Tag Archives: suzy davidson artist

The Second half of my trip to France…

watercolour – Caramany20-11-15 - 1 (1265)This 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….wall6

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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1237)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:)20-11-15 - 1 (1282)A rapid sketch from open window. 20-11-15 - 1 (1266)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1253)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  20-11-15 - 1 (1347)Seven year old Capucine – watercolour 20-11-15 - 1 (1449)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1507)Remy – Caramany resident – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1441)Vivi – wife of Remy  – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1440)I 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. .   20-11-15 - 1 (1545)

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. P1150724

I finish with a pile of magical hummingbird watercolour doodles 20-11-15 - 1 (1646)


A Bientot




Time for reflection

I have always found that leaving one calendar year and entering another is a good time for reflection.

As an artist, I am aware that all of life is interconnected.     There are no lines around anything, and as I often point out when teaching…to change one tiny portion of a painting, is to change the whole.    This same principle applies to everything in life.

With the internet and social media our interconnection is much more tangible.    We can communicate with people from around the globe in a way that has never been possible before.

As the environmentalist, David Suzuki says,

‘The human brain now holds the key to our future.    We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected.    That is our home.’

Many indigenous peoples, saw the hummingbird as a connection with nature and the unseen worlds.


This past calendar year has been a good one for me and has been all about ‘interconnection’.

Through Facebook I have connected with Axlepin Publishing, and through Axlepin I have connected with some brilliant writers, poets, painters and photographers from around the world.

Early in the year, again through FB, I connected with a fascinating woman in Dubai, who suggested that I contact her son who is currently studying at the Royal College of Music in London.     This lead to a meeting with Arsha Kaviani – an extraordinarily gifted composer, pianist, which in turn led to my painting his portrait.


I had two fun visits from my friend and fellow artist, Suzy Davidson from S. Africa.      I first met Suzy when I house/studio/animal sat for her seven years ago in a wonderful place outside of Brussells.

This ‘still life’ represents an inside joke, which only Suzy will fully appreciate:)   For me, it represents a wonderful memory.


Last February I visited my friend Helga and her two lovely cats in Vienna….This time around we took the train to Semmering, a delightful place in the lower mountains of Austria…not much more than a two hour train journey from Vienna.    It was snowing and cold….and very beautiful.

Helga taking a mid afternoon picture in Semmering.


I also spent a long weekend with my old art college friend Maureen Poynter Franklyn.    We were reunited through FB after not having seen one another for 47 years!    Five minutes in one another’s company, and it was as if no time had gone by:)

I took this photograph in an ancient Dorset church when visiting Maureen last spring.


I visited and painted portraits of my friends Mick and Gail.     We have known one another since we were young children.     Our lives are intertwined in so many ways.

Gail Duff…writer, performer, musician, therapist and dear friend.


Mick Duff.   Photographer, performer, musician and dear friend.


I had a wonderful surprise in August when my friends, The Kearnsclan called to say that their daughter, Catherine was to be married in October, and that they would be sending tickets for me to attend!

I was at Lynn and Stratton’s (the parents) wedding in 1977, and have known their four children since they were born….they are family to me.

I painted this large watercolour of Catherine, the day before the wedding.    A very special moment.


It was a joyful affair…full of love and laughter….this picture shows the bride and groom and wedding party…..


Given that I was in the States, I also visited my beautiful daughter, Christie and my equally beautiful niece Kate and her husband and the the twins, in Ipswich, Mass……and we had so much fun.

Photograph of Kate, Christie and Grace in front of a mural in Ipswich, Mass.


Me painting with the glorious twins…..a very happy moment.


On the same trip, I saw other friends who I haven’t seen since 1968!    Once again we found one another through FB…..oh the power of the internet.

A photograph taken in 1967 when we were neighbours living on Staten Island, New York.   Helen and I were wearing costumes…a special memory.


This joyful picture is of Carmella….a budding young artist who lives outside of West Chester, Pennsylvania.     I have known her grandparents since 1974, and can remember the day that my daughter and I delivered a baby present to Carmella’s mother….Ruby.

Thanks to FB and the internet, we are all still able to be in touch and enjoy special moments like this one.


There were many more special moments in the past year.   T hese were some of the highlights.

Tomorrow, New Years Eve, I will talk about my hopes and wishes for the coming year.

A Bientôt