Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Bordeaux 3

Back in the vineyard and I do mean IN the vineyard - I was lucky to sketch out in the fields during the wine harvest on many occasions. Painting grape pickers was right up my alley. They're figurative after all. And I thought/hoped that if I could throw in a grape picker or two, it would distract from my inept not-so-neoclassical architecture renderings. The wonderful painting I used as a background here is by Roger Chapelian-Midy, 1938. I found it in a book bought in France, BORDEAUX, L'ART ET LE VIN by Robert Coustet.If I could only add a sign under the chateaux paintings saying, "Please kindly focus on the grape pickers and ignore the chateau. Thank you very much." The background here is a watercolor sketch sheet by British artist, Robert Hills (1769 - 1844).
Many artists have focused on painting/drawing workers. This background is a recolored ad of Jean-François Millet's famous reapers. Van Gogh did many copies/sketches from Millet's reapers. Georges Seurat, who everyone thinks only painted "Sunday in the Park" was a great fan of painting workers. There are plenty hanging in the NY MET.
I collected grapes shears whenever I was at la vendanges/ la vendemmia/ the harvest. Sometimes I collected them off of Ebay too... You can find barrels, baskets and other wine tools there galore.
September - October is grape picking time in France, Italy, Napa and most vineyards anywhere. Trying to visit during the harvest can be difficult. The roads are clogged with slow-moving tractors and other wine-related vehicles. It used to be just donkeys/horses + carts and for a very long time Chateau d'Yquem stuck with this old method in their vineyard as well.
The technology of picking the grapes has evolved way beyond anyone's imagination, but many fine vineyards still believe in hand picking the grapes, a costly and slow method.
These grape cutters I got at the Regaleali vineyard in Sicily. Winebow sent me there for a week to paint la vendemmia - what a treat! The pickers are rather casual about their picking and sometimes you think more singing and smoking is getting done than picking, but you'd never know it from tasting Regaleali's Bianco, an intense and well structured white. Reasonably priced too. This wonderfully evocative photo of grape pickers is from the CHATEAU LATOUR book. If you know anything at all about wines, you can be sure every single grape here is hand picked lovingly and with the greatest of care.


  1. Carol!!! HOW FANTASTIC these are!!! I visited Sicily in May and promised myself to return in Sept/Oct for the grape harvest and/or olive harvest and olive oil making!! These just add intensity and longing to my desire. SUPERB work!!!! And how fortunate a visit for you!

  2. PS -- so many of these remind me of the renderings of southern tobacco, rice and cotton workers -- LOVE THEM!!

  3. Delightful as usual! I love how you use photos and paintings as backdrops for your work, wonderfully effective framing technique! I am especially drawn to your second watercolor - very evocative and moving in its softness...

  4. the past and present is the same, clever usage of the black and white photo of the past, with the painted image of color used on top!

  5. Love the color palette.


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