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Our first lesson was led by Ray Johnstone an artist and our host. Ray had worked in the advertising industry prior to retiring. He has a wealth of knowledge to share. In his studio we all enjoyed pouring over his large format sketchbook collection full of various scenes from his travels. I vowed then to begin my own collection. The large hard bond books were such a tactile experience to hold and view. We had gorgeous weather for plein art painting that day and Ray had agreed to teach 2 sessions so we had arranged for this first one to be his.

How to pack and stay under our luggage weight limit was a big factor of consideration for my students.  We had been told that tubes of paint of 100 ml or less could be packed in carry on luggage and that absolutely no turps would be allowed even in the packed luggage. All of us opted to take a double primary palette of acrylics and some brought watercolour and a few items to sketch with, a 2B pencil and eraser. To address the issue of weight we brought a light folding easel and preprimed unstretched canvas that could be easily rolled in the suitcase and mounted on stretcher bars once we were back home. Our sketchbooks were kept purposely small to accommodate other important things like clothing and footwear.  My students found even this modest supply list infringing on their space, so I relented and told some that I planned to teach sketching, plein air painting in watercolour and acrylic but they could choose to work in whichever medium they preferred or just photograph resource material.

Despite asking Ray what he planned on teaching and asking what he would need us to bring, he said we could discuss the plan when we arrived. This is one thing I would insist on clearing up before we go again and I do plan on going again because Ray and his wife were fantastic hosts. But because of not clarifying details of the lesson prior to our arrival, especially materials needed, we did not have what he felt was necessary. Thankfully he helped us and supplied larger paper and 4B pencils so on we marched. That Sunday afternoon, after a Mother’s Day lunch at a traditional French country restaurant – Le Vieux Pressoir we traveled to a medieval country church to sketch outdoors.


Duck destined for a delicious end at Le Vieux Pressoir restaurant.

641The restaurant is out in the middle of the country side. which from North American standards, you are never more than 10 – 15 min to the next town.

The church where we painted that afternoon.



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My version on the church, a quick colour sketch in acrylic copyright N. Jacquin 2013.