Dear painters and friends,
A very happy new year to all of you with plenty of time to enjoy painting!
The new year starts again with good news: a calendar full of exciting painting trips and a watercolour Exhibition at GALLERY 402 in London's artist quarter, Hoxton. You are invited to the opening on 21st January 2014, 6–9pm at Arch 402, Cremer Street, LONDON E2 8HD. The evening will be for the benefit of the Terrence Higgins Trust with drinks, canapés and music: “Chansons with Francois Testory”. The show runs from: 20th–23rd January 2014. Opening hours: 11am–6pm.
The past year has been colourful and filled with events. My solo show at the Vibe Gallery in January 2013 in London went extremely well. However, it was lovely to return to the paintbrush after all the hard work organizing the show, and to meet our host and friend Ali Mouni at the edge of the desert. On arrival in Morocco, we could see the snow capped peaks of the Atlas mountains in the far distance as we travelled towards the Nomad Palace, heading for blue skies and sunshine. Imagine our surprise when we opened our windows on the first painting day to see camels standing in the mysterious haze of a desert sandstorm. We decided to head for the Salon and spent an enjoyable day painting young Berbers in their colourful robes.
In April this year, there were two painting courses in Sicily at the beautiful Fattoria Mose. And well, the weather was just brilliant in the first week with non-stop sunshine. We enjoyed painting at all my favourite locations at the Fattoria, the Valley of the Temples, the coast at San Leone and spent a leisurely day visiting the town of Agrigento. In the second week we discovered a new location for painting the sea, with more cafes close by for delicious lunches, or a refreshing Sicilian ice cream.
May in Tuscany at Peralta is always a joy, especially when the sky is blue and the sun shines on the terraces surrounded by lemon trees, and Jasmine blossoms with a glistening turquoise sea in the distance. The small, deeply set window in an old stone wall featured a wonderful clay pot on its sill - just the thing to try out those Burnt Sienna tones. We made an excursion to the mountain village of Torcigliano and visited the famous town of Pietrasanta, well-known for its marble quarry founded by Michelangelo. My next port of call was Cotto in Tuscany, the picturesque village situated in the hills, with the ancient castle of Verrucula nearby, and only a train ride away from the historic town of Lucca. We painted the many fabulous views around Cotto and later ventured out to the square of the medieval market town of Fivvizano, complete with fountain, magnificent church towers and restaurants.
What a surprise when I arrived later at Brymnaport to find the Scottish Highlands engulfed in a heat wave! Painting the dramatic mountains across the water from Brynaport under the bright sunlight was sheer heaven. During our stay we explored the way 'Atmosphere' can be captured in painting. Watercolour lends itself particularly well to expressing in light effects and their reflections on water. After a few attempts everybody mastered those exciting washes and watched the colours explode.
After my delightful trip on the sleeper train from the Scottish Highlands I grabbed another train to Devon for the first course at Coombe Farm Studios. The gentle, green hills and estuary around Dartmouth are perfect for a stroll with pencil and sketchbook. We were spoilt for choice when it came to painting around Coombe Farm: sun filled terraces with colourful flower pots, a little archway leading to the stream, sunflowers behind the garden gate and the old dove cote. In August, a new location, Tuckenhay village with gorgeous riverside views and tasty ice creams, proved very popular with everybody and not just because of the lunch time champagne.
It was time to return to London. My previous article 'Colour Choices' in landscape (Sept. issue 2013) had been well received and I had promised ‘Leisure Painter’ magazine to write another article about portrait painting, demonstrating a simple 3 colour approach. The article will be published in the ‘Leisure Painter’ on 3rd January, on sale at art shops or online at: www.painters-online.co.uk (February 2014 issue). I hope you will enjoy it.
One last journey led me to the Portuguese port of Olhão in the Algarve. David Clark, our charming host for the course, showed me all the best spots in town and worked out an exciting schedule for the painting week next June.
It would be wonderful to share some of the painting adventures planned for 2014 with you,