A warm autumn afternoon here in the Languedoc, with our painting workshops in France alongside the Canal du Midi – and what better way of passing a few hours.  Le Somail is a beautiful setting with a number of small cafes and restaurants placed around the central bridge.

In the 17th century, the town was the resting place for passengers on the mail barge operating between Toulouse and Agde. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean and along with the 193 km (120 miles) long Canal du Garonne forms the Canal des Deux Mers joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

We’ve painted this scene a number of times in the studio from photographs so it felt dream-like to be actually walking over the bridge and down to the cafe where we’d decided to paint from. I encourage students to do a small study of the scene and try some colours before moving on to a larger painting. You can see my initial colour sketch in the gallery. I’ll be doing a step by step tutorial soon and posting it on the site. You’ll find others examples to work from on the tutorials page, top left on the Home page.

Once the students were happy with their colour sketches, we moved on to the larger paintings. A light sketch of the scene was drawn and colour added starting with the sky, then a wash of yellow ochre over the stone work of the bridge and buildings before adding trees and, finally, details. The shadows lengthened and a round of chilled white wine was ordered. The perfect end to the afternoon. Here’s to more successful painting workshops in France.