'Aller au fil de l'eau' means to go with the flow. It is also, appropriately, the name of the café in the small French village where I live. On the terrace, the atmosphere is relaxed, life seems to mosey along no faster than the river that slips lazily by. In spring and early summer, conversations are often accompanied by a chorus of croaking frogs. Creating this blog is some kind of commitment to take brush or pen or pencil in hand every day and make art. As Julia Cameron says: "...creativity is not a marathon event that we must gird ourselves for, whacking off great swaths of life as we know it to make room for it. Creativity is not aberrant, not dramatic, not dangerous. If anything, it is the pent-up energy of not using our creativity that feels that way". Not making art is like trying to stop the flow of the river. I surrender to the flow and watch where it takes me.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday Sketches

Sunday in the Haute Vallée is market day. Just like in the old days, people flock to Espéraza from the surrounding villages, to buy fresh produce and catch up with friends. Today, the day before Halloween, there was a calm, unhurried atmosphere and the sun shone, though more softly than in the heat of summer. For the first time in the seven years I have been coming to this market, I dared to sit sketching amid all the activity. 

In the afternoon, it was still warm enough to sit on the bench opposite Fa café and do a watercolour sketch. The parasols are folded down for the winter now and the trees on the hillside behind are just starting to turn colour.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Riverside Houses

My regular Tuesday evening sketching hour this week found me down by the river Aude in Quillan. I sat on a bench and drew the houses on the opposite side of the river. It was probably the last opportunity I will get this year to sketch outside while my daughter is at dance class. It had been a glorious day but the sun had already sunk below the mountain by the time I started and there was a definite autumn nip in the air. On one of the balconies, a man sat sipping his aperitif and was briefly joined by his wife before they both withdrew into the warmly glowing interior of their home. A faint whiff of wood smoke from the first fires of the season hung on the air.        

Saturday, 15 October 2011

No Entry

This month's Virtual Paintout took me, via Google Street View, to Sardinia which, like last month's location New Orleans, abounds with the colourful facades and wrought iron balconies I am so fond of painting. What really interests me is the shadows, their shapes and tones. Edward Hopper said: "Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house". I feel very much the same.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quillan rooftops

Found a great viewpoint for my sketching this evening: Quillan castle, high on the hill where you can look down on the red rooftops and the Aude river flowing through.