Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Holiday to remember

I'm killing two birds with one stone (if they'll forgive the expression!) with this post, by submitting this watercolour sketch to Adam's 'Paintings of Painters Painting Project', and as a comment to Katherine Tyrell's serendipitous post 'Why choose a painting holiday' that appeared yesterday. The painting is of my sister, Vivienne, who suggested and arranged that she, our younger sister Gillian, and I meet in Bergerac, France for one of Adam's painting holidays in the magnificent Dordogne two years ago, which she had found cruising the internet, and which she thought looked picturesque, pleasant and relaxed.
We converged with huge excitement from our various continents - Australia, America and South Africa and spent ten blissful days relating (being close relations and not having been together for a very long time!), eating the wonderful French meals Adam had organised (my sketch journal of the time is mainly descriptions of food), and of course happy hours of drawing, painting and sketching as I hadn't done since leaving art school 30 years before. We had some formal teaching sessions, which occasionally brought about some groans as Lafayette-with-no-nose was presented for loosening up on, and - especially from me - as I finally learnt what it was that artists actually did when squinting at that pencil held up in front of them (the art school I went to was more into Dada and other isms than perspective and proportion) as I tried to get the great Chateau de Lanquais onto my little piece of paper. (Which has since helped me with my tendency to go off the edges, thanks Adam!)

What I found most useful were the tutor comments on what I was doing, the colour and tonal suggestions - and on when to stop - and I like the group 'crit' when you see what everyone else has done... all the differing styles and subject choices, and get some interaction on the day. I really appreciate the kick-start I got into re-kindling my own art vision and ambition (basically just to DO it), which has been further stimulated by this great art-blogging community that never fails to inspire me. It was great to meet other people drawn together by this common enjoyment, and with varying motives - at least two others came as a means of upliftment out of sad times. We 3 sisters ourselves carried with us the memories of our late artist mother and eldest sister, who would both have so loved such a holiday, which seemed to make the trip all the more poignant and significant. But also huge fun, completely different from normality, and liberating - Katherine is right when she says some of the older participants provide the most laughs and we had one irrepressible ball of fire and fun from Arizona(/New Mexico? - not old, but a baby-boomer like us - not old, I said!) who prevented us from taking ourselves or our dabblings too terribly seriously. Which was a very good thing.

12 comments:

Gillian said...

Oh what happy memories...! I painted the same photo yesterday - see my blog, I posted it but its not finished. Yours is SUPERB (French accent here!) I won't have time to work on mine till we get back from Savannah next week. I'll talk to you on the phone about the grassy background that is bugging me...
P.S. Out trip was almost TWO year ago, and Phoebe lives in New Mexico, not Arizona - I think??!! I'm going to email her and tell her to look at your blog...

Cathy Gatland said...

Thanks - I corrected those mistakes - am relieved to know its only 2, not 3 years! Did you take this photo? - I took a few of V painting too, but think it was with her camera...

Adam Cope said...

salutations à cathy en sud afrique

thank you so much for your kind words. i'm glad you all enjoyed your holiday. you know, for me, it really is a pleasure to see people enjoying themselves on holiday. it was fun :-)

now, that painting of yours of Vivienne is wonderful! done from photo... this is not something i know a lot about, so i'm always fishing for 'tips' when i see someone do it so well.

question : did you put a fine wash of transparent yellow down first that gives that wonderful warm timbre to the light? i can see the warm southern sunlight of the dordogne in this picture. no doubt you coming from the southern latitudes of south africa are instantly more at ease in the southern light than people coming from more northerly latitudes. to re-create this from a photo is no small feat; your knowledge of light & colour are 'filling-in' this type of vital information that a photo rarely gives (the gamut of colours is smaller in photography than in the real world & the camera records them in a way that i find foreign to my perception of the world).

the tonality on the umbrella is masterful. i guess not being a in rush whilst out in the field 'plein-air', allows for a cooler, more deliberate & more planned approach. to lay a violet-based shadow wash over a bright, pure yellow .... (the shadow did go over the yellow stripes or visa versa? difficult to tell from a jpeg of a painting - though i can see that the green are classic 'dark over light').look what 'colour interest' the sparkling bright yellows give in the dappled light on the under-side of the umbrella! great that you resisted the urge to fill-in the little empty 'gaps' in some of the washes such as on the back-side of the easel ... these are important,imo, as they carry through the dappled colour light sparkle.

great shapes - you aren't scared of blocking-in with a brush

Vivienne is a trooper to hold so many oil brushes in her hand & her posture is so strong & in the shoulders. very concentrated! i love looking at details like this in paintings of painters painting; they capture the magic of the moment, the pleasure of 'being there' & being alongside other painters painting.

i did laugh out loud upon seeing your sketch-book page of in this post, the one with the swimming ducks & the palette lay-out. i never expected that a palette lay-out diagram could have such a funny 'insert' image posed inside the middle of it!! (do you pissaro's pallete with the painting inside it?) ha ha - three painters taking tea on the old school bench, lol. happy days. the pleasure of meeting other people :-) you have a good eye for incidental detail & capturing the magic of the moment.

with your consent, i would love to put the pair up on my blog. but just a pedantic word here, if i may... what are the sizes of these two paintings? it's terribly difficult to have a real appreciation if one hasn't the sizes written underneath the jpeg...( you had to have one piece of negative criticism, didn't you?;)

paint on.
best
adam

Vivienne said...

Hi there... home and hosed, and happy to see the honeysuckle looking so good. I wish I had got a nice orange for you in that art shop. I see I have not posted anything for a month. Perhaps my future is more as a model??! (nah).
Say hi to Phoebe, Gillian. What a dynamo!

Kathy Jurek said...

Hi Cathy, just followed this painting from Adam Cope's blog. I really love it and the rest of your paintings on your blog, too. ;)

Cathy Gatland said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kathy - will have a good look at your blog later today, looks like there's some lovely work on it too!

africantapestry said...

This is such a lovely paitnign Cathy and how I envey your for sharing a peinting holiday with your sisters!! Why don' you post some of the entries and paintings and food experiences(!) you did then...would love to see them..as well as those of your sisters'.
ronell

Cathy Gatland said...

I did one post in August last year - A Holiday in France - http://asketchintime.blogspot.com/2007/08/here-are-some-pages-from-my-journal-i.html (sorry - don't know how to make a link in the comments!) from my first ever sketch/travel journal... if I could do it over, after seeing a lot of other journals, it would have much more in it!...I might find some of the watercolours I did and post them..? Some of them were awful!

janabouc said...

What a wonderful moving story and your watercolor is delightful. I read Katherine's post with much interest and it brought back memories of a disaster of an expensive painting holiday/workshop I attended last year. If only I'd seen her post previous to signing up. Yours sounded perfect!

laura said...

How wonderful to have sisters to paint with; I really envy you! I've taken a couple of painting holidays, but I always go alone! Of course, I always meet lovely people when I get there, but ... I agree with Adam: the palette with painting is charming!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Cathy - this is one of the nicest paintings of painters done on a painting holiday that I've ever seen!

Cathy Gatland said...

Thank you Jana, Laura and Katherine - I think it's quite brave to go on your own on a painting holiday - and prior investigation very necessary...