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Archive for the ‘Painting tours to France’

Testimonials from the painters on the watercolor workshop to Provence

June 29, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

Margie:“Jackie has gone above and beyond in making this trip wonderful in every way. The picnic lunches, finding charming villages where we can paint, and organizing each day and driving the huge van so expertly around the narrow streets and hairpin turns.The trip was more than I ever imagined a watercolor workshop would be, and Provence a joy to behold. Thank you, Jackie.”


Sandy: “How can I ever thank you for such a wonderful trip…you are so special. I am delighted to have met you and have had this wonderful chance to experience Provence. Love, Sandy”. (me, Jackie, on the left and Sandy on the right):


Lin: “What can I possibly say to express my my gratitude for such an excellent trip. Thank you for your professionalism and organization and most of all, your smile.” Lin (the dog ate her buttons):


This is a picture of Lin. She met a little French girl who wanted to paint so Lin gave her some brushes and paint. They painted together for a little while. That was very sweet.


And to end this beautiful week, a picture from the terrace, taken 5 min ago:


Van Gogh in Provence

June 29, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops 1 Comment →

Sonja, the teacher on this watercolor workshop to Provence and I (we look just alike with our bags: those are made by Sonja for a previous trip, it shows the countries we both worked in together).


Picture from the cloister at the Mausole de St Paul in St Remy de Provence:


Margie picked the right color for her outfit, matching the painting from Van Gogh: starry night. IMG_1331

This is the back of the Mausole de St Paul that became a hospital where Van Gogh was treated for dementia the last year of his life. When we were there, the lavender was blooming. A real treat!


The garden is such a quiet and meditative place that it was an inspiration for the painters.


Well, not everyone was inspired apparently. Linda preferred to talk to me about solving all the problems in the world!


On the last day, everyone took it easy and decided to work on their paintings from the week. Sonja helped each of them individually so that their painting became a master piece (or almost!).

photo 2

photo 1

While everyone had already started to work, I was still relaxing on the terrace, having breakfast. It is hard not to start dreaming with such a view in front of me!


Sandy was not a painter but she helped me a lot to prepare the picnic, making it look nice. That is art too.

photo 3

It was a fabulous trip. Next year, Sonja Hamilton is coming back to teach on my trips, a watercolor workshop in Spain. Hope you join us!

Birds singing, olive tree wood sculptures, flowers …it is Provence!

June 28, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops 1 Comment →

Before heading off to Gordes, the beautiful but busy village in Luberon, I drove everyone to a quiet and beautiful village, Joucas. I discovered it yesterday, driving around looking for charming and quiet villages and when I found it, I knew I would bring my group of painters there.


Everyone loved it. You could hear the birds singing, one of the villagers playing the piano, watching an older lady watering each flower pot in this street with a water can, filling it up at the fountain. It is like being 100 years back.


Sonja gave a demo on how to sketch from front to back. Some watched and listened while others wanted to do their own painting.



Something unique about this village: sculptures made out of olive tree wood, all over the village.



Lin loved the sculptures and went to talk to the artist. She watched him work. He does the wood part while his wife makes the clay that goes in the sculpture. Pretty amazing.

During that time, I went to the supermarket to buy fresh food for the picnic: avocados, mushrooms, tomatoes but also a wonderful lemon chicken, tapenade, goose liver pate, veggie quiche, eggplant mousse, red pepers filled with tuna, juicy melons, etc..


After lunch, we went for olive oil tasting: rosemary, basil, truffle olive oil…all made right there at the olive mill where we had lunch.


Here is a little joke about outfits: Margie (with the blue visor) with a shirt BEFORE wash  and Linda with the shirt AFTER wash (color passed). However, Linda wears the pants before wash and Margie after wash (shrunk).


Well, I will stop my post on that note before it becomes too silly.

If you too want to have fun on a painting trip to Provence, check

Making paint from pigment in Roussillon

June 27, 2013 By: jgrandchamps Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

Like promised yesterday and the day before, here is the post about the artists making their paint.

Yesterday, they bought their natural pigment (ochre) in Roussillon. Today, they are making paint. The key ingredients are: a candy (that has gum arabic in it) and distilled water. You boil the water and then add the gum until it gets dissolved. Once it is all liquid, just add the pigment and …voila!


In the picture above, you can also see a brush that each student had made with rubber.



Here are some of the work from the students: their assignment was to paint something from Roussillon. Since everything is red, orange or yellow in Roussillon (the houses in the village of Roussillon are painted with ochre that is why you have that shade of color), that is the perfect thing to paint with ochre.



Some people “cheated” and used blue, which is a synthetic pigment.


IMG_1293Having an ipad is very useful for artists.

They worked for a few hours and were only interrupted for lunch. I did go shopping while they were working and bought fresh products. Then I prepared a tomato-mozzarella-basil salad, a mushrooms-carrots-spinach-arugola salad, a beat salad, roasted chicken (ok, yes I didn’t prepare it, I bought it but still, I had to cut it into pieces). They were also different kinds of bread, a cheese board with brie and blue cheese and strawberries.


In the afternoon, everyone did their own thing: some continued their paintings, Dick went outside to paint the courtyard, some went for a walk in the village and some walked by their bed and it grabbed them they said !!!! So they disappeared for one hour!


That didn’t stop Sonja from working and demonstrating. Here is the demo from the afternoon.


Busy day for everyone. Tomorrow, off we go to a different village !

Keep reading.

From the red of ochre to the purple of lavender in Roussillon

June 25, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, painting workshops 1 Comment →

On our first day of excursion, we went to Roussillon, the village that has the finest ochre in the world.Sonja Hamilton, the teacher, wanted to surprise the participants by going to the Conservatoire des Ochres to buy the finest pigment. Everyone also had an assignment: sketching or taking picture of vignettes in Roussillon to work on them the next day.

All the artists were like kids in a candy store.


Meg couldn’t resist buying a big pot of pigment.


Judith decided to go for the big load. She is planning to paint for the next 100 years.


We then went on a walk in the ochre trail.


Lin decided to try to find all the shades of colors the ocher offers: from yellow to red.


Sandy who came as a non painter was inspired by the color of the ochre. She decided to sketch and this is what she came up with in about 20 min…..


Well, don’t believe everything you read…The sketch is from Sonja. Besides ochre, you can find cute colorful items, like those bags:


or these knobs:


On our way back home, we stopped by some lavender fields. There was so much lavender fields that we could smell it from the car:



Yesterday I told you that I will explain how the artists made their own paint. Well, you just read step 1: buying the ochre in Roussillon.
Tomorrow, the making of the paint.
For a complete itinerary of our watercolor workshop in Provence, check our site at

Watercolor workshop with Sonja Hamilton in Provence

June 25, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

This Sunday, I picked up a new group at the train station. Bigger group: 10 people. They are here for a watercolor workshop let by a watercolor artist from Auburn,  Sonja Hamilton SWA.

It is Sonja’s sixth trip with us. Some of the people on the tour, Jim and Linda, follow her everywhere and are on their fourth trip with Sonja and me. They have already signed up for the watercolor workshop to Spain with Sonja and French Escapade for Sept 2014.


Jim and Linda showing what they have received: a French Escapade visor from me and some special gifts from Sonja: Sonja always paint little vignettes from Provence ahead of time and put them on gifts for people. The vignettes represent places the participants will discover during their trip. She gave Linda a scarf with a painting of poppies and to Jim, a brush holder painted with lavender fields.


All the other participants also received a French Escapade visor from me and a light back pack (lunch bag) from one of her painting on it:: Dick and his wife Sandy have the Abbey of Senanque and lavender fields.


Judith (to the Left) has received Van Gogh’s irises, Brooke (middle) a house from Oppede le Vieux village and Margie (right), a cute window from a house in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.


Lin has received bag with lavender field.


Meg has the entire hilltop village of Gordes painted on her back pack.

Here is the entire group with their gift, Sonja is in the front. Her bag has a map of Europe with all the countries her and me (French Escapade) gave watercolor workshops in.


We had our first dinner together at the villa les volets bleus where we are staying for the week.


From L to R: Linda, Jum, Brooke, Sonja, Judith, Dick, Sandy, Margie, Lyn, Meg. Tomorrow, the blog will be about them making their own paint from scratch (the “scratch is actually the natural ochre from Roussillon, the finest ochre in the world).

Stay tuned.

You can be fashionable while painting in Provence

June 23, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops 3 Comments →

Bobbi, one of my guests on this painting trip to Provence is the fashionable one: everyday, she wore a different colorful outfit and a different one in the evening. Not only that, she had a necklace that went with each…A total of 14 outfits and 14 necklaces for the week in Provence…



Even while painting, she stayed fashionable.


She bought this necklace here in Provence, at the little market in Venasque. She was my jewelry coach and made me buy the same one.


But she was not the only fashionable one…Ghislaine wore her pearls every day, even while painting!



Betsy was the scarf queen. She had almost one different each day but she had about 50 different ways to tigh it.



IMG_1178 2

She taught Lynn and the rest of the group one of her magic ways to tigh the scarf.


During this fashion show, the others were concentrating on their painting: Holly, Lori, Patrish and Josephine.




Well, it is not really true. I just didn’t have pictures of them dressed up. Lori even bought a nice red dress and necklace for belly dancing and Holly bought  large “French” trousers. But I didn’t think of taking a picture.

The group has now left. Today I am picking up a new group at the TGV train station in Avignon: watercolorists.

Stay tuned.

Our charming hotel in the cutest village in Provence

June 21, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, painting workshops 3 Comments →

Before the group leaves, I wanted to show all of you, friends and family of the current participants as well as future participants of the painting workshop to Provence, the charming place where we stayed for the week.

Although I usually stay in this fabulous place with my painting groups, once in a while I have a chance to stay here with non painters, people who have chosen my cultural tour to Provence.

The village where we are staying is called Venasque, the most beautiful village of Provence (oh right, one of the most beautiful villages in Provence!!!).


The place where we are staying is a little jewel in Venasque.



Here is the courtyard. The house has blue shutters, that is why it is called “la maison aux volets bleux” (French translation for the house with the blue shutters). This merveillous place is owned by Martine and Jerome, a very friendly couple who goes out of his way all the time to please us.

And of course, not only are the shutters blue but the table, the sets, the napkins, just about everything.



Here is Lynn Gertenbach, our instructor for the week, giving a critique on our last day in Provence.


Living room where we have our apéritifs at night. That is the heart of the house because there is where every 0ne gathers, drinks, eats, laughs. There was a lot of laughs on this trip. I have to say it was a great group.


Here is a picture from the terrace. The view is breathtaking. The whole valley and in the background, the mont Ventoux, the highest mountain in Provence, well known by bikers. It is one of the major “etape” on the  ”Tour de France”.


Other view from the terrace. We take our breakfasts and dinners here (weather permitted). The light at different times of day, gives different colors to the view, with an amazing evening light. That is why some of the students told me that is was a dream to be here.


View from the bedroom. Each bedroom has the view on that valley. Some people even paint from their room, sitting by the window. During the night, we sleep with the window opened: no bugs but a nice breeze and sometimes, the singing of the cicadas.


Here is Ghislaine’s bedroom (well on this trip of course). As you can see, there are paintings hanging everywhere (bedroom, living room, hall way, etc…). The owner of the house is an artist her self. Her art is everywhere in the house. Because she likes painting so much, she loves having artists stay at her house, so much that even if it rains outside (rare in Provence), she lets us paint in the living room (even the oil painters!!). It is such a very relaxing place here.


Here is where Holly and her mother Betsy stayed. The bedroom has a Moroccan style because the owners live half the time in Morocco so they bring many souvenirs from there.

The owners Martine and Jerome used to run a big restaurant. Now, they run their little hotel with only 7 bedrooms. I like it that is small because it means I can rent the entire place just for my group. We can therefore leave some of our painting stuff in the house without disturbing anyone, like leaving our paintings oustide to dry,  we can talk and laugh as loud as we want (and we do) . It is just the perfect place.


Since they are chefs, the food is excellent.


Wish you were here? Good news, you can. Sign up for one of our tours in Provence at

Lavender, red poppies, olive tree and Van Gogh: we got it all !

June 19, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

I am not going to bore you with more pictures of people painting. So, here are a few pictures of what we are seeing on our tour. These pictures were taken in the garden located at the Mausole de St Paul in St Remy de Provence, which is the hospital where Van Gogh spent the last year of his life. Most of his famous paintings like the irises, starry night, etc…were done here.


It is still too early to have the lavender in bloom but it is starting.


Everyone took close up pictures of the red poppies.


The hôpital is still in use. It is only for women who are in distress. The therapy used is art therapy. All these paintings and sculptures were done by the patients.


The patient’s paintings were for sale so Holly and Betsy looked though them to see which ones to buy.


I decided to add a picture of Ghislaine painting since she was not in my series of pictures the first day. The olive trees she is painting are the same ones Van Gogh painted years ago (you can recognize the trunks of the trees on his paintings).


By the way, the group has been there for 3 days and they are already fluent in French, able to read the Figaro magazine. Amazing!

You too can do this. Check our list of tours in France, Belgium and Spain. In addition to painting tours, we also offer cultural and cooking tours.

Painting Gordes: a big challenge

June 18, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, Women, painting workshops 2 Comments →

Who says life is easy? Who says that being on vacation is a piece of cake? Today, the painters on the oil painting workshop to Provence have been confronted to a big challenge: painting the hilltop village of Gordes.


Here is Lynn Gertenbach’s painting in progress (Lynn is the teacher on this trip).

For the students, it was more of a struggle.


Bobbi and Betsy found a shady part but to get there they had to be a bit of a climber.


Holly was even more adventurous. After climbing, she went down a wall to be in the middle of a field with flowers. All the tourists coming to Gordes took pictures of her. She is going to be in pictures all over the world.


From Left to Right, Josephine’s easel (sorry Josephine, you are hidden behind Ghislaine), Ghislaine, Lynn (standing up), Lori and Patrish. They didn’t feel like climbing to paint. Besides, they like to paint a street going down towards Gordes to make it even more dramatic so they chose another spot by the side of a non busy road.


Oh, I do have a picture of Josephine. I can stand behind Josephine and she doesn’t hear me because she listens to her iPod.


Lori is advertising for me because she is wearing the “French Escapade” visor I gave each of them. You can tell by her smile that even though it was not easy to paint all those medieval houses, it was still fun.

But the trip is not all about painting. We went to an olive oil factory and the owner, Andre, gave us a tour of the factory explaining how he makes olive oil.


Then, the best part, was the tasting:  plain olive oil, basil olive oil, truffle olive oil and rosemary olive oil. Even though everyone’s suitcase was already heavy when they arrive, everyone bought the oil. How can you resist such a great first cold press, extra virgin fresh olive oil?


So far, it has been a wonderful trip. The group is great, very funny and everyone is getting along.

Great weather, great food, handsome people, what else can you dream of?

Oil painting in the cute village of Venasque

June 17, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

On the first day of our oil painting workshop, we stayed at the house or in our village of Venasque.


Here is Patrish painting from the courtyard.


Lori is doing a sketch before starting her painting.


Josephine chose to paint a little street in the village. She got help from the teacher, Lynn. Lynn is actually painting on Josephine’s painting to add some shadows to it.


Holly and Betsy, all equipped with their aprons, are painting an arch way, the unique entrance to the village back in the medieval time.


Bobbie is not painting, but prefers to chat. Ok, don’t listen to me (or should I say don’t believe what I write) because Bobbie did paint but here we were ready to go out for dinner.

But where is the last student? Ghislaine?? Actually Ghislaine took a nap while everyone was painting so I don’t have a pic because I didn’t dare to go to her bedroom just to take a picture!!! Anyhow, she is allowed to sleep while everyone paints because she is the fast painter in the group and usually does 2 paintings while the others do one.


Tomorrow, we are going to an amazing place: Gordes. Here is a picture of it (and me but that is less important, although….) so it will make you want to read more tomorrow to see what everyone painted there.

Stay tuned.

Dancing the night away in Provence

June 16, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, Women, painting workshops 1 Comment →

Lynn Gertenbach, an oil painter from South California, has arrived with her students for a week long in Provence.

Luckily, the weather is wonderful, even quite hot. Until last week, it had been chilly in France, even here in Provence, which is very unusual. But now the sun is here and the sky is blue.

We are staying a week long at the same location, la maison aux volets bleus, in Venasque, a charming village in the Luberon.


Here is the group at dinner:


From L to R: Ghislaine, Holly, Betsy, Bobbie, Lynn, Patrish, Josephine and Lori.

After dinner, we had a great surprise. The little tiny village had a special festivity planned: a latin night. There was a DJ playing not only salsa, rumba and merengue but also some disco, hip pop, etc…

Eight of us went to check it out (while Patrish decided to stay at the hotel and read). The minute we got there, Holly and her mother Betsy went on the dance floor and never left it.


Holly and Betsy danced all night long…

Well, the dance floor was gravels since we were on an outside parking lot. Lori, Josephine, Ghislaine, Bobbie, Lynn and I joined them. Luckily, the DJ taught us the moves for all the latin dances so it became sort of a line dance. There were 4-year-old kids dancing the night away as well as older people. Some were really excellent some were just trying out but the most important is that everyone had a blast.


We called it a night around 11PM. Nice start for our week.

To follow the full itinerary of our painting week in Provence, check our site

There is more than just painting in Provence

September 20, 2012 By: guest Category: Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

Although it is a painting workshop, our guests have more to do in Provence: shopping on the  market and eating of course. Ah the wonderful French food!

Norwegian salad with all different seafood:


Here is rice with gambas flambes:


Donna is enjoying her Irish coffee:


Here is a chocolate cake with “creme anglaise”, prepared by Martine, our hostess at our hotel in Venasque:


Bust besides eating, there is shopping: We went to Isle sur la Sorgue to the provencal market. I was told in the morning that they wanted to only spend 30 min shopping and then painting of course. I gave everyone up to 1h15 and everyone came back at the last minute, even Victoria, the teacher, who is usually “obsessed about painting”.

And here is some of the shopping of the day:

Brenda bought a bright shirt/dress/all usage piece:


Linda bought a flowery shirt:


Susan bought some flashy sunglasses, perfect match with her outfit:


You too want to be in Provence? Make sure to check our site to find out more about our painting but also cooking or cultural tours to Provence but also Belgium Switzerland and Spain.

You have two hours for your painting said Victoria, on the plein air painting tour to Provence

September 18, 2012 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, painting workshops No Comments →

Yesterday, like I mentioned in my previous post, we spent the afternoon in Maubec, a very quiet village in the Luberon. When I say quiet, I really mean it. There was only one car that drove by during the 2 hours we were there. Yes, Victoria only allows people to paint the same painting for 2 hours. After that, the light has changed she said and it is a completely different painting.

Some people chose to paint the church in the background with vineyards in the foreground. Below is Victoria’s painting of the church and vineyards in Maubec.


Some people decided to paint th grapes. Harvest time is coming up, at the end of September, so the grapes are just wonderful. Jan painted the grapes because buidling is not her thing she said.


Brenda painted the grapes beautifully and finished before everyone else. The two hours window for a painting is not a problem for her, she is done way before that. She is quite fast…


Today we went to St Remy de Provence where Van Gogh painted most of his famous paintings like the irises, starry starry night, etc…Everyone was so inspired to paint where he painted and especially the same olive trees like Donna, below.


Susan M was able to paint because she found her glasses that she had forgotten in Gordes. Good for her.!


Karen made a killer today!!! She decided to put her hat on the ground, put a few euros in it and pointed to it when people wanted to take her picture by saying” Merci beaucoup”. One American woman asked her if she would accept American dollar and she gave her 50cents. If Karen is not going to become very rich, at least, she will not be bothered by too many tourists, which was her intention.


Susan H could have made more than Karen because one woman told her that her painting was beautiful and wanted to buy it. Susan was so overwhelmed, she didn’t know what to say and didn’t sell it. Oh well, next time maybe.


Oil painting workshop by Victoria Brooks in Provence

September 17, 2012 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Painting tours to France, Provence, Women, painting workshops No Comments →

The new group of artists has arrived. It is an oil painting workshop taught by Victoria Brooks.

Yesterday, the day started with a demo from Victoria.


Then everyone started to paint a vignette from the terrace. Our hotel is so cute and charming, there is plenty to paint.



Today, we went to Gordes. If you have been reading my blog you know how beautiful that hilltop village is.

vic7From L to R: Brenda, Linda, Susan H, Jan, Donna, Karen, Victoria and Susan M.

In the morning, the group painted from outside the village looking up to the village on the hill. Some people got intimidated by the complexity of the buildings and they decided to paint the landscape or a little shed by the side of the road. I didn’t take many pics because I was busy shopping for the picnic and then looking for Susan’s glasses (which we found!!!).



In the afternoon, we went to the cute village of Maubec but that will be for my post tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more adventures of our oil painters in Provence. See the complete itinerary of the painting workshop to Provence.