Words and Brushes. Written by Johnston M. Mitchell

My good wife has been encouraging me to become a tour organizer – to take people on writing expeditions in the south of France. It’s odd, but I want to organize these trips around the working locations of painters such as Van Gogh, Matisse and the Fauves, and Cezanne. I guess this seems odd, until you step into our house or visit our small business – a petit gallery in Suttons Bay that features exclusively the work of my good wife, and fine painter, Brenda J. Clark.

While I’ve mapped out a Luberon Valley trip through the region’s perched villages, and a second possible trip to the Languedoc region and Collioure – heart of the Fauves, I’m eager to explore a trip based on the Route de Cezanne.

My curiosity for Cezanne comes in part because I didn’t get to see any shows commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth, back in 2007. And it has been piqued again with the discovery of two yet known pieces on the backside of two watercolors. I did view a lot of Cezanne’s work while living in Paris, but a quarter of a century passed leaves me wanting.

No expert in fine art, I am mysteriously attracted to treks through these painters’ terroire – their geographic nation-state, a territory  that each staked out as their own.

When we were in the Luberon Valley of Provence during May 2005, I wanted to figure out that phrase – It’s all about the light. I think I did. It seems that Provence is where the light bouncing off the Alps intersects with the light reflecting off the Mediterranean Sea. When the sun comes up, it bathes the landscape, and the sun never seems to set. When it finally does set, it’s as if Mother Nature has flipped her light switch to turn off the day and begin a night of rest – for residents, visitors and painters alike.

Hiking along trails, or just driving back roads, you lose a sense of time. I don’t wonder why, but want to mimic what made these painters gather such a force of compassion to push their creative abilities and to finesse a canvas or piece of paper or a wood panel, with so many brushstrokes turning into layers to visually create masterpieces at the end of their fingertips.

Inspiration Point III by artist Brenda J.Clark

Inspiration Point III by artist Brenda J.Clark

Loopty Do At Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point III and Loopty Do At Inspiration Point by artist, Brenda J. Clark, were both painted on-location in different years and exhibit similar shapes that have become embedded in the artist’s mark-making.

And so, I write about what I see. I can’t draw, so I write about the scenes so often painted by the visual art masters of our world, who can maintain a relentless focus, standing in nature for a long duration.

While I use the same word or phrase (good wife) to emphasize a point, Cezanne and others could pull the same mark-making from deep in their consciences to shape a scene of the same place years after doing so. They could transfer the same type of brush work and shapes from one painting to another scene. Such mastery of design combined with their sophisticated blending of complimentary colors within the same layer, with one layer upon another to foster depth and texture,  to ultimately  paint a scene tightly woven in design and yielding a beautiful composition.

Words with a pencil to describe a scene or vision; painting words with a brush to freeze creativity in time… Who says we weren’t made in some greater being’s image?


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