At a time like this when the world is bubbling over with craziness at a full boil, I respond by drowning myself in the arts. I’ve been reading (currently on my night table: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen; it’s not exactly light reading but it’s well written and absorbing), going to movies (most recently the Norman Lear documentary), visiting museums (exhibits of folk art and of Mo Willems’ art at the New York Historical Society Museum), and finding solace in poetry (thank you, Mary Oliver, for re-grounding me in nature). Some might call it escapism. I consider it salvation. With heavy humidity curling the pages of my notepad and social-political tensions heating up, I’m looking for ways to keep cool literally and figuratively.
I’m particularly enjoying the original watercolors created by artist Carol Gillott. Born in the United States, Carol moved to France several years ago and gets daily inspiration from the foods, neighborhoods, and other colorful aspects of French culture.
I met Carol in France a couple weeks ago, although I’ve been familiar with her art and writing for years via her blogposts Paris Breakfasts. Though Carol lives in Paris, she recently traveled with her easel to Provence. Carol described for me what made the deepest impressions on her during her time in Provence: “It’s the pure colors–an infinite range of burnt siennas and yellow ochre buildings contrasted with touches of periwinkle blue, turquoise, and melon shutters.”
Take a look at the cheerful watercolor that was inspired by what she saw at the Arles market in Provence:
I love the way she depicts the warmth and vitality of this market. Three horizontal panels convey the essence of the experience: at the top, abundant local produce—represented here by small orange globes of apricots; in the middle, the variety of ages, postures, and types of individuals who attend the Provençal markets, each one carrying a basket or knapsack; and, at the bottom, stepping back to give us perspective on the full market scene: a sea of people and produce and umbrellas. Her depiction of the Arles market is accurate and uplifting. You don’t have to be there to get a feel for the joyfulness of this market because her art conveys it unmistakably.
Carol’s work incorporates broad strokes of whimsy and originality. She reduces complicated scenes to a few representative images. These evocative montages always communicate something essential about the place, its people, and its spirit.
I encourage you to check out more of Carol Gillott’s work on Etsy and subscribe to her monthly sketch letters. You’ll receive a regular dose of art delivered to your mailbox. We could all use more of that, and now more than ever.
Carol Gillott’s website Paris Breakfasts
Carol Gillot’s shop on Etsy
Carol on Flickr