The highlight of 2017

France. vence rosés , Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

There are just a couple of weeks left in 2017 and this is a great time to show you one of the major highlights of my year.

I, with 10 of my students from Norway, had the most wonderful week in October, in the Côte d’Azur, in the south of France

I had been wanting to visit this villa since my mom told me about it several years ago. My mom has been traveling a lot and talks to everybody whenever she is traveling, and on the bus, somewhere up on the hills of Vence, my mom met and chatted to a lady that was working in the Villa le Reve (Villa of the Dream) where Henri Matisse once lived. The amazing thing is that the villa is rented to artists. What a unique location on the French Riviera for art classes.

This impressed my mom a lot so she kept this bus story, and she told me the story of the lady on the bus, the house, and everything and suggested I did a painting course there. For an artist like me, to get the opportunity to hold a course there is a real dream come true, Henri Matisse is actually the artist I first fell in love with and showed me the way into art.

When I think of the south of France, I see endless fields of lavender, and beautiful azure blue coastal waters come to mind. The Côte d’Azur is on the Mediterranean coast of France. It is famous for beaches, palm trees, architecture, art and of course the wonderful food. No wonder the celebrities come from all over the world, many for the Cannes film festival and many more have stayed and bought villas in the region. In the past, this has been the home and workplace of Renoir, Scott F Fitzgerald, Picasso, Matisse, and many many other famous people are associated with the area.

 

Helga DaleSketchbook from one of the Students.

It felt as if Matisse was still there.

Henry matisse villa

Henry matisse living in Vance

This can be your bedroom for a week!

You don´t have to be rich or famous to enjoy the Mediterranean coast. There is a place for everyone and by a coincidence, I got my place in Vence up in the hills behind Nice. These “hills” are the start of the Maritime Alps where Napoleon began his journey with the intention to overthrow Louis the 18th. The whole area is steeped in history.

I was so excited to get started. I was holding my first painting holiday retreat in a comfortable and a perfect venue for an art course.

Drawing and painting

When I arrived, my taxi driver, told me that the villa had changed very little from the time Matisse lived there and nothing since he last visited the place 20 years ago. It is oozing with charm. The palm tree Matisse painted from his window was the first thing I saw every morning that week. Beyond the trees and just across the road from the villa is the incredible Chapel de Rosarie that he himself considered his life’s masterwork. We were lucky for we had sunshine and temperatures around 20 C / 70 F.

A typical day went like this:

Morning Xi Gong in the garden, with Anne Line.

Big buffet breakfast with mainly local produce on the terrace

Painting classes in the extensive garden.

Lunch on the terrace eating delicious and healthy local French food. This area of France has one of the longest life expectancies in the whole world mainly due to the food.

painting course in France, vence . Henry Matisse

Henry Matisse

The villa has charm and an atmosphere that money can´t buy.  So most often we spent the afternoons practicing, relaxing and drinking rose wine in the villa. We painted the villa, the garden or some of the still life collections that are available in the villa. Between 6 and 7 in the evening, I would review what the students had done that afternoon.

After lunch, the students were free to do whatever they like as long as they had a sketchbook with them. So some took the opportunity and traveled around to places like Nice, Grasse, Antibes and St Paul de Vence.

 

Juan-les-Pins

The villa has charm and an atmosphere that money can´t buy.  So most often we spent the afternoons practicing, relaxing and drinking rose wine in the villa. We painted the villa, the garden or some of the still life collections that are available in the villa. Between 6 and 7 in the evening, I would review what the students had done that afternoon.

The atmosphere was so convivial that we all stayed there in the evenings and cooked for each other instead of eating out in the lovely old town Vence.

We ate our meals in the same room as Matisse did, and on the terrace outside. Henri Matisse’s favorite food was soupe de poissons (fish soup), so guess what we had for dinner one evening!

We sang songs, we drew pictures, we painted, we ate lots of delicious, local, healthy, Mediterranean food. I’m not a scientist, but I am sure that the healthy diet and the gentle sunshine and the fun and the stress-free environment has added at least one month to my life.

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Photo Ivar Lein-Mathisen
Photo: Ivar Lein-Mathisen .2017

Is there anything better than the smell of lavender in the garden, flowers, and a beautiful view? I don’t think so. On the second day we hired a driver to drop us at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, we spent a while drawing and painting in the gardens. It is the most wonderful garden I’ve ever seen in person, and the view is simply breathtaking.

This pink villa on the hill with its extensive gardens is the dream come true of Béatrice de Rothschild a member of the Rothschild banking family and the wife of the banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi.

Surrounding the home are most beautiful gardens ranging from a classical French garden like Versailles with fountains and waterfall through Japanese, Provencal, Spanish, and many others.

pink villa in France

 

The villa next door was once owned by King Leopold II. It is on sale at the moment and it is estimated to be the most expensive villa in the world.

The whole experience was so lovely, for all of the senses: the smell of the roses and plants in the garden, the tastes of the healthy fresh local foods, the wonderful pastel colors of the local mountains vegetation and buildings, the warm feel of the autumn sun on the skin, the sounds of my happy students singing and laughing all day long and the warm glow of the sun in the end of October.

 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, flowers

And this travel was also been an experience for the mind for all of us, we where out of our element, out of our comfort zone, to adjusting and learn something new, we visit the Matisse villa and chapel, to learn new drawing and painting techniques, to meet so many like-minded people, to experience a new part of the world. Even for me as the teacher, I have new ideas and new perspectives, this was an event that I will never forget.

The villa has charm and an atmosphere that money can´t buy.  So most often we spent the afternoons practicing, relaxing and drinking rose wine in the villa. We painted the villa, the garden or some of the still life collections that are available in the villa. Between 6 and 7 in the evening, I would review what the students had done that afternoon.

 Rothschild’s pink villa

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6 thoughts on “The highlight of 2017

  1. What a wonderful experience Magny! I didn’t know you organized this beautiful art retreat! And visiting Matisse house I am sure felt amazing! I have been visiting France twice in the past, went around from Paris to the Atlantic Coast Bretagne and Normandy all beautiful places and lots of Art to see. You posted beautiful photos! <3

    1. HI!
      Thank you, Carolina. Yes, it was great and staying it the Matisse house was just amazing! He was my first (Art) love and made me want to paint, I remember now that the first painting I did was in his style. Nice and Vence and all the towns In France are lovely. I hope you can come back and see it all again.

      1. So great for you to experience that! I love Matisse his colors the figures such a great post impressionist artist! I would love to go back to France of course there is so much to see there but I first would love to visit Norway since I never been there and see all the beautiful Street’s Art! <3 😉

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