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a watercolor sketch of a kitchen window in a rental in Provence, France
Kitchen at Chateau Renard 8.5×7 Watercolor Sketch

Harvest Your Watercolor Sketching Inspiration

During a Springtime Provence painting workshop with the fine folks at, our support team stayed in charming little apartments for a few days before moving into the chateau we shared with yet-to-arrive guests. We spent time in a local home, tucked against cypress-hedged fields, preparing lists of groceries, planning for transport of incoming artists, and scouting for blooming lavender. The first morning I woke up in France, the kitchen of our little flat held all the quaint countryside charm of Provence in the early morning light. I knew within the first hour of that trip (the first of two), I’d found a lottery of incredible painting images. Beyond the often shared, vicarious outdoor scenery of castles tucked into hills, symmetrically lined lavender fields and cafe-umbrella dotted villages, there was also shimmery-soft, provencal daylight, draped across palpably French interiors. I took thousands of painting photos.

a woman sitting in a field of lavendar
Immersed in the scent and bee-buzz of French Lavender in Provence. (Photo by Linda Queally)

a window with white linen curtains in a french village in provence
One of several french kitchens we stayed in while planning for incoming guests with

Tap into Your Own Well

When you travel, your eyes and ears (and tastebuds) are set aglow with new inspiration. Surely, in previous trips, you’ve already captured memories with DSLR cameras or cell phone snapshots.  You can re-live those wonder-filled hours by painting and drawing from your photos, especially if you’re in a bit of a slump. They don’t have to be stellar photos – as long as they remind you of your travel experiences. Our job as creative folk is more than a little about sharing; we convey with imagery all the other senses felt, thought, seen and heard. You – the artist – notice more than the average bear in the world at large. When you create from a scene other folks walk by hundreds of times – a shadow sprouted from the base of a back-lit daisy – suddenly, the daisy and her shadow are noticeable to everyone.  And beautiful. You’ve made the non-visual segment of the population stop and notice something mundane by sharing your re-imagined version of it with your art. What a gift!

The little french kitchen my sketchbook study was based on, at a different time of day

Do It: Pull Out Your Sketchbook

Your artwork is a map of all the places you’ve traveled, and the rooms you’ve inhabited, and the landscapes you’ve walked across. Pull out some of your travel photos, and get your creative mojo freshly inspired to make something from your experiences. Even if you’re only trying to get your own eyes to notice more. The practice is so worth it, and the memories of place re-kindle artistry in a way that simply skips past any current stuckness – like stepping over a puddle – when our hands are busy making something. You’ve got this. Make something today.

Etsy Sale

Etsy is celebrating their 13th anniversary from June 18-22 and each shop owner is invited to participate.  Since several of the art festivals I normally exhibit at have gone belly-up, and Etsy provided a great option for selling my art online, well before (2005) Shopify, and in a simpler format than subscription-based, code-heavy shopping carts for web sites, I’m celebrating with them. All original art in my shop will be 15% off from Monday to Friday next week. Have a look here.

A sketchbook on a lap desk on the couch, two travel brushes, a travel palette and a shallow rinse cup. (The sketch was already drawn using the grid method during several evenings prior to this one.)
First washes of yellow ochre on the light pencil sketch
Glazing watercolor in transparent layers to adjust values on the scene
Painting process inspection by Scout the Studio cat

Sketchbook watercolor study from a sweet memory in France. I might paint it larger now.

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll be watching the comments to see the link to your travel-related art made this week. Right? Ok, good. Have fun with it! I’ll see you in the next post.


P.S. If you’re thinking about taking an overseas art workshop, and you’re worried that your skills aren’t up to snuff for such an endeavor, read this encouraging and truthful post by artist & lovely person Shirley Hambrick.

Art Quote

The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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8 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketching: Kitchen at Chateau Renard and painting from travel photos”

  1. Beautiful work, as always! I’m in Varenna on Lake Como right now. The lake is heavenly and all the time spent in cafes and on ferries has been inspiring. My sketches have been mostly of buildings in pencil or ink. But I have many photos to remember to colors. The feelings will come back when I paint them again. It’s been over two weeks since I got to Italy, a few more to go. Ciao for now.

    1. M.E. – I’m *SO* jealous! I LOVE Como, Lugano and Garda Lakes – Magical places, and the roads to and from are beautiful and hair-raising. Great memories. Im so glad you are sketching and drawing and snapping photos! I should pull mine out and do a few sketches from thirty years ago to freshen up my sense of wonder for the place. We can compare notes. Thanks for the reminder, and happy, full-filling, wondrous travels to you!

  2. Suzanne Moore

    Belinda, how did you choose the color scheme for this interior? I noticed the reference photo showed light values and whites,but your painting shows deep colors and values.

    1. Hi Suzanne, The reference photo wasn’t published on the post because I couldn’t find the original on my hard drive – I have the printed and folded (grid lines) photo I used as a reference in my sketchbook. The painting is darker in values because the time of day was different (sunset) compared to the morning photo in the post. If I find it, I’ll send it to you. 🙂

  3. hi Belinda, I love your travel watercolor setup. your post is so serendipitous (again) because tomorrow I’m going for a short art making road trip. I’m not very comfortable with watercolors, so im going to take a minimalist print studio (a few gouges, a brayer, barren and can of ink) I think the the idea is a little bit crazy, which makes me want to do it even more:) the fb KS again for the inspiration.

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