Summertime in Champagne

I spent July in South Champagne, in my atelier of Coupray. This year the landscape was particulaly striking for two reasons; the heatwave casted its own particular colour on the fields and all the farmers grew wheat this year, thus reinforcing the flat lines of the landscape though the uniform colour of crops. The landscapes seemed particularly uniform. The pale ocre of the wheat topped by a thin white line of light reflected by the crop, the deep green of the forest afar casting a dark shadow, a white line genereated by the heat on the horizon and the pale blue sky.

I didn’t know if I would paint this summer. My workshop was an absolut mess, filled with many boxes left unoped from my flat removal in Paris. Of course I had some carnets and crayons and the first view that drove me to make some sketches was on the road to Latrecey, a nearby village, where I was struck by the simple lines of the landscape that came to my eyes, everything was so simple and geometric that I feld compeled to sketch it down.

Back home, I “normalised” the lines, looking for the appropriate balance between each shape the colour delimited.

Then I decided I was not going to just draw and I had to paint. I would do small canvas that I could  scale larger later on back in Berlin.

I was also amused by the movement of the clouds over the static landscape. From my workshop windows I had the view over my neighbourgh’s barn across the field. 

It gaves me the idea to play variations around each landscape.

If I looked on the other side I could also see part of the neighbourg’s house amidst the tree.

Unfortunately I was seeing the gable of the house so I had to mentaly twist it to make it more interesting.

I had by then enough formal elements to create compositions by freeing myself from reality. I realised a few of then and I will see in Berlin what I make of it.

Although I was quite pleased with my work, I found that I failed to transcribe the heat. I think partly because of the clouds in the sky, even on the hottest days we had some clouds and these landscapes could depict inasmuch springtime or any sunny day. I was driving back from Chaumont and on the road I could see villages from afar lost in a sea of wheat fields, and that’s how I had the idea that I should get rid of the sky in order to transcribe the oppresive heat.

There I think I was finally rendering the feeling of warmth. So I did a few variations.

And then as I was walking on the hill, the storm hit. It was the end of the heat wave. But that’s another story.