Thursday, April 8, 2010

Protected Fields of Napoleon

Protected Fields of Napoleon
Waterloo, Belgium and surrounding villages
In 2015 The Bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo will occur. A re-enactment of the battle occurs every five years, but the Bicentennial will be exceptional. Local towns and villages are already preparing. The fields in this historical area are federally protected. I'm inspired by the color of their changing crops and the way light rolls across the open stretches all through the year. Leading up to this celebration I am preparing a solo show of plein air paintings. I will complete fifty or sixty plein air landscapes in preparation for a solo exhibition. I hope to find a sponsor(s) which will allow this exhibiti to travel in whole or in part to other cities named Waterloo -- about fifty internationally. The Napoleonic areas cover quite a geographic expanse and as such, the exhibition can encompass areas outside of Belgium--not just that where the last battle took place.

Federally Protected FieldLILLOIS-WITTERSEE

Without occasions that attract tourism (the reenactments), these fields afford the plein air artist an opportunity to paint vistas that deserve to be recorded if not for their historical significance then for the beauty of the constantly changing light that falls upon them. This painting is the first the series planned for the special exhibit in relation to the 2015 Bicenteniale.

Napoleonic Farm

This is a beautiful old farm located in the protected historical area of the Napoleonic battelfields, very close to the Butte de Lion monument. The view is painted from a distance, because being on the premises is prohibited at the time the painting was done. In the foreground, is a breed of cow unique to Belgium called Belgian Bleu. Sadly, they were not kind enough to pose lfor me and retired to the far background, so I basically had to paint them from memory. I want to return in afternoon light and different seasons. I hope they will cooperate in future paint outs. I look forward to returning and getting another chance to capture their unique, pig-like silouhette.

Pastoral Snowscape
 DOMAINE D'ARGENTEUIL (view near back sidebetween Lasne and Gallieamard)


A typical field entrance, bordering Waterloo adjacent to the Domaine D'Argenteuil in the far left distance. The winter of 2009-2010 delivered a record- number of (artist friendly) snows in 30 years. The roads were clear enough to navigate by car to softly blanketed views. One can see far into the distance because the baren trees leave the beauty of winter skies to shine through.

Market Day in the Hilltop Village

This is a beautiful hilltop village in a car-free zone except on market day (seen through the arch). The Napoleonic connection is found in the architecture. Where windows were one built into the original design fo the building, they were removed and filled in as a means to save money.  Napoleon sought to tax the rich and poor fairly. His assumption was that the rich lived in bigger houses and the converse true of the poor, so he decreed that taxes would be paid by the number of windows in the household. This explains the irregularity of the unique textures where wndows have been awkardly eliminated. I have another one in watercolor I'll post later. This happens to be in Provence, but there are other many other villages where this holds true.

Battle of Waterloo War Monument
Placenoit near Waterloo, Belgium

The round hay bales, harvested at the base of the Butte de Lion in late summer, are reminiscnet of Van Gogh and his reverence to laborers, but  just as soldiers who once fought here, the bales are lost in silence as the view of the monument emerges.
NB/materials: The watercolor paper is acid free and made in a windmill expressly for making paper in the Netherlands, which uses the (paper) recipe of Vermeer. Its unique texture holds a rich reaction to the pigment.

Related Bits
Movie: The Battle of Waterloo, epic film produced in England, top actors of the time
CD rom Series: Napoleonic Era, Zane Publishing
Website: British Battles and the;Battle of Waterloo

For Francophones there are a number of books availabe in the Tourist Office of Waterloo written by locals and interesting museums, and of course the climb to the top of the monument for even more spectacular views. Depending on the time of year and calm winds also the ultimate wat to view the fields is possible by paragliders and hot air balloons

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