In the Shadow of Van Gogh

On day five of Shari Blaukopf’s Provence sketching workshop we went to the monastery of St. Paul de Mausole in St. Rémy. This was the sanatorium where Van Gogh stayed and painted some of his last and most famous paintings including Starry Night. The day was divided between drawing the lavender garden which he could see from his room on the second floor and then, in the afternoon, the beautiful cloister in the monastery. The rows of lavender and a small building at the far end of the garden were the subject for the morning’s drawings. My first drawing was less successful than I’d hoped it would be. In looking at it now, it seems rather clichéd and not properly planned out. I looked at the small building through the divided trunk of a nearby tree and thought it would make a good composition. Unfortunately, I jumped in too quickly and didn’t really plan how to compose and execute it. Here are a reference photo and the finished drawing/painting along with a wider view of the lavender yard as several of the other students painted it.

My second painting was done nearby and featured the same subject matter but from a different angle. It was painted a bit more loosely and, although, again, not fully planned out, at least has a bit more interest for me.


After a lunch in the olive grove, we moved back into the cloister of the monastery. Shari did a beautiful demonstration painting with the stone arches and geometric shrubbery of the garden. We followed with our own interpretations of the cloister. I opted for a different more vignetted view. I’m also including the work of some of the other very talented students in the group.

Author: Jeff Gold

I'm a retired musician (oboist) now living in Vermont and exploring various avenues of art, urban sketching, life drawing, block printing and digital abstractions.

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