As the week draws to a close and we get ready for Amsterdam one thing seems to be on everyone’s mind: this is our second to the last week at our home in Vauvenargues.
It’s really unbelievable how fast a week goes by here. Yet, what seems to be more unbelievable is the amount that we have accomplished in just one week.
Along with starting Dutch lessons, having Literature classes in town, visiting many places in the south of France, and painting several times a day, the group is working hard on two, omnipresent, upcoming, art history projects. The first, a presentation on an assigned artist, and the second, the perhaps more daunting, “Art History Book” that is due just before we leave for Florence, Italy.
Vance “Hieronymus Bosch”
Anna “van Dyck”
Emi “Johannes Vermeer”
Axel “Peter Paul Rubens”
Ben “Frans Hals”
Eli “Jacob Jordaens”
Cathy “Pieter de Hooch”
Monday and Wednesday were typical class days for us. After waking up and having our half an hour Dutch lesson we went to art history where Dave spent the week teaching us about Dutch history and the great Rembrandt. Then we made our way into town! First, we walked to our Lit class (the top floor of a café called Le Festival) where we have spent the last two weeks discussing themes from "Life Studies" by Susan Vreeland.
We even got to Skype with the author, which was one of the highlights of the week (more on that later). After class we are set loose in Aix-en-Provence, where we are free to have lunch, shop and sketch.
Then, once everyone is fed and happy, the grocery shopping is done and we drive home. Tuesday and Thursday were very eventful and followed a little less structure.
On Tuesday we spent the morning in Les Beaux, a quaint town with countless little shops and sketching opportunities.
After finishing our stay there we drove up through an old quarry and found a spot to picnic and paint Les Beaux from a distance.
Those particular paintings were a struggle for many in the group, but some (including the very talented Vance Nguyen) rose to the challenge and created some spectacular pieces of art.
Thursday was filled with exploring troglodyte caves, the towns Lourmarin, Bonnieux and Lacoste in the region named Luberon.
The latter may become the future college satellite campus for our own Anna Whittamore, who will be attending Savanna College of Art and Design.
However, my favorite part of that day was the picnic that we had in the absolutely picturesque olive tree and poppy field of Lourmarin.
We dove deep into the field, away from the beaten path and ate amongst flowers. It wasn’t big and eventful, but that is what made it so special; just sitting, talking, and laughing in a picturesque location.
It was the kind of activity a tourist would never take part in, but the kind of experience that makes European Art Classroom what it is.
Euro is not a tourism trip.
Euro is a special opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of artistic pursuits and European culture. Our Friday was far from the norm but it turned out to be extraordinary. After going out for lunch we returned home to have a Skype conversation with the author Susan Vreeland, the author of "Life Studies", "Clara and Ms. Tiffany", "The Passion of Artemesia", and "The Girl in Hyacinth Blue".
We spent more than an hour talking with her about art, writing, and life in general. We spoke in great depth about Life Studies, her collection of short stories documenting some of the world’s most famous artists.
At the end of this meeting she spoke about something that is central to her books: “…the vital role of aesthetics is a fully-lived life”. My personal belief is that the role of aesthetics is often overlooked and it’s something that European Art Classroom reminds us to appreciate.
The Hospital Vincent van Gogh rested in before his return to Paris and then Auvers-sur-Oise and his final 70 days.
Beautiful Bonnieux in the distance.
Muffin, our adopted French Bulldog
Following pictures tell the story of our crazy Friday night Top Chef competition. (Our creative way to clean out the refrigerator before leaving for Holland). It ended in a tie.
Our esteemed judges