Mes chers amis,
As I travel around France I am always struck by the beauty around me. While visiting Albi a town near Toulouse, I was fascinated by this hugh Cathedral in the middle of town. As much a fortress as a church, built of red brick in the true gothic style, it was started in 1282 and took a century to complete. And for as stark as it is outside, the interior is completely covered with paintings and carvings. Amazing!
I look at all things differently here, old stone buildings with their wonderful textures and colors, the streets in the towns and villages that are lined with interesting buildings adorned with shutters in lavender and that shade blue that is only found in France. Maybe it is just the light here, but everything looks incredible and extraordinarily beautiful to me. Maybe I am just falling in love.
Looking at the shapes and angles of the roof lines and the arches that are found everywhere in the cities I find myself mentally working out a composition that might work well on the canvas. Some are so compelling that I have started a painting that was inspired by the view in the photograph.
While in Albi, I visited the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. It was full of sketches he made of cancan dancers at the Moulin Rouge and prostitutes with their gentlemen callers. He also loved to paint the cabaret singer Atistide Burant and the Circus people.
I learned a lot about his point of view from studying his sketches and paintings. Quick brushstrokes with a simple line on cardboard were his preferred style and surface. He captured movement and expressions so well with these techniques and I gained a whole new respect for his talent and subject matter.
So yes, among other things I am learning new ways of looking at things here on my art sabbatical, and acquiring an expanded artistic point of view.