Yesterday a walk around Castellar a 15th century village perched up in the mountains above the coast. We couldnt get to the Italian border ( which is very close) as there are now armed troops preventing migrants moving into France from Italy and they dont take too kindly to tourists with cameras – so much for Schengen.
The previous day we had a holiday from the holiday. So we had a wander around town and visited the museums. This view is from the cemetery looking east from Menton over to Italy – painted whilst we waited for the museums to open.
The day before the holiday from the holiday we visited another hill-top town called Eze. Here is the view as I waited outside the church for the others to arrive. It was unfortunate that wave after wave of tourists arrived from a cruise ship at the same time. Tourism on an industrial scale.
Well, decamped to the South of France for a few days walking. It is walking in a group so I dont get much time for painting, but this is what I managed to do, by sprinting ahead and carving out some extra time. The sketch above is of Sospel bridge in the mountains above Monte Carlo. The building on the bridge is an office for the tax man who charged medieval passers-by who mainly who came by with salt for sale in the mountains.
We walked along the coast on the first day. Whilst the rest of the group munched their sandwiches I painted the view through the trees to the sea below.
Well, I did post a version of this before which was very similar. This is another for my exhibition of local views. I put the first one in an earlier exhibition and it sold – hence the revisit. I am particularly interested in getting this view in, as the exhibition will be held at my framer’s shop, which is opposite the far end of the church – so local interest.
As compensation for a repeated image, it is birthday season in these parts, so here are a couple of cards I have painted for the celebrations.
Yep, another of the local series. Perhaps it was the pollarded tree, spearing its overgrown branches heavenward, emphasising the outpouring of spring growth, that caught my eye as I walked to the newsagents this early May day. It foretold days of promise with summer yet to come.
Fresh greens and yellows against purpled shadows – it was pleading to be painted – I couldnt refuse.
Back to my build up of local paintings for the Christmas exhibition. This is just around the corner from the location of some of the previous ones I have posted recently. In fact, I posted a version of this particular view on one of my first blogs in November 2013. It sold and later I found out is was my next-door neighbour who bought it. That was a bigger painting in acrylic.
Since then things have changed and the grasping claw of big business has pushed itself amongst the rows of independent traders that make up the commercial community. A Sainsburys opened a convenience supermarket on the other side of the road. The newsagent – next to where the two figures are standing – diversified and became a very popular real ale/cider/coffee shop ( you can see the segregated, outside seating area) when Sainsburys proposed the selling and delivery of newspapers. The cafe/bar still sells newspapers and runs delivery rounds, but now you can get a coffee, or something stronger, if you, like me, pick up your paper. It was a very shrewd move by the owner.
The dahlias are out in my garden and I thought that I would have another go at some of the cactus dahlias. I have tried this same subject before on my blog. This time I think I got the fluffiness of the flower along with it’s intricacies, but I was hoping for a looser and more vibrant background, although I was trying to keep to a fairly tight colour range at the same time. I may burden you with this subject again. We’ll see.
Another plein air painting I was forced to complete at home. It was nearly done when my stool started making strange noises underneath me so I stood up and it fell apart at my feet. As the place was covered in sheep droppings I decided to pack up and continue our walk up the hill and on to Cooden.
The day before I had gone to Hastings and walked to Fairlight where this row of coastguard cottages stand on top of the cliff at the highest point. I left out the radio and communications mast and hid the large radar behind the bushes on the right. I certainly wouldnt like to live there with the houses being continually bombarded by large doses of radio waves even though they are relatively low frequency.
Here are a couple of sketches I am less happy with. The one above is of Ecclesbourne Glen a deep ravine on the sandstone cliffs east of Hastings. The hillside is covered in a mass of amorphous vegetation which I knew was a bad thing to try to paint but I have a long affinity with the topography, having run it many times in my youth before heading off on the run along the cliff-top path to the next ravine and another lung-bursting descent and climb.
This last one is of a newly mown field in a valley on the edge of Friston Forest. I was taken by the illumination on the row of trees at the foot of the slope. Behind is the deep valley in shade beneath the forest. I didnt do the contrast justice, but sitting in the afternoon sunshine in isolation amid the birdsong was a pleasant way of passing the afternoon.