Sunday, 29 August 2010

Work is suspended for the Vide Grenier.


Rue Droite.

Today the village has been taken over by the annual boot sale. It's hard to step out of my door without trampling on people putting out things to sell on my steps and hanging clothes from my shutters. I retreat to my friends and neighbours in Rue Droite who are also taking part and sit with them for a bit watching people sift through the goods. Every street in the old part of the village is awash with bric-a-brac and further down into the square the Sunday market carries on regardless.
Work is out of the question so after meeting up again for lunch in Rue Droite I go for a swim in the lake with a friend.
When I get back everyone is packing up to leave and there's a young man asleep in my garden.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tom Jones

Most years it's Brubeck, Coltraine and Billie Holiday with Bob Dylan as a constant but this year I've been listening to Tom Jones as I paint. It suits my mood but I would have a job to say why. The gentle hills around Montcuq remind me of Monmouthshire and Tom Jones reminds me of the boys I grew up with in Pontypool. Maybe there's the answer! My heart is never far from South Wales.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Swimming, walking, painting.

Across the lake - Montcuq and the tower in the distance.

Walking on the plateau

The Lake, Montcuq.

They say that to get to know a place you need to walk it. I have had a home here for 13 years but it isn't until this summer that I have walked the countryside around Montcuq. I have seen it from all angles with the tower an unmistakeable landmark in the distance. The climb out of the valley is steep and the paths rough with stones. It's usual to come across stone houses hidden by dense foliage but one day, at the top of one winding path, we came across a chateau so grand but with an air of decay which only added to it's allure. Two cups and saucers on a small round table in the courtyard, a silk dressing-gown tossed over one chair - it was easy to conjour up visions of the long, languid days spent here. Suddenly, a young pretty woman calls from the balcony reminding us that we are now on private property so we leave. I am facinated by this place and the people who live here. Later I discover that an old french family the de Roaldes live in what is called the Chateau de Figeac.

When it's too hot to walk I go with a friend for an early morning swim in the lake. Too early for the families who crowd the beach during the day - we have the lake to ourselves. It's a great start to the day. Then I paint; my head full of images but still dominated by the tower which is always present and which continues to appear on my canvases in one form or another!

Friday, 13 August 2010


On the rare occasions I wake at 4am it's always worth it for the smell of fresh bread from the two bakeries in the village. Daylight starts with a fine mist which hangs over the valley. By the time the village stirs the sky is cloudless and very blue.
The fields of sunflowers which dominated the landscape when I arrived have now lost their colour. The vast areas of bright yellow have become muted shades of green as the plants dry ready for harvesting. I'm using a lot of yellow and blue in my first painting here - hardly surprising! I've been working on it for weeks and I don't think I'm any closer to finishing. It happens always with the first painting as I try to set aside images of South Wales and work hard to capture the spirit of this landscape and what it means to me.