And here we go! The first of our two high school summer arts programs is now under way at Les Tapies. The seventeenth century hamlet, beautifully renovated over decades by co-director Fernando Gonzalez, already feels livelier and more filled with excitement and artistic desire than just a few days before. Now two days into the session, we were so excited to welcome our eighteen students to this incredible part of the world and hit the ground running in each of the three majors: Drawing & Painting, Photography, and Architecture.

 After a much-needed lie in, we began the first full day of our three-week session with a group hike to a tree, accurately named Lone Tree, which protrudes solitary from the landscape along the nearby ridge. Interacting with the breathtaking land around us, bonding between students and teachers, and shaking off the heavy jet lag were just a few of the takeaways from this short, but exciting trip.

 The students have now experienced their majors in two action-packed sessions and will shortly begin their minor courses as well. Photography students overviewed the basic functions and components of manual film cameras and shot their first rolls of film around their new home, focusing on stone, nature, and the intimate moments in which they interact with each other and the man-made world. They must now learn the challenging process of developing their film before they can start printing the images.

The architects discussed what it means to create a building, especially one that becomes a person’s home, like Les Tapies, and broke down the most important components of designing a structure. They also went on a scavenger hunt around the hamlet to find unique aspects of our own home for the next few weeks. Their discoveries included dates carved into the stone of the buildings, etched shapes like hearts and crosses, and the exact number of arches interspersed throughout the architecturally-masterful complex.

Drawing and painting majors began with seemingly straightforward drawing exercises; however, these tasks were anything but simple. D&P teachers John and Alyssa chose ones that challenge the mind by broadening one’s ability to observe from multiple perspectives, utilizing senses other than sight to decipher one’s subject, or by imagining something that does not yet exist. Understanding the characteristics required of an artist, such as curiosity, courage, vulnerability, and imagination provided the building blocks for the preliminary introduction to the major. In their second session, the students walked out into the landscape around the hamlet to find aspects of nature to sketch from direct observation.

 Check back in for more soon and be on the lookout for photos from our first excursion tomorrow to the twelfth century Cistercian monastery, Mazan Abbey!