Friday, July 20, 2018

Week 2: Wednesday and Thursday

We went back to Paris Wednesday to go to the Musee d'Orsay and the Musee de L'Orangerie to see Monet's water lily paintings. Some of us window-shopped between the train station at the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay and made a few stops. We flipped through designer clothing at a boutique (not interesting to me because I ruin everything I wear) and bought a few things at Sennelier, a world-famous art store in Paris since the late 1800's.  They make excellent quality handmade pastels and oil paints, products used by most artists I know.

I really looked forward to walking through the Musee d'Orsay with my daughter. I wanted to be with her when she first encountered Degas' work (which we never found damnit). But what a thrill it was to come upon her almost in tears as she stood in front of "Birth of Venus" by Bouguereau. She also loved the Art Nouveau decorative arts section. As do I. She snapped photos of the beautiful carved beds.

Should I bore you with the paintings that moved me at the Musee d'Orsay? I will. Most of the paintings below are from the Nabi movement, one of my favorite periods of painting. Les Nabis were a group of Post-Impressionist avant garde (by that time's standards) artists; Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard were probably the best known members--Vuillard is one of my all-time favorites.

We had lunch at the Musee d'Orsay restaurant.

A very cool thing happened in the gift shop afterwards. As I reached for a tiny box of Absinthe, a pretty lady next to me did the same thing. I shook the box and the contents rattled, and I asked her in French, assuming she was French, "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" As soon as she answered I knew she was American. We introduced ourselves to each other; she said she was from San Francisco, traveling with her husband. I told her I was teaching an art workshop here in France. She was an artist too! She knew me, my work, owns my book, follows me! What a thrill. She'll be in the upcoming Oil Painters of America exhibition. We could have talked for a long time but I had to meet the rest of my people outside. Thalia Stratton, it was a wonderful surprise to meet you in France! I look forward to seeing you again; I am sure our paths will cross. Check out her beautiful oils on her web site.

Our final excursion before piling onto the train back to Fontaine-Fourches was a brisk 30 minute walk to La Maison du Pastel, a tiny storefront tucked away in the 3rd arrondissement. The original owner in 1870 was Henri Roche, a pharmacist/chemist, who made pastels for Degas, Whistler, Sisley and pastelists of the time. The business is now owned by his granddaughter, Isabel Roche, and his tradition of making fine, handmade pastels continues. We learned the history of the business and we each bought only a few pastels--they are very expensive. Thank you, Isabel and Margaret (her partner) for your generousity sharing your story with us.

Thursday we worked in the studio all day until dinner, finishing our paintings. Friday we will work only a half day, then clean the studio, set up our work, clean ourselves up, greet and dine with our guests at our vernissage. Saturday morning most of us leave for home. Meg and I will stay a couple more days with Kippy, Kathy and Brigitte in Paris.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Come and see the works of Kathy Kuryla, Ann Maree Healey, Deb Wicks, Diane Weissman, Sophie Curlee, Liz Glatzer, Brigette Marten and Christie Jackson, created under the direction of Margaret Dyer during a two-week workshop at La Bonne Etoile, Fontaine-Fourches, France.

Friday, July 20, 2018, 6:00-10:00 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Monday...

On Sunday morning we went to a brocant in a town about a half hour away. We meandered from table to table, picking up French things... I bought 5 mismatched glass knife-rests; Kippy sets her table with them and I thought -- what nice little things on the table. Now I'm going to have to invite people to dinner at my house so I can use them. I also got a couple of vintage posters: a French Charlie Chaplin poster and one illustrated by Jean-Jacque Sempe,  a well-known cartoonist here. Meg got the sweetest opalescent glass, silver- trimmed salt cellars, for which Kippy expressed her interest if Meg decided not to grab them. I told Meg not to let go of them.

Monday, yesterday--we worked all day in the studio. Meg posed in the morning and we worked from our photo shoot images after lunch. We worked until we were called down to dinner around 8:30.  We chat while we work. When someone inadvertently drops a pastel we know immediately by the exasperated moan or cuss word (that could be the loss of $6, depending on the type of pastel which crumbled). We learned how to cuss in German from Brigita.

Today we'll work in the studio most of the day. Around 4:00 we'll walk a few blocks to Chantal's house. Chantal is a restorer of paintings and sculptures. She assists Kippy during workshops in the kitchen and serves the dining tables. She is adorable, speaks with a sexy French accent, and is always good-natured. I'll post pictures of our tour of her studio tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Saturday: Plein Air Painting at Moret sur Loing and Bastille Day Celebrations at the Chateau de Vaux Le Vicomte

After loading the van with easels and paints and canvases and picnic baskets, we had great aspirations to paint at the river side in Moret sur Loing, reenacting the impressionists' painting days. What a memory to go home with, and hopefully we'd have sweet paintings to capture the moment.

We had ice cream instead. We left Kippy to be the lone dedicated artist. With our huge ice cream cones, the rest of us roamed through winding neighborhoods where the locals were preparing for their Bastille Day celebrations. Tents and loudspeakers were being set up, bands were preparing their stages, locals were arriving with their coolers. A couple of hours later we made it back to the river, where Kippy was still painting, and we set up a picnic table for our dinner. We sipped wine and gobbled down our pasta salad and tomatoes tossed with olive oil and basil, tabouli and cheese, cleaned up our area, loaded the van and headed out to the Chateau de Vaux Le Vicomte for the candlelit tour and Bastille Day fireworks.

The chateau was breathtaking with hundreds of candles illuminating every window. We roamed through crowded rooms, listening to the audiophones (or whatever you call those things) and imagined the lifestyle in the 17th century. Most of us made it out to the back patio overlooking the formal gardens for the fireworks display; I squeezed through the door at the last minute, while Meg, Sophie and Kathy were stuck inside, having to watch the display from the great room.

We had an adventurous ride going home, with our rented van giving us alarming noises and lights; we made a few frantic phone calls, drove through little village after little village, roundabout after roundabout, trying to avoid the autoroute, got 'home' around 1:00 p.m. and went straight to bed.