Monday, May 31, 2010


It was a long day yesterday. We were busy from early in the morning until late at night, exhausted when we went to bed. Kippy had to wake us all up at 8 this morning for class. I never had a chance to get on to the computer. So I'm writing for 2 days now.
Here's how Monday went: At 9:00 a.m. we were at the easels. Another student, Meg, arrived. Meg, an American, is a journalist who has lived in Paris for 30 years. We worked on poses for about 3 and a half hours. By the end of the day, each student had 3 pieces. At 4, after Eva quit for the day (or so she thought) several of us worked from photos of the last pose until 7ish. We were served wine as we walked into the house, guests (Chantal and Paul) arrived, the table was set: pork roast, wine, cheese, more wine. After dinner, probably 10:00 or so, we put Eva back to work. A photo shoot in the bathroom: we set up the lighting (lightning as Asti keeps saying), filled the bath, Eva disrobed, got into the claw-foot tub, bathed, got out of the tub, dried off, brushed her hair...all while Kippy, Asti, Warren and I (Meg is not staying here at the house) frantically photographed her from different angles We probably each took about 200 photos. Eva earned a little money and took a bubble bath at the same time! After her bath, Eva went to sleep, we stayed up and oohed and aahed over the photos on the computer. Once we figure out how to put them all together and print out the good ones, we'll have some excellent references for night times in the studio.

For lunch yesterday, we had terrine, a salad and cheese. Here's wikipedia's definition of terrine: A terrine is a French forcemeat loaf that is served at room temperature.Similar to paté, a terrine uses more coarsely chopped ingredients.

Today, Tuesday, at the easels at 9:00 again. Eva posed--a nude. Lunch, back in an hour and a half to the studio. This time we work from photos of Eva. I did another demo, using one of the bathroom scenes we took last night.

The objective of this workshop is to acquaint students with my pastel method, using the figure as the subject. We start with a live model, then we'll work with photos of models. The purpose for using photos is to teach them how to make it look like you're not using a photo. Once they're fully acquainted with the method and constructing the subject as if working from life, we'll go out to the nearby villages and Paris to take more complicated shots like people at cafe tables. We'll then return to the studio for a full day working from those photos.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The class has officially begun.

Warren, student #2, arrived today. There he is front and center, sitting next to Asti. I'm back there at the projector, Eva is in the pink robe. Kippy is somewhere in the front of the room.

Warren's from Albany, NY. Both of my parents were from Albany. Almost all my cousins still live there. I'm sure we'll find something in common besides art before the class is over. Another student is expected tomorrow, and there will be some local students coming for the day throughout the week.

We were to begin the workshop tonight at 6:00 with a slide show and demonstration. Kippy had invited artists from the area to watch. Since I've got such a small class, I was a little apprehensive about nobody showing up. But by 6:10, the room was filled with an enthusiastic audience, very few of whom spoke English, most of whom were from the dinner party the other night at Caroline and Serge's. Kippy translated for me. We got through half the slide show and the projector decided to misbehave, so we went on to the demonstration.

Eva was a wonderful model, which made my job very easy. The evening lasted almost two hours and went very well. Everybody seemed impressed, several people were asking about getting into the class, the demo piece itself wasn't embarrassing like they sometimes can be. After the crowd departed, Warren, Asti, Eva and I went into the house to have dinner with Kippy and Jerome. Eggplant au gratin, salad, cheeses, wine (I think Catherine may have been right about French wine not making you drunk, because I've certainly tried to prove her wrong). We stayed up way too late at the table talking about art. Such a passionate evening we all should have.

Tomorrow morning, 9 a.m., we're to be at our easels. The class has officially begun.

A few thing's I'll do differently, if I get to come back next year: get a watch, bring a stylish blazer, speak French.

To answer some of Jim N.'s questions: I'm using a Nikon D80. That was not me with my foot up on the post in the street scene yesterday, that was Eva, the model. I'm using a Mac PowerBook G4, which I bought just before I left home. I got it from ONYX, in Decatur, Ga, for about $275.00. They receive donated used computer equipment, refurbish it, sell it, and donate the proceeds to charity. You can get some good computers for dirt cheap. Check them out:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

la fromagerie, le bucherie, le pain et les amis

The first student has arrived: Asti from Germany. Kippi, Asti and I spent time photographing some Parisian streets. It's been heavily overcast all day--not ideal for our photos. Ideally, I'd love to have bright sunshine, later in the afternoon or early in the morning, with long cast shadows. But Paris doesn't think we need that, so we'll find other contrasts in our imagery.
The model has arrived: Eva has lived in Paris all her life. She's an actor and has modeled for Parisian artists and art schools for years. She's got some totally cool costumes to wear for us, some totally cool music to play while she poses, and I suspect some totally cool stories to tell.

Here are Asti, Kippie and Eva at La Rotonde.

I think I may be experiencing jet lag. That or I'm just not used to late evenings and so much wine. I crashed early today, as soon as we arrived back at the house, I told Kippie not to wake me for dinner if the aromas didn't wake me, dragged myself up the stairs and climbed into the bed. Woke only to post this; everyone is asleep right now. I hope I can get back to sleep.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 3 in France

This morning we went to market. I am proud to say that when a gendarme came up to me and asked me (in French) why I was taking so many photographs, I was able to relpy, "Je suis un artiste. Je suis américain. Je ne parle pas français très bien." She then asked me if I was using my photographs for the papers (which I understood), and I told her no, I pulled out one of my picture post cards and gave it to her. "C'est bon. ?" I asked, and she said "C'est bon.." And she left me to continue my shooting. Kippy was impressed, she later told me, that I was able to communicate like that. I got hundreds of photos, some of which will make beautiful paintings.

Back to La Bonne Etoile, lunch on the patio with friends. What a tough life they lead here.

I'll be glad when Sunday arrives and I can actually work. I'm feeling very guilty being non-productive. Sunday evening we hope to have an audience to watch me demonstrate painting a pastel from a nude model. We're hoping there will be quite a few locals there, filling up space. Then there will also be a reception. Monday, students and I get to work. But until then, there's some serious eating to be done.

We had dinner at Caroline's and Serge's, about a 20 minute drive from here, in a home which has been in the family for generations. It was a family gathering with about 20 people; I definitely felt like a fish out of water, not understanding what anyone was saying, and not knowing anybody. My sister Catherine says you can drink as much French wine as you want and you won't get drunk. I don't know if that's true, but it certainly helps you understand French a whole lot better. By the end of the evening I was laughing and getting along just like family. I suspect it may have been the gracious people who made me feel at home, moreso than the wine. And OK, some of them did speak English.

Some more French things I've learned:
After dinner Caroline came out with what looked like a huge cheesecake. It was cheese, brie. So soft, it almost spilled when you cut it. Mmmmmmm. I was told that cheese has a ripe time. There are people who know how to gauge when it will be ripe for special occasions.
French men are incredibly polite and considerate. The people are soft-spoken and gracious.

It's way too late for me to be up. Kippy and I go to the airport tomorrow to pick up a student, then to PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Le Boudin

The town of Fontaine Fourches has a population of about 500.

La Bonne Etoile is the name of Kippy's and Jerome's home.

My bedroom window.

Not much to do today; things will pick up once my students arrive on Sunday. I took a walk in the town with my camera. Fontaine Fourches is very small, just a few blocks of homes, several hundred years old, very close to the street, each with their gates shut tight. If you peek behind the gate, you're likely to see gardens and children's plastic toys, geraniums on windowsills and lace curtains in windows.

After an afternoon of working in the studio with Kippy, she on her pastel, me on mine, we went to dinner at Chantel's and Paul's home a few blocks away. As it has been at every meal so far, the hostess appointed seats for each of us, making sure never, or almost never, to seat husband and wife together.

Another French lesson: what we Americans call the entree is le plat principal (main course) in France. The salad, at every meal so far, has been served after le plat principal. After the salad, usually a platter of cheese is brought out.

Le plat principal this evening was le boudin. I picked up enough in conversation to know not to ask what I was eating. In fact, twice Jerome knowingly shook his head when I started to ask. It was a very black sausage, very sweet and absolutely yummy, with a side dish of baked apples and sauteed onions. Bread on the table. And of course wine. Then a salad with cheese was served; strawberries for desert. We played with French/English flash cards, figuring out the translations to such sentences as, "The pig is cold in the winter." Back to Kippy's and Jerome's in the cool dark night, with a full moon hiding behind the clowds.

Boudin, wikipedia and Kippy told me later, is blood sausage. No meat. Just blood. But the consistency of very soft meat. It crumbled when I sliced the sausage. And it was delicious. I would have had thirds, but didn't want to look crass.

Merci beaucoup, Chantel and Paul, d'un dîner délicieux!

Tomorrow morning we go to market to buy vegetables. A photo op for me!

Boudin photo from

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Petite chou

I am in Fontaine Fourches, France. About an hour from the Charles de Gaulle airport, past fields of winter and spring wheat, young sugar beets and miles of the yellow flowers of canola beans. I've spent the day with Kippy Hammond in her home and studio, resting from my trip overseas, and planning for the workshop which begins Sunday. Kippy and Jerome have friends staying over, two couples and two 10 year old twin boys; they'll be leaving by the time our class begins. We dined this afternoon on the patio on grilled pork kabobs, cucumber, tomato and green pepper salad (OK, those of you who know me know that I only ate the tomatos), fresh cheeses from the region and French wine. We spent the evening with a fire in the fireplace to take the chill out of the thunderstorm outside, a candle lit dinner and lots of wine. Some of the topics of conversation: French table manners--bread goes on the upper left side of the plate or on the table cloth next to the plate; wine and water glasses are side-by-side at the top of the plate, not at the upper right like ours; forks are placed face-side-down when setting the table. I learned how to fold a huge piece of lettuce in my salad with a fork and knife, and how to properly cut different kinds of cheese. And there seemed to be great confusion over the phrase 'petite chou,' an affectionate phrase which the Americans at the table could not understand. Chou is cabbage.

The surprise at dessert was petite chou, a sinful pastry filled with cream. I ate the entire thing.

Rhett Butler comes to mind tonight, when he said, "I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace." I found it, Rhett.

Monday, May 17, 2010

American Artist Magazine, July issue is on the stands...

and I'm on page 28, as a runner-up in the cover competition.

I'm packing for France. And trying to figure out if there's any way I can buy a cheap laptop or ipad before I go, so I can blog on the road. I don't know if there's any interest in it, but I'd love to keep a journal. The more I talk about it, the more I'm persuading myself to go get something. I've got a good P.D. James book for the plane and a wonderful little travel bag which is perfect for my bulky camera and important papers. Can you tell I'm getting excited?

Friday, May 14, 2010


Another Wave is a 9x12 pastel on sanded paper.

I really and truly am wanting to write in this blog, but life just keeps getting in the way. I'm afraid I've committed myself to way more than I should have, and it's showing up in my life. And my anxiety level.

I leave next Thursday to teach a workshop in Amelia Island, Florida, and will be bringing a van full of art to exhibit, in hopes that maybe a few more people who see my work in person will want to join the class. I'm hoping to come home with lots of pictures of children on the beach to paint from. That Sunday evening, after the class ends, I'll drive the 5-6 hours back home to pack my bags. I'll be leaving the next Tuesday for FRANCE (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), where I'll be teaching for 2 weeks. I've never been before. I'm nearly giddy.

The only thing that dampens my giddiness is the fact that my oldest daughter, Anna, and my 6 year old grandson, Victor, will be leaving while I am gone. They will be flying to Alaska to join Jerry, Anna's husband, who recently got home from his 3rd tour in Afghanistan. He'll be stationed in Alaska for 2 more years; Anna and Jerry plan on continuing their education afterwards, in Alaska. So I'm told that it may be 5 years before I see them again. It's only just now beginning to sink in.

But here's what I figure. I'll put out word on my blog, Facebook, everywhere I can, to see if someone would be interested in trading air miles for a piece of my art. I may get there before Victor starts growing facial hair.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Southeastern Pastel Society International Exhibition

"Christmas Eve Party" is a 16x20 pastel on PastelBord. I'll be delivering it to the Southeastern Pastel Society International Juried Exhibition next week at Oglethorpe University. Anyone in the area is welcome to attend the reception. There will be some beautiful pastels there. Here's the info:

2010 14th International Juried Exhibition

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
4484 Peachtree Road, N.E, Atlanta, GA 30319
May 18-June 27, 2010
Opening Reception Thursday, May 20th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Museum hours: Tuesday-Sunday, noon - 5:00 p.m.