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.
Sketchbook from one of the Students.
It felt as if Matisse was still there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope you found it useful and like to try it out. Did you know that you get a printable digital artwork, and a calendar and more if you sign up for the free color course Free color course If you are on a mobile phone and have problems signing up you can go here and If you like this post, feel free to share with your family and friends on Facebook.