A Year in the Gers

Oil painting of plum trees in bloom near La Romieu.
Plum Trees in Bloom, La Romieu. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

We’ve been living in the Gers region of France now for over a year and I thought I should post some of the work I’ve done. As I’ve written in the past (here and here), the landscapes here are wonderful for plein air painting, and the sort of subjects that I’ve looked for for years.

Plein air painting done below Lectoure.
Wheat Fields below Lectoure. 90 x 120 cm, oil on linen.
Oil painting of a ruined castle in the Gers.
Castle Ruin, Autumn. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Plein air painting of Chapelle Saint-Michel de Tremblade near Jegun.
Chapelle Saint-Michel in Winter. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

It’s a very open landscape. Apparently there used to be many more vineyards but they were pulled out in the 20th-century to make more fields for sunflowers and wheat. I’ve always much preferred the later two as subject matter, but if we need vineyards there are still some nearby, and there a lot further north and west where there are more grapes grown for the Armagnac.

Fall Vineyard, Jegun. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The Gers is also wonderfully free of olive trees, as I developed a terrible allergy to olive pollen in Tuscany which ruined the painting season for me from late April to June. The last couple of years in Florence I was reduced to painting still lifes in the Spring as it got so bad (no offense to still life painters). I also developed an allergy to cypress trees, and thankfully there are far less of them here as well.

With all that said, because of the drier summers we’re having in Southwestern France due to climate change, there is talk of farmers starting to plant more olive trees and I’ve seen a couple of new fields of them.

Oil painting of Chapelle Sainte-Marie near Lavardens.
Cypresses at Chapelle Sainte-Marie. 80 x 100 cm, oil on linen.
Plein air landscape painting of the view from Lavardens, Gers, France
The View from Lavardens. 90 x 120 cm, oil on linen.

Camille Corot’s painting from 1826 of the Augustinian Bridge at Narni in southern Umbria had a profound effect on me when I was starting out as a landscape painter and I especially loved the subtle blue reflection of the sky in the mustard colored water of the Nera river. For this reason I was very happy to discover that the three major rivers that run down from the Pyrenees and head north past us to the Garonne all regularly have the same ocher water from the clay in the soil.

Plein air painting of the Baise river in Gascony.
The Baïse at Pléhaut. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
The Osse at Vic-Fezensac. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.
Painting of the Gers river in Auch
Early Spring, Auch. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

We settled in the village of Jegun. It’s a charming, vibrant village with lovely inhabitants. It’s also pretty but not too pretty. After 20 years in the center of Florence I was interested in living somewhere where tourism took a back seat to the lives of the locals.

Oil painting of Rue Sainte-Marie, Jegun.
Rue Sainte-Marie, Jegun. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
Oil painting of Grande Rue in Jegun.
Grande Rue, Jegun. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Oil painting of an Irish Pub in France.
The Irish Pub, Jegun. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Oil painting of sunflower fields in the Gers.
Sunflower Fields below Jegun. 80 x 92 cm, oil on linen.

Nearby we have a wealth of picturesque subject matter, including the very beautiful departmental capital of Auch which is only 20 minutes away, as well as agricultural scenes and the rolling hills of Gascony.

Oil painting of Lavardens.
Lavardens. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Plein air painting of Sainte-Marie cathedral in Auch
Sainte-Marie Cathedral, Auch. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Oil painting of a combine harvester.
Combine Harvester. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Autumn crocuses oil painting.
Autumn Crocuses, Bonas. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Evening light oil painting
Evening Light near La Sauvetat. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

It’s been a wonderful first year and we look forward for many more to come.

plein air painting of a Mill on the Baïse.
Mill on the Baïse. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.


    • Hi Marc, It is very nice to see your scene selection from your scouting video of the sunflower field with the quirky tree, painted so beautifully. Also, your workshop videos have been a very valuable resource for my journey into Plein air. Great instruction. I need to sign up for a forthcoming workshop soon.
      Much obliged sir!
      Miguel Morejohn, Portland, Oregon

  1. Your colors and freedom are beautiful. Very inspiring. Just been painting a bit in Sweden, very different light ( and no olive pollen!)
    Hope to be able to paint in France one day.

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