This month I travelled to Durtal, France to follow a watercolour course with Marc Folly. The village is located in the Loire Valley about 230 km south west of Paris. One thousand chateaux are located throughout this valley and Durtal has the monumental Château Royal de Durtal. It began life as a fortress situated high on a rocky cliff overlooking the valley. When the feudal wars were over the fortress became one of the palaces for Louis XIII and Catherine de Medici. In 2007 the castle was bought by politician Alain Huguenot and continues as a bed and breakfast under the name Château Royal de Durtal.
The 5 day watercolour workshop “Harmonie et Contraste” was under the guidance and instruction of French artist Marc Folly. His mantra is “draw, value and colour” which we see in all his paintings. His softback catalogue of watercolours is titled” Marc Folly, oeuvres sur papier/works on paper ” available at the artist’s website.
We had our marching orders each day and sometimes I was lost. Especially some of the french words “fiel de boeuf” which translated to oxgall a preservation and dispersing agent in watercolours. Marc’s favourite word was “up” but in reality he was pulling the brush downwards, sideways or zig- zagging. I finally resolved it as an endearing expression he used to create magic. Many french speaking friends pointed out to me the expression “allez hop” which in all probably was what he said. He frequently stressed the importance of “la goutte” which I translated as “the puddle ” – a mixture of pigments and water allowed to pool on the paper when you need time to contemplate the next action. For myself, this puddle allowed “the hand with the help of the eye” to determine when the edge would be soft or hard and the value of the colour.
Below are my results on the fourth and fifth day. I was almost there with “Sink Side ” on the fourth day until I got heavy handed with my colours around the sink and a bit beyond. Marc placed clear water on the offending area then took a cotton rag and with one swipe removed a lot of the dirty paint, let it dry and place a few corrected touches of paint.
The fifth day, I was able to complete the assignment. Marc suggested I enlarge the orange area and it did make the colour dynamics work better in the picture plane.
We all worked to succeed with each artist bringing their experience and skill sets. For myself, I pushed my mind to accept a new approach to my watercolours. In the past it was a sketch, a way to observe my surroundings; to be quick and intuitive. Now, my goal is to be conscious of the process, be patient, demand more of my tools but still retain my individuality.