Sunday, July 30, 2006

new painting


This image has been floating around in my brain for awhile, and I finally got to put her down on canvas. This piece had a lot of challenges that I enjoyed; getting the fabric to look like fabric, the wings (which were REALLY a challenge!) and the question of adding the birds and nest or not. I find it's much more challenging to work on something you've created in your mind rather than looking at a subject and painting it. It's tougher because you don't have the objects that you're painting in front of you, for example the fabric on her dress, and the wings. I just winged it (no pun intended!) and I'm pretty happy with it.
close-up of painting

Friday, July 28, 2006

a little scrapbooking and some new products

This afternoon I spent some time working in my France journal. It headed more in the direction of scrapbooking and collage rather than painting. I purchased some beautiful postcards while in France and wanted to incorporate them into my journal. So I played and had some fun.

I also got some wonderful things at the Paper Studio today.
I've been drooling over some Cavallini products for a little
while now, and decided since I had some early birthday money
I would buy the bird stamps and stickers. I also bought the
bird paper from Cavallini at the Paper Studio's anniversary sale.

This is what I did with the paper and stickers.

I've always had a fascination with birds. Seeing a bird, especially one I don't see often like a blue heron, never fails to lift my spirit. I just can't be sad or down when I've spotted a beautiful bird. In that fleeting moment of sight I am uplifted on the wind with them.

I love using them in my art; I like the imagery of birds being messengers of the soul. I find a lot of solace and inspiration in nature, but sadly where I live I don't get much access to nature.
Oddly, there are several bird colonies that are living in the runoff of our manmade lake (yes, a lake in the desert...go figure), and I see them flying overhead while barreling down the freeway, blue herons, snowy white egrets, and sometimes Canadian geese. They are a small miracle to me, and I feel thankful to have even that brief contact.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

french art

The watercolors above were done on location in the little town of Goult, up the hill from our house...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cezanne's studio

Me petting a "Cezanne Kitty" at the studio

One of the cool things we did while in France was visit Cezanne's studio in Aix en Provence (sorry no photos allowed). To see Cezanne's studio exactly as it was when he painted in it so many years ago was a rare treat. He hand mixed the wall color himself - a sort of Paine's Gray that served as a completely neutral backdrop. Some of his still lifes were still set up around the studio. A couple of American artists bought the property several years back so the studio would not be lost. It warms my heart that folks cared enough to save this piece of history, and the bucolic setting that surrounds it. There's a small forest around the property that makes you feel as if you're in the middle of the country.

Aix en Provence itself is a lovely city. Tree-lined streets, old buildings sitting like jeweled dowagers waiting to be adored, and enticing shops filled with beautiful goods. We had lunch at Les Deux Garcons in Aix that day. Brigitte took us there for authentic French cuisine and for the history of the place. The restaurant has been in business for at least a 100 years, and Cezanne used to frequent it with his pals back in the day. The people watching was great. When we arrived, the waiter seated us behind the table of a middle-aged woman smoking a huge, fragrant cigar. She sat there the entire afternoon, smoking and sipping on her glass of wine, watching the people go by. Where else is one going to see such a sight? Lunch of course was delicious, with plenty of wine, bread and cheese, along with our main courses.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

have to put some art up

horse at the 18th century lavender farm we visited

I've been cresting on a creativity wave since we got back from France, and want to share some artwork with you. I have so much I want to put up! Photos, art, thoughts about what I saw and did. Whew!

So I'll continue on with our trip. The first full day there we went to an open air market in Coustillet, a town near where we were staying. The thing that struck me about life in France is how much value the French put on beauty. The market was full of beauty. All the of the shoppers carried beautiful woven shopping baskets in vibrant colors and pretty patterns. No ugly plastic bags for them! I LOVED that!

The vendors all had displays bursting with color and texture. Flower vendors, butchers, fish mongers, bakers, booths filled with fine french linens. It was truly a feast for the eyes and soul.

We headed back to the house, and then began a routine that we stuck to throughout the trip. We fixed lunch, then got our bathing suits on and laid by the pool relaxing, swimming, and talking. We did that everyday until about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Then we would head out again for awhile exploring.

My mom, Brigitte and I did some painting at home of a chair with a pot of sunflowers perched on top. I was glad I went swimming first, as it was warm! Most days got into the upper 90's (dry, however) and the sun was intense. We sat in her garage (soon to be an artist's studio) and looked out at our still life. It was lovely.

We worked till about 5pm, then everyone got changed and we headed out to the Abbey of Saturnie. This was our first real experience of French roads other than the highway. The roads are only wide enough for about one and third small cars. Therefore, every time you see someone coming the opposite way, you both have to manuver around one another without pitching into the deep ditches that are found on the sides of the roads. Let me just say I'm glad I didn't drive! To get to the Abbey we had to climb to the top of a mountain, then head down the other side. The mountain road is only wide enough for one car, so if someone's coming the other way, you have to pull in to a little cut-out in the mountain and wait for them to pass. Of course the road is winding, so you can't really see all that well. We made it to the bottom without incident, then headed down the road into the Abbey. A stone giant surrounded by mountains, trees and and fields of lavender. It's still a working abbey, and the monks there grow and process lavender as their way to make a living to support themselves.

After much picture taking and ohhing and ahhing, we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious dinner at the house, then went for a walk in the area around Brigitte's house. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip, walking in the evening and seeing the little towns on the mountains lit up, surrounded by open fields of vineyards and lavender.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

technical errors

Oh, I just LOVE computers! AHHH!! As some of you may have noticed, yesterday's post with pics of the house we stayed at in France posted three times, then inexplicably disappeared. So...I'm putting this up now to see if everything's working. More later...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I'm Baaaack!

Well, I'm FINALLY able to sit down for a bit and get a blog entry done. We got back from our epic adventure on Tuesday, and I've been playing catch-up ever since. The France trip was incredible! I'm going to break it up over a few days of entries, since I have tons of pics and art.

I'll start with our flight, arrival and the wonderful place we stayed. Our flight was uneventful, left on time around 8pm from Logan Airport in Boston. Air France is impeccable. The inflight food was excellent, the flight attendants courteous and attentive, and movies and games kept us amused. None of us slept on the flight, and France is six hours ahead of East Coast time, so our clocks were a bit messed up when we arrived. We landed in Charles De Gaulle airport (which is QUITE large) and hustled to get our next flight to Marseilles, which would take us to Provence. We caught our flight with a few moments to spare and headed to Marseille. The view from the plane was land, mountains, and water.

We met Brigitte, whose house we stayed in,
at the airport, got our rental car
(the incomparable Leon..we LOVED that car.
We shed a few tears when we had to leave him!)
and drove the hour and a half to Goult.

We arrived at the house, drove through the automated gate of bamboo, and feasted our eyes on a beautiful villa and swimming pool filled with sparkling turquoise water.

We walked up the stairs leading up to the upstairs apartment, and were greeted with an engaging space (this is our living room, with one of Brigitte's paintings; her work exudes life and color; spectacular!). None of us had seen the house before, so it was a wonderful surprise to see the beauty we'd be living in for the next 10 days.

We were all shown to comfortable, bright bedrooms filled with Brigitte's vibrant paintings. We settled in a bit, unpacked, then put on our bathing suits and went for a swim. The temperatures while we were there stayed in the upper 90's most days, with very little humidity. The climate is desert-like. We had a light supper of salad, cheese, bread and fruit, then tried valiently to stay up till 9pm their time. The World Cup (soccer) was on, and my Dad and my honey tried to stay awake. I think they lasted about 15 minutes! Anyway, following are more pics of the house and surroundings; more about the trip itself tomorrow:

corner of the living/dining space

Living/Dining room, other half

Outside in the courtyard

The house and patio where we ate dinner every night

view from my bedroom window