Saturday, June 19, 2010

The very best painter of French cheese I know...

 My copy of Postcard from Provence - paintings by Julian Merrow Smith

...not to mention figs, peaches, plums and the changes in seasonal colours in the country lanes and CĂ´tes du Ventoux vineyards of rural Provence.

Chemin Tournant
13cm x 16cm (Collection of Judith Kolata, Chicago)
copyright Julian Merrow Smith

For the last five years a Postcard from Provence from Julian Merrow Smith has popped up in my inbox on a regular basis.  It's a little less frequent than the daily postcard I used to receive at the beginning but it still perks up my day. 

This week, instead of an email, my signed copy of Postcard from Provence - the book - arrived instead and it's simply luscious!  It includes many of my favourites such as Chemin Tournant.

I'd normally review books on Making A Mark reviews but since Postcard from Provence has a special place in the life of this blog (see links at the end) I'm doing it over here instead!

Julian's book is essentially a catalogue or picture book.  It takes the form of a notional year.  In making his choice of the 140 paintings to include in the book, Julian was able to draw on more than 1,300 paintings which he had completed since February 2005 when he started Postcard from Provence.

The book also includes a six page interview with Julian by Michael Gitlitz, the current director of the Marlborough Gallery, New York which provides behind the scenes perspective on how he came to be a painter, being a painter in Provence and how the project has impacted on his life.

I love the fact that virtually all the images of the postcard paintings are 'lifesize' giving one a much better feel of what it must actually feel like to receive an airmail package containing one of his paintings on acrylic primed cardboard.

What I found interesting looking through the images chosen for the book was that it very much reminded me of the thoughts I'd had at the time I received the original emails.

Still Life with Cantal Vieux, Knife and Glass of Wine
20cm x 13cm (8"x5½"), oil on gessoed card
  • Julian can paint French cheese so well that I always feel like I can smell and taste it.  More paintings of cheese please!
  • I particularly look forward to his paintings of fruits with a soft skin - and the nuances and subtleties of the colours he employs
  • I very much enjoy the way his palette always changes with the seasons and the weather- and how much I look forward to his paintings of spring and autumn in Provence
Books about art and painting need excellent colour reproduction and I'd very much like to congratulate Julian and Ruth on their choice of printers as the colours are absolutely excellent and my softback copy has a very nice quality feel to it.  Nice to see also that this is a book which is produced by printers who are fully Forest Stewardship Council certified.

You can order a copy of the book from Julian's website where you can also see a preview of the book which allows you to read the Preface and the Introduction.

Alternatively stockists currently include John Sandoe in Chelsea, 'The Book House' in Thame, Oxfordshire and the RHS Bookshop at Wisley. Or click on the following link if you prefer to order from Amazon UK - Postcard from Provence: Paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith

Postcard from Provence on Making A Mark

I've followed Julian's endeavours closely over the years and below, so if you've not read them before, these are my posts celebrating Julian's very impressive project ably supported by Ruth and the cats!  The first one below also features an interview with Julian.
  • The 1000th Postcard from Provence 17 Oct 2008
    Congratulations to Julian Merrow Smith - today's the day of the 1000th Postcard from Provence! I've got an interview with Julian in this blog post, but first let's recap on what's happened during the last 999 paintings. (In which Julian talks about the book proposal)
  • "Postcard from Provence" - new in site auction system 26 Feb 2007
    This is what Julian had to say this morning to the c.4,000 members of his mailing list .  "February marks the second anniversary of 'Postcard from Provence'. In the two years since it's inception has received a quarter of a million visitors and nearly 2 million page views and the mailing list has nearly 4000 members, a success beyond our wildest dreams."
  • Postcard from Provence: two years on 16 Feb 2007
    I've been getting a Postcard from Provence in my inbox for over a year but today is the second anniversary of the very first post (of an oil painting of an oyster on a postcard) by Julian Merrow Smith on his extremely popular and very successful painting a day blog.
  • Making A Mark: Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards 30 December 2006 (Julian shared the Painting a Day Stickability Prize)
  • Making A Mark: Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards Part 2 30 December 2006 (in which his wife Ruth won the "Tales from the Frontline" Mention in Dispatches award for being my favourite blog by somebody who lives with an artist). 
  • Postcard from Provence 21 Feb 2006
    One of my very favourite blogs - and probably the reason why I started getting into blogging - is "Postcard from Provence", a diary in paintings.  Julian Merrow-Smith has lived in Provence for the last 8 years or so in a tiny village called Crillon le Brave.  (written 2 days before the profile in the New York Times)
For those who've not studied Julian's work before, one of the aspects worth noting is that since February 2006, his paintings have become very collectable - there's very rarely more than one postcard painting available for sale.....
The best was the day of the New York Times article in February 2006. I still had forty paintings from the first year unsold and then it went bananas. Ruth and I were putting up red dots faster than we could type and keeping track of the emails and purchases was quite a feat. I sold everything that I had hanging around in the studio in two crazy hours.
Julian Merrow Smith
Links:  Postcard from Provence: Paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith [Softback; 160 pages; ISBN:978-2-9534500-0-2 RRP $34.95 (€25.00/£22.50) ]


Anonymous said...

Many thanks Katherine, I'm delighted you so enjoyed it. I'm recovering from the mammoth task of posting 800 books to all parts of the globe - in fact the whole production was a much larger commitment than I had innocently presumed - but I will be back to painting next week, and hopefully this crazy weather will settle down into something we might recognize as summer.

Stockists for the book in the UK also include 'The Book House' in Thame, Oxon and and most european amazons.

Making A Mark said...

Nice to have so many books to pack! :)

I guess the one good thing is that you had the book packing to do while the weather in the south of France has been less than wonderful!

Stephen Magsig said...

I am so looking forward to receiving my book. I started following Postcard from Provence in 2007 and it inspired my blog Postcards from Detroit. Julian is the very best of the daily painters. Congratulations Julian

annell4 said...

Thank you. I enjoyed your site!

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