Thursday, January 21, 2010


I worked some more on the old stairs to the town gate. More roses were added to the left side and the hollyhock was beefed up a little with thicker paint. I'm note quite sure about the building behind the hollyhocks on the right, still looks a little funny in the perspective. But with the crit tonight and a few more broken wine glasses that problem should come to light !

This scene is from the small village of Simiane la Rotonde in Provence. I can remember working on a smaller painting there last summer, when I wrote down a few notes. Let me know what you think?

"The sound of the breeze continued, but underneath there was something less familiar coming through, a faint scrapping sound followed with a tap. A minute later it stopped.

Somewhere up the staircase some shutters flung open and the clean up of the midday meal could be heard. Plates and silverware clamoring mixed with the muffled sound of conversation drifted down the walls. I was busy trying to concentrate on the age of the stones, capturing the endless repair work done by the masons in former times. Some of the mortar was placed carefully around the stones in some areas, other places it was more haphazard and chaotic, as if done in a hurry.

I heard it again the thump and scraping sound became much more audible now. The alleyway curved away below me offering no view of what could be making the sound. I thought to myself it might be rude to go down the hill and investigate, like some irate neighbor. Eye contact would surely be made and a response from me expected. And what could I possibly say with my three year old knowledge of the language, the sound wasn’t a bother, it was just curiosity that was getting the better of me.

I decided it would be best to keep painting, there were after all a lot of rocks to give justice to and I didn’t want to short change them. Who knows what the spirits might do to me then? It was my distant relatives that were slaughtered and the whole reason they build the town up on the side of a steep hill for defense. Most likely the hurried mortar patches were to fix the holes made by arrows or canon fire. The sunlight illuminated the wall and splashed across the worn steps farther up, making for some interesting contrast. I realized then that soon the bright light would move around to bask the area I was standing in, the shadow was visibly becoming smaller and smaller as the sun moved into the afternoon sky. Within thirty minutes I would be sweating away in the hot rays as they aligned up with the alleyway. Time was not on my side.

Behind me the thumping sound followed with a scraping was quite loud now. I knew if only I was to turn around I might see what it was making the sound. Then suddenly it stopped again and a very faint conversation was audible. The voices were heard for a good ten minutes, then they stopped and the mysterious sound started up again.

With a fleeting shadow, I continued to work on the vines growing up the side of the rocks. Wherever the mortar had fallen out, an offshoot of the vine would grow into the crack in search of moisture from behind and thereby support the plant on its journey up the wall. Mixed in with the green leaves, red flowers bloomed in clusters and seemed to cascade their way back down the limestone.

I was able to make out heavy breathing now with the sound of wood scraping across cobblestone. I turned around and glance back, still nothing, the alleyway curved away too sharp to see anything.

The line between sunlight and cool shade was moving slowly towards my feet. If I looked at it long enough I could actually watch the line moving up and over each stone in the scene in front of me.

The sound was also growing clearer and clearer, but I decided not to keep turning around. I wasn’t getting much done by looking over my shoulder all the time.

It was just about the right time to finish off the painting, towards the end is some times when I have the most fun putting down paint with a pallet knife in certain areas to add a little texture. It also is the time when the bugs seem to get stuck in all the thick paint.

From behind me the sound stopped all of sudden and before I could turn around for a look, out rang a “Bonjour Monsieur, Elles sont belles vieil escalier"

I saw a short women hunched over a wooden cane, carrying a bag of groceries. With a smile she took her left foot, swung it around and stepped with a thump forward, dragged the seemingly heavy cane across the stones and threw up her right foot beside it. Then the process was repeated.

I offered to help, but was cut off with a stern “Ce n’est pas un problème, Monsieur.” She continued on slowly up to my side and stood for a bit looking at the painting. très jolie, Monsieur” she said in a quiet voice and threw her leg forward to continue on up the hill. A short way up she stopped once again at an open door and called in to somebody. Out stepped an old friend and a conversation ensued. A few items were pulled out of her bag and handed over to the elderly white haired gentleman. Her walk up from the grocery store took an hour and a half, but most of the time it was in conversations with friends all the way up. It wasn’t merely a simple walk back up the hill to her residence, but more of an afternoon ritual. A way of catching up on the local news and gossip with all the neighbors."

That was my small experience painting at that you know why I love to paint over there. You can experience a slice of life most tourists will never see!

Richard Boyer
PS Prey for me and the damn wine glasses.......Robert is coming over !

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