Terre Rouge, Printemps – QUERCY

‘Terre Rouge, Printemps’
30 x 40 cm. Oil on Panel.© The Artist.
terre rouge (fr) = red earth (en)
The red earth again, this time making a startling tapestry with the fresh, bright green growth of spring. For more about the iron mars red soil, see previous post ‘Terre Rouge, Appelation de Cahors’

‘Sechoir à Tabac’
30 x 40 cm. Oil on Panel.© The Artist.

Old Tobacco Drying Barns

The South West is where most of France’s tobacco is grown. This is an old drying barn (sechoir), not far from my house. In these types of barns, alot of work goes on, as the leaves are hung up to dry & then carefully processed by hand. One of the jobs is to take the leaves off the trunks, which are large & woody. As I was painting this, the farmer was burning the old trunks on a smokey bonfire. An aroma of fresh tobacco floated across the landscape. For just how long this crop will go on being produced, I don’t know. Recently the government passed a law banning all smoking in public spaces, much to the annoyance of ‘Les Gauloises’.

 Some American fauve barns :

Allen Tucker (1866–1939)   Red Barns 1923


no heightened colour RED

Heightened colour = where the colour is pushed back to the most saturated, most intense. Back to ‘pure’ colour straight from the tube, the ‘mother’ colour of the mixes.

I remember reading somewhere in a Robert Genn newsletter, something about trying to paint a rusty barn & keep it browny rust , rather than let it go over into heightened colour RED. So I decided to try out this pictorial idea of an ‘anti-fauve barn’ , being something of a fauve myself.

Et viola la resultat (as much this poor quality pin-hole digitial camera will allow. Yes, I’m still waiting to be reimbursed by Sony Minolta for the manufacturors default in my Minolta Dimage A1).



Rules in Painting

However, so as to make up for following one rule, I also decided to deliberately break another ‘artistic’ rule. That of never placing the centre of interest in the middle of the picture. These rules have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Part of me still longs to paint a fauve barn, hei oui!  Red, I see you on my palette & in my dreams… but where are you in my paintings?

this is the post fauvist barns part one
fauvist barns part two – fauvist-barns-heightened-colour-vlaminck-kandinsky

Fauvist Barns 3 : Red in Landscape Painting

Heightened Colour in Photography


30 x 40 cm.
Oil on Panel.

High grass, bluey tints, another ‘vieux tetard’ (coppiced willow) here in St.Dizier.

the right size for plein-air painting

Nice to be swinging the brush around again in a more natural way (natural to me, that it is), after having made the mistake of trying to fit too much into too small a space. I am not a minaturist. Funny to think that last autumn I was trying to paint 61 x 85 cm oil ‘en plein air’. 30 x 40 cm is a good size for plein air, if you approach with care & set of small brushes.

After ‘Chateau de Biron’ (which I consider to be a stinking failure), I’m starting to suspect that getting it all to fit in a small-size painting isn’t the same as getting the scale to work picturally. Something to work on here, Adam.

Château de Biron

30 x 40 cm. Oil on panel.

One of the exceptional things about the South West is the sheer density of history. You go out for a drive, and not too infrequently when you turn around a corner, you see a huge chateau or a crumbling medieval church or a house built into a cliff face.
Château de Biron is gigantesque. You can see it looming above the horizon line from miles away. Here I’ve painted it from about two miles away, as it sticks above the tree line. It is set amidst a baronial hunting forest, mixed oak & pine.


12 Figure (61 x50 cm) Oil on Canvas. Ask for price. 2004.

This is an oil from 2004, done from the hill in my commmune, looking towards Biron. You can just about make out the chateau on the horizon line, in the middle of the canvas. I tought I’d post it to give you an idea of just how far away you can see the chateau. Biron is twenty six kilometres from the spot where I painted this.

L’Orée du Bois

30 x 40 cm. Oil on panel.

Back in the green Dordogne. Hot day. Much photosynthesis. High grass, the farmers all busy with the cutting of hay.

St. Cirq Lapopie #2

Some things about this painting were niggling me, so this is now as far as i can take this image. Generally, about painting architecture in oils in small scale paintings, such as 30 x 40 cm…. difficult! At least,it’s a subject I’ve always preferred to tackle in drawing & watercolour. I find it easier to get the pencil or the pen or the watercolour brushes into such small spaces. Maybe I’m trying to shrink to much into to little space, given my painting style, which veers towards the large stroke?

30 x 40 cm. Oil on panel.

Why paint a post card view? Is it too much of a cliché? Should an artist seek a new take or an odd angle to defamilarise the overly-familar?
This is THE VIEW. It is however just incredibly spectacular. The ‘veduta’, and if you string together a series of ‘veduti’ you arrive at the formula of the tourist guide books. A series of cliché views. Acquire these & you have visual confirmation of your holiday. Now much visited. Still spectacular.

Oak Branches (finished state)

30 x 40 cm. Oil on panel.

small-sized ‘alla prima’ paintings

Finished after a session in the studio. Making paintings ‘en plein air’ is a complicated process & it differs from painting to painting. No two happen in the same way. Each have their own specific way of unfolding. Some seem to just pop out, others are more problematic (…but often these bring more learning & sometimes more satisfaction, maybe even more ‘depth’ & less risk of slick facility). Some like this one need retouching in the studio. One of the things I hope to work on in this, my new project of painting regular small-sized paintings ‘alla prima'( or at least alot quicker than before), is to avoid over-working, or effectively painting two paintings…one on top of another.

Well, ‘aux pinceaux’ Adam (grab your brushes!). Off on a ‘paint-away’trip tomorrow for a few days.

Oak Branches (unfinished state)

30 x 40cm. Oil on panel.

First leaves of oak, with a bronzey tinge – ‘bronzage’ (presumably not bronzed from the sunshine). The sun is now getting hot, the land expiring alot of moisture, a mist hanging over the meadows, the grass knee high. I had to break off painting this because a flock of cumulus congestus ganged up & broke, rained, thundered & spat lightening. This often happens in spring with the hot sun driving off the steam from the wet land & this always gives me a throbbing headache.

So this painting is in an unfinished state.

‘Alla prima’ means painted in one session, first take. At it’s best, an ‘alla prima’ painting will have freshness. What it doesn’t have in formal perfection, it gains in vigour. Well, here I go teaching again. I think I’ll have to sleep on this painting & look at it again with fresh eyes, maybe tomorrow & maybe do some tweeking in the studio.

Vieux Têtards

30 x 40 cm . Oil on panel.

vieux têtards (fr) = old coppiced willows (en)

Same coppiced willows but from the otherside this time. Contre-jour late afternoon, the spring sun light shining on the leaves. Sivery undersides. You can just about make out Henri’s ‘ haras’ or horse riding track in the foreground. He hasn’t yet harrowed it over for this season’s riding. I was impressed by just how perfectly circular it is, & asked Henri how he’d drawn it out on the ground. Apparently he marked it out with only a few sticks but it was the trotting around everyday with the horse & trap that had made it perfectly circular. Just steering the horse, tilting it round with measured pressure. One painting leads on to the next.

Terre Rouge, Appellation de Cahors.

‘Terre Rouge, Appellation de Cahors.’
30 x40 cm. Oil on Panel.

Another thing surprising thing about the Quercy Blanc region is ‘La Terre Rouge’, the red soil that seeps out from underneath the white chalk strata. It’s a heavy clay soil rich in rust (red iron oxide).
In the mid-ground, you can just about make out a field of malbec vines planted in this rich red soil. The wine is ‘Appellation de Cahors, which is sometimes also known as ‘La Sang de France’ – or the blood of France.