Painting in the south of France

In late June, I traveled to the south of France to meet a group of writers. I am so grateful to my dear friends Julie and Laura for inviting me to join them in their amazing adventure. Inspired by their writing discipline, I spent my days outdoors, chasing the light as it moved across the city scape. There was beauty everywhere I looked; scenes flashing by, just begging to be painted. I was in the city of Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh lived and worked between February 1888 and May 1889. During that time he produced 187 paintings. During my time there, I painted in plein air and enjoyed visiting the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation, just around the corner from our apartment on Rue Doktor Fanton. Here is more about the trip. Enjoy!

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After packing 25 pounds of art materials into the biggest suitcase that I could handle (on my own) I flew to Paris, then took two trains to meet my friends in Arles, France. In my luggage were my cigar box easel and tiny camera tripod along with a selection of "artist pigments in vegetable oil". I was thrilled to find a bookstore right across the street from our apartment that sold little bottles of mineral spirits. I was set! See joyful selfie  ----->>

Below are photos of the paintings that I made on my journey. These paintings are for sale and will be on view at my studio starting August 12 at Brazee Street Open Studio Night.


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The train from Paris to Marseille (usually a 4 hour journey) took 6 hours. While we were stopped in one place, I looked out my window to find this little scene. Fortunately, I had my watercolors and some postcards in my carry-on bag, so I sat and painted to pass the time. This was somewhere near Lyon.


Upon arriving, I was greeted by my hosts who were enjoying wine, bread and cheese. Here is my watercolor painting of Laura.

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One of our first days, Laura drove the car from Arles to Martigues where I set up to do my first oil painting. I set up on a rocky jetty, and got busy painting. Julie found green beach umbrellas at a local shop. We all ate roast beef sandwiches and took a dip into the Mediterranean. The water was quite cold, but absolutely beautiful. It was a gorgeous and windy day!


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For this painting I set up outside the Place du Forum and looked back at the square. There is a small, dark gold menu sign in the bottom rear quarter of the image. That menu is for the Terrace Cafe where Van Gogh and his friends would hang out and drink Absinthe. I chose not to partake! Arles streets are lined with gorgeous ironwork lamps that hang from buildings and terraces. Tourists from Taiwan, Germany, and Japan stopped to talk to me. I think they thought I was French!


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On this day, several of my friends went touring the countryside. I preferred staying in the city. This little corner was near a busy coffee shop and down the street from a store where a lovely woman wove beautiful woolen cloth on a massive loom. She designed her own shawls. I purchased a gorgeous hat that she crocheted. It has all of the colors of southern France as well as a felted wool sunflower. It will be nice to wear on a cold day in Cincinnati.


I could not resist painting the little green bike and the orange doorway in this scene. This was right outside the front door of our apartment. I think that the owner of the building was trying to tell me how orange to paint her door. And then she sat in her car and watched me for about 10 minutes before driving off. Excusez-moi!
One of the days, Laura drove us to the Pont du Gard where I did both a watercolor and an oil painting of the ancient Roman aquaduct. We swam, too. The river water was warmer than that of the sea, and I wore my swim goggles to cross the river and touch the rock on the other side. Very daring of me!

One day I was more productive and completed two paintings. Both scenes were right outside our apartment. The sunlight raked across the buildings and I had to work fast.

On a morning walk, I saw this little lunch spot.

This is the coliseum from the days when the Romans ruled the land of Gaul. At that time, Arles was a central location for the Roman empire. Today, can you imagine living in the apartments across the street and seeing this out your window every morning? Wow. That would be so cool.

We visited St. Paul's Asylum where Vincent Van Gogh painted and was treated for mental illness. It was a serene place, with lavender, olive and almond trees, and a statue of Van Gogh carrying sunflowers. A sad, but beautiful place.
 

Figure 8

08/31/2015

 
Nearing completion, Figure 8 is the newest painting in my Interconnected series. It and other paintings will be on display at my studio on Friday evening, September 12 at Brazee Street Studios, 4426 Brazee St, Cincinnati, OH 45209. Brazee studios will be open that evening between 6 & 9 pm.
 

Brad's Sheep

07/31/2015

 
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During my trip to Iona, Scotland in the fall of 2014, I photographed several sheep. As it turns out, people like sheep! I've done two paintings based on those photographs, one is this piece shown here.

For the longest time, I could not talk about this painting, because it was secretly commissioned as a birthday gift for a dear friend. The finished painting measures 42" x 24", custom designed to hang over a fireplace in it's gorgeous new home.

My friend says that the sheep painting "totally changed the room". This is, of course, so rewarding to me -- to hear how my artwork makes a positive impact in peoples' lives. He said, "The lighting effects are so serene and peaceful. They change in the morning and evening light. I have even slept better since I can look at them as I fall asleep."

I must admit, before the painting was delivered to St. Louis, the sheep looked pretty good on the mantle in our family room. I framed it with an elegant, dark wood. This piece was part of the Cincinnati Art Club's 125th Anniversary Exhibition at the Taft Museum of Art on July 5, 2015.

 
 
PictureHere I am at the Essex with Big Light.
I got some GREAT news this week. My painting called Big Light was accepted into the 2015 McCullough Hyde Healing Art Exhibition. I could not be more pleased. I submitted an application for the show fairly recently, and knew that I would hear something last week. Well, the mail came, no notice. Another day, no notice. Then on Monday, we were checking the mailbox, and Gary was with me when I opened the card saying that my work had been accepted! Yay!!! You probably heard us.
Anyway, it's the first time that I've had a painting accepted into a juried show, so that's a big deal. But also, this one is special. This exhibit hangs at the McCullough Hyde Hospital in Oxford, OH. The hospital values art for it's ability to help people heal. Here is my description for the painting:
All of us make choices everyday that impact the world around us, sometimes with ripple effects. The dyptich format represents two becoming one; in community, in healing, in relationships. The movement of color, light and pattern between the canvases are words of grace, kindness, mercy and love amplified and unfurled. 

 
 
On March 7 & 8, my work was featured on a wall, on the second floor, at Essex Studios. I rented a wall space during their Art Walk in March. To prepare, I painted furiously up until the last day, and then put 5 new (a little wet) paintings into frames. Gary and I loaded 23 paintings into the hatchback of my car and they all fit! Being grateful to not have to make two trips, I knew we were off to a good start and that it would be a great weekend.
I consider this my first real "show", because it is the first time that I've been bold and put my work out there for all to see. Over forty people that I know and love came to support me in the endeavor. I loved hearing comments from them and listening to what people saw in the work. The most rewarding part of the show was the validation that it provided to me. I loved seeing the culmination of two years' work, hanging on the wall -- all of it framed, all of it presented in it's best light. It helped me to mark the moment and to be grateful.

Learnings:
  • It took me less than 3 hours to hang 24 paintings.
  • Strangers will drink your wine, without saying a word to you or looking at your paintings. (Yes, this really happened, several times.) Some people are there for the buzz, I guess. Who knew?!
  • I have talent and it's a gift to be able to share that with people.
  • I will spend too much on the food because I think it has to be special.
  • I am blessed to have friends and family who encourage me and support me in my painting, especially my very wonderful husband Gary.
 

Drawing classes

02/18/2015

 
Since August, I've been learning drawing technique in my weekly classes. The animation below shows progress to date as the female face comes to life. This has been a lesson in patience.
 
 
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My classmate and I each started a portrait in graphite last summer. We've been drawing with David Mueller for a year, now. This portrait is hanging on my wall now with push pins, just above the light switch to my studio.

The drawing is result of a learning process that challenged me greatly and taught me a few things that I want to remember. The importance of laying a strong foundation of measured points and angles and squinting through eyelashes to see overall values. The differences between the world of light and the world of shadow, that nothing in light is as dark as what is in shadow. That shadow should be black and as flat as a pancake. That edges between light and shadow can be razor sharp or soft and feathered; and that I get to choose where the emphasis gets to be, and I indicate that by my choice of edges. That listening is important, and that doing as I am told is not as easy as I thought it was. That good work requires patience and time. That I tend to go for the details too quickly. That the forest comes before the trees, which come before the branches, which come before the leaves, which come before the buds.

 

Big Light

12/24/2014

 
Big Light is a celebration of color and pattern inspired by a desire to stop "playing small" in the world. My ideas and opinions matter. Yours do, too. If we work together, we can accomplish so much more than any single person working alone. Together we are powerful beyond measure. I believe that there is a light in the world that is just waiting to be let out. The light has immense strength and it is given to each of us. The light is over-arching and amplified, it challenges us to be loud but kind, truthful but loving. The light is grace unfurled.

This painting is a dyptich, two 24x36 canvases framed in black and separated by 5/8" of black space between the two canvases. The two pieces create the whole. It was displayed at the associate member show at the Cincinnati Art Club in November.
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Big Light, acrylic dyptich , 48.625" x 36". © 2015 Terri Schmitt LTD.
 
 
This painting is in progress, a study of the seascape, mountains and sky of Iona, Scotland. The home in the distance is in view from the ancient abbey.
 
 
And now for something completely different...
This is a small portion of a two-panel painting using acrylic. Overall size will be either 3' x 4' or 4' x 3'. Working on it both as a horizontal and a vertical, turning it and letting it blend and drip. The color and gesture are the things that excite me about this one.