Above: John Dyer pictured in Provence with his painting 'Flowers for Honey, Cairanne' which is available as an art poster print.
Artists John Dyer and Joanne Short have been captivated and inspired by the beauty of France for many years and have been on many painting holidays around the country over the last thirty years, including the Loire Valley, the Côte d'Azur, Provence, Brittany and Paris.
Over the centuries, from the middle ages onwards, France and Italy have played the most significant part in defining Western art.In the nineteenth century France re-emerged as a world leader in visual art, and Paris came to be seen as the world capital of art.
France's dazzling culture has become a focus to tourists worldwide, beckoning them with its extraordinary art and history. From medieval ruins to exquisite Renaissance chateaux and incomparable museums and art galleries packed with masterpieces - visitors are captivated by France's remarkable artistic heritage.
What to paint in France?
France is famous for its cuisine and culture, but the country is also full of painting subjects - natural wonders of The Alps, with some of the highest peaks in Europe, to giant canyons, wide and fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls, and fields of purple lavender, yellow sunflowers, rolling hills of vineyards of juicy grapes ripe for an artist to capture in paint.
Above:John Dyer pictured in 1998 painting in the vineyards above Rasteau in Provence, France
Painters John Dyer and Joanne Short have been inspired for many years by the rich and wonderful beauty of the french landscape.
A Painting Holiday in France
After their initial introduction to Provence on their honeymoon to the village of Rasteau in 1997, John Dyer and Joanne Short were so inspired by what they saw that they felt they had to return and capture it in paint. Their first ever painting holiday in France the following year was a huge success, followed by a number of other trips later, with their family.
"I have many happy memories of our time spent painting while on holiday in Provence with my wife and children. We would take a trip out in the mornings, armed with canvas and paints, before it was too hot. We would discover new things to paint every day. Painting and creating art 'en plein air', like in the days of impressionism, where the whole landscape became our studio was both relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. I feel very lucky that what I would choose as a hobby, is actually my profession, and going on a family painting holiday is proof of this."
Eugene Boudin, one of the first French artists to paint outdoors, when talking about painting 'en plein-air', said -
"Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio... three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel."
Above: Montagnes, Environs de Nice (1892), Eugene Boudin
Provence is one of the favourite painting spots that Joanne Short and John Dyer have enjoyed over the years. They have spent several painting holidays in the area.
Above: The Warmth of Autumn in the Menton Hills, France. Original Painting by Joanne Short
Artist Paul Cezanne was one of many impressionist artists who lived and worked in Provence. Speaking about the landscape surrounding him he said -
"As a painter I am beginning to see more clearly how to work from Nature.. .But I still can't do justice to the intensity unfolding before my eyes"
Above: Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley, Paul Cezanne
Olives and Grapes
Vaucluse, an area within Provence, is one of the best places for painting 'en plein air'. Famous for its abundance of crops, olive trees grow on rolling hills and vineyards fill the valleys. It is the centre for Côtes du Rhône wine, grown and produced on the hilltops around the Dentelles mountain range. The main grape-growing and wine-producing villages include Rasteau, Gigondas, Cairanne, Séguret and Sablet. Joanne and John have often painted these village scenes and the surrounding landscape.
Above: Limited Edition Print by John Dyer. 'Under the Shade of the Olive Trees, Gigondas, Provence'
Above: Joanne Short Fine Art Open Edition French Art Print. 'The Old Town, Vaison La Romaine'
On their painting holidays John and Joanne can often be found on the outskirts of a pretty Provençal village, looking back at the view, drawing or painting.
Above: Artist Joanne Short painting the French landscape at Vaison-la-Romaine in Vaucluse, Provence, France
Lavender, Sunflowers, Wildflowers
South of Vaucluse is the Luberon with its undulating hills covered in lavender and sunflowers - an inspiration for any painter. John and Joanne have painted in Gordes, Bonnieux and Menerbes - villages surrounded by pretty gardens and stone houses with colourful shutters.
Above: Limited Edition French Print of Sunflowers by John Dyer. 'Fields of Colour, Bonnieux, Provence'
Above: Limited Edition French Print by Joanne Short. 'View through the Sunflowers, Bonnieux'
It's hard to imagine how beautiful the rolling hillsides are, covered in purple lavender, but John captures it in his artwork. John's style of painting lends itself to the colourful landscape, and Joanne's paintings are filled with beautiful wildflowers all around.
Above: Limited Edition French Print by John Dyer. 'Cycling through the Lavender, Gordes, Provence, France'
The UNESCO world heritage site of Roussillon and its ochre landscape is another subject John and Joanne have captured in paint. Located amidst one of the world's largest ochre deposits, Roussillon is renowned for its awe-inspiring red cliffs and quarries. The vivid hues of yellow, brown and red against a backdrop of green pine trees and clear blue skies which create a breathtaking contrast.
Above: Limited Edition French Print by Joanne Short. 'Summer Sunshine, Roussillon'
After a family trip to Paris, both John Dyer and Joanne Short created a series of art work based on this beautiful, romantic city. John has painted couples riding bicycles past the Eiffel Tower and families enjoying themselves on the Carousel.
Above: Limited Edition Print. 'Cycling under the Moon, Paris'. By Artist John Dyer
Above: French Signed Limited Edition Print by John Dyer. 'Twinkling Lights and Carousel Delights, Paris.'
Joanne's poster collection of Paris are glimpses of stunning Parisian architecture through open windows, capturing a moment in time. And John's Parisian paintings look stunning in our contemporary poster art format.
Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh said -
“There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here…the French air clears up the brain and does one good.”
Vincent van Gogh
Famous paintings of Paris
Above: 'View de Paris' by Paul Chagall (1978)
The Chagall 'View of Paris' (a later painting by the artist) is a stunning composition, a mix of child-like imagination, nostalgia and iconic motifs. The woman in the sky had appeared in many pieces by this artist. Despite his hardships, he created this optimistic artwork to celebrate life's remarkable colours and boundless love. It comes as no surprise that Chagall held an abiding fondness for the french capital.
Above: 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' by Georges Seurat
As the pioneering painting of its kind, 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' was a revolutionary piece by Georges Seurat. Not only did this oil masterpiece mark an advancement in his new technique, pointillism, but also established an entirely new milestone for Impressionist art in general.
Côte d'Azur and the local area
The Côte d'Azur, located in the south of France right up to the Italian border, is renowned for its stunning beauty and breathtaking coastline. From Menton to Monte-Carlo, Nice to Cannes, Antibes to St Tropez, its crystal-clear turquoise waters, rugged cliffs, picturesque harbours and luxurious resorts are fun to explore and beautiful to paint. From the sparkling Mediterranean Sea to the Alps in the background, this region is full of stunning scenery and places to paint. Many other painters in history have lived and worked in this area, including Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Auguste Renoir and Henri Matisse. Many of Matisse's most famous and important works were created in Vence, where he spent the last years of his life. His house in Vence is the perfect venue for painting holidays, with views across the valley towards the sea.
Above: John Dyer Wall Art Poster Print. Gallery Monaco Range.'It is Very Nice in Nice, France'
Above: painting by Matisse of Nice. 'Les régates de Nice' (1921)
John and Joanne spent three years living and working in Menton on the Côte d'Azur.
"The whole time we were living in the South of France felt like one big painting holiday. It always felt like a bit of a dream, and we were so lucky to be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape and warm climate and paint until our heart's content."
Above: Limited Edition French Prints by John Dyer. 'Sailing Past the Jardin Des Antipodes, Menton, France'
Above: Open edition art print 'Painting Holidays in Provence, Rasteau' by John Dyer
"My favourite painting holiday was in Provence in 1999. We returned to the same accommodation in Rasteau, where John and I had spent our honeymoon and received a warm welcome on our return. It was exciting to be back, this time with our brushes and paints. There was so much for us to paint... where to start?"
"Colour is alive and colour alone makes things come alive"
Which piece of French art will you choose?
France is inspiring, aspirational and holds so many memories for many of us with much loved family holidays and adventures. We have a fantastic range of art prints inspired by France that you can view and buy online on our acclaimed gallery to bring the French landscape into your home and life every day.