Revisiting France

No, I haven’t been able to go back this year. I am still working from my library of pictures that I took while living there from 2007 to 2009. A friend of mine likes to call the south of France “God’s Country”, and I tend to agree with him. I really miss the closeness of nature and the peace there. Not to mention the charming French villages where you can just walk around and plop down your easel anywhere and find subject matter within minutes. A bit more complicated here in the US, where it always involves major driving, no parking and 24 hour traffic. Maybe I am a bit jaded; not everything can be compared to a place like Los Angeles and there are certainly quiet and charming places in the US as well.


The Dordogne River Valley (2011)
Watercolor on paper
NFS ::: Visit my France gallery

Anyway, this is one of my favorite views in the Dordogne. This painting worked out so well, I don’t think I’ll ever sell it! (Sorry!) The sky was done in one go and I purposely didn’t add any blue; just greyish clouds. The sky wash was converted into a blueish green at the horizon line and then quite green and strong in the foreground. The silvery blue of the river is simply a wash of cobalt blue and burnt umber (very little) and the reflections of the trees are added while still wet. It helps to tilt the board vertical to help let the pigment flow downwards.


Notice that I didn’t finish all the trees close to the viewer. I don’t think it’s necessary! This scene looks so simple but is actually not that simple to paint. Green is a difficult color to work with; many of my students tend to use too much of it in a scene like this and it ends up looking garish. It happens easily! I am very careful and I always try to tone down my greens by adding a bit of orange or red, basically neutralizing it a bit. Generally it’s better to stay away from scenes that are “overly green”. It’s a bit like trying to paint a sunset—it’s very difficult, the results are often not so great and it always looks much better when captured with a good camera!


15 thoughts on “Revisiting France

  1. lesliepaints

    First of all, I am in agreement with you on this one. Do not sell it. All time favorite. In this I believe you have become the artists’ artist. The greens are superb, the granulating washes are absolutely to die for and the composition rocks. Thank you for the mention of reds and oranges added to the greens. I hit on it every once in awhile but am still working on them. The edge comment is also informative and I am working on that, too. So thank you for continuing to blog as what you share helps others. Beautiful!

    1. frankeber Post author

      No problem, Leslie – it’s great that you get something out of it! Believe me, I thought about discontinuing this blog, but I think there are more people out there who appreciate it, so that makes it all worthwhile…Blogs just loose out to FB nowadays, hard to say what the next big thing is?
      Thanks, as always – you leave great comments, Leslie!

  2. Carol King

    What a beautiful painting. I thought the NYC scenes were my favoritie, but this one is right up there with those. I really feel a sense of peace looking at this, the grey sky, the mountain far in the distance and the lush green landscape which is not garish one bit. (Not that I thought it was ever garish, just that you talked about greens in your post.)

    I have never been to the south of France, but this painting makes me want to book a trip today.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Hi Carol, thanks for your great comments. You just have to do it – it does take a bit of planning and , of course, saving money … I rented an Apt there, in the countryside you can find one for surprisingly little money. Just don’t rent one of those Holiday homes, they usually want 250 € per day!!

  3. MG

    This is a beautiful painting. Lovely details without at all seeming overworked. Very inspiring. Although for a climber I’m disappointed that you don’t paint more alpine/mountain scenery.

    1. frankeber Post author

      MG, thanks for the visit and your nice comment. I know what you mean, I am just not that inspired to paint mountains and rocks. I know a climber/ painter who actually paints climbers doing their thing, but I stay away from that. It doesn’t seem to work well, photographs are just better for that kind of thing. It I paint a mountain etc. it’d just serve as a backdrop to something else.. but who knows maybe that’ll change..

  4. Jane

    So beautiful! After several failed attempts, I understand exactly what you mean about staying away from too much green. Time for a new subject for me!

    1. frankeber Post author

      I feel your paint..believe me, I have been there! If you listen to me, don’t do more than three attempt of any given scene. If it’s not working on the third try, it is time to move on, you are right!
      Thanks for the comment and your visit!!

  5. May

    Beautifully done! I can smell the fresh green right after the rain, it brings back happy memory of my own.
    What a perfect example of doing less, delivering more.

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