Friday, 30 August 2013

La Fruitiere Samoens

La Fruitiere Samoens
Painted in Watercolours

I sat and sketched in the morning sunshine. Watching and listening in the bustling market place. 
The family at work in the fruit shop, Grandma standing and giving advice, the grandaughter at the old till. The son checking everything is in it's correct place and occassionally shouting bargins to be had.
At midday blankets and cloths were thrown across the fruit and vegtables and the shop went to lunch. 
The ease of French life.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cornes du Chamois.

Cornes du Chamois

Painted in Watercolours Size13 x 16 inch
For sale.

My second attempt at this beauiful Emerald pool in Sixt Cheval. The Cornes du Chamois and the gushing waterfall in the backdrop.This is quiet a daunting scene to capture in watercolour. Painting first the 'Cornes' in English I think they are 'Horns' and a Chamois is a small mountain like goat.
Next came the trees and with the help of a little wax resist in places, while these were still wet, the lake was laid in with some trepidation.
I wanted to create a loose feel to this beautiful scene and not get too bogged down with correct detail.

I have a few art books with me here in France and after a failed first attempt I had a look through my
John Singer Sargent to see his approach with watercolours. He spent most Summers in the Alps painting in Italy and Switerland and would then go to Venice to paint. I noticed in a few of his watercolours that he also used resist and left many areas of the paper untouched with paint. This I feel gives a true glow to the watercolour painting, yet is so hard to do. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Col de la Forclaz Montmin

A wonderful cycle ride 'Col de la Forclaz' this is my sort of perfect ride. Along the 'flat' lakeshore joining up with a cycle path, so no traffic to watch out for. Cycling through fields newly harvested, bright blue sky, wonderful light on the rocks.

We joined a quiet road and began the trundle up , passing manicured fields, Cows with bells and just beautiful Alpine scenery.

A few sports cars passed us by, and the paragliding vans on their way to the top.

                   But with just Goats and Cows for company this quiet road was Divine. I love this photo!
                                                     They are such quizzical little animals

      The surprise view on the top, those few hairpins are all worth it to admire and take in the vista of Talloires below. And now it's just a freeride all the way back, I declined the paraglide. Take a look behind my bike and you see a green ramp, this is jump off point!!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Lac Annecy Colour Sketch

Lac Annecy Colour sketch

I've had some lovely emails lately about the blog and also from OWC students. It's great getting feedback and  hearing that the blog is been enjoyed.

One of the questions asked was 'how long it took to paint Lac Annecy 

Firstly I did a quick colour sketch in my Heaton Cooper sketchbook which took about 15 to 20 mins

I sat back enjoyed the view and thought about the painting for about 30 mins.

I sketched mainly the boat, leaving the background to evolve by itself
Using Winsor Violet, Naples Yellow, Lemon Yellow and Cobalt Turquoise tubes of paint
Brushes a number 8 round and rigger and a Isabey small mop
I then painted for about 45 mins to one hour at the most
Laid it down on the floor, ignored it for 10 minutes
Then decided a few more brushstrokes of 5 mins

So to cut a long story short about One hour 20 mins
but don't forget to add on 20 years of practising

Sketchbooks are great for loosing up and make great reminders of life.

For more details on my online watercolour course which is ideal for beginners and dabblers just get in touch by email

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Calm water, Annecy

Calm waters
painted in Watercolours

The clear turquoise water of Lake Annecy. A boat brightly light in warm afternoon sunshine. Moored to the bobbing float and sundecked jetty.The water lapping quietly below.
Trying to capture this in a painting is pretty difficult you know!!
But very enjoyable and the best is been inspired to put paint to paper.
I think the dip in the lake also helped.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lac Annecy painted in watercolours

A gorgeous hot day, barely any clouds in the bright blue sky and sitting on the shore of Lac Annecy painting, what can I say but 'Fantastic' The Lake was crystal clear and this little jetty beckoned me to have a dip. I sat and pondered swishing my legs in the warm waters, deciding how deep the water was. I swished a little too much and found out !But what better way to start a watercolour painting, getting a real feel for the view.

This speed boat caught my eye, I liked the shadows of purple on the cover and wondered would it work.

A quick sketch and colour wash gave me the encouragement I needed.

Lac Annecy
Painted in watercolours on site with barely any sketching, painting it with sheer speed and looseness in the warm sunshine, wondering was it working but looking at the view all the time. I call this method 'Painting by the seat of your pants' with no idea at what you are achieving just hoping, but  totally enjoying the experience of outdoor painting.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Alpine Window in Watercolours

Alpine Window

The yellow daisies and big blue globe thistles are all out in bloom
Trying to capture them around this pretty window was quite a task!
I was capturing them in watercolours not always an easy medium.
I had a real play with this one, using wax, masking, and the old spray and palette knife was not left out of play!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Alpine Doorway

Alpine Doorway
Painted in Watercolours

Afternoon sunshine brought this little doorway to life. 
 n a corner in the beautiful village of Vallons, I'm spoilt for choice of painting ideas and subjects in this gorgeous old hamlet. Many houses have a stack of wood cut in all sizes and arranged in wonderful order ready for the cold days.
Everywhere I look there are terracotta pots and hanging baskets of Pink and Red Geraniums.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Alpine Glow, Col du Mont Cenis and the Izoard

Alpine Glow on 'The Midi' painted in Watercolours

It wasn't all cycling as you can see on our road trip, I did make some special time for painting and was certainly inspired along the way.

Our trip continued driving up and over the Iseran, this wild part of the French Alps does remind me of the Scottish Highlands, the photo above is looking back up to the top with a perfect Blue sky.We decided to stay the night in the village of Lansvillard at the foot of the Col du Mont Cenis which borders with Italy. The Col was described with low gradients of around 6%, perfect for a couple of hours cycling. I know better now the gradients are between 8 - 9% and with a gale force wind. 

Here I come powering up the slope and here is Nigel nice and relaxed on the summit top.

The next day we headed up over the Col Cenis and across into Italy, then up the Col Mongenvre and back into France and down into Briancon. In the Campervan I'm pleased to add.We set up base and got ready for the next cycle ride, Number five of the trip Col d' Izoard. Now I should have realised Izoard means in Yorkshire 'It's hard'!!

The ride started well, we quickly made it to Cervieres a tiny hamlet at the base of the climb, then uphill all the way, round hairpins getting steeper, the wind picking up, dark clouds threatening and the scenery getting more barren and formidable. This high Col has featured in many Tour du France stages, but seeing it alone and eerie quiet, I felt a sense of forebode. Stopping on the last few hairpins and and thinking this beast of a Col was going to beat me, the rain started pounding, there was nothing else for it, but too make our way to the summit shelter.

The thunder roared above, the rain came heavy, we warmed our hearts with Hot Chocolate and thought about our return ride with dread! I did feel like shedding a tear amongst the novelty toys on sale in the tiny shop! But a squeaky Marmot teddy brought a smile and the clouds began to clear! I think you realise by now this artist who likes the colour pink was wondering what she had got herself into!!

The sun came out, a photo of the top at 2,360 metres and lets get down quick before the next storm approaches. The roads quickly dried and we safely made it back down the Col. Arriving back at the van was such a delight!!
Now I did say on our return I'm not going up any more Cols!!

Hope you enjoyed our road trip, more paintings next week.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Three countries and four high passes

 Three countries, France, Switzerland and Italy. Four passes, Petit Bernard in the Campervan and Col de Monets, Col de Forclaz, and Col d'Iseran on two wheels. 
We started our road trip heading towards Mont Blanc tunnel but had to change plans when we saw two hour queues. A lovely campsite in Argentiere at the bottom of Aiguille Rouge came up trumps. Two passes were about to be peddled Col de Monets and then downhill  across the Switzerland frontier and up the Col de Forclaz. We realised at the Col we had no Swiss francs for a well deserved drink!

Back on the bike and downhill back to the frontier and upwards to Vallorcine a pretty French village where we have skied before. A welcome baguette and then back up Col de Monets really called Montets, but for obvious reasons Monets!!
Stunning, amazing and inspiring views back towards Mont Blanc and my favourites the 'Dru' and Aiguille de Midi 

Near the top of Col de Montets with Aiguille Rouges just round the corner.

The Aiguille de Midi, I'm just finishing a watercolour that  I started from Argentiere.

On the top of Petit Bernard

Back on the road and heading to Mont Blanc tunnel, this time to sit and queue for two hours to get into Italy. Campervan then got it's taste of Top gear. The Petit Bernard was quite a pass it felt like it was been rebuilt with long jaw dropping drops and hairpins crumbling as we ( well Nigel) drove to the top of the pass. Back into France and the roads improved vastly down the descent all the way to Val d'Isere

A wonderful campsite was found in Val d'Isere and here is the view from the van, we settled in and paints came into action.. A local cow fete was happening in this famous ski town with stalls full of Cheeses, honey, sausages and even baby goats (kids) and bantam hens for sale? I didn't get a new pet, but did enjoy a tasty Chevre Pizza. 

The third Col was the Iseran, one of the 50 greatest Alpine cycle climbs. I bought this book one Christmas for Nigel, never thinking we would be cycling the climbs!! It was supposed to be a coffee table book, be warned ladies!! I'm joking this is the 11th Col we have done now and I cannot believe the scenery and splendour that we have seen on two wheels and the places we have been to.

Val d' Isere in the bottom of the valley, can you see the campsite, don't go to close to the edge!

Now I feel this photo tells the story! I'm gazing at the distant top thinking, how much  further, when a tall Dutch guy passed us by, asking where we were from and saying ' she's an animal! 

All the way up to the very top

All smiles now, Dutch guy comes over and shakes my hand, I don't think he thought I would make it!

It's not just cyclists that take the famous pose, this chap in the checked shirt parked his car, got out to take a photo of his pride and glory.

Long hairpins  make up the highest paved mountain pass in Europe

Donkeys along the way ('Ane' donkey in French)

What a stunning ride Col d' Iseran, one of my favourites.
Our road trip continues part two tomorrow