Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart

The Pont D’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet once had 22 arches. The bridge was eventually abandoned as the arches took too much upkeep due to being damaged when the Rhone River would flood. The four remaining arches are believed to have been built around 1345. My morning started with a 45 minute walk along the outside of the city walls to this landmark. The bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon which is impossible not to hum while I decide on a spot to settle and paint by the river for another 45 minutes.

 

I want to paint this composition but cannot find just the right shelter for my canvas from the morning sun that will then also offer enough footing for me to stand.

 

Guard House Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 016

 

So I move a little farther along the bank and settle close to this vantage point.

 

morning by the Pont D' Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 026

My intention with this acrylic painting sketch is to capture a first glimpse when our mind is still constructing the relationships between the various parts. I like to call this process painting the spaces in between. As always, the morning light changes quickly and even in 45 minutes there is this blending of time.

 

June morning by Pont D’ Avignon
25 × 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb. archival paper

 

June morning by Pont D' Avignon 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_011 046

Art prints available HERE.

 

A good mornings work but I want to go up high tomorrow and try another painting sketch.

 

Climbing up into the gardens to the westerly viewpoint in Avignon early on a June morning is magic and mystery. Across the way there is the Villeneuve lez Avignon with the broken Pont D’ Avignon below falling short of the reach across the Rhone River. The scene is not as easy to compose as I had initially thought. I move here and then there and then back to here and finally set up the easel and paint.

 

plein air morning in Avignon by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 087

 

What I was struggling with is my desire to have the castle looking monastery which I have brought in closer in this photograph for us to enjoy it in more detail.

 

Over by Villeneuve lez Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 093

 

and the tower in the same frame and at the same time not have the bridge lost by the trees along the bank.

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Terrill Welch 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 076

 

In the end I crunched my composition slightly in my mind’s eye to accommodate the canvas dimensions and my desires. Then I pick up the brush to see what will happen.

The light is changing quickly but there is still time for my eyes to rest on the scene. They do not. Fluttering across the landscape, with the same sweeping loops as the swallows above, I do not hover or allow my gaze to settle. I search for…. something and maybe nothing at all in the vast countryside – where last evening’s gypsy music and the chiming clink of hands moving to mouths along the narrow streets of the old-city still echoes in the sleeper passages of my consciousness.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper

 

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

Art prints available HERE.
There it is with the painting compositional problem only partially resolved. I commit to finding a larger lengthier canvas when I get back in the studio so that I can give it another attempt.

 

Days pass as swiftly as spring to summer and we are in Paris walking the halls of the Louvre. I stop. Completely stunned I stare unblinking at…

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. La Tour Phillippe le Bel. 1843 by Camille Corot

 

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033

(Note: this photograph of the painting is on I took for study purposes only)

The Avignon landscape is unmistakable even 171 years later.

On the way to his third trip to Italy, Camille Corot stopped at Avignon in May 1843. Foremost among the ruins of Saint-Benezet bridge, beyond the Rhone, Villeneuve clearing by the Philippe le Bel tower. This painting was donated to the Louvre by Etienne Moreaue-Nelaton in 1906.

 

I had not seen images of this painting by Corot before nor did I know of its existence but I knew at a glance where it was painted and said to self – he must have painted it from up by the church to get that angle. All I wanted to do at that very moment is catch then next train back to Avignon and climb the hill and look for the exact spot that he would have stood to paint as the compositional challenge I had been struggling with was resolved by this placement of artist and easel. This is the beauty of combining studies of painting location with visits to the work of old masters! Our learning as painters never ends as it is picked up and looped through time and place with our brushes.

 

Camille Corot was born in 1796 Paris and died there in 1875. He traveled a few times from France to Italy to study the work of masters as was common for artists then and to some extent even now – hence my own trip to Europe. Corot is credited as bridging a shift between the neo-classical tradition of landscape painting and plein air painting, which lead the way towards impressionism. Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) was supposedly briefly one of his students. But where did the Italian painter Giovanni Fattori (1825 – 1908) fit in? I see similarities in this particular painting by Corot and the work of Fattori whose paintings I became familiar with during our time in Florence Italy. Had Fattori ever met Corot or been his student? I didn’t find the answer to my question but I did discover a detailed write up by Jeanne Willette on the Barbizon School and landscape painting which both artists are associated.

 

So as you can see, I have months and even years of continued discovery, exploration and painting to do as I unpack and breathe familiarity into our travel adventures. I think it is obvious that more than the trees have changed since Corot painted in Avignon. Painting itself has been through a few revolutions and I believe this process continues. I must in fact as I have two 26 x 36 inch canvas ready on this Canada Day weekend to begin the process of revisiting my painting sketches and references images.

 

two 24 x 36 inch canvases ready for Avignon France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_29 039

 

I think I will take Corot, Fattori and Pissarro with me. They just might enjoy peering over my shoulder as much as you do 😉

 

What have you seen with fresh perspective through the eyes of an old master recently?

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

I Hung My Nightgown to Dry in the Tuscan Sun More Than Twice

Today the sun shines but we have had some great thunderstorms  and we were glad we could borrow umbrellas during this past week.  On a particularly miserable day, while we were tucked into our apartment that is part of an old Farmhouse on the outskirts of Florence Italy, I read advice in a travel guide on how to see four towns in a day while traveling by train in Europe.

Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic painting sketch on linen finished panting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_27 004

(Farmhouse courtyard Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch.  Art Prints available HERE)

Let’s just say we are slow travelers in Europe. Our minimum stay is three nights. Our more lengthy settling-in-visits are up to fourteen days. We have done some long days on the train a couple of times but mostly a five-hour trip is enough.

What does this really mean as far as being able to say we have been someplace?

Well, it means that we actually live like we would at home in the communities we are staying. We buy  groceries, mail letters, go to the pharmacy and run out of toilet paper, garbage bags and coffee. We need to do our laundry and hang it out in the sun to dry. That is the best part. Clothes that flap in a hot breeze under the Tuscan sun can never be taken for granted again. That white cotton nightgown of mine with the tiny bit of embroidery around the neckline knows that it will be worn until there are only tatters left for painting rags.

It means we don’t make it to all of the highlights and sometimes we hardly make it to even a few. Instead, I can be found painting on a hillside.

plein air painting southern Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 136

The painting sketches are a quick way to deepen my understanding of the light, the land and a place.

Galluzzo Valley in southern part of Florence Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic sketch on linen finished paint block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_25 145

(Valley in Galluzzo southern part of Florence Italy – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

It means there is time to be given not only to a lemon but a cedro which is not a lemon and about the size of a grapefruit.

cedro cut in half by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 006

There is time to find a recipe by Elizabeth in Rome on how to make a salad using the sweet pulp of this fruit while the rind and dry center are composted.

Cedro insalata Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_01 015

There is time to do a composite painting sketch in a makeshift studio that combines five different experiences that happened over about as many days.

Spring in Tuscany 20 x 30 cm acrylic sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 030

(Spring in Tuscany – acrylic painting sketch. Art prints available HERE)

I begin to become familiar with the changing light in the narrow stonewall-lined lanes where the walls of homes sometimes converge with the pathways.

country lane in Florence Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 056

The fields and the hills start to speak in clear notes of recognition.

rolling thunder on the Tuscan Hills by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 001

The courtyard becomes well worn with memories of breakfast, lunch and afternoon painting.

garden pots 18 x 24 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch on linen finished painting block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 030

(Garden Pots – acrylic plein air painting sketch. Art Prints available HERE)

There is time to use different photography editing tools to express the light’s dramatic effect on the courtyard

storm breaks  poster edges by Terrill Welch 2014_04_30 005

or a curved building at the top of the hill on the road out of town.

ink outline on the old road to Rome by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 042

Whether it is a villa

villa across a Tuscan Field by Terrill Welch 2014_05_03 035

or a more humble dwelling

Via Dell' Amore Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_29 053

Florence or Firenze is so much more than crowded streets in the old town or the lookout over the city. The Village Road painted by Italian Macchiaioli leader  Giovanni Fattori in 1904 is very little different from the village roads here today.

(Village Road by Giovanni Fattori)

We have only today and tomorrow left in our two-week visit to Florence. David has headed off on his own to do a bit of shopping. I am considering if I have time for one more painting sketch. But mostly, it is time to start packing up our belongings and our hearts. It is time to say good-bye to the Tuscan hills, the fields and the narrow village roads. We promise, as good visitors sometimes do, to return. It is a sign of our love and appreciation rather than a true commitment. That is okay too, for such a possibility will be a welcomed gift during the short daylight hours of heavy rain back at home on the west coast of Canada.

We leave for Rapallo Italy on Wednesday from which we will then do a day trip into the Cinque Terre. From May 13th – 16th we will be in Nice France. The primary intent of our stay there is to see the museums of Matisse and that of Chagall. On May 16th we will travel to Aix en Provence where we will wander (and I shall paint) in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne until May 20th. We follow this up with three days in Narbonne France which will be our last stop before Barcelona Spain and our next longer stay of ten days where we will spend time with the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi who we have both long admired. This will take us to June 3rd with slightly more that three weeks left until we return home. As you can see, we have some shorter visits in this next stretch as we travel towards one of our major goals to visit Barcelona Spain. We will not know these places in between nearly as well but we can say that we gave them more than one-quarter of a day on high-speed town hopping European excursion. Yes, it is work to book trips independently, to plan each stay and each train trip and each meal that must be made. But I wouldn’t trade it for a fast trip. No that would never do. For it is not what we see with our eyes that sustains us but what we visit with our hearts. This is what drives my creative will, my desire to interpret and translate and this is what leaves me just a little sad with each good-bye.

 

Where have you most not wanted to say good-bye but instead promised – until we meet again?

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com