Today I'll tell you about one of my more adventurous vacations--a watercolor workshop while barging through the Alsace Lorraine region of France. And, please excuse me for getting on the road a little late on this Fun Monday. Happens all the time, doesn't it!)
Two of my best friends and I flew to Paris in May 2002 to join up with a group of would be painters for a week of landscape painting in the Alsace Lorraine region of France. My friends wanted to travel through this loveliest part of France at a leisurely pace. I wanted to learn to paint better by practicing in the daily watercolor workshops led by Joseph Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of art at the University of Kentucky. We spent just a couple of days in Paris, trying to see and do as much as possible
in the time we had. One place this wannabe artist should have checked out before leaving Paris was Magasin Sennelier on Quai Voltaire. This French family business, established in 1887, still offers the same Impressionist paints that were originally created for the likes of Cezanne, Monet, and Pissarro. Hum-mm, perhaps my paintings would have been a lot better if I had used their superior paints?
After just two days in Paris, our group of about 20 people from the U.S., England, France, and Canada boarded the train for Strasbourg. The group was a mix of "painters" and their traveling companions who were along for the barge travel, sight seeing and luxury relaxation. By the time we'd had three hours on the train together we began to bond. I almost missed the train in Paris because I hung back to buy a good supply of French chocolates to share with the group. What better way to make a good first impression and guarantee that I'd always have a dinner partner when my friends got sick of me!
When we arrived in Strasbourg we were whisked off to the barge Lorraine which would be our home base for the trip from Strasbourg to Nancy on the Marne and Rhine canals. The Lorraine was a perfect accommodation for the trip--young lively crew and tour guide, great commons areas inside and out for enjoying--or painting--the passing landscape, gourmet meals, and cabins that were small but adequate for the time we spent in them.
Joe, our workshop leader, was on the barge to welcome us. Of the group, about ten were interested in painting. He soon calmed our fears about whether we were "good" enough to sign on to such a tour. You know the spiel--everyone can paint (ha!), no right or wrong ways, just get down what you see, offer positive criticism of each others' work, be flexible. These paintings that Joe did in Saverne is an example of his being flexible. He ran out of color for these pen and ink drawings so he just used espresso! We all wanted these drawings. . .
The Painting Day--after a leisurely breakfast buffet, the barge let us off in different locations. The painters went with Joe and set up shop in areas that were particularly picturesque. The remainder of the group toured or just relaxed on the barge. Our first painting location was in the Petit France riverside district of Strasbourg. We purchased coffee and pastries at this outdoor cafe and settled in for a few hours of painting. Joe circulated among us, offering suggestions or just listening to our concerns. I tried to capture the row of timbered houses along the river. Save your critique for the evening. . .
At the end of the day we all met back in the barge lounge for drinks and Joe's critique--with comments from others as well. Luckily the wine was always excellent and his suggestions were very helpful. Notice all the painters clutching their day's work and waiting for their time at the easel! My work presented quite a challenge for Joe at first and then he started comparing my "style"(lol) to that of Raoul Dufy. I was quite puffed up with that comparison and inspired to do a pen and ink copy of his Interiors with an Open Window! Can you not see what Joe was saying??
As the sun set and the critiques and wine flowed, the barge kept tooling down the canal to our moorings for the night. This particularly lovely evening we were moored in the village of Hochfelden. The windows of the dining room were open and a giant grey schnauzer waited on the dock for a taste of the chef's excellent veal marsala. Mr. Schnauzer, however, didn't care for the chef's garnish, leaving it on the dock for a less handsome panhandler. . .
Enough painting and barging for today. I'll continue this vacation tale later in the week, if you want more. For now, be sure to check out other Fun Monday vacation spots at Alison's Place .