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.