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Our group from the watercolor painting tour to Spain

September 25, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

The trip is over (actually it has been over for several days but I needed time to post) and everyone flew back home. Actually, some went to Cordona, one to Morocco, some to Madrid, some back home to San Francisco, Australia and California and Sandy Delehanty, the teacher went to spend one more week in Colliure, in France, on the Spanish border.

Like I promised you, here are the pictures of each of them with their favorite paintings:

June from California:

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Laura from California:

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Linda from Minnesota:

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Janet from California:

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Judy from Hawaii:

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Mary from Canada:

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Linda from Canada:

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Anne from Australia:

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Here is the picture of the entire group, including Tom, Linda’s husband (from Minnesota) who was not a painter and Sandy, the teacher, on the far left of the picture:

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We had a fabulous time. The weather was great, everyone was happy and …so was I!

Next painting tour to Spain will be in May 2014 with Kathie George. But stay tuned because in a few days, I am starting a cooking tour in Provence!

Touring Barcelona after painting the Costa Brava

September 22, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

After spending our time on the Costa Brava, painting away, it was time to go back to civilization!!! So we head off to Barcelona.

I organized a guided walking tour in the Bari Gothic, the old medieval quarter, of Barcelona. Catherine, our guide, was lovely and very knowledgeable. Catherine is the only one on the picture who doesn’t have her head up (in the middle of the pic):

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Below, you see Janet taking a picture of the 14th century synagogue. Janet really wanted to find it but the old quarter is a real maze  but with the help of Catherine, Janet was in heaven!!! Sort to speak….

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Below, is me giving a little explanation about the figurines we find in the stores representing Queen Elizabeth or Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Francois Mitterand or Raphael Nadal, or any famous people in a more than precarious position. If you want to find out why, you need to join us on our next painting, cooking or cultural tour to Spain! so I can tell you more.

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In the evening, we went to a flamenco show in a 15th century palace. The place was fabulous:

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This time, for the first time since I have been there, one of the female dancers was wearing pants.

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That is very unusual since they always wear flamboyant dresses. You need to see their feet move when they dance. It is simply incredible.

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Next blog, I will introduce all the participants with their favorite painting. So, come back!

Gourmet Catalan food on our painting tour to Spain.

September 17, 2013 By: guest Category: Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, Women, painting workshops No Comments →

Every day started with an enormous and delicious breakfast: many pastries, cheeses, yoghurts, egg tortilla, but also ham, chorizo, salami, salmon, sardines, a lot of fruits, different types of bread, water, juices, even wine!!!!, hot chocolate, many different types of coffees, teas, etc…

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And in addition to the sumptuous breakfast, you have the incredible view on the ocean.

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We also had gourmet dinners. I will let Sandy Delehanty, our teacher on the watercolor workshop, tell you about it:

“Our French Escapade led Watercolor Journaling trip to Spain, continues with gourmet food that Jackie our French Escapade guide has included in this trip and we are all LOVING!

Judy said one night that she thought Jackie should have advertised this trip as a “Painting/Gourmet Food Trip” since every one of our dinners together have been fabulous and we have learned so much about the Catalan way of cooking.  I think she is right!

Here is a market photo that gives you an idea of the freshness of the ingredients that the chefs use to do their magic.

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One of our dinners was at Can Joan in a nearby town that some locals recommended to Jackie when she was planning her first tour of this area.  The specialty was a unique version of Paella made with the rice negro grown here and a very soupy style sauce and of course loads of fresh seafood and sausage etc.


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Really great, as were all the many tapas.

June not only loves the food and the company she also loves the Sangria, but do not worry, not all of the glasses in this photo are hers, she is too much a lady to go overboard.


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The next morning at breakfast June confessed that she did not have quite as much “spring in her step”! The dessert was a real treat as well.


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And since we are by the coast, the fish is caught that day. At many restaurants we went to, we were presented with the fishes of the day so you can choose which fish you want.  I am not a fan of mussels but everyone else in our group has been raving them.  At home I do not like sardines, but fresh caught here they are terrific.


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Those big shrimps were used in a typical Catalan dish called Fideua. It is a different version of the paella. The rice has been replaced by little noodles.

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Below was the best salad I had on  this trip, warm goat cheese salad.  The large round of goat cheese was actually grilled, their were all kinds of goodies along with it as you can see, even tiny sweet strawberries, and the dressing was balsamic vinegar and oil, artfully drizzled.  The restaurant’s name I have forgotten but it was in the tiny seaside village of Calella de Palafrugell where we have been staying.
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It was as much a painting than a food experience!”
If you want to taste the Catalan food either on a painting tour or a cultural tour, click here.

Dali museum, a surrealistic object itself

September 14, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

Today, I planned a cultural visit as a treat to the artists. The painters have been working hard and they deserved some fun. So we went to Figueres, Northern Catalonia to see the Dali museum.

The museum had been designed by Dali itself. Where else will you find eggs on the roof and people wearing baguettes on their head to welcome you?

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The inside is as crazy as the outside, actually even more. You are welcome by dozen of golden naked statues with open arms, similar to the ones on the roof of the museum.

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Then among others, you see a painting of Abraham Lincoln.

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But when you walk closer, you don’t see Lincoln anymore but Gala’ back, Dali’s wife, naked, watching the Mediterranean sea.

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Then you walk through rooms and rooms of art, sometimes (I should say often) very crazy art but that is what makes Dali so unique. A genius, he called himself. The two paintings on the wall, the piece of furniture in the middle as well as the red sofa in the back of the room, can be viewed through a frame with hair-like giving you the feeling of watching a human face….

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In the gift shop, you can buy a book with Dali’s mustaches: many pictures of Dali with his mustaches of different lengths, shapes, etc…On the last page of the book you can read a citation from Dali: “Some people think I am crazy, but I am not as crazy as the person who just bought this book.”

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After the visit of the museum, it was time for lunch and we went to a French (Brittany) crepe place. I had been there before and they make the crepes just like in Brittany. I know we are in Spain and should be eating Catalan food but I couldn’t resist.

By the crepe place was a little Mini from the 60s I believe, painted with the “Flower power ” theme. Sandy Delehanty, the teacher on this watercolor workshop, said that her first car was exactly the same but instead of  the flowers she painted a big lady bug (making her very famous in her neighborhood). She and I, the tour leader with the white shirt on the pic, decided to drive it (or at least pretend to since now the car has been converted into a bar).

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After our great lunch, we went  back to Calella for some more paintings:

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Next blog, all the gourmet food we ate on our painting workshop to Spain. Stay tuned!!!!

There is more than the sea on the Costa Brava

September 12, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 1 Comment →

Like always, I am chatting away, showing the village to the group. I am on the right and Sandy, the teacher on the left:

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Below is a picture taken by Janet of (from left to right) June, her daughter Laura and Anne.

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The post below has been written by Sandy Delehanty, the art teacher on this watercolor painting trip to Spain:


Having wondered last night around the tiny 12th century Medieval village of Pals photographing it in the late afternoon sun, we knew what there was to paint here.  Staying in such a breathtakingly beautiful place as Calella de Palafrugell by the sea, it would be hard for artists to leave to paint at another location, but knowing the beauty of the village of Pals we were able to choose whether to spend the day painting there, or spend the day painting by the sea again.

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I snapped a photo of this sunny wall that I kept passing on my way from where Linda (Minnesota) and Ann were painting to where Judy was painting.  I loved the shapes of the basket purses and the cast shadows and the colors and textures in the stone wall.


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The great thing about watercolor journaling is that you do not need to carry an easel and stand up all day working away.  In fact, since we are staying in a beach town my students purchased these folding beach chairs so they could be comfortable painting.  Here is Mary (on the right) and Linda (the Linda from Canada, we also have a Linda from Minnesota). Mary was the fast painter on the trip. Linda has been added a motorcycle in her painting that was there the day before but not when she was actually painting.

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Not far, were June (left) and Laura (her daughter) sitting quietly in a little alley way.


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Laura was painting this cute little window with the big leafed plants beside it.  When I took photos it was not quite done as you can see, but I love the style of her ink lines and the lovely transparent colors of her watercolors so I wanted to post it anyway and she was OK with that.


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And June painted this cute little window with the pots.  It was a really challenging spot with lots happening, but she had fun with it as you can see!


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Below is a picture of Sandy, the teacher, helping Laura.

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Judy found a really cute corner in the village of Pals and worked to the very last moment, not even stopping for lunch, she ate a protein bar in one hand and kept on painting with the other.  Her painting buddies in Hawaii are probably not surprized by this at all!

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Here is the corner she was painting, talk about eye candy!


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And below is her lovely watercolor.  She did not like the dull brown color of the door so she created a much prettier blue door.  The round tower structure next to the door was difficult but she got it.  Also notice that her rocks have a wide variety of color, great job!


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Here is the cute little street scene Ann and Linda (Minnesota) chose to paint in Pals.  Somehow I forgot to take a photo of them painting but below are the paintings they created.

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This is Ann’s painting.  It is a lovely watercolor that captures the whole scene beautifully and I think it is my favorite of all that she painted.  Lovely painting and I love how she wrote the story of her day next to the painting.



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This is Ann from Australia (who painted the above watercolor) and we all had a great time getting to know her.  I am honored that she came so far to join our painting trip.  Before arriving to paint with us she visited London and the Cotswalds in England where she created some lovely watercolors in her journal.


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This is Linda’s (Minnesota) watercolor of the pots along the main street of Pals.  I love the way she shows you that the plants were cactus but a variety of them and also she got the pots nice and rounded and the wall is definitely made of a variety of stones.  Great job Linda!


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Linda’s husband Tom went with Jackie, the tour leader, to the cork museum while we were all painting. Then he came to meet us in the village and walked everywhere, scouting the town and by lunch time he knew not only where to shop for the local products but which stores had the best prices.  He is a keen observer of people and provides us with interesting anecdotes of the daily life of the people he had witnessed.

Below is a picture of Linda when she is not painting. Pals is a medieval village so she got right in the spirit of the place.


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Linda knows how to keep her husband Tom in line!


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But where was Janet?

Janet was determined to find time to swim in the sea so she elected to stay and paint and swim in Calella.  The hotel loaned her an umbrella, she had her towel, her watercolors and journal and off she went to the beach.  She swam, lounged and painted the rocks and the sea. I don’t have a picture of her on the beach but I have a picture of her painting supplies on the beach…….


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Here is a picture of Janet, another day:

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Stay tuned for more.


Painting in the quiet and beautiful botanical garden of Cap Roig, Spain

September 11, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

Our adventure continues, in the botanical garden of Cap Roig.

The origins of the Cap Roig’ Castle and its Botanical Gardens date back to 1927, when Russian Colonel Nicolai Woevodsky, who was keen on drawing and architecture, and his wife, the English aristocrat Dorothy Webster, decorator and amateur archeologist and gardening, left behind her court life in London to settle down and make true her fondest dream in this unique place located in a special enclave by the sea. A place prevailing in nature and calm. The works continued until 1974.

I always give a little orientation/history speech in all the different places we go to:

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Our group sat down in front of the castle and starting to sketch the beautiful window with iron work.

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The garden runs down in terraces from the castle to the sea. The first ones (Nuns’ Terraces, El Bassin Terrace, Lovers’ Garden) are connected by the Cypresses Staircase, and have a marked architectural character.


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From there on, the paths descend gently towards the coast. This area is home to the Spring Garden, Cactus Garden and Geranium Walk with stunning flowering seasons.Wether you like to paint flowers, cactus, trees or buldings or even the coast, you have it all at the garden.

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I think my favorite part was the cactus garden: hundred of them, different shapes, species and color.

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For more pictures of the botanical garden of Cap Roig, visit our site at www.frenchescapade.com

Sketching in Calella de Palafrugell

September 10, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 2 Comments →

Our group had fun sketching and painting by the ocean. They didn’t go very far to paint what I show below, just from the terrace of the hotel. Calella de Palafrugell  is really a hidden gem of the Costa Brava. Many resorts on the Costa Brava have been over built in the 60s and 70s for mass tourism and only a few fishing villages have been preserved. This is one of them.

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Judy painted the boat that never moves!

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Linda did too but from a different angle. She actually walked a few yards away from the hotel….

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Some people didn’t leave the hotel and took pictures from their room balcony.

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Tomorrow, different scenery as we are going to the botanical garden of Cap Roig, a 10 minute drive from our hotel.

Click here see the itinerary of the trip.

Watercolor sketching in Spain

September 04, 2013 By: jgrandchamps Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 2 Comments →

Bon dia!

I didn’t say “buenas dias” because we are in Catalunya and for the Catalans, we are not in Spain. So bon dia is “Hello” in Catalan.

Sandy Delehanty is my teacher on this trip to Spain. Sandy has been teaching many times for me. This is her fifth trip with French Escapade and her fourth country (twice to the French Alps, once in Provence, once in Belgium and now Spain)

Our home base is Calella de Palafrugell on the Costa Brava, 1h30 min North of Barcelona.

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This is a view from our balcony: the white fishing village of Calella. Bedrooms with sea view have this breathtaking view of the ocean:

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Tom and Linda on their balcony are enjoying the view:

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Painting in Calella is of course primarily about the ocean and boats. Nobody went very far for painting. Although there are tons of wonderful vignettes to paint, everyone sat on the terrace of the hotel. It is true that the best view is from there:

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Anne and Janet:

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Judy and Mary:
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The number one vignette for our sketchers was Mr Velcro’s house or should I say, little castle, the only building on the beach with a private swimming pool of course:
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If you look the other way, without even having to move your chair, you could paint the fishing village:
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Some, like Linda A., is more into abstract and was inspired by the rocks:
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Sandy, the teacher, doing the critique on the terrace:
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If you are really lazy, you don’t even have to leave your room to paint the ocean:
Below is Laura painting from her bedroom (oops, I didn’t say Laura was lazy…but June on the other hand…):
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June keeps telling me that she paints but I never saw her doing so. Every time I saw her she was doing anything but painting, like cross-word puzzle:
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However, this is what she “said” she did:
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In the evening, a local band came and played and the villagers started to dance the sardana, which is a traditional catalan dance (don’t forget we are in Catalunya, not really in Spain if you listen to Catalans):
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We ended the day with a vey nice meal, here is my sea food salad:
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Join us next year on either a painting or a cultural tour to Spain with French Escapade.

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.”


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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):



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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):


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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.


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


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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).

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

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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!

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

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

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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!).

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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..

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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.

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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).

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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 www.frenchescapade.com

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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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

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We then went on a walk in the ochre trail.

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

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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…..

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

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or these knobs:

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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:

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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 www.frenchescapade.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lin has received bag with lavender field.

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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.

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

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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…

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Even while painting, she stayed fashionable.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.