Painting the colours and landscape of Provence

Published on 05/29/2016

John Dyer and Joanne Short regularly travel to Provence to paint the stunning landscape and colours. The artists have been visiting the region since 1997 and even spent three years living on the Côte d'Azur.

"We first visited Provence in 1997 on our honeymoon! It was just so wonderful to see the juicy grapes, olives and the beautifully patterned landscape that we immediately made plans to return to paint the landscape, plants and people of this special place.

We returned in the following May to the small wine producing village of Rasteau to paint the cherry harvest and then again in the September to study the grape harvest of the Côte du Rhone. 

We ventured deep into the landscape, bravely (or foolishly !) driving our Renault into vineyards and farms to get ourselves and large canvases as close as we could to the action. It resulted in a wonderfully energetic set of paintings, a puncture or two and many close encounters with various shaped and sized farm dogs !

In the evenings the vista from our beautiful property we rented at Ferme La Garriguette, Rasteau, provided the inspiration for nocturnes and still life paintings with the twinkling lights of Gigondas, Séguret, and Sablet creating a magical backdrop to the beautiful landscape. Bowls filled with grapes from the vineyard, glasses filled with wine and vases filled with wild flowers and grasses all combined with the warmth, colour and incredible scent of the Provençal night. 

These initial forays into the Provençal landscape have fuelled a lifelong interest into ethno-botanical subjects and John's continuing residency with the Eden Project which has taken him all over the world.

Not content with our yearly expeditions to France we finally moved to the region in September 2007, for three years, and worked from our studio in Menton and La Mortola in Italy, a truly magical time for us as artists and as a family.

John Dyer leaving Cornwall for a life in the south of France. September 3rd 2007

We just packed up our life into the Land Rover and set off ! We didn't even have a map, which proved to be a bad idea when we coudn't locate Menton or the apartment we had rented !

 

When we did finally arrive - it was breathtaking - it was a real palace - the Winter palace and it sat on a hill above its own tropical gardens. Gorgeous.

We lived in Menton but painted from our studio in Italy that overlooked the Hanbury Gardens.

 

Artist John Dyer in the studio at La Mortola, Giardini Hanbury.

We had many great adventures in the south of France and made a huge number of friends. We will add a few more blogs as there is too much to say to fit into this post. 

The years have quickly whizzed by and as we type this we are already half way through 2016 but we are still entranced by Provence. The most recent paintings and the prints we have released were painted in September 2015 from our first painting trip to the Luberon region of Provence.

The hilltop villages found in the Luberon are some of the most famous and visually exciting in Provence. We painted in Gordes, Bonnieux, Ménerbes and Roussillon. We found beauty and joy everywhere, the patterned landscape is filled with lines of olives, lavender, vines, sunflowers, orchards and more. The light and atmosphere combined with the vivid colour of the fields is a sight that draws people from all over the world to marvel at. It is worth the journey if you haven't visited the region.

We will continue to paint in Provence and the Côte d'Azur when we can. Small but delightful collections of work. It's hard to imagine not visiting this special and visually inspiring landscape, the need to return and the pull of the south is strong."

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