It's 11 o'clockish in the evening right now. I have just made my way up the stairs to my room after a dinner full of laughter and the most amazing lamb stew I've ever had. What started out as strangers a week ago has become a cohesive group of friends. There is constant laughter--almost annoyingly so in the mornings while I'm skipping breakfasts to have an uninterrupted shower and some internet time. I hear them all laughing down on the patio where breakfast is served on sunny warm mornings. Who laughs in the morning?
I have not had time to write. Breakfast is served from 8:30-9:30. We're usually in the studio by 9:45. We break for lunch, then run back up to the studio. Lunch in the afternoon lasts a couple of hours. Back up to the studio until a little before dinner. We clean up a little, have a glass of wine, then sit for a couple of hours for dinner. We don't leave the dinner table until almost 11 some nights. By then, after several glasses of wine, I'm usually not in any shape to sit at the computer.
Saturday morning some of the group went to the outdoor market where the locals purchase their cheese, meat, olives, fish, breads for the week. They got lots of good photos to work from in the studio. The rest of us spent our morning in the studio.
Saturday evening there was an annual musical event here in Fontaine-Fourches (can't remember what it's called but I'm sure Kippy will refresh my memory when she reads this blog); Fontaine-Fourches has a population of about 500; it's a quiet, typical French village. Around 6:30 p.m. the locals congregated at the 150 year old church at the end of the street to hear a harpsichordist, 3 violinists, a cellist, and two tenors perform classical pieces. Of the 5 or 6 pieces they performed I was only able to recognize Handel--beautifully done, gave me chills. Afterwards we all, even the musicians, drove or walked several blocks to the community center to celebrate together with a dinner. The musicians continued to entertain us with operatic songs periodically. We were the only English speaking people there, and I think the rendition of "Hey Jude" was for our benefit. I'm showing you a picture of our appetizer, topped with half a crawfish. I can't eat that.
Sunday was brocant day again. We drove long distances through rolling hills of farmland to visit two small towns holding their brocants. Some dedicated artists stayed behind in the studio. The rest of us carried home our French trinkets.
Monday - we started our day with a photo-shoot. We recruited Vivienne and France to pose for us in the living room, knitting, playing the flute, reading sheet music. We got hundreds of lovely photos to work from.
Tuesday - in the studio again. Some of us took a break in the late afternoon to visit La Motte-Tilly Chateau, a 17th century chateau built on the banks of the Seine, 10 minute from our house. The most famous owner was Joseph-Marie Terray, Controller-General of Finances for King Louis XV in 1768.
Wednesday - in the studio again. Some of us took the afternoon off and visited Provins, the 12th century walled city about 20 minutes from here. I opted to take a nap because I have been to Provins 5 times and I was exhausted. Those who went got to see the raptor show, where hawks, eagles, owls, vultures, every sort of predatory bird flew over their heads, so closely they could feel the wind from the wings. It really is thrilling.
Right now, 8:30 Wednesday evening, we have just left the studio. There is a beautiful exhibition in the works. Everybody's pastels (and oils--Tracy is doing oils) are hanging from the wires overhead. On Friday we will have a vernissage--a private show--of all the work we've done. Neighbors and friends will arrive around 6:00 for champagne and to view all our work. Tomorrow is our last full day to paint for it. We are working frantically.
Dinner will be served momentarily. I've got to run.
If you want to join us next year, here's the link to contact Kippy.