Watercolor: Prescribed Burn, Provence (& 18 Habits of Creative Brains)

Many years ago, I accompanied my step mother to France to see the village she grew up in, and visit her family. I remember speeding along N4 outside Paris and seeing smoke in the sky. Farmers were using prescribed burns to clear fields of ticks and parasitic worms, and ready them for new plants.  The contrast between lush Spring landscape and giant smoke plumes left an impression on my teenaged sense of wonder.

Bruise-colored clouds over Newhall, California

While visiting Provence last June, I didn’t witness any controlled burns (it may have been too late in the season) but the color & scent of the French landscape primed that teenaged memory, and I wondered about it for the first time in years while sketching a lavender field near Bonnieux. Back in the studio, while laying in the composition of this watercolor, I doodled some smoke, and the image just rolled forward on it’s own from there. 🙂 The color and shape of clouds and smoke and fog and mist are an artist’s conundrum of color, shape and edges, but they each make for great looking/seeing/noticing practice with brushes and pigment. Have you painted any clouds lately?

Wheat colored clouds over Valencia, California

I have a full sheet of watercolor paper with a lavender field sketched (no smoke, and just a few clouds) so it’s ready for the first washes of color, but it’ll have to wait till I finish obligations ahead of that painting. There are shows coming up soon, with particular themes that don’t include lavender. But soon….

Beginnings of a brush fire in Santa Clarita, California. Have you ever painted smoke?

I re-read this Huff post article on the complexity and mysteries of the creative mind, and thought you might find thought provoking nourishment in the essay too: 18 Habits of Highly Creative People  I found many of the “habits” familiar, and laughed at the acknowledgment and suggested acceptance that we creative-types often lose track of time.  Are you ever late to get somewhere when you’ve been painting?  🙂

  • It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self  

          ~Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania

 On the subject of painting soft, gossamer things like clouds, smoke, wind and fog, are you familiar with the masterful tornado paintings done by John Brosio? Here is his facebook page too, if you want to follow along with his current teaching & exhibition schedule.

Thanks for visiting today. I hope your art supplies are moving in your hands, and things are humming along inside & outside your creative mind.

See you in the next post –


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Art Quote

Reinvention never ends. It’s every day. Pursue what you enjoy and move towards it and there will be opportunities.  I look at my own life today. I’m about to finish a children’s book. I’m looking into TV. I’m working on a novel. I have other business things. I don’t know if any of them will work. But I know if I don’t keep trying I will slip back into whatever hole I constantly have to dig myself out of.

Prescribed Burn, Provence 13×8 watercolor (sold)

7 thoughts on “Watercolor: Prescribed Burn, Provence (& 18 Habits of Creative Brains)”

  1. Pingback: Watercolor Sketching: Kitchen at Chateau Renard and painting from travel photos - Belinda Del Pesco

  2. How beautiful. Clouds seem to be a huge preoccupation of mine. But no I have not painted smoke.
    I love the proportions in this. Perfect.


    1. Hello there, you. I love your cloud paintings, and I think you always seem to bring a hint of joy to those puffy, white shapes. Probably your personality spilling into the pigments. Thanks for your generous compliments, my friend.

    1. H, Bonnie! No need for poetry here… I want it to feel like we’re lounging around in paint spattered clothes, drinking tea and comparing notes. Thanks very much for the nice comment!

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