Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Provence Workshop 2014

The Group at Gordes

Breakfast view
Roussillon Demo

painting poppies

morning view from home base....

Ah, what can I say? Painting in Provence with a wonderful group of ladies, my wife, and a fantastic tour leader / organizer. You never know exactly how a workshop group will work out- it's an ever evolving and wonderfully unknown set of circumstance. How will the weather be, will everyone get along, will my demos go well, will it be well thought out and planned with painting in mind, and most importantly, will the attendees feel that their experience has met their expectations both in setting and instruction? With thanks to the weather aside, it is Provence in July after all, and the expertise and understanding of the spectacular Jackie Grandchamps of FrenchEscapade.com I believe I can say with confidence that this was one of the most enjoyable painting trips I have taken. The group dynamic was so upbeat and patient, the scenery spectacular, the food as mouthwateringly good as anything I've had the pleasure of tasting, and my lovely wife was there to experience it all and dig in and help at every turn.

Our hotel....wonderful

A workshop, no matter the setting, is a taxing adventure for the instructor. You give of yourself as much as possible and, for me at least, the most important part is that the students learn. It's not the Iain Show- it's about the adventurers that choose to make the journey with me. Our group was intimate, consisting of 9 students, my wife Noelle, and Jackie. I was able to spend time with everyone and watch them move from the first few hesitant marks through a beautiful transformation of both skill and confidence. I usually tell my students not to expect masterpieces during a workshop. The ideas and my specific approach to watercolor is usually something they are not accustomed to. In this workshop, however, the group jumped in with abandon and the results were fantastic. I think my wife said it best on the last evening.

Dancing at night
"I am so grateful to be surrounded by a group of such strong women all willing to go off to a far away place on their own, to experience new things without any fear, and embrace it all with such positive energy." I'm paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea. I am so proud to have been a part of this wonderful experience for each of you, to watch you make breakthroughs, to laugh over wine and the day's stories, in essence to become friends in such a short amount of time.

You are fantastic, you are bold, and you can all paint!

First morning's demos. One simple subject one a bit more difficult painted simultaneously. 

A very special thank you to my wife Noelle, for doing all that you did to help. I can't imagine doing a workshop like this without you and I think the gals would agree there. You are the best lil assistant anyone could ask for and then some.

The view from our balcony. That's Ventoux in the background for you bike folks.

The motto of the week will be my closing of this post before more photos and a bit of fun. Trust Jackie. I think for the next workshop I do with her in Spain next year (see info at the end of this post for more on that) I should have t-shirts made with that specific monicker. Jackie knows where she is intimately, and, more importantly, knows how to get you to the very popular locations at the right time of day so you can see them and then whisks you away to something even more charming and off the tourist trail leaving you space to paint at leisure without worry about jockeying for space with camera toting tourists. As any plein air painting workshop instructor will tell you, easel space for a group can be a serious concern, but Jackie somehow knows how and when to put you in a specific spot and have you back in the van just as the tour buses start pulling in. Her choice of where to base ourselves was perfect. Very few tourists and we had the place to ourselves. Those decisions became more apparent as we moved through the week. The restaurants, the painting locations, and how she interacts with a group is something an instructor rarely comes across and something I will not soon forget. Trust Jackie!

Poppies demo

So here are some pics.....enjoy! Remember you can join Michael Reardon and me in the Costa Brava next May with Jackie. We are limiting the group to 10 students per instructor instead of the normal 14 to keep that intimate feeling I was just describing. Go to FrenchEscapade.com to sign up.

Small group demos... No.1

Enjoying the Lavender 

Small group demos No.2

Sunset from the Balcony