On our fourteenth year of retreating together at “Art Camp,” six women and I spent 10 days in Provence. Our usual retreats are spent on islands in the Penobscot Bay, but this past year we treated ourselves to two villas in the south of France. (Sadly two could not join us.] Three days were spent along the coast in Cassis and a week was spent in a renovated silk factory in St. Restitut.
During our first stay in Cassis, we rented inflatables and motored out to the Calanques, limestone cliffs along the coast just south of Marseille. Sun and shadow played on the water and narrow inlets beckoned, so we jumped off and took a swim.
“Motoring to the Calques” 20×30 acrylic on canvas.
These retreats are always special, and this year offered many new memorable experiences: stunning new vistas, new food, new swimming spots, and a renewal of shared friendships. Taking a tour of the back garden in St. Restitut, I was overwhelmed by the smell of fermenting grapes, the buzz of enormous black bees, the taste of a freshly picked fig, the trickle of a fountain, distant bird calls, the smell of a new kind of earth, and the vast blue Provencal sky. Whether we walked to town for morning croissants or swam in the Mediterranean, each experience brought new delights we shared as artist friends.
One of our morning walks for croissants was down one of many country lanes.The sun flickered though the arched branches of trees revealing glimpses of stone farm houses.
Morning Walk for Croissants” 24×18 acrylic on canvas.
Along the high path to St. Restitut, we traversed a ridge as the valley opened up with the soft glow of morning just touching the color of distant fields.
“Morning Glow” 30×40 acrylic on canvas.
Each painting of Provence is done with the joy that this shared experience evoked. The visual stimulus and the feeling of being connected to my fellow artists and friends has influenced the sense of color, space and the choice of content.
Jennifer Van Cor