Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Solstice

Fall has arrived in Argenton les Vallées! The solstice brings shorter days, evenings fall into darkness quickly and the morning sun comes slowly to my sleepy eyes.This is the last week of Ted Jacob's course and I must say I am sorry for it to end. What an incredible opportunity it was to spend six months drawing, learning to paint, struggling to see and understand concepts and physical structure in new yet very natural ways.
We had a student exhibition in the community hall in Les Cerqueaux last Sunday and it was well attended by the local community curious about what we have been doing all these months.

Ted is really the grandfather of the artistic community, for the most part les etrangers, foreigners, who have made their home, studios and workplace in the region. Near Ted's house/museum Mes Illusions, lives a sculptur,

Martine, who bought the old priory next to the church some 20 odd years ago and now teaches and works creating incredibly beautiful pieces. 

Another woman, Cynthia, bought an old Moulin, windmill in which she created a gallery space for her sensitive studies of windmills and landscapes.

During the months, once a week we shared a "portrait night" in which we sit for each other. I thought it might be fun to post some of those quick evening sketches, some of which were done at Studio Escalier where I was generously allowed to join in.

Enjoy. The two with artificial light of Toby and Harmony were done at Studio Escalier this fall as the light is changing a lamp was necessary.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here it is September, the nights are colder and the days shorter. We have had a lot of rain which the farmers are grateful for. Yesterday evening was a brilliant rainbow. Not to be repetitious, here it is in all its glory!
As nature renews itself every day, so must we, awakening to new life, striving to remain 
alert, present and aware. As the atelier draws to a close the end of this month, I am ever more grateful for having had the opportunity to focus on learning to paint, having daily, eight or more hours of studio time with no distractions. What a gift! 

I have chosen to do rounding studies and organic sketches like these grapes and the Chinese lanterns that grow in my neighbor's garden. I have done many cast studies, just rounding in the direction of the light to train my eyes, without actually painting the details. Here are a couple of examples. Ted has been very patient with me, and little by little I am becoming aware of the shape of the light.

As far as the living part of the blog goes, work on the house has progressed this month. Paul was here and worked on the oak floor downstairs, He sanded, repaired, patched (fine inlays) and finally finished it and it looks beautiful. I danced on it, as it was dry for the first time Friday! The generous windows face east over the terrace to the river and I can easily absorb myself in my work. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Somehow the rainbows didn't make it in the last post and it was not only a double, but the second one that evening . enjoy!


Where do I begin? Full moon, rainbow, amazing sunrise? This week was filled with these and more. The Dalai lama is visiting France, the Chinese hosting the Olympic Games....need I say more?

Brilliant sunflowers? Can you imagine so much color in one place?

My still life is done and I have been working on a cast drawing, back to the basics!
I did do a small landscape sketch from my attic as I mentioned in my last blog and just for fun I will post it with the actual photo of the view.

Well mid August and the weather is already feeling like fall. The warm colors of summer are still apparent in the corn fields ready for harvest and some of the trees are already changing their leaves. One of my fav places to sit, like a cat is in the window. Here I leave you for now, watching the swallows winging.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It is already August and the month began with the feeling of fall in the air, rain and winds and grey skies. Today the sun came out and it got quite warm so maybe we have a few days of summer left.
Harvest is in the air, corn , hay and now I see fields of sunflowers. My own harvest in my small garden was delightfully abundant. ..healthy zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans and after the rain, the roses began blooming again.

I have been working on the  draperies behind my still life and here is the still unfinished version. I have learned a lot from this work, but am missing my props!!
Really I have so much to be thankful for and I have plenty other props to practice with. Hula hoop has become a staple for the breaks! Low impact stress relief. 
 The downstairs room in my house has become a rehearsal space and the floors are solid oak.  They have been sanded and still need to be treated and finished, but I make good use of that space, dancing and stretching and practicing. 

This weekend I was thinking of the laws of manifestation and because I am impatient to turn the attic into a studio, I decided to work up there on Sunday to get the energy happening. It was rainy, as I said, and cloudy days are supposed to be the best for landscapes. I set up my easel and did a little study of the river from that  point of view. I left the little study on the window sill and returned in the evening only to find a bat (chauve- souris) had set up his space up there too!  There is a local museum with a exhibition on the local species , so maybe I will educate myself instead of just covering my head and running for cover.

 I will keep you posted when it is actually a working studio and the bats are evicted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Well here it is nearly the end of July and the smells of fresh cut hay are in the air. Breathe deeply and you will sense the deep golds of summer and the dry warm air as the farmers harvest their crops. I marvel at the way they pack them in these round cylindrical shapes lit by the sun.

This morning I was awakened at 6:30 a.m. by another, yes you guessed it, glorious sunrise.  The brilliance of morning fills my room with color and I cannot resist the urge to share it.  Although it may seem a bit repetitious, nature never repeats the same performance twice!

I am working on a new still life, the complexities of the draperies on which it rests are a study in itself! The color wash is finally done and I have started painting. I will add a photo of that in my next post. I have to go back to my first lesson, patience. Ted did a little bit on it today as a demo and I learned so much from watching him and was so excited to have his masterful touch on my study!

Finally a photo of me for those of you who requested it. I went to Doue la Fontaine for the show of roses in the troglodyte caves and this was shot there.
Each day I am thankful for this time to study, live and learn. One day last week the model didn't show up, so we did a little plein-air painting, another first for me. We did a poster study and then a "sketch" in oil. One must work fast because the light changes quickly. I learned that cloudy or overcast days are good for painting outside and one must work the same time every day to achieve consistency.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th, Independence Day and whatever that means to you in all it's old glory.
Today I pulled up the old rug upstairs in the guest room and found a beautiful hardwood floor. I washed and cleaned off old paint spots, than bees waxed it and it sure looks nice. Luckily there was no backing or tape so it came right up.
I had not the same luck with carpet in the hall. It had been put down with double stick duct tape if there is such a thing. YUK What a mess.It does look better without that dusty old thing, but if anyone knows what takes up old tape residue, let me know.
Luckily a couple of young strong men were able to help me chuck it all out into my car and off to the "dechetterie" or the dump.
The last one to go is in the bedroom that looks east, but it is an old carpeting faded pink with a rubbery adhesive backing on it. That will not be so easy, so I will save that for another day!
Well that is it for the" living" part of the blog. I really got joy out of bees waxing the floor so then I went on to do the wooden staircase.
Today I will post photos of the poppies  that are one of beautiful wild flowers of the Argenton summer. You will walk down the river road with me. Poppies are good studies for painters; values of red and the brillaince of nature....They grow in the wall along the river bank and along the roadside.

Along the river are the community gardens, neatly planted and I am enjoying watching the gardening and work that is involved. Luckily the water comes from the river, so watering is not a problem.


At the bottom of the river road rue de Tannerie is a lovely weeping willow tree that hangs over the river showing in the reflection its grace. For many folks who live or visit here, it is a landmark.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Today I experienced a "Balade des Chapelles en Chanson."
 Balade is a walk and walk we did. Seven kilometers beginning at the Eglise St Giles (the little medieval church in Argenton may recognize the stained glass) which is the 'Chapelles' part and the 'Chanson' you may have guessed is singing. A large choral group led us on this walk after singing in the church of St Giles. The balade took us through the country side, we walked along the river, through meadows, among the trees, and down a country road. The chansons took place under a grand oak ( the song was, yes, about trees), in a small chapel of St Anne then on to the Chapel Rosiers. The day was beautiful and quite warm, rich in country smells and perfumes of flowers. Halfway, we stopped for a picnic under an oak tree of sweet breads, dried fruit and juice and of course more singing.  I met my neighbors and chatted as best I could in my meager French. One fellow adeptly made a tiny whistle from a young branch of the Ash tree with his little knife.
 I was suitably impressed!                  
As pictures say a thousand words, enjoy!    The cows were outside the last church
we visited and quite enjoyed the music and dancing...
I think.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Solstice

As we approach the summer solstice, the days are at their longest. The sun begins to set at 10 pm and rises early. The colors in the sky are clear and clean. The farmers have cut, harvested and bailed the hay into huge barrel like bundles and wrapped tightly in green plastic. The smells of fresh cut hay and manure are heavenly. The moon was full last night and bright as a city street lamp. This morning the sunrise woke me at 6 am with a symphony of color! It was a brief glorious moment and was gone as quickly as it came.
Today I marvelled at the fact that I am painting! I have so much to learn, but each day I understand another tiny concept and remember to be patient. One who seeks the truth cannot fail.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday June 7
I went to a Bio Marche today. It was at a small farm that has been certified organic for two years. There were a few vendors; my friend from the Argenton market who sells honey, bee pollen and fresh eggs was there as well as a basket weaver, and an atelier (workshop) for young people in making solar ovens out of cardboard boxes, sheets of tin and glass. One had the opportunity to purchase organic farm bred meats, fresh goat cheese, wine, beauty products and earth friendly soaps. I bought some fresh sesame bread and wine. Staples of life?

We worked all day in the studio today. I blocked in the figure to start a color wash on Monday. My number one lesson, patience, still applies. 

Enjoy the sunrise from my balcony.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear. As we approach the solstice, days are getting longer and it seems the air is sweeter!
Today I worked again on the poster for a painting. It is a tiny painting of values, no drawing, which indicates the relationship of the background and the figure to one another. I haven't quite gotten it right. 
Today I was happy to come home and pull some weeds, even though I was quite tired, the weather is so exquisite, I managed a little before I sat and just enjoyed the colors of the sunset, the swallows winging, the play of the birds and the clean air.
Today I will include a photo of the house (La Maison Hirondelle) from the river side for those who haven't seen it. the other photos are of the garden. Even thought it is small(perfect for me) it gives me great satisfaction. I have already harvested my first head of lettuce and have beans and cucmbers coming up as well as two tomato plants.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 2, 2008
Have you ever tried fresh blue cheese on a traditional baguette with just a touch of butter to mellow the sharpness?  It is a special taste that I learned while staying with a family in Montpellier,  accompanied of course with a nice glass of local red wine and a quiet time on the veranda.  Voila! This was my evening tonight, watching the birds, listening to their songs, watching th play of light and shadows on the trees as the breezes played games with the clouds!

Well I brought my painting of the Harlequina mask home tonight because I decided to work on the exercises Ted has been giving us for painting the figure.... so for the next three weeks I will be doing just that. Today I spent the afternoon on a poster study. This is not a detailed painting. It is just the values and how they relate to one another. He calls it a puzzle and indeed it takes time and patience to evaluate the light and how it relates to the figure. It is invaluble, as I found out with my mask study, because you can get caught up in the details and forget to look at the whole picture and the relationship of values.  I referred back to my poster many times to see if I was on the right track.
Anywas here is the painting with the poster study and the model.

Finally for tonight I will include the drawing I have been working on. I still have a few weeks so we will see what it looks like later:) 

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This is the evening on the veranda. I went to sit and listen and to my delight discovered a rainbow. The little white bovine are cows who occasionally find the grazing better down by the river. Sometimes they even go in!

This one was the sunrise from my little veranda around 6:30 a.m.

I want to add some photos of the garden. It gives me such delight and even thought the snails are fighting me for the strawberries, looks like I might taste a few

The first day of June, this morning was  rainy and a little chilly. The afternoon sun is beginning to show the light. I picked a fresh rose, sparkling with drops and decide to draw it, finding the rounding and ending points in its delicate beauty, training my eye to see the light.