Thursday, July 31, 2014

I've just been notified that my two pastels, "Taxi" and "Ann Braiding Her Hair" have been selected as finalists in the Landscape and Portrait/Figurative categories of The Artist's Magazine 31st Annual Art Competition, which will be published in December 2014. Thank you, Artist's Magazine, for the honor.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A TABLE FOR TWO AIN ISLE SUR SORGUE, click here to go to auction.

"A Table for Two in Isle sur Sorgue" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, and is available at auction. Click on title above to see auction. Bidding begins at $100. Thanks for looking.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"JUST OUTSIDE OF GORDES." click here to go to auction

If you are standing at the perimeter wall in Gordes and look out across the valley, you'll see this house perched at the top of another mountain. What a gorgeous place to live.
"Just Outside of Gordes" is a 7x5 pastel on PastelBord. Bidding begins at $100. Click the title above to see the auction.

"Gordes," click here to go to auction



Gordes is a spectacular walled village, perched on the crest of the high Plateau de Vaucluse in southeast France. Its beige stone buildings are built into the cliffs. Dating back to Roman days, It overlooks the fields, forests and small villages in the mountainous region of Provence. We climbed its winding roads and could see for miles in every direction. Here is one of the roads on the perimeter of the city on a cloudless June afternoon.
"Gordes" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, at auction on ebay. Click on the title above to go to auction.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"A Brilliant Day in Cassis," click here to go to auction

Never thought I'd be able to boast that I've swum in the Mediterranean, but I can now. Frigid at first, but within moments you're perfectly comfortable. So salty that you can stay afloat without any effort; you could fall asleep floating on the gentle waves. But the sand--or what would normally be sand--is rocks. Very uncomfortable on the bare feet. It makes you almost not want to get out of the water. I hope I never forget that day though. Just beautiful.

"A Brilliant Day in Cassis" is a 7x5 pastel on PastelBord, available at auction. Click on the title above to see the auction. Bidding begins at $100. Thanks!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Lavender Fields," click to go to auction.

I'm working on a series of small studies of French scenes. This one is from Provence. On our last day in Provence this June we searched for lavender fields, so easy to find from great distances, not so easy to get to. Winding hilly roads made our search a challenge. But we found some.

"Lavender Fields" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, available at auction on ebay. Click on the title above or the link below to go to auction. Bidding begins at $100.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=231292287647

Monday, July 21, 2014

Back to work.

Been recovering here, from a month in France and the loss of George. My garden is keeping me occupied. I've been pulling weeds and filling my jeep with mulch, 10 bags at a time, so far 4 trips. It keeps me busy. I keep expecting George to show up though.

I've also been painting in my studio, thanks to Mike and George, who finished my ceiling and installed my air conditioner while I was gone. It's comfortable now, and lately I've spent hours up there, forgetting about the time, loving the tactile feeling of paint smearing on a canvas. I close my eyes and see beautiful brushstrokes intermingling with surprising color combinations.

I've been taking a painting class from Jim Richards an Atlanta artist; he's probably my daughter's age. But he can teach me what I need to learn -- that expressive painterly stroke. Here's one piece I worked on in class that I'm pleased with. Normally I hate my oils, but I'm thinking I'll be happily working soon.

"Red Ribbon" is an 11x14 oil on canvas.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

George

I arrived home from France early Tuesday evening, pulling my heavy luggage from the train station a few blocks away, to a beautifully manicured yard and 18 inch zucchinis in the backyard garden. George, my across-the-street neighbor had mowed and trimmed my yard to perfection, like he always does. And the zucchinis were real, from the garden he had planted weeks before I left for France (unlike the not-real ones--see http://margaretdyer.blogspot.com/2013/06/i-will-talk-of-my-time-at-international.html).
All he ever wants is a thank-you. I give him more when I can. But I'm told I won't be able to thank him until he returns from his 4th of July camping trip. He had recently rekindled a relationship with his high school sweetheart; they were in the north Georgia mountains. They were going to look at houses up there on Monday.

George died in his sleep Friday night. 54 years old. I won't be able to thank him for everything he has done for me in the short time I've known him.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday. Our last day in Provence

We had a leisurely morning but wanted to have one more experience before we took our 6 hour trip back to Fountain-Fourches tomorrow morning. After lunch in a sweet little restaurant a few blocks away from our gite, we drove to Gordes, classified as one of France's most beautiful villages. The site dates back to the Neolithic era. Its Rennaissance chateau was rebuilt on the site of a 12th century fortress.
We did the usual...climbed stone stairs through twisting narrow streets under vaulted passageways, slipping into boutiques. We did visit a church however, surprisingly the only one on this trip. It was unusually decorated with vivid hand-painted patterns on every possible space, with seemingly no attempt to coordinate color or pattern, like someone went nuts with wallpaper. It was an unexpected surprise.
Our last expedition: find a lavender field for Alice. We found one after winding around the mountains for a half hour, piled out of the car and took some selfies, and piled back into the car with Jerome, our ever patient guide. Our experience is finished. Tonight we pack our bags. Tomorrow we head back to Kippy's and Jerome's.
Saturday: What should have been a 6 hour drive turned into a 9 hour drive, thanks to bumper-to-bumper traffic through the entire city of Lyon. But we're back at La Bonne Etoile and are happy it's all coming to an end.
Sunday: Alice and Kate fly home to the USA. I will leave Tuesday and will be ever so glad to be back in my own home, seeing my beautiful daughters and grandson Victor, my sisters, my kitty Molly (who won't know who I am), my garden (which will be as angry with me as my kitty will be), my neighbors (who have kept an eye on things while I've been gone), and anybody else who might care that I'm home.
 
 

 

 

Thursday continued...

After drying off from our swim in the Mediterranean we drove the scenic route to La Cadiere d'Azure, yet another medieval town high on a mountaintop. It was getting late in the afternoon; we had lunch, roamed the winding narrow streets--dodging cars, poked our heads into sweet little artisans' shops, took pictures of breathtaking views, and turned around for the hour and a half drive back to the gite in Mazan. We were tired. A light dinner awaited. I headed to bed right afterwards but heard Kippy, Kate and Alice in heated conversation until the world became quiet.








Friday, June 27, 2014

Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.

Did I say a small fishing village? That's what Rick Steves said. Turns out Cassis is a thriving resort with caf├ęs, bistros, shopping, fine dining, incredible turquoise water, cold and wavy. It's been years since I've put on a bathing suit in public, but nothing was going to stop me from swimming in the Mediterranean. Initially freezing, once I was completely submerged it was glorious. The heavy salt content keeps you afloat so you don't even need to tread water. We could have bobbed around in the waves forever, surrounded by cliffs and terra cotta roofed houses. Only one thing I could have done without...no sand to speak of on the beach. It's all pebbles, which hurt. Especially going into and out of the water. But so worth it.

We had seafood lunches at an outdoor table with a beautiful rose wine, went back to the beach for one last dip, and headed out for one more location, stopping en route to snap pictures of the incredible countryside. Jerome always takes the scenic route, no matter how far out of the way.

 

 

Tuesday, final day together.

TUESDAY

Oh no! It's almost over! Ellen left today for Dallas. Kippy and I took her to the train station in Avignon, a half hour away. She was to catch the bullet train; a ride which would get her to the airport in 3 hours. It would have taken 6 hours by car. Ellen was a little frantic, as I would have been, because we were cutting it kind of close and directions were confusing. She was concerned about finding the train, her seat, not being able to speak French, pulling her heavy luggage onto the train. "Don't worry," Kippy assured her, "I'll get you to your seat."

We parked in the temporary parking space on the curb, Kippy pocketed her keys and we pulled the heavy luggage to the train platform. Within minutes the bullet train sped silently into the station. I stood back on the platform, watched as the passengers (with Ellen and Kippy) jostled to get onto the train, and waited for Kippy to reemerge. When the door closed and the train slowly started to move, I expected it would surely stop and relinquish a very flustered Kippy. If anybody can stop a train, Kippy can. I covered my mouth with both hands, bemused and surprised, as the train sped silently away and disappeared in the distance.

I stood there a few minutes wondering, did this really happen? I do not have a phone here. I calculated... 3 hours to Paris, 3 hours back plus delays or complications. If Kippy were for some reason unable to call Jerome to retrieve me, I could be waiting for up to 9 hours. Just to make sure there was no quick remedy, I went to the information counter.

"Bonjour, Monsieur (the French are very polite. You always begin a conversation with a bonjour or you're likely to be corrected ...very politely). I spoke slowly in my broken French. And I'm spelling it badly here because I don't know how to spell French since all I've learned has been through audio CD's in my car: "Bonjour, Monsieur, J'ai une probleme, et Je ne parle pas Francais bien (I have a problem, and I don't speak French well). He nodded, indicating I should continue. "J'ai deux amis. Un ami a pris le train a Paris (I have two friends. One friend took the train to Paris)." He nodded, waiting for more. "L'outre ami accompanied (inserted English here because I didn't know the French word, but knew it sounded similar) elle sur le train avec les baggages (the other friend accompanied her on the train with the luggage)." He nodded, grinning, encouraging me silently me to go on. I don't know if he was grinning at my bad French or if he knew where this was going. "Le train a depart," I continued. He shook his head ruefully, said nothing. After a second or two of silence, I continued in a supplicating way, "Trois heures a Paris et trois heures return (insert English again)? (Three hours to Paris and three hours to return?) He nodded ruefully. We both nodded ruefully for another long second or two. I was hoping he could offer a solution. I thanked him, went in search of food and something English to read and parked myself near a door where Jerome most likely would enter in 45 minutes.

I had not finished the first chapter of a John LeCarre book before Jerome walked through that door and stood before me. Without a word, we both shook our heads ruefully.

Turns out it was not a non-stop trip to Paris, so Kippy was able to catch a return train in Lyon. Jerome and I had a drink and waited an hour and a half for her return.

WEDNESDAY

In the early morning hours, before the sun rose we were awakened by crashing thunder, flashing lightening and banging wooden shutters. I got up once to push open the exterior shutters all the way to keep them from swinging violently in the wind, that way we could still enjoy the drama. Ann got up the second time to close the interior glass shutters, so we could enjoy the storm and keep dry.

Back to the train station in Avignon this morning to deliver 4 more artists. Kippy's back is out from hoisting heavy luggage, so I drove the Mercedes with Mimi, Ann and their luggage, following Jerome in his Mercedes with Michelle, Joan and their luggage. I told Jerome afterwards that that was the most fun I've had since I've been in France: speeding smoothly through roundabouts and curving roads, listening to a French rock station.

I think I want a Mercedes.

So the only people left here in our gite in Provence are Kate, Alice, Kathleen, Kippy, Jerome and me. We ordered pizza for dinner and went to bed early because we leave in the morning for a day trip to Cassis, a small fishing village on the Meditterranean Sea!