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Vallauris: The Magic of a Place

February 13, 2015  •  2 Comments

In my last story I introduced you to this beautiful city above the shores of the Mediterranean, and I spoke of my marvelous studio where I worked daily.

When I arrived there I had little knowledge of it , other than that it was famous for ceramic production and that Picasso had lived there.

This was exciting, but what was I going to paint? After all, that is what I had come here for. I decided to just let the place tell me what I should paint.

Sometimes you need to do that, and not try to control the situation too much.

The first morning after arriving I wandered the streets near the residence, just getting a look at things and gaining a better sense of where I was.

I was living at the edge of a square near a port to the city. It had been completely walled at one time for defensive purposes.

Pirates roamed the Mediterranean and raided any settlements which might yield booty.

In those days it was much safer to live on high ground inland from the coast. Cannes was a perilous place to live at that time.

As usual, I had my trusty little Kodak digital camera with me, but prior to this I had shot film.

I am always a tourist when I go somewhere new for the first time, and I like that.

I want to casually see and enjoy the surroundings without the pressure of thinking that I must paint something.

This thinking time is valuable, and so are the photos that you take. It's all part of the creative process gearing up.


“One step at a time”, I say to myself, “and then you will know what you are meant to do here.”

I have loved taking pictures ever since I was a boy. The idea that you could freeze time and hold a moment in your hand was magical...and still is!

I take photos as if I were composing paintings through the viewfinder.

In such a historic and beautiful place as Vallauris, there is almost limitless subject matter to shoot. Everywhere I turned I would see more that excited my eye and imagination.

Wooden shutters, peeling paint on weather worn doors, cracked plaster, grafitti, shadows on architecture, people, grotesquely pruned trees, giant cactus, flowers...It was quite overwhelming, but I loved it!

On my first day, before I had canvas to paint on, I ripped up magazines and posters to create collages.

I wrote in my diary what I was thinking about, and couldn't wait to start painting.

I decided that I would focus on the landscape that was in and around Vallauris, and the giant cactus plants were especially intriguing.

Yes, I would record what I saw right here, and not invent. To overlook all of these splendid subjects would have been foolish. It was all new to me so I'd give it a go.

Following an excursion to Cannes to buy canvas, I started planning the shapes and sizes of paintings I could create to make best use of the material I had bought.

I would not stretch the canvas here, but wait until I returned home as this would make carrying the work much easier.

A bit of planning is always necessary and it does pay off in the end.

In all I shot about 1500 images in the time I was in Vallauris, and I worked from some of them to produce paintings.

Photography is a very practical aid for painters, and continues to remind and inspire you about the places you have been long after you have returned.

If I work from photos I have given the time to take, then it triggers all of my senses once again.

I see the colours, smell the smells, feel the wind, and hear the sounds.

Every photo I take has some special meaning for me.

You just can't take too many!



© Blair T. Paul, all rights reserved
Edited and produced by: http://cmacfarlane.ca


Blair T. Paul, AOCAD, OSA | Fine Art
It was in the very warm Spring of 2006.
Maureen Coyne(non-registered)
What time of year were you there?
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Welcome to my blog. 
I'll be writing on a regular basis about my experiences as a painter over the last forty years. I hope you'll share your thoughts and comments with me - it's a great way to be connected.

Blair T. Paul

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