Canal de Lalinde

‘Canal de Lalinde’
Watercolour.
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.

Plantou – Sunset II

‘Plantou – Sunset II’
Watercolour.
42 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.
sold

 

There’s a ‘Route des Vins’ organised by Xavier at Counseil Interprofessionelle des Vins de la Region Bergerac. It’s a good wheeze. You get to visit the caves & chateaux & do some wine tasting. they have posh bordeaux red signs outside their properties… and do you know that yesterday, when I painted this wc, I read the sign carefully for the first time ever. It goes ‘Tertre du Plantou’ and not ‘Le Plantou’ as I was saying in the las post (oh listen carefully, all you attentitive, careful, close reading internet readers…or bouncing surfers).Apparently ‘une tertre’ is a small round hill, which was frequently used as a Roman encampment. The ‘Plantou’ part becomes evident when you become familar with the occitan turn of phase that puts a ‘ou’ or ‘lou’ ending on the end of a noun, such ‘cayrou’, which in the local dialect means peeble or stone, or in the langue d’oil or proper Parisian French ‘caillou’ Bad example as this has an ‘-ou’ ending as well. So there are many place names such as ‘Lou Cayrou’ in the stoney Lot. Here on this hill, the soil is a fertile wedding cake of molasses with horizontal chalk. It smells goood. ‘Lou Plantou’

I go into this digression about place names as they often contain something of ‘the Spirit of the Place’ in them. And getting the feel of the place is important for good plein-air painting. So here is a watercolour of a wonderfully fertile south/south-west facing hill in Aquitaine, one misty sunny sunset in the time of the vendanges.

Here is an oil from two years ago. It shows a row of cabernet franc on the south slope of Le Plantou.

‘Cabernet Franc’

Oil on canvas.
8 Figure
2005
Copyright – the artist
sold

Plantou Sunset

‘Plantou Sunset’
Watercolour.
47 x 36 cm
© The Artist.

Click here to buy this painting.

‘Le Plantou’ is the name of a hill, just under Boisse (which is a village situated on another hill) near Issigeac (which is the town near me). it’s a round hummock-type of a hill, rather like a breast, with a swelling concave profile. The vines on its south side are planted north-south running down the hill. I ilke how wine is often named after the name of place. This was painted chez-Bellugue, whose ‘Le Plantou’ is one of my favourite Côtes de Bergerac. Interestingly enough, the stocks are old, ( and are pruned more like chasslais Moissac grapes), and are not densely planted. Which partly allows them to make grapes & thus wine of an intense flavour. The Cötes de Begerac appellation was only recently introduced a few years ago (kind of a way of avoiding all that ‘premier grand cru’ ‘deuxieme grand cru’ ranking that goes on in some Bordeaux wines) and one of the exigences of qualifying for it is that the wine stocks aren’t planted too densely.

Le Plantou is also the last wine making area of the Bergerac appellation heading east. Nothing till you arrive at the Cahors appellation, which is about sixty kilometres away. It’s funny how much wines from here have a hint of Cahors, whilst wines from the west of the Bergerac region, going downstream of the Dordogne towards Bordeaux, have a hint of St Emilln in the too. That is one of the main tenets of the French Appellation system – that a wine should have the flavour of its soil. I sometimes wonder if this principal might apply to painting as well?

Detail

Vieux Cepes de Vignes II

‘Vieux Cepes de Vignes II’
Watercolour.
42 x 20 cm
© The Artist.
sold

 

OK here’s the new watercolour for the new frame. Those old vine stocks doing their dance.

Vendanges Doux 2001

‘ Vendanges Doux ‘ 2001
Watercolour.
42 x 20 cm
200 €
© The Artist.

Am currently stripping out old watercolours from old frames & updating with new watercolours. The complexities of have once worked un-standard sizes are a real headache.

I post this one as I was talking in the previous post about the way colour spreads beyound contours & boundaries. Both in real life (haloes, colour casts & humidity in the atmosphere, etc) and in watercolour technique itself. This is a studio piece from 2001 . I photograph & catalogue it for the first time ever.  Aren’t they great, digital cameras!

It’s  about the stratus fog that sits in the valleys, over the vines, casing the botyrisus rot to the vines that gives the Monbazillac wine its beautiful taste.

It also belongs to the semi-abstract landscapes that I was making six years ago, in the studio, non plein-air.

Vieux Cepes des Vignes

Watercolour.

28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).

© The Artist.

‘Vieux Cepes des Vignes’ – old vine stocks.

Brillant, warm October late afternoon light shining through the leaves. Old stocks tend to give brighter autumn colours, partly due to their age but also partly because these vines were vendanged by hand, thus avoiding the damage that the machines do to the leave whne bashing & shaking them when collecting the grapes. BTW, these Vieux Cepes des Vignes are pruned in a very improvist manner, more like mediterrean pruning than the Guyot manner that this practiced here in Aquitaine.

thumbnail compositional sketch

I was pleased with the prelimary sketch. Something about it being very ‘shapey’, good shapes & graphic layout. Note also how the evening light colours the white of the page… just like a watercolour. Makes me wonder if I might not try a series of wc’s, where very transparent colour is washed on with little relation to the drawing (Signac or Cézanne? – of course not but Dufy, yes)

There’s the thumbnail compositional sketch :

Sauvignon, Boisse

‘Sauvignon, Boisse’
Watercolour
28 x 38 cm. Quarter Imperial. Whatman 300gms.
sold
© The Artist.
Last parcel of sauvignon yet to be harvested. Autumnal overcast sky, grapey mauve, the landscape mellow with misty stratus, a bluey shade of manganese mauve. Last brave yellow tops of vine leaves. Yellow ochre bottoms heavy with mauvey blue grapes. Trees thinning out already.

Photography of artwork : an imperfect tool.

Same old problem with photographing art work, that the shadows are always crushed up into black. Especially with the delicate fine tones of watercolour. In this artwork itself, I took great care not to let the dark tones go to black, but rather held them around ultramarine blue, a few notches up from black. Currently, have the feeling that ‘black holes’ do not accord with the misty mellow overcast light of autumn, here in the Dordogne, not far from the Atlantic ocean.

 

SAUVIGNON

‘Sauvignon’
Watercolour
Quater imperial. 28 X 38 cm. Arches Rough 300 gms
© The Artist.

SOLD

There’s a fete going on the vines. Last week before the sauvignon is vendanged.

Botanical design, not botanical drawing.

self 3

A5 watercolour

My wife says the resemblance is getting better in this watercolour (but the neck should be thinner. A somewhat worrying comment… ).

Val -6/10/07


watercolour- quarter sheet approx.
© The Artist.
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