As a distraction from the biblical winds and rain we are having in Devon this winter, I sometimes reminisce about my visits to L’Age Baston last year. I had the pleasure of soaking up a whole four weeks of sunshine, good food and company, with inspirational artwork from lovely students thrown in. Amongst the highlights I remember are several hilarious games of croquet (greatly influenced by hockey and golf), closely followed by a Mad Hatters Tea Party with the Bordeaux served in tea pots, plus delicious magic potions and curiously attractive cubed eggs of many colours! There is always something about staying at Chateau L’Age Baston that strikes a welcome chord.
It was good to see familiar faces again and lovely also to meet artists new to L’Age Baston but just as keen to pursue interesting ideas and techniques in their painting. We used a mighty range of mediums and styles; from pen and ink to pastels and everything else in between and grappled with an equally diverse range of subjects. The interior of the chateau is a honey-pot for us artists with it’s constant challenge of inviting perspectives being ‘not quite what they seem’. There is an outstanding collection of entrances and doorways that inspired some lovely studies in watercolour last year. Then there is that wonderful avenue of trees beside the pigeonierre (itself an almost irresistible temptation) – such a great place to sit on a hot and sunny afternoon to capture the dappled sunlight.
I remember the architectural artichokes too, one had to be quick to capture them on paper before they ended up in the kitchen and then on the dinner table. Then there were Aiden’s boots, the salt glaze wine jugs, the old plough and all the other “objets trouves” left in the studio. Not to mention MiMi (the cat) who, as a willing model curled up on a cushion, prefers not to be disturbed!
As if this wasn’t enough, we visited the bustling market in Piegut Pluviers and went down into La Rochefoucauld to sketch rooftops, the river and the ‘other’ Chateau. We also had a day out with a picnic in picturesque Brantome to sketch the charming buildings and abbey set by the river Dronne.
Back in the UK, I’m currently busy teaching several local art groups and tackling a challenging set of subjects including life drawing and portraiture. I shall also be participating in Devon Open Studios again and in July, I will be returning for my tenth year as Artist in Residence at the Ways With Words literary festival at Dartington. It’s a wonderful opportunity to capture figures and portrait studies whilst listening to the power of language and ideas.
Of course I will also be back at L’Age Baston again in June and September, and I am very much looking forward to another few weeks of helping my students follow their own paths through the wonderful pastime of painting and drawing. So I hope you will come and join me in what will also be my 10th year teaching at L’Age Baston for an artistic journey with all the colours, shapes and tones that the chateau most certainly provides.