Tag Archives: southwestern France

Creative Transition

When I am in the middle of painting a series, I sometimes need to use my imagination in another way. I need a break, a creative transition. Doing something completely different takes me away from my current work and becomes a breather from the ideas that I have been working on for weeks.

I took a break recently and began looking at photographs that I had taken in France over the years.  Maybe I could paint one of them or abstract them in some way.

One evening in Soréze, I took some photos of the house across the street that I thought looked intriguing. The evening light was lovely and the house was covered with interesting shadows. Maybe this would be one to paint. Here’s the original color photo.

Unmanipulated color photograph showing creative transition

Unmanipulated color photograph

Instead, I decided to do something that I had never done before. I decided to see what I could do playing around with an image on my computer. There are many image-editing software programs that are available to us. Probably the most sophisticated is Photoshop. I tried it before and found the learning curve for me included much more time than I wanted to give. I am a painter.

But I do have an easy-to-use image editing software program called Perfect Photo Suite 8. I use it to re-size my painting images for use on the web.

So I took that photo that I had taken at dusk and decided that it had possibilities. It had shuttered windows, was three stories and had interesting architecture.

manipulated photographshowing creative transition

Evening in Sorèze, manipulated photograph

Here is the photo after I translated it into something that I thought could possibly pass for a painting.

What do you think? Have you ever tried something like this?

Total Sensual Experience

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

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

Mural on my bedroom wall

My housemate gets a view of this mural that is about 5 x 6 feet.

Polish Madonna

Polish Madonna

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 #3

Painting #3

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.

Adventures with a Limited Palette

For those of you who know me, you know that I usually spend a chunk of time almost every summer in southwestern France. It inspires me and I get many paintings done while I am there. For various boring reasons I was not able to go in 2012, so I am getting a little antsy about going back this year, so antsy in fact, that I just booked my airline ticket. They don’t get any cheaper after January.

Ideas of what I will paint and what supplies I will take have already started to flash into my consciousness. In 2012 I took twelve 14” x 14”, pre-cut canvases (that is the only way I can fit them in my suitcase). I also gave myself the challenge of taking only three colors of paint plus black and white, to see if I could create interesting paintings. The colors that I chose were vermillion, cerulean blue and raw sienna. Someone had given me a case of raw sienna. I did not try the colors before I left.

Well, as some of you may have guessed, this unique combination did not work. Raw sienna and cerulean blue make for an unhappy green. I needed yellow and as soon as I got it I was happy. Cadmium yellow, vermillion and raw sienna did make an interesting orange. Here are a few examples of my four-color, limited palette:


I like the idea of painting with a limited palette. There are several advantages.
• Color harmony is easier to achieve.
• Learning to mix a few colors is to achieve the desired color, value and intensity.
• You don’t have to carry numerous tubes of paint when you travel or paint outside.

Recently, I came across an article written by Adriana Guidi. She describes the palette that was made famous by Swedish painter Anders Leonard Zorn (1860-1920), which is often known as the Zorn Palette. “Zorn’s preferred palette was of four earthy colors: yellow ochre, vermilion, ivory black and white.” Here is her version of the palette:

Guidi-Zorn limited 4colorpalette

Adriana Guidi, Zorn limited 4 color palette

The top row is simply Yellow Ochre mixed with varying amounts of Titanium White, while the middle row has a little Mars Black mixed in as well. The bottom row is a blend of Cadmium Red Light and Yellow Ochre, again with varying levels of white.

I am attracted to Zorn’s palette, and am thinking about using it in France, although I may have a little trouble with having no blue.

Do you paint with a limited palette or are you attracted to limited colors?