Covering life within and without, according to the artist.
What a fabulous, fast, furious 10 days that was!
When can I do that again?
...Or rather, how can I live every day this way? Now that I'm back home, all the daily household tasks scold me for attention. Can you identify with the battle of prioritizing the necessary time to learn and grow? What is it that you love to do? Isn't that the thing that's so often set aside for "the right moment?"
I give you a final evening in Arles, followed by a few ventures into capturing the light around me: Monte Sainte Victoire, Tina & Turner (my faithful Golden companions), and an outing to the crowded beach of Cassis...
After nine days of making art a priority, I was finally starting to come alive…and what a lively place is Aigues-Mortes! Instead of doing the usual fortress and walls—which is completely worth it, if you’ve not been a half-dozen times already—we took our time to find the quiet corners.
On that note, the restaurant ‹‹la Camargue›› is both peaceful and full of life, as well as serving excellent meals. They do not take reservations, so be sure to head for 19, rue de la République as soon as you hear the man on Place Saint Louis shout C’EST MIDI! A TABLE!!!
Don't fret if you can't make it for mealtime, because there are more than enough cafés to go around...
It’s high time that I clink my glass and offer a toast of gratitude to monsieur Mathieu Brousses of Provence Art Experience! We never had to worry over any details, because Mathieu already thought of everything from charting our route to carting our equipment and those ceaseless bottles of water.
On the mornings that Georgia taught us more techniques, our Monsieur Provence provided lunch…works of art in themselves, as you can see…
The annual “floating market” of Isles-sur-la-Sorgue, held on the first Sunday in August is highly recommended if you simply can’t have enough mobs of tourists in your life. Everyone was quite civil when it all began at 9 am…but after wrestling for parking and an hour of shuffling along with the crowd flowing to the river by the public gardens, my general mood by lunchtime was high risk-of-meltdown.
Lunch at the classic Café de France, followed by sketching at a quiet waterside café, calmed me enough to appreciate the antique shops and art galleries that ring the town.
Artistic inspiration abounds here at any point in the year, so here’s another one for my To-Do-Redo list…
I had no idea that the largest street market in Europe happens right here in Arles! Two hours of strolling was quite enough for me—so much sensory stimulation had me overflowing with ideas…and ready for refreshment at the delightful Château d’Estoublon.
Mais oui, how those senses were refreshed in this peaceful setting. The staff was so kind and welcoming, the food and wine (we enjoyed both lunch and dinner) were generous and delicious. It’s exhausting work, painting, yet I felt more like pampered royalty than a starving artist. I do believe I could live like this…
We let the infamous Mistral winds do their worst as Georgia spent the morning introducing us to many of her excellent watercolor techniques. (See below.)
After Mathieu’s fantastically fortifying picnic lunch, we went for the afternoon to Saint-Remy-en-Provence. I admit, I’ve only known St. Remy as overrun with tourists (including my occasional troupe), and although there was no shortage of northern European languages, there’s a lot more to this town than I knew...
Oh dear me, I had too much sun and fun yesterday! It was one of those mornings after the night before…except this time I was hung-over from not drinking enough (water, that is), and the dehydration had me wrecked. My official declaration: Neither artist nor tourist must underestimate the importance of carrying both enough water for our painting and ourselves.
To compensate, I took twice as many photos and made great promises to myself to return in better health. Oppède le Vieux is so fascinating—I look forward to exploring the hidden corners and outstanding views of this abandoned village. At the time of the popes of Avignon this was a city of 9000 people!
The countryside is so lovely. Even in my sub-par state, there was plenty to enjoy along the way to Roussillon—a lifetime of paintings waiting to happen…
And of course, Roussillon is a must-see in Provence, especially for those of us who are fascinated with colorful dirt and other pigments. (Enough said, except to mention that the ice cream shop near the park entrance is worth visiting, too.)
This is how I immortalized my day:
Much, much market! I'm not a big fan of shopping, but there's more than enough to keep the senses occupied on Arles' street market: Sights, sounds, scents, and beaucoup to inspire the artist and other sightseers.
Followed by lunch at le Jardin des Arts--too hot for gnocchi, but a fabulous meal nonetheless. I look forward to returning in less melty weather... Or if this heat continues, a salad will certainly please.
For the heat of the afternoon, les Cryptoportiques--the Roman market of 1 B.C.E. were fascinating and refreshingly 15°C. We also hung out in la Médiathèque (the public library) for air-conditioned comfort. It's located in the historic hospital (Van Gogh was interred here), which has been impressively renovated to include both ruins and modern architecture.
Of course, artists must make the most of French café culture, and so we did.
The entire day of sights and wonders passed before I realized that, for once, I didn't go into the Roman theater or arena! There is so much to see in this town! (Hint: Check out the Hôtel Nord Pinus on Place du Forum for outstanding retro charm and surprising history on their walls! Who'da thought?!!)
This was my 4th visit to the Chagall presentation at Les Carrières de Lumières this year, but no complaints! Half the fun is watching the new arrivals as they enter: Words can't describe the experience—it's larger than life. Each March, with every new theme, I wonder what the artists would think of seeing their work in such astonishing light, color, and sound? In addition, the cool caverns are blessed relief from the intense heat of this summer's heat.
After we left our sizzling parking in the appropriately named Val d'Enfer (Hell Valley) for the other side of the village, we claimed what shade we could find for a pleine aire painting session...