Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Snow or sunshine in Samoens

One of the things I've been looking forward to in spending time in France was watching the seasons change. From a painters eye, I find it so inspiring and important. I have realized over the past few years, what I feel like painting  is usually what's happening outside the window. I read somewhere that the French Alps scenery compared to the Lake District is like it is on steroids!

So with all this in mind, above beautiful Buttercups enjoying the last rays of a warm sunny hot day ( Monday)

This morning heavy rain clouds swirling above Fresh Snow, this is the lowest we've seen it in the last four weeks. Can't believe the skis are back in the Lakes, but I did envisage painting flower meadows in warm sunshine at the end of May!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A painting and fishing trip in Samoens

Paints, fishing tackle and a picnic was packed. We headed a few miles down the valley towards Sixt.
A breathtaking spot was found. High snow capped mountain peaks, a turquoise river running through and wild flowers and beautiful towering trees.

So the scene is set, I set up paints, do a little headless chicken act with so much to paint. Number One art critic wades into the water with the illusion he may catch a fish. I settle down and with a small piece of paper try to capture just a tiny bit of this magical place.

Number one art critic is now a tiny spec in this vast landscape, I'm trying to figure how to paint all of these trees! Why did I think I should paint each one, the sheer scale of the job was on my shoulders.

 Taking a breather, enjoying the peace and quiet the birds singing, oh this is just heaven

Then around the corner come the tribes, it's like a scene form the wild west. For some reason a farmer has lit a bonfire of hay, suddenly the fish are no more, good excuse! The trees are forgotten and the swallows are frightened away. Time for the picnic and a reflection of the days work.
The river is very fast flowing  which means the fish swim faster, ie harder to catch.

I should had softened a little more and found a way through the trees, but eh ho what a gorgeous day

A quick Dandelion and buttercup study, wet in wet and a touch of gouache.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Giro d' Italia Borghetto

Borghetto Valeggio

We decided to go in search of sunshine. 
Italy looked good and with the Giro d'Italia nearby a plan was made. 
 Borghetto a tiny hamlet near to Vallegio and situated on the river Mincio looked perfect. 
Especially as it was classed has 'One of the most beautiful villages in Italy' 
We parked the van on the historic old bridge, sat in the sun, I got the sketchbook out and waited.

The vans and cars came first and then motorbikes flew by with paparazzi.

The crowds got bigger with all ages waiting for the Maglia Rosa. Many Italian cyclists with jerseys of all colours.

The Visconti Bridge, what a totally wonderful place to experience the Giro. All got very excited as the helicopters hovered above and horns started hooting, they were on their way.

The leaders, a few metres in front of the main peleton.

This happy Italian lady was not in the main peleton but did look the part.

And here we go, the Giro d' Italia and look who's wearing the red jersey? Mark Cavendish, we gave him a great big cheer.

The sky team car but no Bradley Wiggins.

And this is my favourite photograph, I wanted to share with you, just look at the expressions.

I felt really inspired and can't wait to paint 
' A  Giro d' Italia' 
I'll keep you posted on how it comes together!!!

P.S Don't be too envious of the sunshine, I am now writing this with snow falling outside!!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Col de Jour plane

Let me share this beautiful cycle ride up Col de Jour Plane, or should I call it an uphill slog, 
struggle or sheer brute of a ride!!
 It's approximately eight miles up from the bottom of Samoens and an accent of 989 metres. Let me put this into Lakeland fell size Scafell pike is 978 metres. So for an artist who likes the colour pink It's an Everest!!

With plenty of Spring flowers to pass the slow gear with.

 And the  mountain peak of Criou on my right to admire

This is where the going gets tough

And who cares if there's a mountain behind to admire

Into the snow level, and I'm thinking I bet the cafe isn't open at the top 
that sells those lovely raspberry tartlets

Wild crocuses were popping through as I passed at a super fast speed

The closed road didn't turn us back! Upward and onward we were on a mission 

 Don't you just hate partners that don't seem to break sweat, while you struggle on pink and puce from exhaustion

Wearing the pink jersey and one last push to the top.

We made it to the top. A stunning ride, hard work but worth all the puffing and panting

Look at the snow line, but the cafe is shut!!! No Raspberry tartlet today

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Peas from Provence

Peas from Provence

It seems that everywhere is having unsettled wet weather, and Samoens is not been left out!
A trip down to the market in the waterproofs did seem a little like Keswick.

We spied the rotisserie for chicken and even duck, the smells were wonderful. A chicken was bought and then some fresh new potatoes, haricot beans, fresh carrots and Provence peas. 
A cool crisp glass of white wine and I think we can call it a meal!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Blossom at Chez nous

'Blossom at Chez Nous'

Painted in watercolours

Chez nous, is not our pad, but a lovely little chalet that we passed on the bikes on our 
way up to Morillion Esserts. 
 A blanket of dandelions under the Blossom tree, an old post box at a jaunty angle, a couple of old wooden sheds containing logs and a path that wound it's way to the old farmhouse this is what inspired me to put paint to paper.

The flowers are been a total joy, the dandelions in the lower valley are been replaced by buttercups and forget me nots. But in the higher pastures wild crocus and primroses are still in flower.

Buttercups and forget me not

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Lake Iseo A painters dream

 Lake Iseo A painters dream

After a couple of wet years in the Lake District, we took a big plunge and decided to have this Summer painting and gaining inspiration in the French Alps! So here I am in the pretty village of Samoens, it all seems very bizarre but having WIFI makes life much more accessible  I am still providing the Online course and hope soon to have one, just on the French Alps, it is great getting emails back from students who are improving and gaining confidence with each project and it certainly inspires me.

I am organising an Italian Lakes painting holiday from 14th to 21st  September and have some single ladies booked on, with a  couple of ensuite rooms still available. The Rivalago hotel is stunning and situated on the Lakeshore and in the pretty village of Sulzano it really is a painters dream. I like to keep the numbers small ensuring lots of one to one tuition and also a friendly easy going group. If you would like to come Ryanair fly from Bristol, Birmingham and also Stanstead direct to Bergamo airport where we will have a private transfer waiting to take you to the Rivalago. If you have a non painting partner, they are more than welcome and Nigel knows plenty of cycling and walking routes to keep them amused or just chilling out and enjoying the Italian Culture. For more details

If you would like any further details just email me back.

We have just One double ensuite room available, please get in touch before it goes.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Cirque du Fer Cheval, Sixt

Cirque du Fer Cheval  painted in watercolours.
Size 19 x 12 inches

I enjoyed painting the 'Sixt horseshoe' on a wet damp day here in Samoens. 
Sitting watching the weather change by the hour. The rain pounding on the roof, puddles outside on the terrace.
With the door open and listening to the birds singing.

You might wonder how I painted it? 
Time spent sketching in Sixt Cheval figuring out the shapes.
A cycle ride and gazing at the peaks
A photo reference
A new Sable Rigger size eight and a dream to paint with.

Market day

Wednesday market in Samoens. These ladies above are buying lettuces. All different varieties, all  fresh and just picked, no little bags like we have in the UK. Pick which ones you want and then just get them weighed.

I did feel inspired to paint a small Oignon study in Oils?

Petunias and Geraniums bright and shiny in the morning sunlight.

Bags for market shopping. I wondered if this could be a bright and colourful watercolour?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Blossom and Sunlight in Pastels

 Ever had that feeling, I want to paint everything, but don't know what to do? I was feeling this yesterday. First the Oils came out, brushes in place and then I thought No, lets get the Pastels out instead.
With a nine inch square P400 paper I blocked in some shapes and colours for the background.

I wanted to capture the Blossom tree, that had caught my eye when we arrived last week.
 I went for a close up look, noted Buttercups and more pink Blossom than you could see at a distance.

Playing around with pastel, getting some background colours, blending and softening in places, using the old toothbrush to take off any excess pastel ready for 'The Tree'

'Blossom' captured in Pastels
Size 9 x 9 inch

As you can see I have simplified the scene! My main aim was Blossom and sunlight.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A bench with a view

Went for a little explore round the back of the chalet, found a little path, made my way up passing wild Strawberry leaves, more Cowslips and buttercups. I could see a pasture and a bench. So I sat on the bench and thought now this would make a gorgeous painting! And I have a bench to put the paints and gear on and the view below to paint, all I need now is Julie Andrews.

Cowslips, Daisies,a wood shed and a very pretty chapel.

I can see these trees from the window, I'm watching to see them turn Green.

 Even the Dandilions are so inspiring.

I took this 'jaw dropping' view from the saddle on the bike, what a view to cycle towards, can't wait to come back with the watercolours.