30 June 2021

La Drôme en Automne, but here it is!


I came across this small study yesterday while looking through emails for something entirely different. My friend Hélène Fraisse in Lyon sent it to me after my return from France where I went for a three month trip two years ago. I left all the paintings at her place in Lyon to safe keep before returning to Australia. It was the most marvellous trip! I saw so many friends EVERYWHERE, all over. 

I started in London (and finished there) to see dear old friends in East Sussex before taking the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe where I rented a a small zippy citröen which I kept for the entire time. I picked up just enough paints, turps, and material to travel and work out of the boot of the car. It was really lovely, heaven really, to be free, working, and seeing so many friends who received me with the greatest of hospitality.

This small picture was one of a few which I made of La Milande, a small mountain just to the east of Dieulefit. It was done in the field  behind the home of my painter friend Giulia Archer. 

By then, (late October) the weather had turned, and the air was chilly and damp, the skies were turning silver and looking opaque But, many of the trees had dropped their leaves and the hills revealed their violet secrets; all kinds! Blue violet, pink, yellowish, and deep reds too. Delicious!

Autumn isn't the easiest time of year to work as a painter, at least until the trees are thread bare. Otherwise, it can be messy with melodrama. The orange and red leaves tend to quickly become sentimental, and they demand too much attention. 

This is a tiny painting! But it packs a punch as we say in Cincinnati! It is mysterious and there is almost nothing in it to explain how it was painted. I really like that in a picture. It is so simplified that one can barely discern the transition from the very first plane (at the bottom) to the 'red field' just above it. Then the line of trees runs across the whole painting to indicate the firmament of earth upon which we all inhabit. It is the ground of Winter which has yet to come. Then, a bluish atmosphere of light separates it from the violet hills.

It is a short, simple impression of that moment when I painted it, a feeling of (and for) the landscape at that very moment, on that particular day in the Drôme.
This will sound terribly corny, but I am so happy that I painted this picture. From the distance of now almost three years, it is easy to forget the awful angst of being there at that moment in the cold chilly air, feeling that one can never really capture a scene such as this. But here it is.

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