It's been quite a while that I've had the desire to "follow the Loire" so to speak. Meaning, tracing its origins, from where it originates in the south at le Mont Gerbier de Jonc to where it leisurely joins the western Atlantic ocean. The Watermarks project is an ideal opportunity to really turn this desire into action. It would entail some travelling during the warmer seasons, so it is a project that will stretch over more than a year and even longer.
The Loire is probably not that exciting or beautiful a river like the Seine or some of the other rivers, but it certainly has its own character. It is the longest and the only still wild uncontrolled river left in France, snaking unhindered through the landscape with floods and ebbs, disposing its treacherous sandbanks, an abundant birdlife, fishermen pulling their daily catch, its unique troglodytes situated on the banks and passing by the valley of castles in Touraine, le jardin de la France.
It forms part of recipe books, shows up on the canvasses of painters, has been and still is praised by poets and writers:
"Loire fameux, qui ta petite source
Enfles de maints gros fleuves et ruisseaux
et qui de loin coules les claires eaux,
en l'ocean d'une assez vive course"
(famous Loire, whose small origins swell with large rivers and brooks, and with far off clear waters, rapidly rushes off to the ocean.)
Joachim du Bellay(1522-1569) - L'olive, 1549.
Thanks to Lindsay, I've made a sketchbook like we used in our FPP, which size works perfectly for me and it fits nicely in my bag (will show it when it's done), for "following the Loire" in which I hope to capture the spirit of life along the Loire. I enjoy sketching, it keeps me seeing the fun side of doing art and keeps me loose and impulsive, instinctive. From the sketchbook I would like to take some scenes and turn them into more definite stroke making.
My everyday watermark making around here will be catching corners of the river and its hustle and bustle. The next few sketches are examples.
This first sketch of some wooden steps leading down to the water, was done in my moleskine a few days earlier... of course I had to choose the coldest day to do it!
For the rest of the walk I used the camera, which produced the next two paintings back at home. Somehow working from a photo or even the computer screen doesn't feel like sketching to me. So I feel obliged to call them paintings.