William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Saturday, July 23, 2016

# 67 - A Rare View

                                                Rue Belle Vue (the first strokes)

                                                 View of Reviers

                                          Beach at Saint Aubin

                                                 The Park at Saint Aubin

Fellow Art Lovers:

I’m going to offer you a rare opportunity. I’m going to show you the beginning of painting, a painting that could turn out to be a work that shares real pleasure, and then tell the story of the process I went through to get to that point.

The story takes place in the village of Saint Aubin-sur-Mer, a small community on the French Norman coast that has a wonderful beach, a pleasant boardwalk, which is actually called “la digue” and is made of stone and draws strollers (a good number with their dogs) from near and far, and a good number of homes that survived the Normandy Invasion.

For reasons that have more to do with transportation than anything else, I took my bicycle to search for a scene to paint that would be close enough for me to reach quickly and easily. I rode through the park, which I’ve painted many times, rode through some bike trails, and then found myself going through the small streets that twist in funny patterns away from the beach and the crowds that enjoy “la digue.”

On one of the smallest streets, I was confronted by a stunning scene, a long path that starts maybe 30 yards away from the first cross street closest to the beach where I stood. At the farthest point from me, there are only a few houses, a few stone walls and a few touches of foliage. As the path approaches me, on the left side were a series of walls and small clumps of bushes and weeds. On the right side, moving toward me was a stately, old house, a few breaks of light revealing the top of the steeple of the town’s only church, and then approaching me large growths of bushes and plants bearing large, bright flowers.

I also noticed that the passage was in a dim light, and the light at the far end of the path offered a gleam that embraced the entire scene.

The name of this passage was “rue Belle Vue,” and I realized that the street had no view of the sea or the beach. I realized that the name most certainly referred to the view of the street itself, and that giving that “Belle Vue” its due would take time and effort.

The process of securing my bicycle and returning to the scene with a wagon loaded with all of my painting supplies and a fresh canvas took maybe a half hour. Setting up is something that I can do fast with my eyes closed, because I have painted so many scenes with the same tools.

The first strokes of my palette knife required no thought. They happened on their own, simply because the composition and the elements were already predetermined. My job would be simply squeezing the most beauty and emotion from what was before me.

Since arriving in Normandy, I had to go through a process of finding my groove, because of the extended period I had neither brush nor palette knife in my hand. But I was there, and the painting was happening. Nothing could harm my mood or my work.  In fact, the few passers-by were more a pleasure than a hindrance.

One pleasure of painting in France is that so many people have a true appreciation for art and for the artist. In some ways, I feel guilty about that, because so many viewers seem to assume the talents of the painter, and I’m not always sure I live up to their expectations. From all  - who actually lived on rue Belle Vue - I got encouragement and the respect that kept them from hovering and distracting.

One distinguished, mature woman told me that she dabbled in painting, but she didn’t realize such a beautiful scene was just outside her entrance. A family of a grandfather, father and three young boys with blond hair (true Normans) greeted me cheerfully, smiled and continued to the beach, and repeated the process on their way back. Another woman, whose front gate I almost blocked with my easel, was friendly but just continued her gardening. These a just a few examples of the perhaps 20 people who walked by and checked out my developing work.

My work went fast, but I achieved maybe only a bare beginning when the time I had ran out. So, above is the incomplete work, which I promise I will share with you only if it approaches the level of the beauty of the reality.

On my way home, I pulled my wagon along the digue; it's the smoothest surface for that kind of vehicle. Along the way, a group of maybe five gentlemen my age were shooting the breeze. One of them called out to me in French: "Oh, Monsieur l'Americain, so you're an artist."

I answered: "Sure, I do some painting."

"Well, instead of that, you should do the beach and the digue."

I answered: "I've already done them a few times.:

"Well, I do the digue twice a day," was the answer. 

I said,"You must be quite an artist."

His answer,"I do the digue with my dog."   

Just to prove to you that I’ve been working, I’m also showing you here a few other examples of the maybe 10 other paintings I’ve completed so far.

Thanks for listening, and as usual, if you have the time, thanks for your comments.