China Moses & Danny Le Duc

China Moses & Danny Le Duc
ink & pencil
A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.

Well, that’s the end of the exhibition in Bergerac. All went well, with lots of visits, interesting conversations & sales. Confess to being somewhat tired. Exhausted even. Emtied out. End of large exhibitions are interesting times as it often marks the end of a cycle of work. Eighty paintings & drawings…

Sitting in on the show, looking at my work in a new light, in a new context, clarifying my thoughts. Shifting out new directions & new understandings.

So let the new cycle begin…. not however before I blog the drawings that I did during these last two weeks of summer holiday buzz in a tourist hot spot in the Dordogne.

‘Un été musical en Bergeracois’

The above was a blues concert that took place nextdoor to my show, part of  ‘Un été musical en Bergeracois’ – Dee Dee Bridgewater’s daughter-in-law I think I heard. Fun concert.

‘Three Sketches of a Jazz Cornet Player’
five minute poses whilst playing JAZZZ!
A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.

‘Les Mercredis de Jazz’ at La Maison de Vins de Bergerac

‘Les Mercredis de Jazz’ at La Maison de Vins de Bergerac ( La Cloître des Recollets) … Jazz on a summer’s eve outside my exhibition, in a fiiteenth century cloister, under the huge tree ‘Paloania Tormentosia’… cool man!

My exhibition going well, with many visitors, may up to five or six hunred a day. Many interesting conversation & sales.

About eighty oils, watercolours & drawings on show.

1 to 13 AUGUST


Watercolour of Cliffs – Sauliac sur Cele

‘Sauliac sur Cele’
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.


To see more paintings of cliffs & rocks, click on the ‘rock’ category on the right handside.
This painting is not far from where I led a painting holiday in France

‘Le Vieux Pont’
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.

A Short History of House Prices in the Dordogne

Here’s a story for the Quatorze Juillet about ‘les anglais debarquement en Dordogne’…

An old crumbling bridge over a stream, an abandoned road, the ghosts of yesteryears, deep in the woods, in the bottom of a steep valley. Fascinating how the erosion of this bridge is creating stalactites just like in an underground cave. Note there’s a fallen down tree as well. Nine years since I last painted here & the forces of nature reclaiming architecture are already visible…

Confess this process of ruination & return to nature attracts me (though considerably less so when it occurs on my own real estate).

‘Le Vieux Pont’
25 x 32cm Moulin de Larroque
© The Artist.

Nature reclaiming Architecture

Not many ruins in old stone left in SW France after the real estate boom of these last thirty or forty years. There’s been a large influx of foreigners such as English, Dutch or Belgian. Europe on the move. The occassional American or Russian. Actually even the Parisians count as foreigners here according to some locals.

‘Old Abandoned House’ – detail

The newcomers had an immense desire to restore & to build. They bought up many of the old abandoned farmhouses etc, often paying over the odds to willing sellers (who could not find buyers amongst their neighbours, none of whom were ready to pay ‘le prix fort’, nor unsurprisingly neither to the real estate speculators who accumulated great fortunes in the 1970’s by buying portfolios of pretty, old ruins for a song & a dance) & thus pushed the prices of this range of real estate right up. They are now the most expensive range of real estate. A ruin costs proportinally more than a new-build or a restored old stone property & thus ironically can now be considered as ‘luxury’ real estate. In comparison to thirty five years ago, when I was first getting to know the area, these old ruins were just left to rot, sad testiments of the chronic fall of small-scale peasant farming. In fact, they were cheapest range of real estate during that time. Now they are mostly gites or second houses or belong to retired foreigners. Much beautified & newly restored, they are expensive articles of real estate.

Of course, there was (& still are) massive efforts by locals to preserve their heritage & their buildings. And the French & European governments have done the work of titians in restoring the chateaux, the churches & other outstanding ‘monuments hstoriques’. Frightening budgets & expenses. France, then as now, boosts some of best builders in the world. ‘Les Compagnons de France’ are quiet simply amazing master builders & master craftsmen.

‘Old Abandoned House’
28 x 38 cm (15 ” x 11″)
© The Artist.

The processes of ruination continue but mostly in the poor, urban, industrial, ‘arrondissements’ blighted by unemployment. Not now here in the picturesque, historic Dordogne countryside, where human endeavour have reversed the processes of nature reclaming architecture.

All part of an economic cycle akin to the cycles of formation & erosion in nature?

‘Vendanges à Monbazillac’
oil on canvas

I was lucky to know the ‘old days’… my wife’s ancestors farm & vineyards in Monbazillac, where I vendanged & worked during my first years of ‘installing’ myself in France, my home, my adoptive country, the country of my (french) wife & children.

I must post a piece of writing I wrote in 2002 about this episode. Another day.

Quatorze Juillet en Dordogne

14 Juillet en Dordogne…parties & fireworks. Hoping to get out painting tonight (teaching tomorrow) as it is a good paint. Next post is about the English in Dordogne & house prices… & here’s an expert from last year’s bloggy Jour de la Republique…

TONALITY : ’14 Juilliet – Fête de la Republique’

‘Quatorze Juillet, Beaumont, Dordogne’
28 x 38 cm (15″ x 11″)
Toutes Droits Reservés© The Artist.

“…Then later on, when the crowd had thinned out, white plastic cups & on-lookers & a few adolescents still eager to play the flirting, mating game. The white tressle tables & black silouhettes making a good tonal subject.”


The historic roots of provincial France

Anyone wanting to better understand the historic roots of provincial France outside of cosmopolitan Paris should read Graham Robb’s The Discovery of France, which is a critical view of ‘La Patrie, La France, La Republique’ aka central government from Paris. For instance, Robb cites that, during the call-up for the Franco-Prussian War in the 1870’s, many men from remote farming hamlets in the Dordogne, didn’t even know their own surname, only their first name…they never had the need for their surname as they never left their hamlet of seven or eight houses… this is very different from the tragic First-World War memorials in every single village where whole families’ names are listed, annihilated by tragic war.