Saturday, 22 July 2017

Provence light in mid-winter

Overlooking 'Domaine Les Clarettes', just outside Les Arcs-sur-Argens.
This weekend marks the final days of my husband's exhibition of paintings of Provence. Painted over the past eight years, the works brought a little bit of Provencal sunshine to the chilly city of Ballarat.
Painting a scene in a Les Arcs street.
Alan, who has French ancestry, has been painting France since he made his first sketch from the balcony of his mother's house in Menton (Alpes-Maritimes) at the age of five.

He studied at art school in England, and has exhibited in southern England (including having three works selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London). Since moving to Australia his work has been shown in galleries in Victoria and Melbourne.

On our first ever visit to Les Arcs-sur-Argens in 2008, he said, quite casually: 'I could paint here for the rest of my life.'

I was already sold on the village and its lovely ambience, but that comment probably sealed it. We were vaguely looking at houses anyway - and we eventually bought a tiny 18th century terraced house in the village centre.

Alan paints from life - landscapes, townscapes, still lifes - and loves being in an area where he has ready access to wonderful little galleries like L'Annociade at Saint-Tropez and Musée Bonnard at Le Cannet, not to mention Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence, Musée Matisse in Nice and all the art at St Paul de Vence, Grasse and Antibes - everywhere actually!
Alan painting on the rooftop in Les Arcs.

His plein air studio is set up on the roof terrace, where he paints small oil sketches of drawings he has made on his travels in various parts of Provence.

These sketches return with us to Australia, where he enlarges them in his studio, according to colour notes he has made.

And this year he put them all together for an exhibition at Backspace Gallery in Ballarat during the month when we  avidly watch the Tour de France and celebrate the Fete Nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14.

It was incredible to see them all in one space and to experience that brilliant Provencal light in the middle of a chilly Ballarat winter.
'The Argens in flood.' Looking back over the town, showing the medieval castle tower.

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