Sunday, 21 September 2014

Painting in Provence - Part 1

Here are my first five paintings from my recent trip to the South of France at Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt near Aix en Provence. My family and I were really lucky to be able to stay in a beautiful house owned by my sister's in-laws. I took my painting kit just in case, thinking I might do a little painting or two. Well, I ended up doing 11 paintings during my week there, and I could have painted for a full year as the views and painting subjects were endless.

I loved painting in this part of France as it made me use different mixes of colours. Everything is a bit warmer, more contrasted and more colourful than in England. For this purpose I actually prepared all my boards with a terracotta background so the whole painting would look warmer.

Below is the first painting of the trip, a view towards the vignards and distant village.

The vignards (1) - Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt  10"x8"  oil on board

My set up


I then decided to do a painting from the back of the house, behind the swimming pool. I felt quite brave painting in the heat while I could hear the others having a swim!

The house behind the trees  10"x12"  oil on board

As you can see below, my tripod broke so I ended up putting the box on my lap and using the tripod to keep the lid up (any excuse to sit down really).

Detail of the finished painting

Below is an other painting of the house and the surrounding views. It was painted from the courtyard where we would have lunch under the trees.

View from the courtyard - Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt  14"x10" oil on board


And below is the view towards the village 'Saint Saturnin'. It is built in that lovely warm stone. Looking at the painting, it could almost be mistaken for Bath!

Views towards Saint-Saturnin  10"x12" oil on board

For this painting I used a board with texture which enhanced the chalkiness of the highlights.


And finally, this was painted from one of the balconies of the house. This subject had a natural striking composition, with the path swirling between the trees and leading to the houses at the top.

View from the balcony - Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt  7"x11"  oil on board


I will post soon the remaining six paintings of the trip. But meanwhile I'm off to Norfolk later this week for a plein air painting competition/exhibition ( I hope to see some of you there!


  1. Great paintings, it's very interesting and instructive to see how subjects which ( to me at least) don't seem to hold out enormous potential, can be turned into something so lovely. The house behind the trees nearly has a mosaic quality about it which is really really nice.

    1. Thank you Evie! Indeed, a good subject for me doesn't always mean a beautiful view or object, but more a good composition and light effect. The subject doesn't really matter after all, just how attractive it looks.