Lemons on a French Cloth
Inspired by A Painting A Day pioneer Duane Keiser, Julian Merrow-Smith has quietly and successfully been maintaining Postcard from Provence since 2004-- the year that high-speed internet access became available to Crillon-le-Brave.
Julian bought a one way ticket to Provence ten years ago, having taken redundancy from a job running art cinemas in London. Once there an old friend, writer Joseph Geary, who was living near Bedoin with his French wife, quickly found him somewhere to live. Julian started selling paintings soon after he arrived and has never looked back.
Still Life with Cup, Cherries and Apricot
I first found Merrow-Smith's work as I was surfing around the many, many Painting A Day blogs looking for paintings of food, as is my habit (and addiction). I was immediately taken with all of his work, which includes landscapes and portraits, and commissioned works, as well as the lovely postcard-size still life paintings included here. Julian tends toward still life because he loves the control he can exercise in setting up the composition, but adds that he likes painting landscapes for the opposite reason.
Fig Half and Goat's Cheese
When asked about selling over the internet as an alternative to gallery representation, Julian explained that the ease and universality of access is the main advantage, adding that it costs very little to build a web presence. He added that his ideal situation would still be a good dealer and/or galleries, but acknowledges that bypassing them gives some real freedom.
Green Bowl and Provencal Vegetables
Julian and his wife, Ruth, both love cooking, as is reflected in the lovely paintings included here and in Ruth's blog-- often featuring posts on the local food and markets-- as well as by their social life. They had Paul Levy and wife here to dinner last summer (a little scary, Julian admitted) and went to Lydie Marshall's Christmas party in Nyons (also Patricia Wells' home town) last month. Julian and Ruth count Jo Killeen and George Germon of Al Forno, in Rhode Island, as two of their closest friends and spent most of 2006 testing recipes for their new book. With credentials like these, of course I asked Julian for a favorite recipe, which is included at the end of this post. I certainly intend to try it!
Julian and Ruth share their home with three cats-- Oscar, Manon and a new kitten (as yet unnamed and known as "baby").
Most of the paintings in this post are available as prints. You can view more paintings at Postcard from Provence by category, from the Archives page. You can also subscribe and receive a postcard daily by email. And finally, if you find one of Julian's paintings irresistible you can register to bid at auction.
For a delicious pasta recipe, click the link.