A trip to Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne's Studio (Atelier de Cézanne).
Welcome to a new series here on my blog that I'm calling 'Inspiration Everywhere'. As a designer and creative, I truly believe inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere. Even just a walk round the block can spark a creative idea when you least expect it, with a flash of colour that catches your eye, a texture on a wall or a perfectly formed flower that's popped up through the pavement. Finding inspiration can of course be more planned, by going to exhibitions, art shows, antique fairs or a rummage in a good vintage shop. In this series I will be sharing some places I've found inspiration and the snaps I've taken along the way.
For the first in this series I'm sharing part of a trip to Aix-en-Provence, France and a visit to Cézanne's Studio. I've been a fan of Cézanne's work for as long as I can remember, his work was one the first artists work that I started to discover as a teenager and influenced many school art projects and professional projects since. So I couldn't wait to visit his studio in person. We joined the tour which takes you up to the one room studio within the old farmhouse, where you're seated among many of his original belongings before watching a short slideshow of the studio's history. We were fascinated to learn that so much of the studio and farmhouse are still in their original condition with many original features, since Cézanne's death in 1906, still intact. The grey walls, that Cézanne created to reduce glare, the floor boards, which were chosen to replace the tiles for the same reason. The huge north facing window, that provided the perfect natural light. Much of his painting bag, that he took when painting outside, was neatly displayed, with metal boxes of palettes and paintbrushes as well as his easels and chairs. The 'wow' moment really came when objects from his still life's could be seen lined up on his shelves and displayed on sideboards, much smaller in real life than you would imagine and wonderful to see what he was inspired by as an artist and the objects he chose to paint.
Above: The exterior of the farmhouse, is now surrounded by trees and foliage, you can just see the large north facing window peaking from behind the trees in the right photo. Originally when Cézanne bought the building in 1902, there would have been a clear view of Montagne Sainte-Victoire and far more direct light through all windows.
Left: details of the many objects in the studio. Right: Painting equipment and the only original paintings in the studio can be seen on the canvas on the easel and the thinner canvas to left of the easel, which were discarded by Cézanne before completion but saved and stored away by his gardener.
Left: A selection of original objects that Cézanne painted from; the skulls on the shelf to the left, the small figure on the marble topped drawers and the pottery and bottle to the left of him. These three objects, the green pot, the bottle and the string covered blue pot can be seen in a still life painting by Cézanne 'Still Life with Apples' (right).
Objects and memorabilia around the studio. The wooden female figure in the centre image was also used in many of Cézanne's paintings, often scaled up to fit next to other women he painted, this can be seen in his painting 'The Bathers' 1894-1905. Her angled face shape and low bun often giving her away in the paintings.
Next to the largest north facing window, Cézanne had this long thin window built in. Used to slide large paintings outside so he could examine the paint and colours in the natural light from his garden. Prior to this window being built, Cézanne had his gardener winch paintings through the front windows and down to the ground which was far more difficult and time consuming. (Such a clever idea!)
Returned from our visit feeling very inspired to pint from objects around me and I might even venture outside with my painting bag à la Cézanne. I also love all the muted tones and colours, from the mustard, rust and pale blues of the exterior of the farmhouse. To the tones of colours in the objects sat against the grey walls of the studio. (also now feeling inspired to paint my walls grey. If it's good enough for Cézanne...).
Highly recommend a visit should you ever be in the Aix-en-Provence!