Since having a property in Northern France, many people ask us whether we have seen ‘Escape to the Chateau’ on Channel 4. As we don’t have a television, our response to ‘have you seen…?’ is always ‘No, sorry, we don’t have a telly!’
However, as it happens, my studio is less than 30-minute drive from Chateau de la Motte-Husson, so whilst we haven’t seen the Channel 4 version, we have now seen the real thing!
Last week, whilst taking one of our visitors for a sneaky peak of the Chateau, home of Dick and Angel Strawbridge, we got a wave from Angel as she walked across her drive and saw us parked up for a look! This was very kind of her, and delighted our guest.
The Chateau itself is a beautiful example of Neo Renaissance architecture and as a Visual Artist, I would be remiss if I didn’t do a little drawing or two of it and the Orangery, which apparently is equally famous from the series depicting its renovation.
Usually I am an abstract landscape painter, but since working in my French studio, I have been collecting a series of pencil drawings as part of a new body of work of oil on canvas I will work on back in the UK.
When I make a painting, including an abstract landscape painting, I like to become familiar with the view. It’s a little bit like meeting someone for the first time. It takes time to get to know someone, what you see on first acquaintance is very rarely what that person is really like, what they are really about. For me, it’s the same with a view. I like to spend time with it, sketch it, make studies in pencil, ink, and paint it, as well as listening to the sounds, feeling the wind on my face and watching as the view reacts and changes with the weather and the seasons. Each time I do this, I become more comfortable with the view, and it feels like it becomes more comfortable with me!
Each painting (and therefore each view) is different, in much the same way as each person is an individual. One can be malleable and giving, another awkward and stubborn! However, it can often be the awkward and stubborn ones that turn out to be the best paintings in the end – the ones I am forced to spend more time with!
The drawing of the Chateau de La Motte-Husson may never materialise into more than a drawing, or maybe I will get to know it a bit better and develop into a large abstract painting, who knows!
Either way, it is lovely being so close to it and to be in such a beautiful part of Northern France – and providing our guests with such a delightful distraction!