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.

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