Last September Caline and I decided to go to Cassis for the weekend and paint. It’s a charming fishing village right on the Cote d’Azur less than an hour from Marseille. From Lourmarin, it’s only about an hour and a half drive.
So we packed up our supplies and arrived mid-morning. Cassis is well known and very popular, totally jammed with tourists during the summer months. But come September, most leave. Still it was full of tourists. The harbor there is lined with wonderful restaurants where Don and I discovered Aioli for the first time years ago: sounds pretty bad but it is sooo good…boiled cod, boiled potatoes, boiled green beans, one large boiled carrot and sometimes broccoli and hard egg and beets. All bland with no seasonings but, but, but, served with it is a generous heaping of homemade mayonnaise chocker block full of garlic. If you have never tried it, do so and you will be in for a treat. Course, you don’t want to breathe on anyone for a day or so.
The problem with painting on location is just getting there and unloading everything, which include stool, easel, art box (which weighs a ton) and canvases. But once it is done, there is a smorgasbord of subject matter. Small fishing boats docked, wide sidewalks full of people, bright colored awnings and buildings. It has magic and no end to great subject matter.
On this particular day, I set up right at the end of the sidewalk, zeroing in on three small boats tied up to the dock below me with all these restaurants behind. I find when I paint on location I try not to give any passersby eye contact. If I do invariably someone will start up a conversation with me….ooh, my sister is an artist” or “ what is the hardest thing to paint?” or the number one question….”How long does it take you to do a painting?” so I am sternly antisocial or I will never get any painting done.
This day, everyone respected my privacy. And I cooked. The light was consistent and great. Nobody came on their boats and sailed away…yippee. And three to four hours later, happy and content, I started packing up, when a nice Englishman walked up and started talking. He and his wife had been sitting right behind me and had spent their lunch and several hours afterward just watching my progress. We chatted and he went back over to his wife. I could tell, nodding politely to her, that she was asking him something. And with that he came back over and asked if I ever sold my work. Yes, said I, but not on a fishing dock! Only in galleries.
I find this is the best response. As most people think in terms of a few hundred dollars and if I were to tell them how much they sell for, they would get hollow eyed. So I gave him my card and said, look me up on the web and send me a note.
Then immediately, a young woman walked up and said in very faltering French that she loved my painting and she and her friends had been watching the whole process. Well four hours is a long time for a lunch but there they were…three young couples sitting at the next restaurant watching their friend’s conversation with me. I said immediately, I am not French, and relief came over her face. She asked me where I was from and when I said Atlanta, she bursts out with…”But that is where we are from!” small world. Adorable couples. I fell in love with them.
I have had only one bad experience in all my years of painting en pleine aire. People are always so nice and complimentary. I find when I paint on location that you get very positive vibes from the people surrounding you. And somehow all that good chemistry gets into the painting.