Wednesday 19 August 2015

exploring little french villages

Our climbing life and my husband's BASE jumping take us to some wonderful, beautiful places. Places way off the tourist track. We avoid the famous, busy places and enjoy exploring parts of countries that, for us, feel far more real.

One of the things I enjoy about sketching in these places is getting to meet the locals. They'll so often stop and chat. Of course, they'll alway's ask where I'm from. When I say I'm from New Zealand, the reaction is almost always the same. First there's a pause as they try to place NZ, then their eyes widen as they pin it on the map and realise how far, far away it is. They glance at what I'm sketching and I know just what's going through their minds (because they often tell me!) ... 'why have I come from so far way and chosen to sketch that?'

I can't always explain why I'm sketching that particular scene. It's difficult enough in English. It's hard to express why that particular barn, or that vegetable patch, or that little wall is worth sketching.

Sometimes I've chosen something because it's part of our travel story - a scene or an object that reminds me of a place. Or perhaps the scene is just beautiful to me - the light, colours, sky or stormy clouds. Perhaps it's something that's unique to the place we're in - the types of roofs, the colour of the shutters, the stonework, paved roads or the types of flowers in the window boxes. Sometimes, it's something way more practical - I felt like sketching today and this was the only place I could find to sit in the shade.

What I do hope, though, is that by making the locals pause and look at what I'm looking at, they then look at their own surroundings in a new way, and realise that what's just on their corner is special. It was worth coming half way across the world for.

An old press in Les Petits Moulins, Devoluy. Sketched from the front seat of the car while it was pouring with rain.

Old barn in Les Petits Moulins, Devoluy. Quick sketch with storm brewing. Lightening and thunder chased me back to the car.

Tiny Le Perrier, Devoluy, France. Getting perspective right is still difficult for me ... so I often choose a scene that forces me to practise.

Archiane. A very tiny village surrounded by a cirque of big cliffs. Fantastic hiking and climbing here too.

Chatillon-en-Diois. I sketched in this lovely medieval town last year. So many perfect little nooks and alleys to explore.

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