my use of brush strokes and layering color. I had not yet mastered the idea of perspective. Fortunately, it is a very colorful town so some of the colors were representative of what I saw and some were colors that were already a favorite part of my palette.
This painting was done in plein air, while I was sitting on the steps of a lovely house that looked down into the town and surrounding hills. It was an ideal place to paint.
Although today is the first time that this piece has been photographed, I see it every time I walk into my studio because it is hanging on the side of a cabinet. It reminds me of how I started and how far I have come. I have kept all of my drawings and paintings over the years. The only ones that I don’t have are sold.
It is important to me to be able to look back on all of the work I have done. They always make me smile.
For the last four weeks I have been painting with gray as a major component in my paintings. As one could imagine, I have grown tired of grayed down colors for now. So this week I decided to create a painting that has little or no gray.
Optimistically Tenacious, acrylic and ink on canvas, 14 x 1.5 inches.
It felt wonderful to get back to bright pure color. After I finished this painting I was reminded of my first painting teacher Carol Watanabe who considered herself a Fauve artist. Her class took place in Soréze, France and then later in Collioure, France. Here is an example of her work.
The Fauvists were French painters whose members shared the use of intense color as a vehicle for describing light and space, and who redefined pure color and form as a means of communicating the artist’s emotional state.
Fauvism was the first of the avant-garde movements that flourished in France in the early years of the twentieth century. Their spontaneous, often subjective response to nature was expressed in bold, high-keyed, vibrant colors sometimes directly from the tube.
“Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) and André Derain (French, 1880–1954) first introduced unnaturalistic color and vivid brushstrokes into their paintings in the summer of 1905, working together in the small fishing port of Collioure on the Mediterranean coast. When their paintings were exhibited later that year at the Salon d’ Automne in Paris they inspired an art critic to call them fauves (“wild beasts”).”
Although I never considered myself a fauvist, that use of bold color has stayed with me and frequently I have to force myself not to use colors that are really too intense. Graying down a color took me while to appreciate.
This past week I took a few days off from painting and drove down to the coastal town of Collioure, France for a change of scenery and for new inspiration. Collioure is on the western side of the Mediterranean, where the Pyrenees meet the sea. It was lovely to be around such blue clear water and sea breezes.
Collioure has always been a source of inspiration for artists. Picasso, Derain, Dufy, Chagall, Matisse and Marquet all painted Collioure to capture its special light and colors of this once small, historical fishing village.
These works displayed such vibrant colors and brushstrokes that the artists were referred to as “la cage aux Fauves” (wild beasts) and it is from these artists that the Fauvism movement began.
View of Collioure (The Bell Tower), Henri Matisse, 1905
On a completely different topic, before I left for the Mediterranean, I completed an image of part of a home here in Soréze. I wanted to see if I could continue being loose with something more structured and architectural. It was a little more challenging, but I continued with my palette knife. It was difficult to get the result that I wanted doing the casings around the window and door with my knife, so I did use a brush for some of those details. For now, I am happy with the results.
Untitled #7, acrylic on canvas, 14×4-inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis