A few years ago I had the pleasure of being artist-in-residence in the beautiful little city of Vallauris, France.
I had applied for a space in 2005, and to my delight was granted studio and residency in April and May of 2006.
Where is Vallauris you may ask?
It is located in the Alpes-Maritime Dept. in the Province-Alpes-Cote d'Azure...just a bit north of Cannes.
Vallauris is known for the quality of clay that is found near by, and one of it's most famous residents was none other than Pablo Picasso who began his clay work there between 1947-55. He worked out of the esteemed Madoura Workshop which, with exclusive consent, reproduced Picasso's designs from 1947-1971.
I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful studio space at 127 Avenue Pablo Picasso in the old pottery district. To make a long story short, my first studio space through the artist residence was less than desirable having only a tiny window and being rather cave like in structure. I just could not work in such a place, so through some new artist connections in Vallauris, I was lucky enough to get the studio of a Norwegian artist to work in at no charge.
Artists are generally speaking such a generous lot...and I was very lucky!
Each morning I had a pleasant walk south from the artist residence to my studio, and I usually began my day with a visit to a patisserie on the corner of Avenue Georges Clemenceau and Avenue Pablo Picasso. The wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries wafted out onto the street beckoning all inside. I was hooked! Two or three pastries...usually pain au raisin or pain au chocolate would accompany me back to the studio each day. It was always such a treat to eat these goodies with a coffee while taking a break from painting.
My easel was in front of a large window facing south towards Cannes. There was a high hill between us blocking the sea view, but my view was none the less intriguing.
As I looked eastward from my window, I could actually see Picasso's old studio about 100 metres away.
Now, how inspiring is that?
I often wondered what it might have been like had I been right here in 1947.
Could I have met Picasso? Would we have sat under the trees smoking and drinking wine, pondering artistic choices? Could I have helped him in some way? What would his influence have done to me?
Ah, to dream....and I did, almost every day. How could I not?
The large studio was cool and quiet inside. My friend's drawings and paintings, and my own were hung all about, and I felt as though I were in heaven. How could I be so lucky to be in a place like this? Could I ever have imagined it? No.
When I tired of painting around noon, I would take my baguette, and pastry outside to sit on an old bench in front of the studio.
Broken bits of pottery were everywhere, as well as a family of cats and kittens. They were very wild, and only approached me because they smelled my cheese and baguette. They could only be coaxed to come so close, and then they would be afraid and disappear into the long grass.
Sometimes the adult cats would climb up on the roof in front of my window and walk about, trying to solve the puzzle of who I was I guess. They were always welcome company.
Over the course of two months I completed about eighteen paintings of various sizes in that wonderful studio, and even now, the memory of it warms my heart.
It is a place I will never forget!
© Blair T. Paul, all rights reserved
Edited and produced by: http://cmacfarlane.ca