This is a continuation of my report on our plein air adventure with a home base at this castle in France. Read part 1 here.
On the evening of Day 4 the castle chef had the night off, so we had dinner at a beautiful riverside restaurant in Creyssac. On the way home I noticed a stunning view across the field, so we painted there the next morning, on Day 5. It was one of my favorite locations.
Morning Fields in Creyssac, 10 x 14 original watercolor, painted en plein air in France. SOLD
There were also some non-painters in the group who chose to go to Riberac Market that morning. Here are some photos from that location:
On Day 6 we started the morning painting a simple countryside scene at the foot of the drive heading up to the castle. It was an absolutely beautiful morning to be painting outdoors. I showed participants some tips and tricks for loosening up and painting fresh and free in watercolor. Everyone loved the simplicity of painting just countryside (see my notes on painting in Switzerland next summer!).
(I love the French countryside so much! Jeff and I also set up our easels along the roadside one morning before the workshop began. This is my little painting overlooking the walnut groves near Montgrier.)
Walnut Grove and Village outside Montgrier, 10 x 14 original watercolor, painted en plein air in France.
We spent the afternoon traipsing around Perigeux, the largest city in the region. It was pouring rain, so we took refuge in a beautiful cathedral and didn't get to paint. But the city was inspiring and I will definitely be back.
Then it was back to the castle for a final critique of each day's work, one last meal in the big dining room, and one more royal sleep in our posh rooms.
Only a handful of those who joined me on this adventure were already my students and good friends, while the majority I was meeting here at the castle for the first time. But here's the castle's (and the group's) real magic: We may have started out as strangers, but we left as treasured friends.
What people are saying:
Being with you and the group in France was a highlight for me. Thank you so much for organizing that adventure. -- Nancy S.
Miss it all! [My husband] asked, "When are we going again?!" -- Laurlyn B.
My girls had the BEST time in France with you! Thanks for such a great experience!!
-- Tiffany R.
What a wonderful group! Thanks to Miles...for sharing this spectacular home. And Jana and Jeff...we felt privileged to share this week. -- Tani B.
I can't say thank you enough for creating a dream come true for us! -- Julie S.
...This adventure was beyond all expectations...I learned so much, on so many levels (much thanks to you) and it is all living in my heart and hopefully will be in practice.
-- Phyllis B.
Chateau Marouatte, built in the 12th century, is a perfect spot for artists.
We're back from our fairytale painting trip to France...and the castle exceeded our every expectation! We lived in the lap of luxury, sleeping in a suite decorated with period antiques, tapestries, and more. Castle owner Miles Copeland was a delightful, knowledgeable, and entertaining host, sharing a wealth of stories and history about the castle and its surrounding areas. Every day we ventured out to picturesque towns in the countryside to paint. We set up our easels on the banks of the Dronne River in Bourdeilles, across the river from a mill in Brantome, in a field in Creyssac looking up at the village, and more. When we returned to the castle, there was so much to see and enjoy, including a swimming pool, tennis and badminton, walks in the woods...in addition to every little detail on the castle grounds. And then the chef presented us with a beautiful 3-course meal every night. Late in the evening we'd drift off to sleep, dreaming of the magical day that lay ahead.
Bridge at Bourdeilles, 10 x 14, original watercolor, painted en plein air in France.
Our first outing was to the lovely town of Bourdeilles. After our painting session we had lunch at a local restaurant, toured the castle at Bourdeilles, then returned to the castle where we were staying.
The next day we went to another lovely town: Brantome (called the Venice of France). It rained our whole way there, and then magically lifted as soon as we found our spot to point. This was a town I definitely could have spent another afternoon! We ate lunch in a beautiful restaurant, then toured the abbey and caves before heading back to the castle.
Mill on the Dronne, Brantome, 10 x 14, original watercolor, painted en plein air in France.
Our third day out was filled with multiple adventures. It rained in the morning, so I taught an impromptu lesson in the salon of the castle, then we toured the Grotte de Villars caves, complete with prehistoric paintings, visited some 11th century abbey ruins, where there was a potential painting lurking around every corner, and had lunch in the picturesque town of St Jean de Cole. (Yes, the sky really was that blue!)
When we went back to the castle I led everyone through an abstract exercise using water-soluble graphite, painting from memory some of the rhythms, colors and textures we saw in the caves, where no photographs were allowed. At the caves I also saw examples of some of the minerals found in the caves, many of which are in my personally curated France/Europe palette, underscoring my belief that using mineral pigments adds additional authenticity to your landscapes. (Tiger's Eye, Amethyst, and Amazonite and Bronzite, to name just a few.)
Click here for part 2 of our artistic adventure in France!
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.