Painting in Arles & the Camargue with Hazel Soan (2011)

A diary and photographs from the recent trip – 27 April – 6 May 2011

Arles PaintingThis was an exceptional painting holiday in the South of France that offered an extraordinary range of subject matter from the wonderful Roman city of Arles, to the dramatic limestone mountains and medieval villages in the Alpilles Range, and to the raw beauty of the Camargue with its wild horses, bulls, flamingos and lagoons.

The hugely popular and talented painter and tutor, Hazel Soan accompanied the group of 18 students and in arranging a really good itinerary and in creating a conducive environment in which to work, everyone produced an extraordinarily high number and standard of paintings and many of the students improved their styles noticeably.  Hazel Soan gives 100% of her knowledge and help to all her students and ‘I have never been taught so much before’ is regularly said. As well as working hard there is always much laughter and lasting friendships made.

Hazel paintingA varied nine days was spent painting, with a rich variety of experiences.  The ’trail of Van Gogh’ beautifully counter balanced the Camargue and the Alpilles counter balanced the coast! Van Gogh painted the Rhone from its banks in Arles and the exact spot is adjacent to the hotel where the group were accommodated.  The group also painted the irises in the gardens at L’Espace Van Gogh, the sanatorium where he stayed and the avenues of cypress trees at Les Alyscamps, which both Van Gogh and Gauguin painted. They also painted La Place du Forum, the Arena and The Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, all of which were just a short walking distance of the hotel. Just north of Arles are the beautiful and dramatic limsteone Alpilles Mountains dotted with medieval villages, silhouetted with the dark forms of tall cypresses and knarled and twisted olive and plane trees so loved by Van Gogh. In the opposite direction and again within a very short distance of Arles is the unique region known as The Camargue – an area of flat lagoons, The Rhone delta, miles of sandy beaches, salt marshes and coastal meadows – a truly beautiful wilderness area that is home to wild horses, bulls and flamingos.  Everyone loved the Camargue for its uniqueness and the new inspiration it provided.

Hazel paintingWith a supportive group environment and the caring and conscientious nature of Vanessa – the accompanying programme co-ordinator, everyone had a hassle free time to paint all day and every day, and was made to feel part of a very warm and special family.  In fact many of the students new each other from our previous painting holidays and are already waiting to sign up for Hazel’s next trip and especially if the lovely Vanessa will be there to look after them.  The flights and accommodation arrangements all worked very well enhancing the overall experience. The direct scheduled flights were on British Airways – so no surprises or problems there, and the hotel was a small family-run property, in a quiet location but still within walking distance of the main sites in Arles and the owners were on hand to attend to individual’s requests and to make everyone feel at home.  Eating dinner in the hotel meant everyone could relax in the evenings after a rewarding day painting and the group critique session, and choose to socialise as much or as little as they wished.

To learn more about Hazel Soan click here

Summary Itinerary

27 April Depart London Gatwick.  Arrives Marseilles. Transfer to Arles.
Dinner in the hotel.
28 April Full day painting in Arles.
29 April Full day painting in The Camargue
30 April Full day painting in Arles.
1 May Full day painting in Arles
2 May Full day painting in the Alpilles Mountains
3 May Full day painting in Arles
4 May Full day painting in The Camargue
5 May Full day painting in Arles
6 May Depart Marseilles. Arrive London Gatwick.

Enjoy a selection of photographs of Hazel and some of the students in action – many kindly provided by Angela Taggart.