Saturday, March 31, 2012

Painting plein air in France, and ending up with no painting at all

(click on image to enlarge)

This is not Giverny
Watercolour postcard
©2000 Charlene Brown

Several years ago when I had the opportunity to visit Monet’s garden, Giverny, in France, I hoped to do a painting of the water lilies.  But the morning we arrived the place was simply overwhelming in its perfection... Plus, all the best spots were taken by painters who, judging from their output, had been there since dawn.  I didn’t even unpack my paints.
My friend Pat Reese has a rather different, and quite wonderful, story about painting in France, and ending up without a painting… She says, “A few years ago, I was painting in a park in Paris when a woman approached me to look at my painting.  Her husband went into a tirade, ranting about something (in another language) and we shared a very long look, first at him and then a moment looking into each other’s eyes, when we both knew what the other was thinking…  She purchased my painting; I separated it from my pad and handed it to her knowing she was probably just getting back at her husband for something.  She handed me too many francs and we separated as kindred spirits.”
To make up for the lack of illustration for the above stories, I’ve included this postcard I painted at an odd-looking location, Les Baux-de-Provence, in the South of France, complete with the obligatory Drama of Painting Plein Air…
Roving Art Critic: That’s some strange drawing you’re doing.
Artist: This is a strange place.
Critic: That’s what I mean… It looks just like the real thing!
Artist: Nobody’s ever said that about my stuff.