Lessons From France

Find the Shadows and Bring Out the Light a Few Examples from Our Provence Art Experience Workshop

With Dan Zimmerman, Mathieu Brousses, Susan Surber, Wendy Higbee Carando (guest artist), Luxman Nathan, and Michael Newberry
With Dan Zimmerman, Mathieu Brousses, Susan Surber, Wendy Higbee Carando (guest artist), Luxman Nathan, and Michael Newberry

St. Paul Asylum in St. Remy

Our first morning was a bright windy day as we drove to St. Remy guided by Mathieu to visit and draw at the St. Paul Asylum where Van Gogh was a patient around 1888-9. It was also the period when he did many wonderful works. Incidentally, I did my final art history paper on Van Gogh’s painting of the asylum. We saw the VG bedroom and then we started with our first pastel drawing lesson directly underneath its window.

Our Provence Art Experience Workshop truly began seeing Van Gogh’s bedroom at St. Paul’s Asylum in St. Remy on our first day.

The students under the shadow of Van Gogh’s ghost and unfamiliar with plein air painting/drawing and with each other, and jet lagged they bravely listened to their first instructions. The concern on their faces was apparent.

First Find the Shadows

Not everything you see no matter how much you love it will work visually. If it doesn’t have light and shadow you are wasting your time. So our first lesson was to find the shadows and hopefully they fall under something you would love to paint.

Dan is color blind but we used the same pastel techniques but only using gray, black, and white pastels. Rows of Lavender.
Susan’s Irises with her delicate technique of layering diagonals.
Luxman’s Irises bring out the light.

The tourists and local French were so kind and respectful of my students I never saw the students worried or concerned about the public seeing them draw. Hah, they may have been too focused. But at the end of the first session the relief and joy was beaming on their faces, and it was sinking in they were in Provence, doing their best honoring art and the place, and their drawings were working.

Luxman’s photo underneath Van Gogh’s bedroom window while I suggest something to Dan. Notice how wonderful the shadows help bring out the light.
Susan, Luxman, and Dan about to have lunch after a demanding morning of art making.

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