Friday, July 27, 2018

Back to the studio.

I'm surprised that I'm feeling eager to get back into the studio, especially when I consider that only a month or so ago I was seriously thinking I was wasting my time and money trying to paint. I'd look around the studio at all the mediocre paintings and try to calculate how much money went into canvases and paints and classes and framing. I figured I had gotten as good as I would ever get, and that was just not good enough. Maybe it was time to do something else with what little time I may have in this life.

But I think I may have broken through a creative block. All of the sudden painting feels easy, and for the first time I'm thinking, tentatively, that I'm really painting.

Since I returned home from France, my sleeping schedule is out of whack; I'm going to bed late and waking up at 5 a.m., after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. So I have my 2 cups of coffee, catch up on the news, and go out to the studio when it's light enough. And I'm excited about what I'm doing. Here a piece that will be in my upcoming show at River Gallery in Chattanooga. If you're in the area next Friday, come have a glass of wine with me at the opening reception, August 3, 5:30-7:00.

Now back to the studio.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Harvest time.

I fell into bed while the sun was still up last evening, exhausted after the long day traveling home from Paris. This morning I'm unpacking, doing laundry, getting to know my cat again, who is perfectly content because Debbie, my house/cat sitter, took such good care of her. Even my houseplants are happy. Thank you, Debbie.

I walked the back yard to see what's new and what I'll be doing the next few weeks and discovered that I have arrived home in time to rescue my figs from the birds! For the first time in years!!! They were all over the tree (the birds), and they fluttered away when I approached this morning. I've never done it before, but I'm making fig preserves this year. But first I need to find someone who knows how to can figs and who will be willing to help me do it. I purchased all the canning stuff several years ago in anticipation of this day.

And my pear tree is heavy with fruit, dropping pears on the ground. What a delight. I'll be spending the next few days picking pears, putting them in paper bags to sweeten, then when they're ready I'll peel, chop and freeze them for my winter smoothies.

I have my work cut out for me. Not to mention the weeding; Atlanta had a lot of rain while I was gone. I'm warily looking forward to learning how to use the gas powered trimmer/edger I bought before I left for France; it is a lot more powerful than my battery operated one.

I see my dream being realized, very slowly, of having a beautiful and productive garden in my inner city back yard. One day I will have chickens. I have a lot to learn.

And in the meantime, I'm finishing up some work for my upcoming show at River Gallery in Chattanooga. Friday, August 3rd is the reception, and you are invited. There should be a few paintings from my visit to France. Your invitation is below.

Meg and I are going home.

We spent two days in the Latin Quarter in Paris with Kippy, Brigette and Kathy. They are now on their way to Giverny to visit Monet's home and garden. Meg and I are going home.

While in Paris, we all visited the Musee Marmottan Monet (it's not really winter in France...I've swiped a photo from the internet), to see its permanent collection of paintings by Berthe Morisot but were equally thrilled by Monet's landscapes on the bottom floor. I especially enjoyed his vivid abstracts toward the last few years of his life. I remember seeing these years ago and not being impressed. Now I love them. It's funny how our taste changes. We were also pleasantly surprised to discover the current exhibition of portraits by Camille Carot., who is mostly known for his landscapes.

I wonder occasionally if Meg has been overdosed by art; the rest of us were consumed by it for two weeks and still couldn't get enough. I don't hear her complaining or swearing she doesn't want to set foot in another gallery for another decade, so maybe she's OK. I was always a little relieved to come upon her in a museum to find her photographing a favorite painting.

I have to try to tell you about the spectacular Gustav Klimt exhibit at the Atelier des Lumieres;, which we saw as well. Maybe 'saw' is not the appropriate verb. Experienced would be better. Pictures will not be adequate so I am providing this link to a video. If you ever get a chance to experience this show, do. I cried.

I am looking forward to getting away from all the rich French food and wine. I want to get back to my smoothies and an occasional peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk. So is Meg.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Vernissage. Wow.

Friday afternoon we transformed the creative chaos in the studio, stacking and sliding furniture to the back of the room, vacuuming, dusting, into an inviting exhibition. Guests began arriving right at 6:00, and they kept coming until the room was crowded. And they stayed a long time. There was plenty of champagne (I'm trying to recover from it this morning) which helped tremendously as we conversed or tried to converse with all our French speaking guests.

Here are the artists and their works: 
Liz Glatzer from Providence Rhode Island. You must see Liz's very clever and funny blog:
Deb Wicks from Venice, Florida, is a Signature Member of the Florida Watercolor Society. Check out her gorgeous paintings:
Kathy Kuryla (sounds like gorilla) is from Englewood, FL and Lyme, CT, is retired from a successful career in interior design.
Sophie Curlee turned 18 today. She plays violin, dances, enters Rhode Island School of Design in September. Watch out.
Diane Weissman (Sophie's mom) is a physician who will be working in Mother Teresa's hospice in India after she drops Sophie safely off at RISD.
Ann Maree Healey from Melbourne, Australia, now lives in Houston, TX, has exhibited her work for more than 20 years, writes monthly installments for the Atelier web page for the Pastel Society of Southeast Texas.
Christie Jackson from Washington State, retired from a career in newspaper illustration. 
Brigette (pronounced BRIGita) Marten, born and raised in Germany, now lives in Basil, Switzerland and New Jersey. She is a retired German and English teacher.

And here are our models, Meg, Meg, Meg, Meg and Meg.

And Chantal, not only is she gorgeous and delightful, she set our tables, made our coffee, prepared our breakfasts and lunches and helped make the 2 weeks slip by way too quickly.

Almost everyone left this morning to meet husbands or friends or flights home. All that remains here with Kippy and Jerome are Brigette, Kathy, Meg and I. We will spend some time in Paris and return to our homes this week.

I am ready to get back to my cozy little home and garden.

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.