Sunday, 4 January 2009

Following the Loire

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!

...Stepping down..
Moleskine, pencil.

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.

...Skeleton trees...

Fabriano HP watercolour block, watercolour.
Fabriano watercolour block HP, watercolour


Jeanette said...

What a fabulous idea! I love the concept of tracing a river from origin to the sea.

These little glimpses of the Loire are lovely. Also making your own sketchbook for this project will give you a unique study piece.

How exciting!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Ronell - I have to echo Jeanette, this is a wonderful idea. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do. The sketchbook idea sounds a great approach.

I like the colours in your paintings. I'm beginning to find I'm liking winter colours a lot more than I thought I would (not being used to sketching non-urban areas plein air in winter).

annie said...

I agree with Jeanette and Katherine. You have such exciting plans. And I like the SKELETON TREES, and OBSTACLE with its little cascade over the rocks.

Lindsay said...

Yes!!! How fun. I went with Craig last January to trace to origin of the Des Plaines River and although I intellectually understood what was needed topographically at the beginning of the river, I was totally taken by the flat, boggy, gently sloping land we found. Great idea and I'm glad to hear you have a personally sized book for the project.
Your color pallet is changing too Ronell. It's somehow richer and deeper.

Stacy said...

Ronell, I love your watercolor sketches. They always seem so loose and free which is entirely diferent from my rather tight, controlled method of using watercolor. Your style seems like a celebration of whatever you are viewing. Your project sounds like a wonderful idea and very romantic somehow. I'm looking forward to following along.

muddy red shoes said...

looking forward to seeing how the river appears through your eyes, what a lovely book that will be.

shirley said...

Your watercolor painting of water leaves me speechless - how beautiful! Can't wait to see more of the project.

vivien said...

a great idea and it will be so interesting to follow your journey :>) and lovely paintings

My waterways project set off to do this with our local river = The Soar - but when I did my research it was too short! It doesn't even make it to the sea as it quickly joins another river, so I expanded it to include any waterways in Leicestershire.

Kurt Jackson did this with the river Thames, from sources (it has several) to the sea, you can flip through the pages on his website (brilliant and I think Lindsay will mention it in an upcoming post)

Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

Thanks Jeanette, for your support and enthusiasm, it is stuff like this that helps one pull through projects and keeps you going!
I agree Katherine, I've always worked outdoors in summer and am now challenged to do wintercolours, which has a different beauty.
Annie, I always enjoy seeing you here and reading your thoughts, thanks!
Lindsay- maybe my pallete is influenced by my character in winter; dark and deep, hie hie.
Stacy, your work is ALWAYS exciting, whichever medium you use! thanks for visiting us here!
thanks Sarah, how I would love to sit next to you and paint, seeing how you take it on!
Thanks shirley, it is so nice to see you here too!
Thanks for the link Vivien...and he's in the next post of it's movie time!

Gesa said...

Yes - a wonderful idea, Ronell! I've begun to think about (if not quite look at) the Clyde, the Kelvin and the Forth-Clyde Canal which are all within 20 mins walking distance of my flat.

I very much agree with the comments on plein air winter sketches. When I left Bokel, my parents' place a week ago I made a decision to try and spend a good few weeks there next winter. There is something about bare trees, stillness and a quiet cool purple/pink sky that I find utterly intriguing.

I also like the idea of developing artist books for Watermarks. I have found one myself (actually: intended as a photo album by a friend, but will be redesignated, I think).

Oh, and yes: the w/c paintings are so beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gesa. Would love to see and hear more about those canals and I'm looking forward to the first "water" painting in your book...or has it happened already?

Pequete said...

Yes, it is a great idea to follow a river like that - it would turn out an amazing book - I'd surely buy a copy!