Living and Painting in the Ever-Changing Environment of Lacoste

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“Are you ready to hike back up?” I overhear a fellow painting student ask another. Nearly all of the painting students in Lacoste, France this quarter must traverse down the trail from the Upper Village through the woods, alongside the fields, and beyond the vineyards to arrive Maison Basse. After painting, sketching, and experimenting late into the evening, the painting students must prepare for the homeward hike. These journeys up and down, along with additional adventures up to the castle Château de Sade and the hike to nearby Bonnieux, have become significant experiences informing Lacoste painters this quarter.

Recently, the weather has taken a wet turn. For the painting students, this means muddy shoes, raincoats, and being prepared with plastic bags. These changes in weather are most significant for the landscape painters, who find themselves in an ever-changing environment. As I was speaking with Sami Lee Woolhiser — set up with her portable easel, paints, and stool alongside the trail near Maison Basse — sprinkles of rain descended upon us. She quickly covered her easel in a large, transparent plastic bag, threw on her raincoat, and — with painterly dedication — continued working on the canvas beneath the plastic. When asked how painting outdoors felt to her, she explained, “It’s actually kind of distracting at times, but not really in a bad way. You’re exposed to the elements — like the bees won’t leave me alone! — but you’re so immersed in nature that it becomes a really special experience.”

No matter if you are directly working from the landscape or simply travelling back and forth to classes, living abroad in this unique environment abroad is an experience that any student should consider for personal and artistic growth.

Written by Kate Marie Phillips, Painting BFA
All photos by Kate Marie Phillips unless otherwise noted.


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