Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday: Ballymore. Wednesday: Ballyhack


Yesterday we were taken to a working farm, home of the Donovan family for 300 years, in Ballymore. In the rolling hills of north Wexford, it overlooks the patchwork valley to Slieveboy (Yellow Mountain). On the grounds there is a 150 year old church and graveyard, a holy well and the site of a Norman castle. It was the site of a rebel camp during the rebellion of 1798 during which there were members of the family on both sides of the conflict. Thank you, Wikipedia.

I taught my first 3 hour workshop there Tuesday morning, and spent the rest of the afternoon capturing the light on a tractor.


Today we climbed onto our huge comfortable tourist bus again and were driven to Ballyhack, a plein-air painter's dream -- when the weather is accommodating. Ballyhack is a small fishing village located in the southwest of County Wexford, on the eastern shore of the Waterford Harbour.

Many artists, huddled under umbrellas, gathered around the morning demonstrato as he painted the colorful boats at dock. As soon as the rest of us set up our easels to paint (I say us figuratively; my easel is in my suitcase in Atlanta -- so I am usually either sitting on the ground or finding some wall to prop my paraphernalia on), the drizzle became a constant downpour. Within the hour I was standing in my sandals (because that's all I have with me) in 3 inches of water trying desperately to protect my pastel painting, which eventually turned into a sloshy watercolor. Even using a brush I borrowed from a neighboring artist didn't help. The morning was a total waste of time for me. I found out later that it was for most of the others too.

A noon-time break at a little pub with other soaking artists, the biggest scone I've ever seen, a cup of hot coffee and I was rejuvenated and ready to teach my second 3 hour workshop. I had to be instructed, by the way, on how to eat a scone properly. I just picked the huge thing up and took a bite. No, I was quickly informed, it needed to be sliced in half, slathered with Irish butter and jelly, and made into a sandwich.

I was not going to teach my workshop in the rain, no matter how un-plein-airish it would look. I climbed the hill to a 15th century Norman castle, actually a large tower house, according to the literature, thought to have been built around 1450 by the Knights Hospitallers of St. Johnston, one of the two great military orders founded at the beginning of the 12th century at the time of the Crusades. We set ourselves up in a ground floor room, commandeered Conner, the young and the cooperative guide who worked there, and had him pose for us for several hours.


Still no luggage. I've had my momentary temper tantrum, which of course accomplishes nothing, and an irate phone conversation with USAirways after 3 very civil conversations. I'm past being embarrassed. And I just went shopping. Thank you, USAirways.

You may wonder why it took me so long to go shopping... We are on a bus at 8:30 every morning and return home after most shops have closed in the evenings. Today I ran to the department store after hopping off the bus.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't order chicken quesadillas from an Irish hotel restaurant. What was I thinking?

And oops, CORRECTION: Julia Patterson, mentioned on my first day here, is from Arizona, not Colorado. Sorry, Julia. Check out her totally cool work:


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Art In The Open, Wexford, Ireland

Here's a view from the hotel hall window overlooking the Irish Sea in the distance.

Sunday night was the greet and meet here at White's Hotel. Probably 100 artists converged for the reception; 180 from 7 countries are expected to participate in the paint-out. Three lovely Irish ladies came right up to me from the crowd and introduced themselves, setting me right at ease. They had been told to look out for me by Julia Patterson, a Colorado artist I met at the International Association of Pastel Societies in Albuquerque this June. THANK YOU, JULIA!!! And then another beautiful red-headed Irish lass, Jane, introduced herself; she had been told to look for me by fellow Atlanta artist Marsha Savage. THANK YOU, MARSHA!!!

We were warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Wexford, a shorter, stouter version of Alec Baldwin, wearing his heavy ceremonial 180 year old gold chain. We then spent the next couple of hours introducing ourselves to each other over free-flowing wine.

Early Monday morning all artists converged at Carne Beach on the Irish Sea, where we spread out in diverse directions and hunted for the perfect views to paint. Plein air painting is a love/hate thing with me... rain, dirt, unrelenting sun, bullying winds, heavy equipment to lug and balance. I was holding an umbrella in one hand this morning during intermittent rains, while painting with the other..and was thinking, "Damn. This is for the birds. I'm going back to the studio." When I am all of the sudden oblivious of all the little inconveniences and am hearing only the crashes of the waves and the seagulls overhead, and the only important thing in life is getting that dark sky value just right so that little white house in the distance glows just right in the shadows. Of course I don't get it right, but I am consumed with the task until it is right. In 2 hours I'm packing up my gear and in search of a new perfect view to paint. Our bus retrieved us at 5ish, but we rode away leaving a good many artists still intently painting.

I am still waiting for my luggage. Thank you USAirways. I've been wearing the same clothes for 3 days now. I have no idea what people are thinking of me.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Arriving in Wexford, Ireland

I won't bore you with the details of my delayed and cancelled flights on route to Ireland because I got here and that's all that matters. After a 2 hour bus ride from Dublin, I am in Wexford, waiting for my hotel room and my luggage which got lost again. With my art supplies in it.

Tonight the artists converge at this hotel to meet and greet and hear the itinerary for the coming days. By then I will have had a nap, a shower and a drink and I'll be feeling a little more enthusiastic. I hope.


More later..


Friday, July 26, 2013

Wendy dans le Jardin (Wendy in the Garden), click title to bid

On the first day of my 2 week workshop at La Bonne Etoile in France this June, Wendy, a student from Australia, was assigned the task of cutting flowers from the garden and arranging them in pretty little antique vases for each bedroom and the dining tables. We didn't know Wendy had actually worked as a flower arranger in the past, and she blew us away with her stunning arrangements.

"Wendy dans le Jardin" is an unframed 11.5"x15.5" pastel, up for auction. Bidding begins at $200. Click post title to be taken to auction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

IN THE GARDEN, click to bid

I know I posted this one before, but it's up for auction now. So here it is again with a link.

I've been ordered by my friend Daniel not to name my paintings anymore. I'm to wait for him to help name them. He's tired of names like Cat on a Refrigerator, Tea Time 2, The Piano, Rainy Day in Paris. I'm willing to get help for my lack of imagination. Hopefully this is one of the last with a compelling name like In the Garden.

In the Garden is a 15.5 x 11.5 pastel on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Paper. It is up for auction and bidding begins at $200. Click on post title to go to auction.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TEA TIME, click here to bid.

About a year ago I received an email from Tony Robinson, inviting me to participate in Art in the Open, Ireland, 2013 (, where I would do plein air pastel demonstrations in exchange for lodging, and then, if we could muster up enough interest, I'd teach a 3 day figurative workshop afterwards (turns out we couldn't). His invitation came during the time of my recovery from a divorce, when I had decided to accept every invitation that came my way, anything to help get me out of my dark place. So now the time has come, and I'm to fly to Ireland on Saturday.

I've been not a little overwhelmed by the thought of traveling there alone. I know, I just got back from France, where they don't even speak English. But during my workshops in France, I am picked up at the airport and driven straight to Kippy's home, La Bonne Etoile. During our stay there, we are indulged and guided and driven to and fro and wined and dined, then deposited back at Charles de Gaulle when it's all over. A total no-brainer. In Ireland I'm basically on my own and don't know a soul.

Today I'm beginning to pack, crossing things off my list, finally dealing with what I've been avoiding for months. Get ready, I'm about to start blogging about this trip, my way of journaling and remembering. Hopefully I'll meet some wonderful artists. No doubt I'll have a glorious time painting and sipping down some pints at the end of the day. That, I'm looking forward to.

About that pretty glass vase I found under all the weeds in my garden... I was just playing stupid. I know what a bong is. I knew what a bong was 44 years ago, before some of you were even born. I was just looking for some creative suggestions as to how I could use it today--something other than it's intended use. Right now it's hiding in plain view on a shelf in my living room with some art pottery. It'll be interesting to see how many of my visitors recognize the thing.

Tea Time 2 is a 9 3/4x13" unframed pastel I did while painting with Kippy and Honey in France, after all the students had returned home. It's up for auction, starting at $200. Click on title of this post to be taken to ebay if you're interested.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

An afternoon with a 9 year old boy

Sitting here in my living room watching cartoons with 9 year old grandson. I'm also flipping though the Nordstrom boot department on my iPad. "Oh my gosh," I say to Victor as I tilt my iPad toward him, "this pair of boots sells for $1,695.00!" "That's crazy," he responds, "no boots should be that much...unless they have a jet pack."

Image above is a demo I did for my class in France. Which has nothing to do with boots or a 9 year old or anything. But it's a pretty picture for you to look at.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A productive day

I've just been notified that my two pastels, "Curiosity" and "Clignancourt Flea Market, Paris," have been selected as finalists in the Animal/Wildlife and Landscape/Interior categories of The Artist's Magazine 30th Annual Art Competition. The magazine will be on the stands in December 2013. 

It's been an interesting day. While clearing out brush in the yard, yanking out vines and weeds, cutting out dead climbing rose branches and cutting down out-of-control growth, I've discovered a couple of things... I have muscadine grape vines climbing all over my fence, and I unearthed this lovely glass vase with a funny little attachment. Hmmmm... what can I use it for?

Back home in Atlanta

I've been fighting weeds. It seems while I was in France those 3 weeks, it rained continually in Atlanta. I returned home to find I couldn't find my garden. It was completely taken over by weeds. So I've spent the past week on my knees trying to find the garden again. I am now the proud owner of 8 cubic yards of shredded oak mulch, half of which still remains in a huge pile on my driveway. And I have spent the past two days shoveling (actually pitchforking) mulch into my wheelbarrow, wheeling it to places here and there and building what should win me the prize for best yard in the neighborhood, if there was one. Maybe I should initiate the contest with a sign announcing me as the first winner. I'm sore, sunburned and wasp-stung, but you should see my yard.

This picture above is of Honey and Joyce from our photo shoot in Kippy's livingroom in France. Kippy tells me to start preparing for next year's trip... we will take the train to Provence! I am thrilled. If anybody wants more information as we start working on it, let me know, I'll forward your name to Kippy and you'll be on the mailing list. I cannot wait.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My last day in France

I'm leave for home today. My bags are packed and waiting by the door for the shuttle's arrival. I want to see my daughters, my friends, my garden, my home, pay some bills, get my life in order.

I've spent the past couple of days painting with Kippy and Honey; it's been a nice way to decompress. But I'm ready to go home.

The painting above is of Honey in the garden.


Monday, July 1, 2013

at the basilica in Reims a few days ago...

I published a bad link a few days ago of an event in the basilica in Reims. My apologies. Here (hopefully) is a better link. You must see it...

My last Monday here.

The house is quiet. Joyce, Joy, Averill, Nancy, Wendy and Lesley left yesterday. Jerome is in Paris for a couple of days. Only Kippy, Honey and I remain. I depart Wednesday for home. Yesterday Kippy and I went brocanting while Honey caught up on much needed sleep. Last night we three went up to the clean studio, opened a couple of bottles of wine, painted and explored artists' websites, sharing our favorites with each other until the wee hours of the morning.
I'll be posting some of the rainy Paris scenes I'll be working on. Here's one that went home with Wendy.