As we left the Toulouse airport and began the 2 hour drive, the images flashed past as we followed Ellie's little blue car. Driving an unfamiliar little car (and not having driven a straight shift vehicle for a while and with no knowledge of how to put it in reverse) on unfamiliar roads, I dared not take long looks when something interesting flew by. BUT as we left the Auto-Route and wound through the tiny towns -- Laroque d'Holmes, Peyrat, Bastide sur L'Hers -- and entered Ste Colombe, they began to feel familiar. How could that be?!!
When I walked into the back bedroom at Maison du Cerisiers, I knew. Through the window, I saw van Gogh's painting of the plum trees; we had cherry trees, but it was the same! The painting was influenced by his exposure to Japanese Ukyoi-e. You can see it here: Japonaiserie: Flowering Plum Tree (After Hiroshige)
We know that Van Gogh did not paint in this part of France, but his images, his spirit, his memories are here at other turns as well! How can that be?!!
On our 4th day, we were joined by Chin Kong Yee, a painter/photographer from Malaysia. What an exciting addition to our thought processes! His meticulous images, his discovery of the unfamiliar gave us new food for thought! Will we be influenced in our work by this contact with Kong Yee's culture as Van Gogh with that of Hiroshige? Will we be influenced by the 'presence' of Van Gogh? What will we paint under the influence of these ancient and mysterious cultures of the Aude? How will that be?!!
(For more more on van Gogh and his techniques, check here the Van Gogh Museum's newly designed site: http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?lang=en
Several languages are available, so click for yours. )