A summer memory

Today I came across a few sketches that I hadn’t scanned from my summer travels, including this one that brought back some memories of a very special place. During my workshop in Provence, we spent a day at Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery, where Van Gogh spent over a year at the asylum and painted some of his most iconic paintings including The Starry Night and Irises. He also painted at least 15 paintings of the olive trees just outside the walls of the asylum.

When I first caught of a glimpse of these ancient, gnarled trees, their shapes were so familiar — from reproductions and originals I’ve seen over the years in books and at various museums — but I didn’t get to paint them that first day. It wasn’t until a week later that I got my wish to sketch them, in between a quick lunch and a car ride to another outing. In the interim, they haunted me. There was something so powerful about their shapes — massive knotted trunks, branches like embracing arms, clouds of silvery leaves  — that I couldn’t get the image of them out of my head. The sketch was done quickly, perhaps in thirty minutes or so, but the memory of being on that hallowed ground will stay with me forever.


22 Comments on “A summer memory”

  1. ksbeth says:

    i love these trees, shari –


  2. Carol Bershad says:

    Beautiful sketch, Shari. Isn’t that where we ate lunch? You certainly captured their essence. Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ghislaine Gargaro says:

    That is a beautiful place. I painted right there, where VanGogh painted. Not so successfully but still thrilling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alison says:

    Thanks for sharing this very vivid experience.


  5. Judy Sopher says:

    What an experience you had! Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. Very haunting painting. And how fortunate you were able to go back and paint it.


  6. Hariette says:

    Love those Olive trees! Summer in the Med!!


  7. Monique says:

    They are perfect.What a touching place. We stay close by..and the visit of it and the sights around it never leave me.I just talked about it.You must listen to Starry Starry Night again.:)


  8. Hi Shari
    What a memorable sketch, and beautifully rendered,as though Van Gogh were guiding your hand


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