Monday 28 April 2008

French Painting Holidays... For Some!

In just over a month's time I'll be packing my bags, plus a trunk of art materials and a folderful of big paper- all in readiness for my fortnight's stint as painting tutor at Chateau l'Age Baston, ( and again in August . )It's my third year there and I hope the weather's better than the hailstones lashing on my studio window en ce moment.
It always is, and I manage to have a swim every day in the pool.
Workshops are in the morning (for those who wish) , and in the afternoon there's (in theory) time to do some of my own work. I have a break now and then to go and hassle/help the students who've concealed themselves to do their own projects in the woods, fields, or round the buildings somewhere . You can run, but you can't hide!
Some, however, choose to stay in the lovely studio and continue with the morning's theme, and the extra-keen among them have been known to work 'til dinner. That's around eight hours... I'm not used to that! Have pity on the poor tutor! We're all exhausted by then and ready to relax and be fed by our kindly hosts, John and Alex. As in the olden days, we have to 'make our own entertainment' - that means talk to other people. Remember that, before telly? The meals /feasts are jovial affairs....inside, candlelight flickers on old tapestries ... outside, when the evening's fine, birds sing their last in the orchard and the bats flit around the courtyard.
Another morning, another workshop. I tend to play these by ear, depending on both what people feel they'd like and how I feel they need to develop and improve artistically.
Beginners are taken through the basic how-to-draw-and-paint.... measured drawings, light and shade, colour mixing, collage, design awareness, abstraction, different materials, ways of looking.
There's also a 'No Fail Easy-Peasy Portrait Class' on offer- "Surprise yourself and impress family and friends !"
The more adept have also much to gain. Even the most accomplished artist needs to take 'side trips', or temporary periods of exploration. Not necessarily to change direction in their work, but to open themselves up to new possibilities within that framework, and to refresh their thinking.

There's a trip to the morning market at Piegut-Pluviers, purportedly meant for sketching purposes. Some determined souls manage this, but in reality it's usually an opportunity to browse the stalls, buy souvenirs and to people- watch on the busy cafe terasse. Being the tutor, I have to set an example and bravely sketch other customers- after I've helped Alex choose a hat for a wedding, taste different strawberries for lunch, and choose a cd by an old French chansonette to play in the studio.
Some mornings we'll sit and paint by the river at La Rochefoucauld. Behind us stands the castle- one of those French-with-knobs-on affairs. The inside's far less encrusted and surprisingly homely and intimate- and you can try on costumes! By the river is the café/chocolaterie- very tempting and some students have been known to spend the morning drawing the bridge from there- no names mentioned, you know who you are!
See you soon, folks, I'm away to gird my loins ready for the tutoring- and to slacken my belt for the food. Ambrosia!

All work by the students.


Sue England said...

Sounds idyllic!-Maybe next year.Its always interesting to see the variety of what a group can produce within a short time span-you've certainly got your work cut out! but hope you find time for some of your own work-what are you doing at the moment?
An doing a 3 day life painting class tomorrow (over 3 weeks)- a first since 1967! Will let you know how I get on after I've had a lie down and recover from the pressure! Will also press on with more sketch book work (see how inspirational you are?!)-I did take sketchbook to the lakes last week but spent most of the time driving my Mum around.
Love Sue

Caroline said...

By coincidence I'm painting some nudes... work on paper. Would have loved to have had the opportunity to paint a live model... I'm hoping that will be more possible as and when!
Nag... you could've drawn your Mum!


Sue England said...

Well actually....!
I did-so there!

Caroline said...

Great! I haven't drawn mine for a very long time. Or Dad. I confuse them enough when I'm round there.... but have taken some photos when they aren't posing for them.