Painting in Tarascon and Ussat

 In my last entry in this diary I was writing about a painting day in Saint-Lizier. Our next destination on our trip back home to Spain through Andorra was planned to be the famous town of Foix, but as we crossed it, we were unable to find a place to park. We went on and on, so far that eventually we were far away from Foix and we both didn’t fancy going back and searching again. I was very frustrated, I must admit, as what I had seen from the town was fabulous, and I really wanted to paint it. Well, this will be for another time…

So we drove a little bit further and arrived to Tarascon sur Ariège, which we found nice enough to have a stop , sketch a little bit and spend the night.

We parked the Boomobile in a nice place along the river and rode to the town.  Tarascon is formed by the union of the lower city – at the confluence of the Ariège and Vicdessos – and an upper town, once fortified, which leans against a hill surmounted by a tower. So of course we had to leave the bikes at the bottom, as, even worse for me than to climb a hill on a bike, is pulling a bike up the hill. Being quite small, it is not really easy…

I remember an incredibly lovely and very old lady, in the centre of the upper town. As I was drinking water from the fountain in the middle of the square, she called me and explained to me with many smiles where everything was to look at, and how to go there. She really made my day, and I thought how much I wished to be like her when I am really old, all smiley and open to everything new.

Next morning first thing, the sun was so beautifully shining and the region seem so lovely that we decided to have a little bike ride before heading to Spain. We originally wanted to follow the path along the river, being quite sure there wouldn’t be hills to go up. I don’t like hills  when I am on my bike. Not that I am lazy, in fact I do love physical challenge and efforts, and I am quite fit, but there  is something about climbing a hill on a bike which seems to be too hard for my little heart. Anyway somehow we lost the river and the path and ended climbing up a hill to the little town of Ussat.

We stopped a little while there, the time used for me to rest from the climbing effort, and to make some pencil sketches in my watercolour travel pad. As usual I would add the colours later on in the Boomobile, somehow trying to remember how it looked like there but most likely letting myself be carried away from realistic colours!

Looking at these two paintings, I would say that my taste that day was quite pinky… I doubt the house there were really pink, but does it really matter? It looks nice to me!

We then left the town, rolling down the hill, towards the lower part of Ussat, called Ussat-Les-Bains. A nice place with amazingly much activity. Curious, I just had a little look about it in the Wikipedia

“…From 1771 , Ornolac Ussat-Les-Bains is known for its beneficial water sources. But it is the Baron Louis de Ornolac fraxin develops thermal activity in Ussat-les-Bains. Great personalities will visit Ussat to cures the King of Holland, Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon 1st and the poet Lamartine.

In 1845, Ussat-les-Bains know a large crowd and the Great Baths classified today become a very busy place. The baths are the property of the Hospices de Pamiers until 1982 . Today, private owners try to revive the thermal activity…”

I wished I had known all that when I was there, I certainly would have felt emotional about it…

Anyway, we rode a little bit further away, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and finally rode back home along the river. We then had a well-deserved milk coffee in the Boomobile, and then we had to leave, this time seriously heading toward Andorra without any more stops between.

These land- and townscapes from Tarascon and Ussat, as well as many others from France, are currently available as Giclee prints in different dimensions, on paper, canvas and metal, as well as greeting cards. Just click on the painting above to access my shop online.

The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffener.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the price does not include packing&shipping)

Dawn after Dawn…

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Dawn 25 – Watercolour by Miki

Some of my new, or simply new published watercolour lose paintings from the series

“Times of The Day”

They are the kind of paintings which most relax me or calm me down when i need it… to me they are pure

PEACE…

I painted the one above, Dawn 25, very early this morning, in fact at dawn, after my partner left in the middle of the night to fly to a gig to Germany. After he left I could not sleep anymore, and I saw that wonderful day arising from behind our mountains…

Dawn 27 – Watercolour by Miki

And this one had been painted in 2007 according to the date written above my signature… I don’t remember where the inspiration came from. But judging by the little simple white house behind the pink trees, certainly from somewhere in Spain…

Both, as usual, are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the images themselves or on the widgets below to access my FAA Gallery

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The Fantascapes: Alternate Treeality

Fantascape “Celebration of Life” – by Miki

I have regularly been asked to make more of my Fantascapes artworks available as prints, but in the last few weeks the interest has become so great that it has seen me forced to take some steps in this direction. I am such a Diva, you know, I need to be begged…  But it is not only the Diva factor in play. The process of redoing the Fantascapes is complicated and the success is not always guaranteed. The Fantascapes were the result of some spontaneous experiments mixing classical and digital art, but initially I had not the intention to sell them and worked on very small files, which is why they were not available at the outset.

But well, I cannot resist the demand any more now, and I have decided to try to redo some, in a format and size that make them available as prints.

But first, let me go back to the story of the Fantascapes.

I have a wonderful sister-in-law called Isabelle, She is herself a painter, she lives in Paris and adores to come to Spain to paint our mountains and trees here. We spent many of her holidays in the Spanish fields together, painting among the Olive and almond trees in front of these weird Spanish mountains which seem to stand on old elephant legs…

Last time we painted together it was  in January 2008, on the Costa Blanca, The almond trees were just blossoming, a real feast for the eyes! Day after day we went to the same place at the entrance of a charming village called “Altea La Vieja”, installed our tables and paints and brushes and pads, and started painting trees and mountains. Now, those who know me, know that I can paint trees and mountains with deep pleasure for a while, but not again and again and again! In this point Isabelle and me are totally different characters, she can paint the same subject day after day, and with increasing pleasure and dedication.. It always amazes me, and I often wondered  what that says about our souls… I guess what it says about me is that I am a restless character! And perhaps that Isabelle needs roots?

Now Isabelle had arrived specifically from Paris to paint the blossoming almond trees, and I couldn’t let her down. I had to find a way to curb my restlessness. One evening I spoke with an artist friend in the USA about that problem, and she advised me to try to see it differently and make something else out of the scenery. Next morning as I sat in front of the trees, I searched for an alternative reality switch in my brain… and I found it! Suddenly the trees started to look different, on the way to humanisation…

Yes, suddenly the trees started to look like people… most of the time though like people in despair, or at least in a dramatic situation…

and I was so confused and also excited by all these weird people inhabiting the fields that I even forgot to paint their blossoms! I guess they would look less dramatic without them!

Anyway, these days were the start of an immense artistic adventure. For a while my brain was totally switched, I couldn’t look at a tree in nature without seeing people, and soon even all other nature elements started to look human, the rocks, the flowers… well, I started at some point that series called “The Fantascapes”, technical variations of the initial watercolour and pastel sketches of people-trees which was the start of many new series, which, I must say, brought me a lot of success and good money, not to be sniffed at! I often think how that adventure began, through boredom in fact, and I am so glad that my restless character, always in search of “the new”, does not allow me to stop too long… in fact, I was never one to take roots somewhere, this might be the deeper reason!

So here I am 4 years later, ready to go into that “Alternate Treeality” again.. Last week I already started to rework the Fantascapes. Some will be a kind of remake of the old ones, some others will be rather new.

Fantascape “Expulsion” – by Miki

Also, inspired by the price that the painting “The Scream” has reached lately, I have done a modern version of it. Well, to be honest, it was not really my intention, that tree suddenly appeared on the painting screaming like hell! But let’s see now if I can get 100 million  for it  before I die!

Fantascape “The Scream 02” – by Miki

If you are interested in following me through this new Treeality, just check from time to time my FAA Fantascapes FAA Gallery

“Celebration of Life” and the new Fantascapes “Expulsion” and “The Scream” – and some others too – are already available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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The Last Post

Watercolour painting - by Miki

I mentioned it earlier this week, we leave today on a six-week trip.

Destinations: Cyprus and Crete.

I have never been to either of these places, so loving everything new,  I am quite excited . Of course we live in a wonderful place, and I would not need to travel very far to find great motifs, but one knows how it is: one does not look at home with the same curious eyes, the brain works in a very different way. When I am somewhere else, my brain is in acute discovery mode and my hand wants to paint everything my eyes see.

And if contemplative immobility does not overrule artistic eagerness, I should come back with loads of sketches to share.

Close Encounter of The Fourth Kind - Watercolour, by Miki

Time to make the last travel preparations now, the most important being: making sure that I have all my painting stuff,watercolours, pens, sketch books. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take my watercolour tubes to refill the pans,  as security at the airports would take them away. Well, this gives me an idea… I could take 2 tubes:  of the probably most needed colours there, yellow for the sun and blue for the sea… and put them in my toilet bag among deodorant, tooth paste, mascara and so on! It would at least make the bag look much more attractive!

So, I will say Bye Bye for now… I wish you -and Kevin and me!- a great time, and see you again at the end of April… with a new post!  🙂

As usual, these artworks are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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And if you are bored, you can have a browse through my Enchanted World, plenty of artistic magic there!… just click on the image below. , there is loads to check out !

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The Albufera de Valencia in Spain 02

Albufera de Valencia 10 - Watercolour and ink, by Miki

Some more paintings from my trip to the Albufera de Valencia in 2004. But no time to add text to the sketches today, so l will let them speak for themselves. Anyway these landscapes radiate so much peace – better to keep silent and enjoy.

Albufera de Valencia 16 - Watercolour and ink, by Miki

Albufera de Valencia 25 - Watercolour and ink, by Miki

Now I have to start preparing our 6 weeks trip, at least mentally,  the most difficult part being to make the choices of the right clothes, the right hardware and much more important: the right painting material. We will be on 6 different flights altogether – Kevin even more and he will have to go back to England for a gig in the middle of the holidays- and to avoid long check-in and luggage waiting time in all the airports, we have decided to travel solely with hand luggage: a big challenge for 6 weeks! Not my favourite challenge though, I hate to have to choose which painting material and sketching books I take with me. You can be sure that I will always be missing something important there! And when I try to find an art supply shop abroad, in places I don’t know, it takes me so long that my lust to paint is gone when I find it… if I find it: usually I give up before!

As usual, these artworks are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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I have much more paintings from the Albufera. If you want to see them all, and also many more paintings from other regions from Spain, simply click on the picture below.

Miki's Spain Sketches and Paintings Gallery

Back To My German Past

Reute in Germany - by Miki

Once upon a time I was living in Germany. It is a long story how I ended living up there, after having being born in the French Pyrenees and spending my youth in different parts of France. But it is thanks to an encounter in Spain with a German physics student that this could happen. Back to France after the Spanish holiday, I packed the most necessary things and escaped from Toulouse, the southern French town where I was studying at that time. I didn’t tell anybody, being much too scared that they would try to stop me. I was always a very impulsive person, especially where guys were involved, and nobody should cross my path when I’m making my move!

Anyway, this is how my life in Germany started, in the wonderful university town of Goettingen, where I studied maths and physics, without knowing one word of German. My God, when I think about myself sometimes, and the things I did, and still do, I really get dizzy… frankly I must have some balls somewhere!!!!  🙂

It is in Goettingen that I also took up art and writing again. Another guy, another long story…

There were other milestones in my German life, but before I definitively moved to Spain I lived in a lovely little town called Reute, next to Freiburg, in The Black Forest. I had just decided to dedicate myself entirely to art, giving up my mathematician career. In those days I spent much time sketching. Sketching everything: landscapes, people in the cafes, children in swimming pools, animals, stuff … my new artist’s eyes fell in love with everything I saw!

Unfortunately I have hardly anything left from the work I did at that time, I left everything back in Germany, auf niemals wiedersehen…. But recently, just before the Joe Bonamassa gig, we went to empty my house near Benidorm and luckily I found some of these sketches done in Germany there, around the year 2000. It was an in-between time where I spent half of the year in Germany, and the other half in Spain, before I moved to Spain for good. The painting above is one of them. It features the place next door to where I lived in Reute. In fact it is originally a black and white ink drawing, but I thought it might be nicer in colour, so I just water coloured it. Unfortunately I don’t remember the colours of the roofs, houses  or the church there, so I went with my fantasy. As you can see, at this point the houses in my drawings were not dancing yet, as they used to do in my  sketches of Portugal for example. Perhaps due to the fact that I hadn’t found out yet that houses can dance… or more probably that German houses don’t really like to dance! One should give them some beer, I guess  🙂

You can see a stork on the roof of the church. I loved the storks up there, directly in front of my atelier window. I spent much time watching them, listening to them and even sketching them. Here is a watercolour, based on one of these sketches

Stork on top of the church of Reute - by Miki

I know that some of my followers here love to see where exactly are the places I mention, so here is Reute on the Google map

Reute in Germany

As I said, I started sketching much outside in Germany. I had always a sketching book and a pen with me, wherever I went. Some of the sketches have annotations on them, stuff which happened to me while I was painting in the nature. Here is an example of words written on one of the sketches (in German though):

“An old lady saw me drawing and came to me. She smiled at me, and without looking in my book she asked

“Are you doing a lovely drawing?”

“Well, I am trying…”

Reading these words, I remember now how much I appreciated the German people … they were always very discreet when they saw me sketching. Never tried to have a look behind my back, always very polite and discreet, and staying at a respectable distance, not invading my private space. And so happy to see me painting their lovely landscapes, houses and storks!

So, I think it is enough for now. I will probably dedicate some more posts to my German time, having now some sketching material to publish. My next post should be about Cafe Life, in and around Reute… be prepared to see some big jugs of beer!

These artworks are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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Friar’s Point on The Mississippi River

Church in Friar's Point - by Miki

Searching for some earlier painting for which I had received an order, I came across two sketches I did on-site in the USA, in the Winter of 2010, both in ink and watercolour. It was an extremely cold winter, and I hardly did any sketching outside on that trip. And when we came back, I probably thought that these 2 from Friar’s point were not good enough to be published. But seeing them again, I feel that they are quite lovely, and perhaps some people in the world, originally from that town or having spent some time there, might enjoy seeing them.

As I did them we were on our way from Memphis to New Orleans, and spent 2 days in Clarksdale, exploring the town itself and the surroundings. We were especially interested in The Mississippi Blues Trail, trying to see as many markers as possible. Friars Point had been honoured by the Mississippi Blues Commission which placed a historic marker for Robert Lee ‘Nighthawk’ McCollum, otherwise known as Robert Nighthawk. And this is how we came to Friar’s point. We enjoyed the trip, although Friar’s point as itself seems like a weird place to me, a little bit scary even. We Europeans are not used to such kinds of villages. Our villages are cosy somehow, and the houses really give the impression that they and their inhabitants are living together… it was so different there. It seemed to me that each house was by itself… well, in fact, I got that impression very often in the USA, probably they have so much space there that they don’t need to build their houses on top of each other! But we did meet very lovely people there, eager to speak to us and help us, one lady in particular who stopped in her car and urged us to explore her village, full of pride.

Oh, wow! I have just read that a tornado hit Friar’s point in April 2011. This really does give me goosebumps, and makes me SAD! I can only hope that there was not too much damage… “tornado”, to my European ears, sound like BIG BIG DANGER…  I don’t like it! I hope the church and the red barn are still standing… and if not, at least they still exist in my gallery!

Red Barn in Friar's Point - by Miki

The paintings above are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widgets below to access my FAA store

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Turre in Spain

Turre 01 - by Miki

In my last post presenting you places where I have been travelling and sketching -in that case Sorbas- I mentioned that I had hardly painted Turre, where I actually live in Andalusia, Spain. It is not quite true. I found some sketches featuring Turre, although the town is more in the background, as a white silhouette.  Well, better than nothing actually, especially because Turre in silhouette is very nice,!. It is anyway nice to see where the town is situated, between the mountains and the sea.

Map of Turre, Andalusia, Spain

We are 4 kilometres away from the Mediterranean sea, and at the foot of the Cabrera mountain range. “It is built along the “Rio Aguas”, which by the way means “The River Waters”.  Typical Spanish: the only waters we see in that river is when we have some rare torrential rains, but most of the time the only things that flow along it are herds of goats and sheep wandering around! Very lovely though…  🙂

The sketch below was painted on our way to Sorbas, Turre being the white townscape in the background.

Turre 02 – by Miki

Like many of my travel sketches from that period (2007-2008), it is done in ink and pastel chalk. But I have also a watercolour interpretation of that scenery, Very different as you can see, but still the same place. Amazing in fact how the technique and the colours can give a totally different impression of a place!

Dawn in Turre - by Miki

And concerning watercolour, I also found  the following one. I can’t remember having painted it, neither where nor when. But on the painting itself, by the signature,  is written 2008, and behind I wrote “Turre”. So it is certainly some place I saw here, probably a lonely house somewhere at the outskirts of Turre. I quite like the painting, although it is perhaps not really representative of Spanish scenery. But does that really matter? Not to me!

And finally a piece called, “Dollhouse in turre”, inspired by a beautiful house very close to Turre, and a little girl whom I saw sitting there on the doorstep one day.

Doll House in Turre - by Miki

That painting was by the way, chosen for the cover of the August edition of our wonderful local magazine, “The Sentinella”. Always a big honour to be featured there! By the way The Sentinella appears every month as a printed edition (great quality by the way, worth collecting!), but also online.  Also because my partner, the great musician, artist and ranter  KEV MOORE,  is featured there every month, being the magazine cartoonist, and also having a regular column called “Want some Moore?”, where he sounds off about everything that gets on his nerves, and believe me, that’s a lot! 🙂

The Sentinella – August Edition

These paintings are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widgets below to access my FAA store

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Sorbas in Spain

Sorbas 02 - by Miki

I have presented loads of travel sketches from many different countries in this blog , but if I remember well, I never published paintings from the town where I live (Turre) and the surrounding area here. I love to draw landscapes and townscapes, but as usual, although we live in a lovely little town with spectacular mountains and sea views, I have hardly ever painted it. But I did a few artworks featuring of some the neighbouring places.

Today I will bring you to Sorbas, a typical Spanish little town about 20 kilometres south of us,  a bit further away from the sea

Map of Sorbas in Spain

Unfortunately I don’t remember much about the place, except that there were plenty of painting motifs. I remember though that we were there on a market day, but it was quite near the end and there was only some small stalls left on the town square, and hardly anybody around. I still found the motif very nice and painted it on the sketch above, choosing some pale yellow light to increase the nostalgic atmosphere. In fact it is very representative of many rural Spanish towns which have been quite deserted by the youth. Although judging by the numbers mentioned in Wikipedia, the population has hardly changed in the last 10 years, about 2800 people. Well, perhaps it was deserted before…

The main part of the  town is built on a hill, hanging houses always being a very attractive motif for me. On the sketch below you can see Sorbas, the white townscape in the background, viewed from the main street leading to it

Sorbas 01 – by Miki

I seem to remember that I did more sketches that day, but I can’t find them any more. I need to go back there one day and paint again. It shouldn’t be a problem considering the distance, but as always, “close to home” seems so unreachable. I travel thousands and thousands of kilometres to see and paint beautiful places, forgetting the jewels we have here… it is a little bit like the story of Don Quijote and his Dulcinea, isn’t it ?

All sketches presented here have been painted on the site, in ink and pastel chalk.

These paintings are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widgets below to access my FAA store

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And more generally you can see all the stuff I paint by going to my gallery “Miki’s Enchanted World”

Monpazier in the Perigord

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Monpazier 01 – by Miki

Sometimes, when I need a creative break, I go back to my collection of travel sketches from recent years and work on them. Well, “work” is a too big a word. I simply refresh them a little bit, scan, photograph and publish them. I have a huge amount of unpublished works, or at least not published in a way which makes them available to the public. Travel sketches are an important part of my artistic work, probably because they are the most emotional ones, the ones to which I always associate wonderful memories. They are really attached to magic moments of my travelling life, and always when I go back to them, I start feeling quite nostalgic -which is certainly not a strong characteristic mark of me, as I never look towards the past- and above all, I feel like I want to go, to be on the road again.

My travel sketches are also important for my business life, people love to buy paintings from places where they have lived or been on their holidays. I am always glad when people in the world can relive great moments of their lives thanks to my art.

Recently I stumbled upon a series of sketches from the Perigord, which we visited for one week some years ago on our trip up to Scotland. We loved that part of France, and really, we need to go back there and explore it more fully. It is certainly worth a trip in itself.

Today I will present here sketches from the charming town Monpazier,  a commune in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwest France.

Wikipedia:

“… Monpazier is an ancient bastide town from the 13th century. It was home to Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard II of England for a time. Nearby is the Château du Biron and the Dordogne River….”

Monpazier 05 – by Miki

Typical houses from Monpazier….

Monpazier 03 – by Miki

All the sketches presented in this post are done on the site, in ink and pastel chalk. All  in my personal impressionist style:  when I say “Impressionist”, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. I just mean that they are impressions of the places, not being a slave to details and not supposed to be accurate. They are much more the artistic representation of my emotional reactions and interpretations of the sites.

These paintings are available directly online as Giclee prints in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widgets below to access my FAA store

Sell Art Online

Art Prints

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And more generally you can see all the stuff I paint by going to my gallery “Miki’s Enchanted World”