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.
I mentioned in my last post that I frequently like using black paint in my work. When I do use black, I don’t always use it to gray down a color, but sometimes I like the effect when I do. Some painting teachers will tell students to never use black because it is too intense.
Tempermental, acrylic and ink on canvas, 14 x 14 x 14 x 1.5 inches, 2015.
Some think that black pigment kills the color and should never ever be used for darkening colors or in shadows. In addition, it is said that the artist should mix their own black paint, and colors should be darkened with their complementaries.
The idea actually goes back to the Impressionists and the statements that Monet made about the use of pure black. He maintained that pure black is ” death of shadows” and that it dulls colors. It was believed that he abandoned the use of pure black completely although now through the use of modern science we find out that it’s not true. Monet obviously did not study the works of Manet, Matisse or Goya whose use of black is dramatic and compelling.
There is definitely some black pigment in Monet paintings. The stigma that attached itself to the pure black paint survived, however, and unfortunately it is still present till this day.
There is no absolute rule in painting for when premixed black is used versus a hand-mixed black. It depends on the artist’s preference and the intended visual effect. For instance, if I want a certain warm/dark brown black, then I would mix until I arrived at that shade. If, however I wanted a full/rich black, then I would select a premixed tube.
Any thoughts on the color black or painting with it?
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
Many of you know how much I love France. This week was no exception. It was filled with morning walks in the nearby fields, a wonderful farmer’s market, a village antique sale, and painting almost every day for about five hours.
I also walk around a nearby lake (below) as much as possible because it is in a lovely forested area with water gushing into it from a local river. It takes about an hour to complete the circuit.
Lake Saint Ferreol
France is a total sensual experience for me. Every morning I open the old green wooden shutters to my second floor bedroom and let the sun shine on the mural that goes from floor to ceiling, which means that it is approximately 12×6-feet. Carole Watanabe, the artist who owns the house, painted it. It is a copy of a Matisse painting. Seeing it every morning is a joyous experience.
Mural on my bedroom wall
My housemate gets a view of this mural that is about 5 x 6 feet.
I am now on my fifth painting and I am about to run out of white paint. I can never have enough white paint. I allowed myself to do one tree painting. It was a necessity for me. There are so many lovely old trees around this area.
Painting #2 is in limbo due to a possible gesso problem, and paintings 4 and 5 will be included in next week’s post.
I still have no names for any paintings, so feel free to offer suggestions.