Friday, July 22, 2016
"Aosta Valley Dusk", Marsan, Italian Alp's. 30x60 cm, oil on canvas, $850.
We are all quite tired from our nearly 2 month journey abroad. Everyone would rather sit and read a book instead of going to see a 14th century castle. Still we perceiver. We drove up into Cogne yesterday, an amazing town in a small valley between dramatic mountains. Meadows lead to hiking trails that lead to waterfalls. After some trout, suckling pig and veal we headed for the Lillaz waterfall. It was just a short walk amongst wildflowers and butterfly's eating a few wild strawberries and taking pictures at every turn. Then back to read more books while I painted this from the back porch of our flat in Marsan.
"Fénis from Marsan", Aosta Valley, Italy. 18x24cm, oil on wood panel, $280.
No, that's not a misspelling. We made it to God's Country, the Alps! Such an amazing change of landscape from our mostly Mediterranean adventure. We took a train from Moneglia to Turin so that we could rent a car and drive up here. The train was delayed from the beginning... Then got delayed more along the way. We thought we where going to have to stay in Turin for the night b/c Europcar said they'd close at 6:00. After some debate we decided to take a taxi to the office even though it was 6:10. This would of been our first detour and missed schedule if they where not there. Not bad for 2 months travel we consoled ourselves. A few nervous minutes later, Julie ran from the taxi and checked the door. Locked.... But then they buzzed her in. Whew! 1.5 hours later our Fiat Panda rolled into our friends time share with this view. Sweet victory!
Thursday, July 21, 2016
"Mount Emilius", Marson, Aosta Valley, Italy. 24x18 cm, oil on wood panel, $280.
As much as I wanted to sleep in the view was calling me. I started the coffee and set up my gear on the porch. I love mountains. It's one of my great joys in life to paint them. This little spot in the Italian Alp's Aosta Valley has so many to choose from. I could spend a lifetime here and never get bored. Fast moving clouds kept moving the illuminated areas to and fro. A little church tower grabbed the sunlight, pointing to the magnificent peak above. A thousand miracles in a few minutes. I'm lucky to be alive and observing. The real goal of my paintings is to learn and to teach myself and you. Some subjects can be painted boldly while others needed to be caressed. I felt I had I nice warm hug around this one.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
"Vernazza Morning with Trail", 50x100cm, oil on canvas, $2200.
We where supposed to be heading to Venice but our kids where totally burned out after 5 weeks. They certainly had enough of hot, crowded cities. So we decided to extend our stay on the Ligurian Coast in Moneglia. It's a great beach town with 90% Italian people walking the streets. A refreshing change to be off the typical tourist track. The first day here though, I ran down to the train station at 6am to get back to Vernazza and paint this. I had the place to myself till mid morning until the droves of hikers started coming by. I was back in Moneglia by 3:00 to enjoy a Spritz at the local bar.
"Corniglia Coast at Sunrise", Cinque Terre, Italy. 24x30 cm, acrylic on canvas, $280.
We have been on Italian time for the past weeks. That means taking a siesta, then eating dinner late, walking back to our apartments with Gelato by 11ish. Then winding down takes an hour and our kids absolutely have to read or do their join aka before sleeping. So if the lights are of by 12:30 we're lucky. Since the sun rises before 6am I haven't gotten up to capture enough of them. Since we where leaving Manarola this day, I had to do one if the coast going north towards the next town. I hiked up the terraces through a few vineyards and was completely alone for a couple hours. I had only the birds and the crashing waves with me. Every time I do muster the strength to do this, I always wonder why I'm not doing it more often. Oh yea, I need to sleep.
Friday, July 15, 2016
"Manarola Shores", Cinque Terre, Italy. 24x18 cm, acrylic on canvas, $150.
We had a picnic dinner of Italian veggies, meats and cheeses. A couple bottles of our favorite wine and frizzante for the kids. The frizzante mineral water was €2 and a bottle of our wine was €2.70. It really didn't make sense to drink water. We ate and chilled, the kids played in the park as we soaked in a Mediterranean sunset. A nice break from pasta and spending €90 for dinner at a restaurant.
"Manarola Late Afternoon", Cinque Terre, Italy. 40x80cm, acrylic on canvas, $1400.
One of the nicest things about Manarola is the outcrop of the terrace that affords this great view back to the town. There is also a great kids park and picnic area. If that wasn't enough there is an amazing bar. We spent a couple nights getting fun drinks for kids and adults while eating charcuterie and watching the view. As I was finishing this painting, I was parched, so I went down the stairs to get a "take away" martini. Never had one of those before. Then I got to finish the painting in style, mingling with travelers and enjoying the place.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
"Vernassa Colors", Cinque Terre, Italy. 40x60 cm, oil on canvas, sold.
I left the apartment early while Julie watch the kids. A short train ride from Manarola is Vernazza, a little bigger and equally picturesque. My friends asked me for this particular view and I was anxious not to disappoint. I made my way up the trail and found a little shade behind the toll booth. The attendant was cool and said I could kick it there w/o having to pay the toll. It costs money to hike between towns here. Either I was lucky or they built the buildings at just the right angle to be shaded from the midmorning sun. It was hot clear and calm, like so many days here before. Hundreds of people walking by from every country all cheering me on. It was the best spot to paint on my trip in terms of view, friendliness and magic! Afterwards I got to jump off the rocks into the cool green water with he kids, then we ate lunch at the cafe just below the castle tower.
"Crown of Manarola near Sunset", Cinque Terre, Italy. 30x40 cm, oil on canvas board, $350.
What a relief to be on the coast again! And in one of the most picturesque places on Earth. We are staying in the village of Manarola, a short walk up from the train station and on the steps of the trail that connects this village to the next one. Our first afternoon here we ran down to the little cove for swimming and jumping from the rocks. Julie into diced herself to a Medusa(jelly fish that stings painfully.) The rest of our time here we where super cautious and aware of their presence. That evening I hiked up the hill and got this view of the top of Manarola. As I was hiking by a tourist had hiked down a little path to have his girlfriend take a picture of him. I walked by and thought not s great place to be, with a 20ft drop. I was already past them and I heard a grunt and a Yelp. I turned and saw he had fallen off the ledge! He was hanging by a thin rope panicking trying to get some footing with no success. His girlfriend, was clambering down the trail in high heels, still holding her selfie stick. I ran back caught his arm and pulled him up. He said in a thick Chinese accent, "my hero, my hero!"
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
"Typically Tuscan Hillside", Florence. 18x24 cm, acrylic on canvas board, $140
I couldn't paint this fast enough as I was looking forward to a cold shower and sitting directly in front on the AC unit with an ice cold Biere Moretti.
"Hot Afternoon at Boboli Gardens", 18x24 cm, acrylic on canvas board, $120.
This is a view from the top of the Medici Gardens. Even in the shade it was too hot for acrylics and me. Still it was fun to paint a castle.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
"Orange Sun Over The Arno", Piazale Michelangelo, Firenze. 20x30 cm, acrylic on canvas, $350.
After a long hot day of touring we hiked up the hill to eat dinner and then watch the sunset. Equally exciting was watching the city come alive with lights. Tons of people up there all enjoying the street musicians, while the sun set over human and natural wonders. It was a wonderful atmosphere and very inspiring to paint in. We got up there with about 20 min left before the orange sun dipped behind the river Arno. I set up and painted this with only instinct in front of dozens of onlookers. Making sure not to talk to start too many conversations and miss the few precious moments of light. My family sat on the grass in front of me, one kid reading, the other doing watercolor. My lovely wife smiling and enjoying the vibes. My favorite moments of Firenze for sure.
"Palazzo Vecchio", Firenze, Italy. 30x40 cm, acrylic on canvas board, $600
While Julie and Zenia took a cooking class, Malakye and I went to work at this famous square. I painted while he used a pocket knife to whittle sticks. We worked as thousands of people passed thru. Many of them thought it would be a good idea to get up on the marble podium that holds a massive gold turtle. When we got there we also thought it was meant to be sat on as "everyone else was doing it ", and its height was just under 4 feet. There where even kids on top of the turtle at some point. To his dismay I wouldn't let Malakye climb up it. I said the cops will come and sure enough they came and whistled everyone off. Then they'd leave and the new ignorant set of tourists would climb up and the whole play would repeat itself. Finally an 80 yr hardcore stubborn bastard of a cop came and sat in a chair, yelling and whistling at anyone looked at the piece sideways. It was hilarious.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
"Raw Siena", 27x41 cm, acrylic on canvas, $850.
Every year in Siena there is a celebration and horse race called the Palio. A description couldn't do it justice but here goes. Basically all the contrada(neighborhoods) of Siena compete against each other in a horse race around the Campo, which is a big central square. It's been going on for the last 500 years and it feels like it. We where staying in a B&B in the Oca so we naturally rooted for them. The day of the race we posted up in the square starting at 2:00. We met a nice family from Australia and hung out(guarded our spot) for the next 8 hours. Luckily the time was broken up by conversation, gelato, white wine, prosciutto, watercolor, ext... They also did a big parade displaying their flags and horses, and sprayed the crowd with water to the kids delight. The entire square was packed full of people who had also been there for too long. Every few minutes the medics had to rescue people who had passed out from heat stroke. The locals where fired up over their race and got into it with our friends over standing on the fountain ledge. Then some others proceeded to take our spot. Some real medieval stuff. Then the race finally started, 90 seconds of pure adrenaline for jockeys, horses and spectators. They shoved, whipped and sprinted their way around the square 3 times. It was unreal to be a part of it. You get a real sense of the power snd momentum of racing horses. 2 horses collided in the first lap, one flipping over and slamming it's jockey on the ground. Very real and scary. Lupe ended up winning with our hood coming in 2nd or 3rd. I couldn't help but think it would be good if our US gangs had this outlet. Without gats of course.
"Night Lights at The Colosseum", 6x8 inches, oil on linen board, $220
We went to one of the local trattoria's where the food was decent, the service irritable and the prices great. Half the cost of France with $4 for liter of table wine. So, with a light buzz and full tummies we headed for the Colosseum. Maybe the rubbish would be less visible in the low light.
It's not easy fitting just a part of this monolith into 8 inches. Julie read and policed our sugar infused wildlings who ran frogger races on ancient cobblestones and climbed retaining walls.
"Piazza Garibaldi", Livorno, Italy. 6x8 inches, watercolor on paper, $350.
We took a ferry from the top of Corsica to Livorno, Italy. It's always exciting coming to a new city, and especially when it's in a new country. Julie's first time in Italy actually and the first time on our trip she couldn't speak the local language. We decided to go out for a light lunch. Julie said she wasn't even hungry. A charcuterie plate followed by pasta, lasagna and pizza accompanied by a bottle of local vino bianco. The kids did some recon and it turned out the restaurant made their own gelato. We all had two scoops and went to our B&B for a nap. The good news is we didn't need a formal dinner that night. We explored the city, walking along its Venice like canal, having some more wine and appetizers in a large open air market with live music. We ended up in our little square where Zenia made friends some local kids. Like her mother she doesn't let a language barrier get in the way. They played soccer and hide in seek all the time communicating in the worldly dialect of children having fun.
Friday, July 8, 2016
"Stacks of Rome", Italy. 12x16 inches, oil on linen panel, $1200.
I left the house at 5:15 am and it was already light. I didn't know what I would paint but The Forum drew me in like a tourist to The Forum. As I walked along the sun came up behind me and illuminated the many layered cake of buildings that is Rome. I was done by 8:30, had a double espresso and was home before my family woke. Later we ended up walking across the hot city for hours and hours eating great food and of course gelato.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
"Temple of Saturn", Roman Forum, Italy. 41x27 centimeters, acrylic on canvas, €600.
Yup, I ran out of materials. Acrylic paint and canvas in cm's. Every medium has its pluses and minuses and teaches you something new.
Friday, July 1, 2016
"Colosseum at Night", 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, $220
We have been in Rome for the past 5 days but I hadn't been able to post anything. Partly because we have been so busy enjoying the city and partly because I'm ashamed of being part of the narcissistic parade of trash creating selfie stick toting tourists that descend on this city everyday. A Sunday morning in Isla Vista seems orderly and acceptable compared to this daily disaster. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, gelato cups, and cigarette butts are strewn about on every surface and in every crack. The first evening we arrived, I wondered how people could just litter like this and why nobody picked it up. I still don't have an answer to the first question. The Romans are picking it up several times a day and do a full court press in the morning hours. Sweepers, trash collectors and trash trucks in a coordinated army before 6am get the place in descent shape. Then the mobs come and destroy it all again. I'm sure the river will eventually be choked with cigarette butts that everyone here casually throws on the streets to get washed down the drain. It made me proud to be an environmentally minded Santa Barbarian but very scared for the worlds future. How do we get everyone feeling responsible for cleaning it up? Half the tourists here are too busy looking at themselves in their phones to actually see the Eternal City and the trash their leaving behind.
Friday, June 24, 2016
"Ile Lavezzi", near Bonifacio, Corsica. 12x16 inches, oil on panel, $700
We haven't done many touristic things so we splurged and did an all day cruise along the Eastern coast of Corse-de-Sud. They served bouillabaisse with Corsican Rosé. We then hung out at this tiny Island for 3 hours. Amazing views in every direction... but I had to choose the one looking towards Sardinia with amazing green water, yellow flowers and noble rocks. While I finished my painting the captain let the kids jump off the 2nd story of the boat! Fun for all!
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
"Bonifacio Midday", Corse-du-Sud, 12x16 inches, oil on linen panel, $800
Probably one if the coolest cities I've seen. After a 1000 years of development human structures start to take on the forms of nature. The buildings here have the same natural rhythm and color as the cliffs below. I only had a few hours to paint but could study here a couple weeks and never get bored. While I painted Julie and kids shopped. They came away with 3 Corsican knives, some oeil sainte lucie bijoux - jewelry with little shells from Corse.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
"Summer Solstice Moon Rise over Campomoro", 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, $250. Made in the dark with my friend the spirit of Campomoro. I kept hearing things behind me and then I saw a red human like blur running across the path in front of me as I walked home in the dark. All the hairs on my back and neck rose. I told myself it was nothing but I couldn't get it out of my head. I did my best not to run down the hill. I kept thinking if it was a ghost at least it was running away from me. Maybe it was protecting me the whole time. Or maybe I was tired and my eyes and mind where playing tricks on me:)
Monday, June 20, 2016
"Corsican Coastal Layers", Compomoro, looking at Popriano. 6x8 inches, oil on linen panel, $250.
Looking at the mountain layers here gets me excited to paint and to hike. We're hatching a plan to come back here in a couple years so I can do a portion of the G20 with some friends. The ladies and kids will be enjoying the beaches while we hike.
"View from the Genoese Tower" Compomoro, Corsica. 6x8 inches, oil on linen panel, $250
Julie was already asleep when I hiked up to this overlook. I left the kids with the babysitter(iPad) in charge. I saw an outcrop that would afford views of the sunset and moonrise. It was just a little bit off trail. After being wrapped in thorny vines and sweating profusely I decided that I would stay on trail. This was a great view of the town but I had to set up on top of a monster boulder with a 20 ft drop on one side. It was comfy except I just had to remember not to pace around like I usually do.
"Compomoro Coast", Corsica. 12x16 inches, oil on panel, $700
Another day in Hawaii, oh wait, I'm in Corsica! I can tell because the bread and wine are magnifique! We woke up late, then spent the middle part of the day on the beach. We left the beach at 2:30 tired and hungry, looking forward to some legendary pizza Julie had told us about for the past two weeks. We straggled down the beach and up the hill to find the kitchen closed. Not only that, every kitchen in town was closed till 7pm. We learned a valuable lesson, never get caught looking for food during the siesta hours. The good news is we had Corsican wine at our apartment... and some charcuterie ingredients for the kids.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
"Thunderheads over Compomoro", Corsica. 12x16 inches, oil on linen board, $700
We expected a thunderstorm for the morning but instead had a full sunny beach day. The only drama was my son panicking in the shallow water afraid of getting spiked by an urchin. I had to pull him in and got a nice gash on my hand in the process. Paradise is not without its dangers. As the thunder roared to my right I hustled to get the painting done while having a Father's Day beer. Btw Cali has much better beer.
"Tour de Campomoro", Corsica. 6x8 inches, oil on linen panel, $320.
My wife Julie Beaumont, has been talking about Corsica since the day we met in Paris. She said "Corsica is amazing, it's the isle of lovers". I asked "where you in love?" And she responded "No, I was with my boyfriend." That's when I began my plan to steal her away. By her response I knew it was possible.
Here is the view from our B&B, made before the kids woke up. This is by far the nicest vacation rental I have stayed in, and one of the most beautiful places I have been.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
"Propriano View", Corsica. 6x8 inches, oil on linen panel, sold
We took an overnight ferry to Corsica last night. A new experience for the whole family. We forked over the extra Euro's for a cabin with 4 beds! The ship was enormous with a pool, couple restaurants, bars and game rooms. We didn't use any of these things as we slept comfortably the whole trip. In the morning I wasn't in the least bit envious of the people who did use the facilities as I stepped over them passed out on the floor. I was so peppy I was able to muster some creative energy for this little one!
Friday, June 17, 2016
"Azure Isle Embiez", France. 6x8 inches, oil on panel, $220.
The weather finely cleared up and we got to enjoy a beautiful afternoon in Six-Four. We didn't take the ferry to the island but instead enjoyed some tartar a little cafe at its edge. Since our overnight ferry to Corsica wasn't leaving till 10:30 at night we stayed and swam I the protected azure waters. Everyone else snorkeled or bashed sticks while I painted this.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
"Rain and Sailboat on the Côte d'Azur", 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, $180.
My 2nd painting good the day from the window of our little apartment. We did make one excursion down the street to cafe to have a drink. I ordered a gin martini with olives, which was 1 part gin, 1 part vermouth, 1 part simple syrup. The olives came in a dish on the side. Really not enjoyable. The thunder storm really came on and we hadn't brought our rain gear. So we ran laughing through the streets back to our apartment.
"Rain and Sun Côte d'Azur", France. It rained all day and nobody was too sad about it. After 8 days of traveling we needed a chill day. Of course I can't chill so I made a couple paintings while the kids and Julie read their books.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
"Sailboats and Islands from Six-Four-la-Plage", Côte d'Azur, France. 6x8 inches, oil on linen panel, sold
Our first afternoon on the Mediterranean consisted of good food, 40mph winds and some swimming. Luckily we are staying in a 2nd floor apartment that sits on the water with180 degree views of the coast. I painted this one as the wind howled and the kids read their books.
Monday, June 13, 2016
"Arles and the Grand Rhone", France. 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, sold.
Today we split our group so my son, Malakye and I could do all the Roman monuments and Van Gogh Foundation. My wife and daughter went to the salt marsh to buy salt, ride horses and swim in the Mediterranean.
While the city of Arles does not own a single Van Gogh painting, they do have 30 on loan for a show right now. Malakye walked around to each painting with me and gave me his impression and listened to all my observations. Near the end, the 9 yr old said, " You know Papa, this is really boring for me but I'm doing it because I know it means a lot to you". After that I took him to his favorite place in Arles, the Cryptopolis, a huge underground Roman Cellar perfectly preserved after 2k years. Then we did the Arena, where I made this painting from the top while he read Fellowship of the Ring. We then met the lovely ladies for dinner at the nicest restaurant in the area for a real Provincal meal.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
"Van Gogh's room at Monastère Saint-Paul de Mausole", Saint Remy de Provence. 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, $220.
A short drive from Arles is St Remy and the site of the hospital where Van Gogh painted many amazing paintings like The Starry Night. I saw a hundred views I wanted to paint and might have wandered around for hours had not my family already choose a little spot in the shade in the garden below Vincent's room. A full set of colorful flowers in front of a medieval chapel... sounds like fun to me. I could only do a small one as we wanted also to visit Baux Provence town and castle. Another place I could paint a hundred different paintings of. Alas, a good tour of Europe is an exercise in not trying to do everything. I was happy to put some VG touches in the sky and then spend the rest of the day engaging with the kids.
"Place du Forum Nocturne", Arles, France. 20x16 inches, oil on linen panel, $3500. I have been looking forward to painting this view for a long time. I was thinking I would paint it from a different angle than Van Gogh did, but when I got there I couldnt resist. I put my bag down in the crowded Place du Forum and began to set up my easel. I was immediatly approached and reproached by the manager of the restaurant. He told me I couldnt paint there. I asked why, isnt this a public space? He insisted I leave and said some nasty things in French that I didn't understand. Then he said he'd call the police and got on his phone. I have to say it got my blood moving as I didn't know the customs around here and wasn't totally sure he couldn't kick me out. I continued my set up. He came over again and told me to scram b/c I would be bothering his clients. I said I'm adding to the ambiance, as best I could in French. A group came to sit down just behind me and he shut up. I asked them if they minded if I painted in the street. They said they'd love it, so I asked them to tell that to the Monsieur. He acted like he was surprised and that he never asked me to leave. My wife the assertive Quebeqoise came and told him to stop bothering me. He knew not to mess with her. I was able to relax after a while and realized Van Gogh must have dealt with the same or more abrasiveness. It was like a right of passage. The experience of dealing with same problems social and painterly made me feel even closer to my idol. At 11:30 when I finished the guy was avoiding me so I stepped I his way and said in sincerity "Merci pour la bonne experience".
Posted by Chris Potter at 12:06 AM
Saturday, June 11, 2016
"Rond-Point des Arènes and Arles Aréne", Arles, France. 16x20 inches, oil on linen panel, $1200.
Ancient Roman monument, curving street with angled buildings, colorful umbrellas, an amazing classical guitarist, and shade all afternoon. Then they brought a beer to my easel. This was exactly what I was dreaming about for the past year getting ready for the trip.
Friday, June 10, 2016
"Pont du Gard", Nimes, France. 16x20 inches, oil on linen panel, $1200
We are staying in a 400 yr old town house in Arles. Its got three stories, with the kids on the top floor. Its something out of a fairytale. Ive always wanted to stay in a place like this. All the Van Gogh painting sites where calling to me but we had to get to the river so we could play in the water. 5 hours later after swimming and painting we decided to stay for the fireworks spectacle. A priceless adventure in a timeless place.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
"Notre-Dame Facade", 6x8 inches, oil on panel, $220
I choose this vantage point for the shade. Even so, there really isnt a bad place to see this magnificant structure. It was fun to listen to the tour guides telling the same story in 5 different languages.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
"Le Roi a Place des Vosges", Paris, 8x6 inches, oil on linen panel, $180
My first painting of our family trip to France and Italy. A perfect place for everyone to relaxe in the shade with tourists and Parisians. A passing local told us this mansion is known as le Roi, the King.