When painters dream, they dream of Glorious Provence.
If you asked an artist “What would be your dream painting trip look like?”, their answer would inevitably include a myriad of details that perfectly describe the landscape and colors of Provence. Every season in Provence is an artist’s dream, but September ranks high as our favorite time to travel to the South of France.
Late summer is the season of abundance that is “Glorious Provence”. Nature shamelessly flirts, showing off her ample feasts for both the eye and the table. Provence is the fruit basket of France and you see the evidence everywhere you look. The grapes and figs that have been growing all summer are plump and full of juice, and the trees are heavy with produce just waiting to be harvested.
Paintable views are everywhere! The air is scented and there’s a peaceful quality at summer’s end that envelopes you as you paint. With rows of sun-drenched grapevines mapping the hills and valleys in rows of green and gold, artists are spoiled for choice as to where to set up and paint. Under brilliant blue skies, pumpkins and squash dot the fields in bright patches of orange and yellow on the ochre soil. The heat of summer lessens, making it more pleasant to paint en plein air. The schools re-open in September so most families have finished their vacation. This means reduced traffic and fewer tourists to roam the hilltop villages while we peacefully interpret those oh-so-paintable scenes.
Retail therapy in the open air.
Wandering the open-air markets in September when the best of the region is on display is a valid and necessary form of retail therapy.
Not only will you find gorgeous treasures to take home for yourself and your family, (think French antiques, authentic posters from the belle epoque, luxurious silk scarves and fragrant dried lavender) but you can also browse among stalls brimming with freshly harvested fruit and vegetables. It is well worth supporting the local producers by buying a pot of honey or enjoying a sample of marinated olives or a morsel of ‘fromage’ from an array of more cheeses than you ever thought possible (try the creamy Tomme studded with truffles). At the end of the morning market, we head over to our favorite grower’s flower stall to buy masses of blooms for the afternoon’s painting sessions and to decorate the chateau in glorious color. It’s no wonder Provence is known for its fabulous food, as all the ingredients are so fresh!
We have to thank the Romans!
If it wasn’t for the Romans, Provence might still be a marsh. The clever Romans assured the success of Provence’s agriculture as they not only drained swampy areas in the Rhone valley but also channeled the abundant water supply to irrigate and transform the land where vineyards, olive groves and wheat fields could thrive and supply the Roman empire. This land cultivation helped establish Provence’s dominance as an agricultural center and we continue to enjoy the benefits of Roman engineering every time we visit. Over the centuries this agricultural output has ebbed and flowed and shaped the land into a bountiful paradise. Now Provence produces over half of the nation’s produce and we will be sampling as much of it as we can!
It is a glorious time to visit Provence. The harvest is underway. Our main focus is always art of course, and we visit selected spots where there are extraordinary views to paint. We also visit local vineyards to paint, sometimes while the grapes are being unloaded straight from the fields. We meet the families and have a wine tasting session.
And yes, we find it more productive to do it in that particular order!
Glorious Provence Art Retreat
We find that uninstructed art retreats are a great way to explore and develop your own art while gaining inspiration and insight from the other artists in the group. Consider sharing the bounty of Provence in September. There is less traffic, the kids are back at school and it’s a painter’s dream. You can paint as much as you want.
You will be fed consistently with locally harvested and deliciously prepared food while somehow not gaining any weight.
In the evenings you get to enjoy the camaraderie of new friends over some of the best wines from the famous Côtes du Rhone region! The Glorious Provence Art Retreat in September is one of our favorites! It is the perfect opportunity for artists who want to maximize their painting time, some use the time to build their portfolios while others are happy to gain experience and soak up plentiful inspiration that will continue to sustain them for months and years to come.
Glorious Provence Art Retreat
September 26 – October 5, 2021
A wonderful opportunity to paint with other artists and spend 10 idyllic days in the South of France.All while surrounded by the natural beauty and bounty of Provence.
Blogger: Shirley Hambrick
Shirley Hambrick is an award-winning stained-glass artist and painter. She has lived in Scotland, Spain and the USA. Shirley is part of the Workshops in France team and attended over 20 of these trips. She writes about her adventures.
Being Scottish, she was trained at Edinburgh College of Art and Design. Shirley teaches in the West Virginia area and you can some of her beautiful work here.
Your Artist Getaway Awaits
Occasionally we meet a non-painting partner whose own work inspires the rest of us. The photographs by George Howard are immediately identifiable for their graphic color and beautiful light, the same qualities that artists seek in our work.
Yellow ochre is a naturally mined pigment used by artists everywhere. One of the must-see villages in Provence is Rousillon, where this multi-hued pigment was mined. You see it as orange, pink, and red on the walls of all houses and the red rock faces for the surrounding hills.
From a train station to a world-class art museum, the Musée d’Orsay is the top choice for artists who want to view magnificent French art. The Musée D’Orsay has a fascinating history which began as a train station built of steel and glass and became a world-class art museum.