Art Collectors Focus Lifestyle

Why do artists choose to live on the French Riviera?

Monaco Lights 2012 copy

As an artist living and working on the French Riviera (my studio overlooks Monte Carlo and beyond to the sea) I can write with first hand experience why the area is so special and unique for visual artists. I say visual artists because it the light that is the inspiring element, not just for the colours in the work but for ideas to take root in an artists mind.

Everything starts with an idea, ideas come from the imagination that is why so many artists, writers, philosophers and poets talk about the imagination. Many people have vivid imaginations and are coming up with ideas all the time, however good ideas are like seeds that have to be planted in fertile soil in order to grow and in the right environment.

My paintings are being created first in my mind, then on the canvas. I find living in an area where there are blue skies, sunny days and a warm climate helps to nurture and cultivate my ideas. My studio has to have light, if its dark and I am cold this is reflected in my work. This is not wrong but delays my working process. The light on the cote d’Azur is reflected in my mood and my paintings. I feel happier and have a more positive state of mind when the sun is shining.

Light is important to most artists and most people are aware of the string of artists that choose to make the Cote d’Azur their homes. The most obvious are Picasso, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse the list is lengthy however fewer women artists can be mentioned.

But, why is the light so different? The Cote d’Azur was given its name by Stephen Liegeard, he was a French lawyer, administrator, deputy, writer and poet. He gave the name “Côte d’Azur” (Azure Coast) to the French Riviera. He appreciated the blue colour of the clear skies that is common on the French Riviera, This sky is reflected in the water and the water is reflected in the sky, which is the azure colour of the Cote d’Azur.



The oldest book in the history of the world states ‘Let there be light’. The bible of course is littered with passages that reflect states of mind. ‘Let there be light’ is a simple statement, yet so powerful.

I feel I can see further on a sunny day, thus expanding my imagination. I have more optimism about the future and my work is fuelled by new ideas and of course this is radiated from me encouraging the law of attraction; ‘like attracts like’.

One of my first paintings was titled ‘A different light’ (below).  I moved from London in 2010 and started painting shortly afterwards. Only after living in Cap Martin, Roquebrune for 12 months the colours and mood of my paintings changed.

A different light 2011 70x50cm oil on canvas.

‘Monaco Lights’ was one of my first commissions (image below) . The colours in the paintings reflect the villages that are dotted along the French coast, in particular Beaulieu-sur-mer which is a pretty village between Monaco and Nice. The houses are predominantly pastel shades with the odd primary tiled roof that seem to reflect the sun sets and complement the azure skies, all contributing to hazy sunny days. Menton is a town just before Italy and is famous for its climate and pretty setting. It was home to Graham Sutherland for a while and is now endowed with a museum solely representing Jean Miro.



Whilst painting ‘Monaco Lights’ I realised a series of work that I titled ‘Dream landscapes’. I am fascinated by dreams and their meanings, never quite sure which reality we are living. There are many types of dreams, from day dreaming to lucid dreaming. I often wake up and I am aware of the dream which is always just out of reach, not quite pinning it down like  perfume.

My paintings really came alive when I moved to France and a whole series of dream landscapes, which are all oil on linen were created. I think the light, the landscape, with bright open seas, big, bright blue skies and of course the backdrop of mountains near where I live dictated the ‘dream landscapes’.

'Jasmine Garden 100x100cm Oil on Linen 2012 K Hare


I am trying to capture the effortless and limitless of dreaming in a visual language. What it feels like to daydream, where do we go? Many more questions arise such as; what colours do we see and who is it that is dreaming or is it more than one person?

At school we are often told not to day dream but then later in life realise our daydreaming is important. Some people have created their lives following their dreams and passions. It is the most important thing we can do. Our imagination is given to us to use, we create our own realities through our ideas, intuition and our thoughts.

All along the Cote d’Azur nature is the primary aspect. The towns nestle in harbors under the shelter of the mountains but some have gradually worked their way up the mountains such as the town of Eze, which provides beautiful views, but has colder temperatures. And of course further along the coast is the famous town of St Paul de Vence where many international artists now live and work.

This landscape reminds me that we are only here as guests, as spectators and what a privilege and joy it is.

This painting is in a private collection in Monte Carlo.

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About the author

Kay Hare

Kay Hare

Kay works as an Artist from a studio overlooking Monte Carlo. She trained in classical painting in London and moved to the South of France seven years ago. Her paintings embellish the positive aspects of life and she is always promoting a better, healthier lifestyle. Kay exhibits frequently in Monte Carlo, French Riviera and London. Her work is in private collections in Europe and Monte Carlo and corporate collections in London. Most of the paintings are oil on linen recently incorporating natural gemstone diamonds and gold leaf. Whilst working as an artist Kay also worked for the Daily Telegraph Group in London and Monaco Life writing selected articles and features in art.

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