Last May, I did some drawing up around the little village of Vaugines. I am so out of practice at pleine aire painting the little watercolours were not great! But I did take photos, and rediscovered the pleasure of drawing with pen and ink back at home.

I spent these short sessions with my friend David, a recently retired architect who wanted to get back into drawing. We were both inspired by Van Gogh’s superb pen and ink drawings of the Provençale landscape, using his own perfect shorthand to indicate the various kinds of vegetation—a squiggle, a dash, repetitive strokes; whatever.

Here’s David, comfortably set up in the shade near some cherry trees on the hill overlooking the Mont Sainte Victoire to the east, and the Alpilles to the west. Below is spread the fertile Luberon valley.

At first I wanted to try and capture the whole panorama before me. I mostly used a very high percentage of sepia ink. Unfortunately, my rather primitive scanner, blew out the delicate tones of the sky and clouds, which you can’t see here.

I figured it was nicer to have more of a middle range of tone, and filled little vials with varying percentages of ink to water and did a zeroed-in perspective, also used in the oil sketch above.

I also did a drawing from the other perspective—looking back towards the north— from a bike path among the pines:

  • Gaylord Burke

    Diana, thank you for sharing these paintings and especially your comments. I am having a similar problem trying to capture the “whole panorama” in a photograph and it usually fails because there is nothing anchor the scene. It’s all too confusing. I can’t blame it on my scanner and just have to eliminate all that’s non-essential and focus on more specific areas. It’s hard to control my reaction to a scene though.

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