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!