The second week at the program has been more intense and eclectic. This past weekend, I visited different villages to enrich my travel experience. We first visited La Ciotat. This village is surrounded by a paradisiac beach with its hills dipping into the Mediterranean Sea that is breathtaking. Crossing thru Route des Cretes, we drove by many villages that blend with the mountains. At a very high altitude, and a very narrow road, this route rewarded me with striking views across the most spectacular reaches of the Gran Canyon du Verdon and the Mediterranean. Saturday afternoon we arrived at Cassis.The first monument you see as you walk to the port is the majestic Chateau De Cassis. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, it sits calmly on top of the hill across from the village. Cassis is located south of Marseilles. This enchanting place is overseen by France`s highest coastal cliffs. The scale reinforces the intimacy of the narrow little harbour and old town centre down below.
Early Sunday I was on my way to another unknown destiny. This time I arrived to Isle Sur la Sorgue. This small old town is surrounded by water. You can browse it on foot or by gondola. It is a lovely place and immediately reminds you of Venice. It is also well known by its 14 working moulins. Isle Sur la Sorgue is France`s most important antiques and second hand centre after Paris. By 1:00 pm we had a picnic at Rousillon. This small village is pearched beautifully above a quiet extraordinary landscape. The mining of ochre and subsequent erosion have sculpted the red and gold earth into cliffs, canyon and unusual shapes. I found beautiful earth pigments for my paintings. After the peaceful picnic and walk thru the village, we headed to Gordes. My first view was a massive conglomeration of little houses that appears to be piled on top of one another. This village is perched above the Coulon Valley. In the centre, Le Chateau de Gordes oversees the whole with renaissance dignity.
The weekend cultural journey has ended for now. It is time to make art. I view this occasion with new experiences that might enrich my work.
Monday morning I installed my easel under a big oak in the surrounding landscape of the Marchutz atelier. The main goal for the next couple of days was to close observe and to reinterpret master works of art. I chose to start with Camille Corot. His work has always fascinated me by its silence and mystery. We are doing this to have a better understanding of the color, perspective and composition. We are doing the same as the great masters did, by studying and learning from their ancestors. During the subsequent days I also studied Monet and Van Gogh. The light in Aix-en-Provence is beautiful. Now I understand why a great number of masters came and studied painting here.
Thursday morning we had the second seminar of the program called: Color and Drawing. I studied and read Delacroix, Corot, Baudelaire and Van Gogh. Discussed: How Delacroix see the world? Also discussed: What does Van Gogh mean by “local color”?
On Friday we had a very unique field trip at Marchutz. We went to Lourmarin, Gorde and The Luberon to observe nature and study the architecture.
Following are the Journal II: Part A and B. Also the outcome from the art and architecture field trip.
Journal II – Color and Drawing
In response to the question, what distinguishes a “colorist” from someone who is not according to Delacroix? How does Delacroix’s colorist see the world?
A colorist will be able to succeed in making it understood that objects has depth, thickness, body, by simply using line. A colorist does not fix the contour line equally throughout. It makes it free and unbound almost broken in certain places. Accentuating it in others by means of a second and if necessary a third line or even using a wider, richer line, always careful that your line never become like iron wire.
Delacroix’s colorist sees that the tones decompose themselves with every hour and the reflection does not separate itself from the depth, just as the line does not separate itself from the model.
– What does Van Gogh mean by “local color”?
By local color Van Gogh meant the exact color of the object. You don’t have to follow nature’s colors mechanically and severely. You can intelligently make use of the beautiful tones with the colors from their own accord when one brakes them on the palette. Starting from one’s palet, from one’s knowledge of the harmony of color. Copying exact same color of nature matters little. Everything depends on our perception of the infinite variety of tones of the same family.
In my opinion, I agree with Van Gogh’s theory. Colors in a painting must come from the inner self, not necessary from the outcome of the scene. We can achieve a much more interesting and powerful painting by doing that.
Journal II: Color and drawing
In reflection to the question discused in the seminar: Is it more important to portray spatial depth as Delacroix describes? Or to portray emotional depth as Van Gogh describes?
In my opinion both concepts belong together. By understanding the light, it’s reflection on objects and how it breaks the silhouettes with every
instant, and instead of a flat image, raises everything in full depth. However, this thought is complimented by the emotional depth concept. We shouldn’t care much whether the colors are exactly the same to what we are representing, as long as it looks beautiful on the canvas as it looks in nature. A true painter starts from the colors on his palette than from colors of nature.
It is very intriguing how Delacroix talked about been a “colorist” without actually using color, rather by using a line with character and how he masterfully achieved depth. The character of the line is related to the color. A well done line has the capacity to convert a two dimensional image into a three dimensional and a life one.
Another great example of Delacroix “colorist” theory is Baudelaire’s Salon review of Daumier.” His drawing is naturally colored. His lithographs and woodcuts awaken ideas of color. His crayons contains something besides black, good for definition
and contours. He makes you intuit the color as he makes you intuit his thought. Now this is the sign of superior art, and all intelligent artists have seen it in his works.”
Corot once advised to Pissarro: “Above all you must study values. We don’t see in the same way: you see green and I see gray and blond. But this isn’t any reason not to work at values for that is the basis of everything. In whatever way one may feel and express oneself one cannot do good painting without it.”
During the seminar we also discussed how body and objects in general have different thickness in different parts. Some are more solid than others. By understanding this we will be able to perceive volume.
Another important characteristic of a good work of art is harmony. This concept can be defined in many aspects. For example, by combining and complimenting colors intelligently. Also, by placing the figures or masses strategically within the space.
After understanding Delacroix statement, I’m now more aware of the character of the line and the necessary breakness of it.
As part of our artistic and academic development at the Marchutz program is to get in direct contact with the Provence’s magnificent architecture. We visited A Lourmarin, Gorde and Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon. We went there to feel and understand its architecture.
Previous to this trip, we studied: The timeless way of building by Christopher Alexander. According to the lecture, he mentioned The concept: The quality without a name. Alexander stated that there is a central quality which is the criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building or the wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but cannot be named.
As we approached by foot to the village in the Luberone, founded a staircase facing it on at a distance. We sat and talked about what we were seeing. I immediately noticed harmony and patterns. But those patterns were never twice the same. You can observe many similarities but uniqueness at the same time. It is very noticeable how the village sits on the top of the mountain blending into the nature and into the sky as well. From the distance it looked peaceful. I felt a celestial silence. Also perceived stillness in time which is eternal. It was the opposite as you got closer. As I approached the structures, it started to feel as if they are alive.
If you combine and mention all these characteristics and many more, you can’t name its quality. I guess this is what Christopher Alexander meant by “The Quality Without a Name”.
As a part of this journey, we also had the privilege of visiting a borie. This is one of the most ancients form of construction. They were built with dry stone perfectly fit one on top of the other using no type of adhesive. Some of these type of construction dated from the first century and stand still like they were built yesterday. It was fascinating to go and sit inside of one of these structures. After my eyes adjusted to the limited light, I then appreciated its organic form and ancientness. It was truly a unique experience.
Our last stop of the day was at the Notre-Dame de Senanque Abbey. This monastery dated from the 12 century. Nestling at the bottom of the valley, Notre-Dame de Senanque Abbey is one of the purest examples of cistercian architecture and way of life. It is also one of the best places to see Provence’s famed lavender fields. Founded in 1148 and populated by Cistercian monks who live and pray in Senanque.