Painting trip in France: moving on from Giverny

betty ming liu Art, Travel 6 Comments

After three memorable days of painting plants and gardens in Giverny, we’re packing up and moving on.

Just in time too. This 10-day artist’s vacation has turned into a creative boot camp that has me greened out. Time for a change of scenery and color palette…

Our next stop is a Honfleur, a quaint, historic port town along the Seine. This place is an artists’ haven too. But I’m ready for it.

Being in Giverny helped me get over my self-consciousness about having people look at my work. Bring on the tourists! I don’t care (much). I’ve also learned a few things about composing a canvas and working with color.

Our fearless leader on this journey is Frank O’Cain. He’s the whole reason I signed up for this trip. Frank says the goal of this adventure is to find new ways to see.

Frank, who teaches at the Art Students League of New York and is a fantastic abstract painter, really knows how to talk that talk. Here he is, showing us a Van Gogh before doing an outdoor painting demonstration:


What I love best about Frank’s philosophy is that his principles hold truth for more than artists and painters. The ability to see is essential for having a real life.

“The artist has to stay away from the concept of perfection because it will kill your creativity,” he told us the other morning. Amen, brother!

Getting over the perfection head is definitely working. The ability to let go meant that when we went back to paint Claude Monet’s garden again today, I was a sane, happy person.

I actually managed to finish a little painting of the water lillies. It was such a pleasure to exhale, take in the scene, and apply as much as I know about looking at shapes and colors:


I will save this precious painting forever (because no one will want it, let alone buy it). It will remind me of how much I’ve grown in just three days.

So as the sun sets on my last night in verdant Giverny, I am feeling quite content. While I miss everyone at home, running away is working out just fine. Everybody is getting a break — and a fresh perspective.


Comments 6

  1. I feel I’m on the trip with you! How about a photo of the piece you mention? Have fun, enjoy your ‘me’ time…,and keep those nut grafs comin’!

    1. Post

      Thanks, Diana — and you ARE on this trip with me. The photo of my little precious painting is on this post. It’s sitting on the easel. Sort of hard to post the way I’d like because I don’t have my laptop with me and my blog template is decrepit. But once I get home, I’ll create a blot post with more pictures. Thanks for reading!

  2. I had an art professor as an undergraduate who said “it takes two people to do a painting: one to paint it and one to say ‘stop. It’s finished’.” I guess that’s another way of saying what your Mr. O’Cain said about letting go of the idea of perfection.

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      Yup, knowing when to stop is critical. And I did NOT leave my Monet’s garden alone. While we were there, Frank looked at what I was doing and, in a nice way, restated the message again. But I just couldn’t stop. At least, not that time.

  3. Post

    Charlotte, try it! Painters of all levels are on this trip. Just check the website for the Art Students League of NY. These folks run several trips every year. They’re not the only ones to do these sort of programs. But I can vouch for their competence. A few people on this trip have gone to others run by the League and they say these trips are always great fun.

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