watercolour – CaramanyThis post is about my week in Caramany, a small, ancient hill top village – in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France. A very beautiful area.
My friend the artist Suzy Davidson (www.suzydavidson.com) – has been renovating an old ruin there for the past nine years …..all of this done whilst living in South Africa and and Malaysia. Quite a feat. On her regular visits, she has managed to organise builders, and much more…..and being a hands on person has done a lot of work herself, including building walls….
To get there, I flew to Carcassonne and then a two hour drive to Caramany. (On my return trip to Brittany and then London, I travelled by train – more about that in a minute)
I left London just before the ‘Beast from the East’ descended on the UK and Europe. For the first three or so days it was freezing cold. Fortunately Suzy had just installed two wood burners!
Suzy between house and atelier. Initially it was too cold to paint outside (we actually woke to a dusting of snow one morning!) – and so I painted some interiors, plus portraits of the local Caramany people – again an excellent way to connect with people and to learn about a place.
A very warm spot next to a wood burner (now shown in this picture:)A rapid sketch from open window. Built into rock, the community sits on many levels. I took this photograph overlooking the courtyard to Suzy’s house with the ravine, village and hills beyond. There are 150 full time residents – (during the summer months this number grows) Through Suzy, I was able to meet some of the locals who not only made me very welcome but also provided in one case a delicious typically French five course lunch, and in another a superb evening meal.
Marie – a multi talented lady. – watercolour Seven year old Capucine – watercolour By mid week the sun was shining and in sheltered spots it was very warm. I actually enjoyed my first al fresco lunch of the year.
Part of the village in mild sunshine. Remy – Caramany resident – watercolourVivi – wife of Remy – watercolourI certainly hope to visit Carmany again during a warmer period when I am able do much more plein air painting. I believe that Late April/May or September/October would be perfect….as I think the summers might be a little too hot for my liking.
Perpignan is about a 35 minute drive from Caramany, and so it was here that I caught the first train on my way to Lorient in Brittany. Other than the initial local train, I was travelling by TGV – the superb French train system which travels at high speeds and for the most part is very efficient.
Between Perpignan and Narbonne – I was able to see the lagoons with Pink Flamingos….what a treat. After a quick change at Narbonne onto Toulouse, – Toulouse to Paris and Paris to Lorient where Elisabeth and Herve were waiting for me. The train was right on schedule. It sounds like a long day, and it was but given that the trains are so comfortable and everything on schedule….it is a far better way to travel than flying!. An excellent opportunity for reading, writing, thinking and people watching.
A rapid watercolour/gouache in my sketch book looking down on the reservoir beneath Caramany….It was extremely windy and cold that day. .
Now onto my next trip where I will be giving a workshop at the beautiful school in Olhao Portugal http://www.artinthealgarve.com starting Wednesday 18th April….
We have received two late cancellations and so if anyone is interested in joining us on what is always a wonderful week, please contact Camilla at +44 203 2877 140
I have a limit of 12 for these workshops and am fully booked for September.
At this time of year, especially after our very cold spring, the thought of arriving at the School is such a treat. The top of the old olive tree that grows up through the centre of the School….simply beautiful.
I finish with a pile of magical hummingbird watercolour doodles