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Tides and Hues by the Wild Sea: A Bretagne Palette
During my autumn week in Bretagne, I set out to capture the beauty of perhaps my favourite places in France
Happy Surprise is a free weekly newsletter. Posting later than intended, my week was filled with goals that didn't go as planned. If this creative space inspires you, why not share it? Thank you for reading.
It's been a week since I returned from our autumn holiday in Bretagne, a place I have visited many times in different seasons and will surely return to. So these paintings from days 22-28 of the 100-day art project have been patiently waiting to be posted.
Bretagne (Brenz), also known as Brittany is a Celtic region with its unique traditions and language. It has 2,800 km of coastline, so if you can imagine, there are lots of winding roads, and seashores to discover. Great for a road trip anytime of the year. It's a water lover's paradise, but not for the faint of heart. It attracts surfers, windsurfing enthusiasts, which was one of the primary reasons for our visit (he wanted to go windsurfing) besides wild swimmers, those like me who find rock pools like it’s the best thing in the world! Oh yes, and I took the plunge into the 11-degree cold sea - were the view is so much better from the water!
In other words, the ocean is very important in Brettagnes's identity, and that’s what I love about it.
It is known for its classic crêpes filled with salted caramel and truly one-of-a-kind seafood plates in Cancale which is Bretganes oyster capital and is across the bay from Mont Saint-Michel, overlooking the sea. I recall the days when we could park our van for the night and sleep right next to the sanctuary, such a unique experience, but this is no longer possible. Then you have the charming artist hideaways to discover along the coast, but the popular spots are in Quimper and St Malo (as shown in the collage above, bottom left).
I swear there's no other place that fills my lungs with fresh sea air like Bretagne.
You quickly adapt to windy days, hike along rugged cliff paths, and become well-versed in the tides and the wild, roaring sea. Rainy days become part of the lifestyle. The sea here can swiftly transition from calm turquoise waters to scary dark clouds, roaring in the blink of an eye.
To feel the rapid rise of the tide, check out this time-lapse captured last summer in Bretagne.
Having no specific agenda other than exploring the magical places of Bretagne, the week was profoundly inspiring. I relished the moments spent painting in my sketchbook as the tide went out, experimenting with the gouache paints, and finding the ideal colours.
A few days later, I returned to my artwork, adding some finishing touches….
This one: I have to say that this artwork was probably my favourite art session of this week. The rock colours from the photo on the right are incredibly striking, and the closer you look, you'll discover hard shells (limpets and snails) in various sizes, clamping down tight to the rock. It injected newness, and challenge into the creative process. It reminded me how much I enjoy playing with colours, and especially creating that elusive gray tone, which took me ages since I didn’t have black paint with me was fun!
As much as I love the sea, I'm still not convinced that painting the sea is for me. I say this now, so I’ll keep the curiosity open and maybe come back to it later…