Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Bordeaux 2

I had to find a way to sink my teeth into Bordeaux's Neoclassical architecture, or rather my I could meet the Bordeaux challange and paint these for Sherry-Lehmann's catalog. I'd take the "grape picker's" bus up la Route du Médoc, stopping at all the vineyards to Margaux. I got out and sat by the side of the road on a folding stool, gazing up at these monster chateaux. The road is lined with chateaux on both sides. Daunting doesn't begin to describe the challenge I'd set for myself.Downing glasses of red and the occasional Sauternes, hoping and praying was not going to help. I decided to go the figurative route. If I could conquer the details of these elaborate structures, the cornices, the sculpted reliefs, etc., then I could stick these details onto a basic geometric form and back into painting them. I plunged into drawing all the bits. Another route I thought would help was to learn how to pen the Copperplate or English Round Hand calligraphy on many Bordeaux wine labels. The French call it "Anglaise." I thought taking a calligraphy class making those fluid curvilinear marks would help to get the feeling of the architecture. That's Bordeaux's famous Pont De Pierre in the sketch, that crosses the river Garonne and was commissioned by Napoleon. It's one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. Sketches of cornices and relief details. Chateau Margaux is a perfect example of Neoclassical archtecture built by Victor Louis between 1773-1780, as was Le Grand Theâtre, Bordeaux's opera house.Sometimes I draw in my books...I did stay in an 18th century Château - everyone's dream. Wrong. I was toute soule, alone with a billion Bourdeaux bugs in the extreme heat of August. They made a feast of me. Petit Déjeuner was served in the morning, sent up from the gate house. Otherwise I was alone with medieval turrets and bugs. No TV, no radio, no distraction. Too creepy for me and I fled to a city hotel after 2 nights. If you want a closer look at chateaux, visit Berry Bros website, London's fine wine shop. Click on the name of the chateau on the map that you'd like to visit and take the tour. You'll get to see some of these daunting structures I painted. You'll also see how flat as a pancake the landscape can be - not lots of foliage to hide one's inexpertize with architectural drawing. More to come.


  1. you are expert at capturing these wonderful voluptuous architectural details in watercolor, I am amazed how few brush strokes it takes you to describe them so well, beautiful pages!

  2. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Another BEAUTIFUL variation on the many themes you gorge us with!
    Yummmmmmmy sketches.
    S.Jersey Boy.

  3. Anonymous9:37 AM

    Your Venice watercolors are really great. Also, I think your writing
    style strikes the right balance of chatty, informative, and technical.
    Very clever entry on the chateaux --- getting figurative and applying
    it to geometry.
    Clever, clever.
    Yr NY Critique

  4. Anonymous9:45 AM

    Oh, these make me so anxious to get to Paris and sketch!! Your closet is starting to remind me of the wardrobe in the C. S. Lewis book--it's a gateway to an amazing world!

  5. love them! I want to do the saaaaaaaaaaaaame!

  6. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Your blog is becoming my favorite....I love it.....

  7. i JUST love these!!! The elegance of line and color --

  8. the catching color, the swirling style of Louis the Sixteenth, angels and ribbons, lush details of whismy stir up romantic thoughts...Ah France! You have captured that air, that light, that feeling of je ne c'est pas!
    Parfait Carol!

  9. These are amazing - what talent you have!

  10. Wow, these are some of your most beautiful I think. Your hand is so light here. You make me want to practice!


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