Dreaming of the Cote d’Azur
September 21, 2011
“Soft Afternoon Light, St. Tropez” ©Jill Rosoff 2011, 11 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ $300.00
This past spring I went on a truly terrific trip with my mother, a cruise along the coast of the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Rome. Our fourth port of call was to St. Tropez, home of Brigitte Bardot and Bain de Soleil (for the St. Tropez tan!). It was early enough in the season that it was still fun, not overcrowded, but still very warm and wonderful. And we were there on a Saturday – market day in French villages – so the town square was filled with vendors selling everything from fresh-picked vegetables, fruit and flowers to cotton clothing, shoes, purses, real turkish towels, scarves and more. We had the best time zipping through the stalls, finding our treasures before it all closed down at 12:30. I think we bought more there than on the whole rest of the trip put together.
This trip was special for me. I fell hard for the architecture in Tuscany years ago, while I was taking a graduate printmaking course in Firenze. I spent a month in that wonderful town. It had been too long since I’d been back, so I was looking forward to more of it when our voyage cruised into Italy. We started off, as I said, in Barcelona,and I fell for the architecture in Barcelona, Valencia, St. Tropez, the ancient ville in Monte Carlo. And I realized that that I really love coastal Mediterranean architecture. The variations country to country, the colors, the homes sistered up next to each other, the balconies, the railings, the windows, the shutters that are an integral part of liveability in the hot summer climate along that coastline (in California we all too often see shutters simply as architectural decor, rather than useful components of a natural cooling system). There’s something wonderful about two houses sitting next door to one another, and the windows are not quite even with each other. Like musical notes on a line of sheet music.
I also love the colors they use. They’re lovely, light almost sherberty colors, that time and weather bestows with a patina that gives those fresh, wispy colors a certain gravitas. And then there are the simple, graceful details of those shutters, wrought iron railings, the edge of the tile roofing, and the addition of 20th C plumbing on the facades of 200+ year old structures. In the transparent world of watercolors, to get the building surfaces to look substantial I use layer after layer of paint, sometimes smooth layers, sometimes scrubbed on, to get the effect I want on the stucco, each pale layer painted on using a range of very similar colors, which creates a richer, fuller texture. I start with the largest areas of color, and then built in the architectural details, leaving the darker areas: the shadows and the wrought iron, which serve as punctuation, to the very last. Et voila!
A special note: This was a big month for me and this blog! I posted my 100th posting, and viewers to it went over 20,000. I want to thank you all for continuing to visit my blog. I hope you’ll continue to come back and to tell everyone you know about it!
Thank you so much!