Well, it was in a cottage in France for a month of painting that my intentions to maintain a blog finally caught up with the realities of a very busy year.
I’ve been very lucky to have the chance to travel to Italy for a week of painting and exhibiting in June, then to France for the whole month of September, and that’s where I had a chance to write a bit about the experience.
I was selected by Les Amis de La Vignette at the Musee de Yvonne Jean-Haffen to be the artist in residence for September, and in return donated two of my paintings to the museum’s collection. The residency was in the picturesque medieval town of Dinan, on the banks of the Rance River in Brittany, France.
Madame Haffen (1895-1993) was an accomplished painter and a visionary who donated her home (La Grande Vigne) and collection to the town of Dinan, and established this wonderful residency. It offers artists from all over the world the opportunity to live and paint in an incredibly inspiring place, just as she did. I was lucky enough to catch the end of an exhibition of her paintings (and a few by her teacher Mathurin Meheut) at the cultural center in town, which gave me a great overview of her work. More of her work is displayed at the museum, which sits just up the hill from the cottage (La Vignette), all part of the property that was her home.
The cottage had all the comforts of home, a studio equipped with easel and utility sink, and a bicycle in the closet. With my painting kit strapped to the back of the bicycle, I pedaled up and down the Rance River to paint the trees, bridges and marshes of this endlessly inspiring place. I also packed my gear in my car and wandered along the spectacular coastline of Brittany, setting up my easel in fishing ports, sheep pastures, and even on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
I did a couple dozen paintings while in France, some of which are studies for larger canvases I’m starting in the studio, and some are finished paintings I will now exhibit. All of them are part of the experience, the joy of being there and taking it all in. For me, it’s all about exploring, understanding and creating, and as long as I’m doing that I know I’m alive!
Many thanks to Les Amis de La Vignette for a wonderful residency.