Saturday, 21 October 2017

The valley of the Sûre and the Forest of Anlier - my first impressions

We have been on a short trip to The Ardennes, Belguim, to be more precise, to the Forest of Anlier and the Valley of the river Sûre. The weather was great, maybe a bit too warm for autumn but we have been walking in the forest, walking in the valley and I have been taking pictures and most of the evenings were dedicated to painting.

These are small paintings, only A4 size. The circumstances in our 'gîte' were not as good as  in my studio. Most of the times the lights were not very helpful, but I managed to get used to this set-up and made some nice watercolours.

This is the first one I made, and as we had just arrived in the 'gîte' this is the view from one of the windows. The background is the slope of one side of the valley of the river Sûre which is covered with trees, the other one is right behind our 'gîte'. The river is in fact between the fields and the background. 
I was struggling with the lights, the height of the table, the moisture of the air (close to the river) so this painting may be not the best I have ever made, but for a 'warming-up' it is a nice one.

The Forest of Anlier is a piece of land that has been described by Julius Caesar and has remained a forest since these days. We had chosen a walk of 12 km and we have just seen the northern part of the forest. I have been making some nice reference pictures and for the 'first impression' I chose to do a scene with lots of autumn colours and some fallen trees. The sun was shining and the forest seemed to be on fire with all those yellow, orange and red colours!

The next day we started out from the 'gîte' to walk in the valley of the river Sûre. The first part of that walk was following an abandoned railway track and was easy. I made some pictures showing the track and the green valley beside it. This day we returned early, we had some problems with shoes, muscle aches and so on. In the afternoon I stayed in the 'gîte' to paint as my husband decided to discover a bit more of the surrounding landscape - on better shoes. 
This time I painted in daylight and the air seemed less moist than it is in the evenings, so the process of painting was more relaxed than the other days. 

The last day of our vacation we were in tourist mode. We went to visit the town of Schengen, in Luxembourg and as we returned we drove once again through the Forest of Anlier. I asked my husband to stop in a safe place so I could make some pictures. Imagine a road of 10 km or more surrounded by these trees - I just had to have those pics! The scene was still sunny, with lots of shadows from the trees. A lot of leaves have already fallen and the foliage is not as dense as it was a few days ago, so the colours of the trees are lighter. In a few days this autumn splendor will be gone, all leaves on the ground and the trees will be as good as bare. 

Of course I will paint more, using larger sizes of paper and some other reference pictures. These will be done at home, in my studio where I can take all the time I need to complete a painting.

More information about these watercolour paintings (paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

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