October 14 - The topic for today is…My impressions of Roussillon, a hilltop village of color

After exploring Roussillon, an incredible village built out of ochre stones, we all discovered why capturing the incredible earth tones of nature on canvas or paper is every artist's dream. Artists can test their palettes and skills of color mixing by trying to capture the atmosphere and natural beauty of these cliffs of magnificent stone. There are at least seventeen different variations of ochre in the village which really brings a challenge to painters of all levels. The vibrant colors and dazzling structure of the cliffs bring light throughout the entire village and the vast landscape of Provence.




You enter the village and glance over the edge. It is amazing. You are looking straight down at a gigantic cliff. The red and yellow ochre colors are striking yet very harmonious. You are filled with warmth and radiance; you're in the presence of natural beauty and glowing color. You walk throughout the village and discover the many color variations hidden inside and out of the houses and shops. Then it is time to visit the quarry. Your family runs ahead but you tag on behind them, searching for any colors you hadn't seen in other houses before. You finally reach the quarry and step inside the red dirt. You look up and are immediately stunned.

These were my exact feelings as I entered the village and quarry. I remember feeling as if all of the beautiful cliffs around me were separating and leaving a narrow passageway through the quarry…like Moses parting the red sea. As a painter myself, I was inspired by all of the earth tones - from yellow ochre to Indian Red and Burnt Sienna there is an amazing contrast of colors in every corner of the village. I couldn't stop myself from picking up small portions of dirt and sampling them to see how they differed from one another. I was even mixing them together and found that it was pretty much the same as mixing paint on a palette. The cliffs are tall and bold, and I was obsessed with taking pictures of them looking through the many groves of gorgeous trees stained red from the dirt. It was amazing to see all of the earth tones and color contrasts I have to use in my paintings in the scenery around me.

Perhaps the most fascinating thought for me was that the beautiful blended colors, enormous size of the cliffs, and breathtaking enclosed structure of the quarry was all an act of nature. It seemed unnecessary for an artist to have to study the stones and colors up close. The colors are so brilliant it looks as if you could capture their beauty from several miles away. The splendor of this village is shed in all directions through out the mountainous landscape. We have been to many nice towns in Provence, but none quite like this.