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  • Writer's pictureArt by Wietzie

Il fait un froid de canard!

Dear reader, we interrupt our planned posting about Paris and Le musée Rodin, to tell you about the incredible weather we had last week in Provence.

When one thinks of Provence, the images that come to mind are those of summer. Fields of red poppies, bright yellow sunflowers, purple lavender, green-silver olive trees, and markets with brightly coloured table cloths blowing in the breeze. Rarely does one associate snow with this part of the world.

In 2012, our first winter in Provence it snowed in February and low and behold last week it snowed again. It happens only every 6/7 years or so and in some areas it was the first time in 13 years. So very beautiful and exciting but a bit chaotic! The big chill from Russia, was called "the Beast from the East" by UK tabloids, while the Dutch were calling it the "Siberian bear" and Swedes the "snow cannon". Whatever it was called, it was a very cold period here in Provence with lots of snow.

The French have a number of idioms to refer to cold weather, il fait un froid de canard, being one of them. It literally means something like ‘it’s duck-cold’, which I would translate as- it’s absolutely freezing.  Naturally in Canada where it snows a lot, the French Canadians have their own idioms for freezing weather, and they say-fret à faire hurler les loups-and this literally means: ‘it’s cold enough to make wolves howl’. Well the ducks were cold, the wolves were howling and we were hiding out, eating pancakes and drinking red wine!

At least when it is so cold and wet, there are no temptations and I have been painting away. I have not painted landscapes for over two years, and just suddenly last week felt this incredible urge to paint the land. So three paintings done, and it looks like I am channeling my inner J.M.W Turner. I love a barely there landscape with expressive colourisation.

There is a fascinating story about the American Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko. In 1966, he visited an exhibition of the work of Turner at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Walking through the show, Rothko was struck by the similarity of Turner’s paintings to his own art. “This man Turner,” he reportedly said afterwards, “he learned a lot from me.”Given that Turner had died more than a century earlier, what did Rothko mean? The answer is that he was expressing his version of an idea that had become fairly common by the middle of the 20th Century: that Turner was an important forerunner of modern art!

Speak soon, and I leave you with a few more photo's of Provence and Lorgues under snow.

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