Learning to Loosen Up

Clearly, I am having more fun traveling and living in France than I am publishing blog posts about it. However, one new thing this fall is a workshop in a Toulouse art studio with a retired art professor. A French art professor, who taught at a university in Paris. Can I say how over-the-moon I am about this lady? She is so kind, and speaks French slowly and clearly for me, the foreigner in the room, and every little tip she gives me seems to REALLY help! Having never had much formal training, this is like heaven for me.

This is the last thing I painted sans aide:

Des artichauts, des oignons, et la laitue...yes, that's right, in French. After all, it IS French produce; it seems more boring in English.

Des artichauts, des oignons, et une laitue…yes, that’s right, in French. After all, it IS French produce; it seems more boring in English.

This was actually rather challenging for me, in part because how could I capture this amazing lettuce? It is dark and opaque, yet light and fluffy. More importantly, I committed my most frequent painting problem here: I overworked the piece. Trying to get the colors right, the background right, the reflections in the pitcher, and the fluff of the lettuce…it could actually knot up my muscles, because I couldn’t loosen up and play with it.

This was one of my two sample pieces I took to the art studio. I told her I’m concerned with how uptight my painting is…that I struggle with actually playing with my art. The more abstract dandelion/stars piece was my example of “fun.” It is also entirely ME. I have no real style, and my art needs to express ME, not just be a poor camera. So, the first product of Mdm Mierelle’s help is the result of trying to paint something without using a brush.

Pears by knife.

Pears by knife.

So I washed in a gray background originally, but then changed to palette knife for these pears I had found at the market. I’ve never really painted anything entirely with my knife, although I have wanted to for, well, years. Yes, I am a total fraidy-cat. I just couldn’t really commit, and then someone else pushed me to it. I LOVE them! I mean, sure, anyone who knows me and my painting knows I love pears anyway, but I REALLY love these pears! However, Mdm Mierelle didn’t let me keep my background, though. She insisted that an artwork needs bridges for the color for unity. So I tried again, and it took me quite awhile to get a background that felt right. More work than the gray, but it feels soft, more real.

So next, we explored a more impressionist style. The goal is to succeed at recording less visually, while revealing more of how the scene affects me. My model was a photo of a Texas wildflower scene as a storm approaches. Another stretch for me. And we followed this by playing with the same scene, more in the style of a late Cezanne landscape. Both are the first time I have ever tried that sort of style.

An impression of spring in the Texas hillcountry

An impression of spring in the Texas hillcountry

A Bolder splash of color

A Bolder splash of color

Any of these you can check out more closely by clicking on the photo, then clicking again to magnify. I LOVE looking at the knife strokes on the pears.

So this is how I start my workshop with a French art professor. Whatever comes out of it, I am having a blast! I paint three hours alongside 4 or 5 other artists, each pursuing their own dream. I don’t think we have anyone using the same media even at the moment! I am living my dream. Thank you, Father God!


1 Comment

Filed under Art

One response to “Learning to Loosen Up

  1. Sherry

    Pam! My heart is so happy for you! So wish I were there to experience the painting with you.

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