Saturday, 13 June 2009
Here's a recommendation for anyone traveling in France. Buy a copy of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, available in English as The Most Beautiful Villages in France. Make sure you and always have it with you. If you don't, you could miss out on several gems in country piled high with precious stones as far as tourist attractions are concerned. We have an old copy which was printed in association with The Readers Digest. Most of you will remember The RD, which is still one of America's largest selling monthly publications, and, at one time it was almost the only thing to read while waiting for the doctor or the dentist. Some of you may remember it's reputation for hounding subscribers to the grave - quite often literally beyond the grave. (New subscription material would arrive for many months long after the addressee was dead).
The point of this rather garbled introduction is that, when traveling in France, these beautiful sites are sometimes the best option when looking for overnight accommodation. So you need to know where they are.
The two above are Larresingle (in the Gers) and Vianne (in the Lot-et-Garonne). Both are nearby, but if you are ever nearby, don't stay in either of them. Rather come to us at La Petite Galerie in Mezin. And we'll take you there and show you around. We could even go there to paint if you like.
Friday, 12 June 2009
To coincide with a televised mass in St Jean-Baptiste a few years ago, I decided to mount an exhibition of paintings and drawings of churches. When I looked at the material I had amassed over the last ten years, I was amazed to find that the tally was well over sixty works with some kind of religious building in them. The point is that it’s almost impossible to paint or draw anything in any village in France without a church appearing in the resulting composition.
St Jean-Baptiste is a fine example of France’s rich heritage of medieval church architecture, which ranges from small Romanesque chapels to Great Gothic cathedrals like Chartres or Notre Dame de Paris.
I can see the church quite clearly from my studio window on the third floor of La Petite Galerie, and I have painted the view across the roofs of Mezin many times in watercolour or acrylic.
Coming from Australia, it constantly amazes me to think that the church is 800 years older than the oldest building in the antipodes.
If you’d like to paint or draw the view from my studio window, why not consider an art holiday chez nous?
For more information please send an email to:
(Click on "Contact Us").
Posted by Ray Johnstone at 10:34
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
REVISITING OLD SUBJECTS
On a recent holiday in Tassie (2009), I went back to draw again at the exact spot at the old convict settlement of Port Arthur where, in 1989, I’d painted a water colour study for a work I had in mind.
This was eventually worked into the much larger, acrylic painting of my family (above). As you can see I incorporated the colour sketch of Smith O’Brian’s cottage into the composition, along with a nude “painting of a painting” I had done of Lynne when we were living in Johannesburg, and I also added portraits of my three kids.
Please send comments on this or any other art matters to by going to:
Then click on "Contact Us".
Posted by Ray Johnstone at 19:43
NUDES - A LITTLE BIT OF SELF INDULGENCE
Please forgive the following homespun philosophical musing on painting and drawing nudes. (So, if you don't like reading about or seeing nude paintings, please go to another listing).
Along with portraits, they are my favorite subjects.
But not that easy to achieve. There are lots of practical problems for the artist.
You can imagine the local's response to an elderly (some would say "old") Anglo Saxon male trying to mount an exhibition of nude paintings here in Mezin, an isolated medieval village in La France Profonde. Whether I tried to exhibit male, female (or like the coiffures signs that advertise "mixed") nudes, there is every possibility of finding myself shunned - even ostracized - by the wonderfully warm, welcoming, but very conservative villagers.
(Just bye the way, these attitudes are by no means restricted to country people. When I was living in Melbourne, there was a huge outcry when the National Gallery of Victoria wanted to show some of Robert Mapplethorpe's internationally renowned nude photographs. And when I was working at Myer, the huge Australian department store group, a Biblical David hid behind his proverbial fig leaf when, in a small version of Michelangelo's famous sculpture, he found himself being stared at by shoppers when exhibited in one of the Bourke Street store's windows.)
Without wanting to make a meal of this subject, there is also the problem of finding a model. Lynne has posed for me ever since we first met - clothes on and clothes off - but now refuses to do so for so many reasons. But I don’t have the time or space to list them all here. The point is, if I risked casting a wider net and tried to find a male or female who was willing to pose for me in the nude, I believe the brouhaha it would cause amongst the locals could get me drummed out of town definitivement.
So, with not many options, but using my imagination, I produced this (rather androgynous looking) female nude.
If anyone cares to comment (or you would like to see more nudes I’ve painted) send emails to:
Then click on "Contact Us".
The same applies if you would like more information on the "learn to paint and draw" holidays we run in sunny southwest France.
Posted by Ray Johnstone at 15:35