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Message started by Admin on Jan 9th, 2012 at 9:36pm

Title: Paintfox 2012 JanMay
Post by Admin on Jan 9th, 2012 at 9:36pm
We are just back from our 4 week painting foray in Southwestern France. We are unpacking and taking photos of our 50 or so paintings – forty are on the website with a few more to come. Many are painted side-by-side; this week’s paintings are the most recognizably similar. We painted at our very-fresh-fish stand – where we bought rascasse (scorpion fish), octopus, mullet and lotte (monkfish).

Speaking of painting side-by-side, the Paris Painting Workshops are starting to fill up – it’s time to think about coming to paint with Blair and me. We are focusing on day tours this year, but longer term arrangements can be made.

We’ve had our first Paris visitor of the year today: along with the two visitors to Collioure, we’ve started 2012 surrounded by friends.

My notebooks are still packed, so I must depend on my memory to describe my birthday trip to Pezanas and Le Somail – two towns of the Langedoc region of France, about 90 minutes from Collioure.

We selected Pezanas for its “Clive pies”, named after Lord Clive, who visited the city from India in the l700s. One of my favorite treats are mince pies, and this is an ever-so-delicious French version, with real bits of mutton and sweet Indian spices. The pies are made in small individual portions, said to look like cotton reels (thread bobbins, I think), or six or eight slice versions.

Pezanas was capital of Langendoc at one time, and the buildings were quite lovely. There was a door museum and many artisan shops. We were relegated to window shopping, at this time of year. Doors to the buildings themselves were wonderful, with knockers in cast metal to represent “hands” or clubs. The doors were of wood, painted interesting and distinctive colors, and had a sort of “lintel” over the top, and a large lower panel which opened, and a fixed side panel. This was in contrast to the Moorish doors of Collioure with decorative iron work.

We ate seafood at a tapas bar, where we ordered grilled duck hearts on skewers for Harika. Needless to say, she sat quietly in the corner till we fed her all of them, and then she fell asleep, dreaming of mallards. We pressed on with our squid and mussels, dourade and anchovies. Bullfighting posters adorned the walls.

We went on to Le Somail, to make a day of it, where we toured a hat museum (open) and an antique bookstore. It is located on the “canal de Midi”, one of those picturesque places people pass on canal boats. There were geese alongside the road and a camelback bridge of stones, still surprisingly used for cars. I have much material to think about, and a book of old violin music to paint pictures of musicians on.

Blair and I talk about moving to the south of France, but Paris still has its benefits. The south is wall-to-wall with tourists in the summer – we saw the best of it in winter, like a museum at night.

It’s our plan to host an art “salon” on Sundays this year – the first Sunday of the month. It will be for artists and art appreciators in Paris. We’ll keep you posted.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER
Laurie1-8-12.JPG (298 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Jan 16th, 2012 at 9:26am
We had dinner last night with American friends. Over a rousing game of Quiddler, we discussed world affairs, namely, how we all were doing – keeping afloat in a sinking economy in France. Our friend R is a tour guide – he takes Americans (and other English speakers) on tours of the Marais, and other interesting neighborhoods. He has a few designer clients now as Maison/Objet is warming up. His partner does free lance advertising work, and is an artist. Blair and I are busy signing up this year’s painting workshop clients, as well as selling paintings. Almost all the Americans who live in France have do "this, that, or the other thing" to make ends meet, having a lot of fun in the meantime.

The big news in France has been about the decline in the credit-worthiness of the country. The French barely speak of this. It is on my mind as I gleefully watch the Euro drop. I also believe it is a manifestation of the prevailing work ethic.

Many of my contemporaries in the USA (50+ yrs-old) are experiencing unemployment. Some of them get unemployment compensation., but most of them are out doing whatever they can to earn a dollar. House-sitting, dog walking and catering immediately come to mind. A part-time job here, a little work there all goes into the pot to “get by”. At this point, many have resigned themselves to the fact they will never relive the prosperity of the “good years” – but adjust to current conditions.

Our French counterparts cannot understand this phenomenon. In a socialist country, one works at one’s profession, come hell or high water. I once made the mistake of suggesting an unemployed computer industry French man help us in a loosely related field. He was clearly insulted. The French don’t understand the concept of “moonlighting”. The idea of “out of office” work is unfathomable. No French person I have ever known has had a “second job”. A friend told us that, in fact, it is illegal here to have a second job ( I am not sure). How could “entrepreneur” be a French word?

Of course, immigrants in France work at a multitude of jobs. When I recently talked about a friend who is seeking an employee who knows a little about photography, a little about computers and can climb a ladder, an associate said, “I know a Roumanian here who could do that!” ; but certainly not a native French worker.

The teaching and adherence to historic trades is not altogether a bad thing. The state supports book-binders and gold-leafers. The center at Gobelins is dedicated to teaching traditional crafts such as carpet weaving and textile repair. To keep the Elysees Palace and similar buildings in shape, these “lost” professions are continued.

On the other hand, the train conductor still receives a yearly stipend for “carbon (coal chip) in the eye” – a risk of blindness that disappeared decades ago with the retirement of the steam train engine.

Perhaps this work thing is the single greatest difference in our cultures. I am glad I grew up selling kool-aid and girl scout cookies. I reflect on my collection of paintings and think I’ll be an interesting sight as I take them door-to-door in my golden years.

Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) Pessemier
LoriaBlairNight.JPG (166 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2-5-12
Post by Admin on Feb 6th, 2012 at 3:07am
I must have jinxed the weather, talking about crocus and singing birds last week – since then it has been nothing but below-freezing temperatures. My geraniums, half dead from the balcony are in the bathtub trying to revive and my primroses are frozen solid.

It’s changed my behavior, too. I am wearing all those clothes I was thinking about putting away. I am cooking rabbit and pork cheeks, for hours in the oven. For this, Harika is happy – in fact, she’s energized by this turn in the weather and runs around the park while I follow like the mechanical man. I am able to wear my fur coat, after all.

The bad news is my seven students scheduled for a plein air painting lesson have postponed. Seven sets of paints and canvases sit in my hallway. I’ve been out trying to find alternate sites.

Blair and I went to the observatory floors on the top of the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. We’d not been to those place for years.

Galeries Lafayette has added of medley of food shops throughout the store, from McDonalds to Pierre Hermes (the best dessert shop). Each floor has a snack bar – the champagne bar on three looks great – at the edge of the balcony giving way to the stained glass domed center court. It is so beautiful I get goosebumps. We continue up the escalator to the top, where there’s a large Chinese restaurant, a Japanese restaurant and a coffee shop. The view of the Opera is terrific, but it impossible to imagine setting up anything for more than a couple of painters at a table, with something to eat.

We walk down the street to Printemps (which means “Spring” in French). They’ve been touching up the gold leaf on the building and domes, and the outside is a sparkly jewel box. We go inside, which is not as brilliant, the escalators are a tad narrow. Printemps, too, has a dramatic inner courtyard and impressive mosaic work. The staff at Printemps is also a little more accommodating -- they tell us we really want to go to the next building to see the observatory. We take the third floor skybridge over to the other building. On our way up to nine, I look at towels (too expensive even on sale).

Arriving at the Deli-cieux (the rooftop resto), the view is breathtaking. A relatively small cafeteria gives way to an outdoor terrace. It is icy cold out there right now, but we plan to return on a warmer day. From inside the coffee shop I can see decorated domes, the Opera, Sacre Coeur and St. Augustine, up close. It is an overwhelming feast of architecture. I go back the next day and paint a small work from an inside table (shown below).

My next idea is to check out the observation area at the Centre Pompidou to see if we might paint from there. I look to every restaurant near the Seine with an eye to painting these days. Who says one can’t teach an old Parisian new tricks?

LauriBlair2-5-12.png (1365 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Feb 11th, 2012 at 10:29pm
Cold weather continues. Days are longer and sunnier, but the temperature remains below freezing. It’s so unusual for Paris. I have never seen the light so strong in February: we are usually under a blanket of clouds. Even though I have been to the Luxembourg Gardens at least a thousand times, I never before saw the morning sun glinting off the top of Napoleon’s tomb: a combination of no leaves on the trees and brilliant sun at 9 o’clock in the morning.

At 5:14 PM on Friday and the building across the street is glowing as if a honey-glaze was poured on the upper stories. I so rarely see these things I forget for a minute about my electric bill.

The vegetables in the market are freezing – the change to “cool” lightbulbs never took into account the warm lightbulbs kept the produce saleable in icy weather. A flat of fennel looked like it was sugar coated. The produce man gave me six carrots, frozen hard – I didn’t realize until I got home.

Other mysteries have likewise been revealed because of the cold. Smells from bakeries, restaurants and chocolate shops are more pronounced. I stopped in my tracks as I passed Rochoux’s chocolate shop on our block the other morning: the scent was so overwhelming it made my mouth water.

On Tuesday we went to Louis XV’s greenhouses in Auteuil. To the melodies of birds, we painted in the sunny green environment where Rousseau created his jungle scenes. Blair’s Artnotes image is from there.

Today I took Harika to the park on the Champs Elysees while Blair went to an appointment at a gallery. The sun was warm and bright, even if the thermometer read below 30. I filled part of a sketchbook as the two of us sat basking. Sketching is something I rarely do, but it was such a nice surprise to be doing it today. While it is simply too cold to paint outdoors, I can hold a pencil and draw.

I used to write everyday on paper, but now I compose most things in the computer. I love paper – the feel of the pencil or pen on the paper, the sound, the look – I can interject a drawing if I like. I know I can kind of do that on the computer, but the sound of the plastic keys is just not the same (please don’t tell me there’s an app for pencil scratching).

I am a real sucker for reading letters. DH Lawrence and Laurence Durrell; Edward Lear; Virginia Woolf – I am not necessarily a fan of her books (VW), but the letters are wonderful. I am now reading correspondence between Siegfried Sassoon and Max Beerbohm – now rather obscure characters who wrote to one another about the times they were living in. I have yet to see a book of email correspondence between people – but I suppose that would be an ebook, anyway.

We just got a real letter in the mail. Blair wrote back at once, enclosing photos. We received a lot of Christmas cards, some with decorative stamps. I love seeing cards – so many produced by the hand of the sender.

I would like to have a year of paper correspondence, just for the heck of it. I think it would be an interesting experiment, to choose to write about something that won’t just matter for the next half hour. If you send me a letter, I’ll send you one back, or a post card, or something personal. It will be like a Valentine.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

write to: Pessemier
110, rue de Rennes
75006 Paris FRANCE

Pool at the Greenhouses/Auteuil Blair PESSEMIER Oil on canvas 16 x 20 $375.00
LaurieBlairSketches2-11-12.png (874 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Feb 19th, 2012 at 10:16pm
A friend brought by the result of her ikebana class on Thursday night. I have daffodils and gerber daisies, cockscomb and the hope of a camellia on my dining table. We ate salt cod, one of my new favorite dinners, beside the bower of blooms.

I soak the salted cod (I get the “fresh” kind, not the dried variety) in water for at least 24 hours. A friend gave me a fish poacher last fall, and it is the perfect receptacle. I can leave the pan out on the balcony where it is still nearly as cold as the refrigerator, sometimes colder.

It was an altogether wonderful week. I can’t believe I am writing this but I had an exceptionally good conversation with a representative from Google Adwords on the telephone. I live in France, where it is rare to have any positive interaction with a worker – in fact, this week a French friend called me a filthy name and I can barely get through it. Grudgingly I called Google Adwords fully expecting to be treated like the fool I am treated like here. It was quite the opposite experience and I found myself wanting to stay on the phone a minute or two longer. This did make me worry I could be one of those lonely people who will one day run a bed and breakfast.

I cook up some onions and garlic in olive oil (lots) and add white wine. Iintroduce whole tomatoes (with sauce, if using canned), which I squish alongside the pan. All this I simmer for twenty or thirty minutes.

Three people replied to last week’s artnotes with real POST. I received a wonderful book someone wrote, a newsy postcard, and a letter. I am in process of replying, taking a photo of my letter so I can assemble a year’s worth of paper correspondence for next Valentine’s day.

I bought Blair an erratic (not erotic) antique timer for Valentine’s day, which beats fast, then slow, rarely rings, but when it does it is very strong: like my heart. He gave me a red felt heart with a button.

I add the fish, cut into four inch sections and cook it all about 15 minutes. I added sliced potatoes the first time (and I think the potatoes absorb some of the salt), but his time cooked them separately alongside. A few capers are also nice.

The highlight of our week in Paris, however, was painting with seven students on Saturday in the Luxembourg Gardens. We’d been postponed due to weather, but finally got together and painted trees and railings, the fountain and Matisse. I constantly worry painting and writing on paper, works by hand, will become extinct, but this event dispelled those fears. In fact, we’re meeting again next week.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

110 rue de Rennes 75006 Paris France (just in case you decide to write)

Here is Blair's newest painting.
Blair Pessemier Sketch: across the Luxembourg Gardens Acrylic on wood 7 x 20 inches $150.00
LaurieBlair2-19-12.JPG (146 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Feb 19th, 2012 at 10:20pm
Here is Laurie's latest painting.
Laurie Fox PESSEMIER Sketch: Luxembourg Garden 18 February Acrylic on canvas panel 12 x 12 150.00
Laurie2-19-12.JPG (337 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 5th, 2012 at 8:39am
This week, one of our co-painters wanted to go out to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent his last sixty days on the planet.  The painter told us in the new book about Van Gogh, it is alleged Vincent was actually shot by locals and did not kill himself.  On the premise of going to look for evidence we pointed the rental car North.

It is somewhat “springy” here – less cold, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast and often threatening rain for the flowers.  On Monday I  painted out on the balcony, and lost a brace of brushes over the side.  In Auvers, we looked at Van Gogh’s grave,  then considered painting the fields -- as they were not yet verdant, we headed for the river Oise.

We set up our easels and Harika stood guard while we painted.   A passel of ponies with young riders filed past;  scullers rowed by.  After weeks of being cooped up in the apartment, this was a breath of truly fresh air.

Reluctant to return the rental car, we scheduled an appointment for next day, at the edge of Paris.  We brought a painting to an expert for authentication.   Although the assistant told us “plan on about 30 minutes” and Google maps said 29, we were in the car for nearly two hours.   The frustration under such circumstances is almost intolerable.   I tried to settle in and listen to the radio.

I believe that France’s unemployment rate has improved only because there are hundreds of street projects taking place everywhere.  From installing electric car rental sites (what if I had an electric rental here and now and the juice ran out?), to the construction of the tramway around the periphery of Paris, the roads are constantly torn up.   I suppose it is better to improve one’s own patch, than bomb someone else’s:  I am thus consoled.

Upon arrival at Monsieur’s F’s place,  the elevator was “en panne” (broken).  Blair carried the painting up to the fifth floor, only to discover Mr. F, 82, was himself unable to negotiate the stairs on account of the gout.  His assistant evaluated  the work and pronounced it “authentic”.   He will come to our place in Paris on Wednesday to deliver the certificate and get paid.

The moment Harika and I have been waiting for:  we were off to the nearby  Parc Departemental  de la Corneuve,  one of the largest park in the Paris area.   We last visited here in 2008, when Harika was just a pup.   We skulked past the dog park, where three pit bulls were mauling one another.  After a few minutes, Harika was let off leash, and she ran for the lake, a good kilometer down the path, where she plunged in to be nearer the ducks.   We could breathe.

rue de Rennes from the balcony   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic on wood  6 x 20 inches    $150.00
Laurie3-4-12.JPG (172 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 5th, 2012 at 8:43am
Boats on the Oise,  Blair Pessemier,   acrylic on canvas panel  9 x 13 inches  $275.00
LaurieBlair3-4-12.JPG (276 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:44pm
Blair’s at the flea market searching for 100 champagne glasses. Neither of us like plastic, and you can never tell when you’ll be needing partyware in future. We have big optimism. Initially, they will be used at the opening of our show on 20 March, at 5, rue Servandoni: les amoureaux de la France (French lovers).

I take the bus to the library where I drop off books and set brochures for our plein air painting workshop in the rack by the door. Vistaprint loves me of late: between invitations for the show and brochures for our workshop, the presses have been running. Of course, there are no more presses, but some sort of digital process that makes printing affordable. When we had our first brochures printed, in 1982, we sold our car to be able to pay for them.

I found dozens of large, free maps of places like Dublin and Dehli, by the door of the library – good for writing letters/making art. Bali looks like a fish. Madly, I long for a studio where I can execute my works on paper. I wish very hard.

We had a trip planner here at our house yesterday – she is thrilled to be touting our painting trips to Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise. “How great an entire family can paint for the afternoon in the Luxembourg Gardens”, she says. We feel the same way and try to find time between this and that to get out there ourselves.

We did go to the rooftop of BHV (Bazaar Hotel de Ville) this week to paint – Blair managed a nice little look at the river, as I struggled with rooftops and St. Gervais. I had better luck on top of Printemps: the tables and chairs are out and my friend Y and I enjoyed the 360 degree view, in 55F degree weather. My painting forays fell apart as the week wore on.

I cooked a dourade (stuffed with herbs) in sea salt Tuesday night, for a friend. I made the recipe once in the US, but the salt cost me more than the fish there. Here, I got over six pounds of wonderful sea salt from Brittany for just three euros. The thrill of hammering the whole thing open, steaming fish, is unbeatable. At the market on Friday, I found three dover sole for 10 euros: I cooked them, skins on, with butter, served with potatoes and fennel, for Blair and me and Harika, the sea dog.

They cut down 42 trees in the Luxembourg Gardens this week: the Chinese Empress trees, with their lovely lavender blossoms (Paulownia tomentosa or in this case, Royal Paulownia). These are the trees which shade the chess players. Apparently, they were attacked by an insect and the entire group (trees not chess players) had to be eradicated. I looked up on the Internet about them, and was surprised to find they are the fast growing hardwood tree and can grow up to 10 feet a year! I can actually buy seed, and am somewhat tempted to plant them on my balcony. They are host to the marvelous Cecropia silk moth, one of the world’s largest and most beautiful moths.

Because the trees are removed my views in that area are quite different than they had been. I am hoping for reforestation soon.

As this letter draws to a close, Blair comes home with 105, er, 104 glasses and two nut dishes. All for 20 euros! Who says you can’t find a bargain in Paris?

Laurie and Blair Pessemier

Views from the Roof:
LaurieBlair4-6-12.JPG (238 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:48pm
Here's Laurie's "roof top painting"
Laurie3-6-12.jpg (191 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 16th, 2012 at 10:24am
If you are in Paris, please come to our opening, or visit the gallery (we'll be there) any afternoon between 1 - 6 PM from the 20 March to 6 April.
The gallery is very close to the back of the church St. Sulpice, Luxembourg Gardens side.
If you need to come a different time, give us a call and we'll accommodate

Laurie and Blair
Laurietrees3-3-12.JPG (447 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 20th, 2012 at 11:02am
“Should we really do this?”  I asked Blair as he was brushing his teeth early Saturday morning.  We were scheduled to make a four hour drive to Maastricht, and the four and a half drive back into Paris.  “Well, yes.”   We took the bus, with Harika in her sack, to Hertz at the Louvre and were on the road by 8:41.

Maastricht is the home to the yearly TEFAF show where top private collectors and museums buy fine artwork .  We were on the floor by 2 o’clock, surrounded by the most beautiful, and some of the rarest, art in the world.  Where else can you hold a 13th century illuminated manuscript in your own hands?

The night before we’d been to the home of an artist friend.   We had talked about getting an “auction record” for our work.   An auction record makes an artist more likely to be registered in Art Price, or Benezit – the  “who’s who”(s) in art.  To put work up for auction is a serious investment, and a serious risk in the marketplace.   ALL the artists at TEFAF have an auction record, although not all knew success in their own time.

As I look around TEFAF, I feel like a kid in a candy shop –  if I win big in the lottery this would be my destination.  Probably nobody else here is feeling that way:   I am smiling as I walk around and my heart races.    There’s a lot of coolness here, all wearing expensive shoes.   We spot a new (for us) Van Gogh; we can get close enough to see where Bonnard scraped the paint in a sunny scene.  I  want to sit down and weep with emotion.

There are works I am surprised I like so much:  crazy duBuffet people, in thick brown paint; a Dutch couple by  Jan Sluijters ; Van Dongens which I liked much better than what I have seen in museum shows.  Van Dogen painted a dancing couple in shades of grey over a red background; beside it a painting of a woman in grey but with a red hat.   There were so many people I was unfamiliar with, but will make a point to investigate:  George Breitner,  Poelzig, Jan Wiegers,  Sir William Nicholson.

I start to have fears about our own show on Tuesday.  There is not much here that looks like what we do – or maybe our stuff looks too old-timey.  As I enter the modern section, I feel a little relieved.  Maybe I am more modern than the recent moderns because I am not modern like this.  There are three Helen Frankenthaler’s which I can’t move away from.

The hall and the people in it are completely different from what I experience every day.  The fair has a “Dutch” feel – big people,  strong colors;  multiple languages.   Even the galleries were indicative of their cultures:  the Germans with strong images and fabulous colors (think German Expressionism); Scandinavians with painters of unusual light; the Italians specializing in those Renaissance panels;  old Dutch portraits with green backgrounds and genre scenes; and of course, the French, with their soft, clear tones.

We went to investigate galleries who purchase work – not our own paintings, but paintings from private collections we know of.  As we are winding up our visit, I begin to think, maybe someday, in another 75 years:   could our work hang here?

We leave by 4:45.  We pass a windmill, turning, in full sails, as we leave Holland.  

PS.  Come to our show if you are in Paris:  5, rue Servandoni, 75006 Paris 20 March - 6 April

Here's laurie's painting, she is moving ahead at lightning speed.
Lauri3-20-12.JPG (507 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 20th, 2012 at 11:03am
Here's Blair's painting for the week.

LaurieBlair3-19-12.JPG (549 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 25th, 2012 at 10:45am
“I am a writer.”  “I am a student, born in Algeria, raised in London.” “I am a retired advertising executive from Manhattan.”  “I am French, teaching English in a French high school.” “I am a mother with two kids.  My husband’s job is in Paris.”

I was part of a focus group at the American Library in Paris on Sunday.  The American Library is a very special organization – it’s an independent library we pay to use, and like so many libraries today, they are searching for the next step.  The focus group of ten was made up of the most diverse English-readers I could imagine.  We had one thing in common:  we love the American Library in Paris.

It was a week full of different people for us.  Nearly 75 people attended our art opening.  They, too, were extraordinarily varied – French, American (expats of both countries living in the other), English, Australian, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian and Korean (there might have been more).  Not only were there separate cultures, but likewise a mélange of ages:  from twenties to eighties.  It was a convivial sight, and we sold a dozen works of art.  (see invite below)

There was mostly positive input at the library’s focus group.  We were all disappointed in the last renovation, but it didn’t mean we were going to quit:  we all just wished our favorite hideouts (mostly upstairs in periodical storage) had been left alone.  Everyone felt the American library was their library, and walking through the door transported one to another place, apart from Paris.  People mentioned the smell upon entering:  of books, old and new.  Each of us liked to talk about the place.

A half dozen people who attended the vernissage were friends we’d known for more than three years – otherwise they were folks we’d met since our return in 2010 or friends of K, who helped us find the gallery.  Gazing across the room, I just wanted to paint all the faces, and interesting clothes, and “the look” of what was going on.  When I thought about it, it was how I always felt about parties, beginning with my birthday fetes when I just wanted to look at all my girlfriends wearing wax lips.

The flush of the night was barely over when we met my two painting workshop students, on the Pont des Arts.  Mother and daughter, they were my first watercolorists (who ended up using my acrylics for half the session).  We stood and sat on the banks of the Seine, tackling the Pont Neuf and Ile de la Cite.  Oblivious to all else but our canvases, we were shaken from our concentration when the police boat, sirens, and lights blazing, fished somebody out of the Seine.  A large crowd had gather in the scene we were painting:  should we include them?

My brain reeled from switching from English to French, and by the end of opening night, some six hours later, I had to feign exhaustion rather than answer another question.   All I wanted to do was to look around and enjoy the scene.

LaurieBlairTrees3-24-12.JPG (736 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Mar 25th, 2012 at 10:47am
Here's Laurie's painting, 3-212.

LaurieTree3-24-12.JPG (549 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012 4-2-12
Post by Admin on Apr 3rd, 2012 at 12:17am
And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take… (Paul McCartney)

“Do I detect an Anglo-Saxon accent?” a man asked after we greeted him at our gallery (we are in our last week, so come soon!).  “Yes, we’re Americans.”   Satisfied we understood French, he started in on a tedious monologue about how his grandfather lived on rue Servandoni at one time.  As if on cue, Harika barked and I begged out of the conversation to take her for a walk.   Poor Blair.

Outside, I met Arty’s mistress (arty is a fox terrier), who asked us to join them for a walk in the sun.  We headed over to St. Sulpice, where tables were set up, selling palms (in this case, boxwood) for Palm Sunday.  “Do they sell palms in America?”  she asked.   No, we give them out for free at the church.  “They’re free in Switzerland, too”, she continued.  “It’s pretty strange they sell them here”.  I know they also give them away in Italy, a friend’s mother having donated her olive tree trimmings to the church.    Very little is free in France, which made it so surprising to find our gallery.

Our show has been made possible by the grace of another Anglo-Saxon.   Because he was selling the space, he moved out the Australian Center to a new locale in the 5th.  Before the sale transpires, he made a gift of the boutique,  via our friend the framer, to  artists who would like to show their work.    We jumped at the chance, straightening the place up, and washing the windows, then hanging our artwork on the walls.   It is like a miracle.

It is the second time we’ve had such luck – once before, our friend Mark, in Seattle, gave us a retail space in his hotel to use for the holidays.  There, we cleaned up the old print shop, painted the walls and hung our paintings.  Many Indians came through the door, and we talked about how Native Americans perceived the artistic process.  A man from Central America asked if he could add his paintings of horses to our mix:  he wanted to show his daughter that his art was important.  Of course, we obliged.  In the overall, we learned as much as we earned.

This gallery has become a neighborhood meeting place.  We have met people from all around the rue Servandoni neighborhood and St. Sulpice:  some of them have met one another for the first time.  "Your French is getting better," one of them tells me.  She invites me to her apartment to paint from the window.  I gave her a small painting (she already bought one) of a view very close to hers.

I am a firm believer for every painting I give away I sell another one.  Generosity is to the pleasure and benefit of the giver, even more than the receiver.

There are generous French people, of course. When we lived at rue de Lille, the aristocratic Mme. L gave us a free room to paint in.  Whenever we took her garbage downstairs (she had a habit of throwing it over the railing from the third floor, because it amused her), she gave us a bottle of champagne.

On Saturday a friend came by and offered us his chalet in Switzerland for a vacation.  Marie gave me a can of tuna and a bone for Harika.     I have many (happy) returns to make.

When I returned to the gallery with Harika, the bore was droning on.  He wanted to rent us a room for our next show for 450 Euros a day.    Harika really barked this time, and he left with his tail between his legs.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER
St Sulpice in Sun and Shade  
Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on linen 16 x 13 inches

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012 4-2-12
Post by Admin on Apr 3rd, 2012 at 12:23am
Here is Blair's Paris, St Sulpice, Location painting, what a team. Would I like to join them someday, does Harka like to play? Spring in Paris... You have to love it.
LaurieBlairChurch4-2-12.JPG (426 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on Apr 16th, 2012 at 12:33pm
This week we saw the Modigliani/Soutine show at the Pinacotheque in Paris.  This private museum has the most unusual exhibitions, often presented in suprising ways.  The curation of their permanent collection is fabulous – it makes me recall the Barnes when it was in Merion, PA.  

The ticket read “Jonas Netter” – as we approached the entry we thought we’d bought into the wrong show.  “No, it’s the Modigliani/Soutine exhibit,” the clerk confirmed.   The exhibit was actually the compilation of the private collector Jonas Netter, and also included paintings by Utrillo and Valadon, Kisling and several other lesser known artists that exhibited at Zborowski galleries at the end of the 1920s.   It was definitely a show worth seeing, Modigliani and Soutine predominating – there were works which were never  before available to the public.   There was a charming young girl painted by Modigliani, a forceful portrait on a  yellow background  by Soutine.  I objected somewhat to the verbage which accompanied the exhibit – first, it obscured the work – a painting of “a mountain path” by Soutine was unviewable because of the crowd gathered at the 400-word description neaby.  I believe if you need to write that much  to tell people it’s good, it’s probably not.  In some cases in this show, that was true.

We have been recharging our batteries with a look at other paintings.  It helps us to take up our brushes again in a more thoughtful way.

We went to the Matisse show at the Beaubourg   – it, too, was a surprising show.  Selected  pieces were featured in “paires et series” – many paintings of the same objects.    It was not the blockbuster collection of joyful Matisse images, but a look at a few subjects handled in a verity of ways:  objects in his room; a woman in a gypsy blouse; goldfish in a bowl . It helped me to look at my fish in a variety of ways (hopefully not too Matisse),  reflected today’s paintings intended for a show early next year.  

Sometimes I think I have become jaded by seeing so much good art over the past few years.  My temptation now is to see something completely different:  roses, fashion, dinner on a plate, to renew my eyes.

I took two painting students to the Orangerie recently, as a break from painting on the Seine in the morning to painting in the Tuileries (garden) in the afternoon.   The young girl, just 12 years old, was overcome by the sight of Monet’s waterlilies.  She told us it was the first time she ever felt anything “just looking at a painting.”   Isn’t that what art is all about?

Laurie and Blair Pessemier

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012 4-21-12
Post by Admin on Apr 22nd, 2012 at 7:58am
As I sit here typing artnotes, the temperature is 46 degrees and it’s about to rain:  a pattern of the last week.   My painting student of Wednesday announced, “the wind is from the West, we can’t paint.” (the first time we've ever not paint

I never recall quite this bad weather at this time of year – but I have a selective memory.  I always remember the good times, even rosying up what, at the time, were not-so-good experiences.   I wax fondly about living in Connecticut, for one (I HATED living there, at the time).  I can even look back fondly at people I regularly fought with.   What a wonderful thing, no?  

It’s election week/weekend here.   French people vote on Sunday, an idea which exudes SENSE to me.  In the US, we close schools for the day so people can vote, and half of them don’t make it on account of work.  Switch to Sunday.

The other brilliant thing here is that campaign advertising is limited to one month before the election.  Certainly, the candidates speak before that, and there are rallies, but the media is not overwhelmed with hate ads like we are in America, for 6 months.  The hate element isn’t used here, which I find refreshing.  Even more refreshing are the posters which are plastered to special temporary walls erected for such purpose as identifying the candidates:  artistic types give them red clown noses and mustaches (I have even been known to wield a pencil).  My favorite was a wild bozo-like treatment to the bald headed Hollande.  Good sport.

The bad news is the candidates are not so brilliant, and the claims they make are wildly extreme.  The current French president (I don’t consider him my president, as I am a US citizen), Nicolas Sarkozy, proposes to diminish immigration by 50 percent, at least – his own father was an immigrant, which makes it lucky he wasn’t in charge back then.  He has made clear his dislike for non-Christians – despite the fact no white French guy would take a job washing dishes – Sarko  doesn’t want any North African guy taking that Frenchman’s job.   He wants to deport  most non-European-types, not realizing I guess, that more than half the Muslims (or who he perceives as Muslim) in this country were born here.    And if this isn’t enough,  he is proposing entry visas to France  –  which seems absurd in a country with the world’s most visited city, Paris, dependent on tourist dollars.

All this is likely rhetoric, in fact, to take the vote from extremely extreme National Front candidate, Marie LePen.  Mme. LePen wants to quit the European Union (and most certainly the Euro), give France back to the French, and stop immigration altogether.  

The  only real (and formidable!) opponent to Sarkozy is Francois Hollande.  Hollande  has a completely different agenda.  He wants to tax anyone making a million euros a year at a rate of 75%.  There aren’t many people here who make that much, but nonetheless, those who do will find it hard to vote for him.  It is his idea of how to fund social programs.  His emphasis is on education, which seems like a great idea.  He will add 60,000 teachers in hopes of making France the best education system in the world – in the belief knowledge will overcome hate and superstition.    His is a “positive” viewpoint, as opposed to Sarkozy’s self-proclaimed optimism, which is negative in many regards.

This election has put the city on edge.    And this is the first round:  there are, in fact, ten candidates who will be whittled down to two in this weekend’s vote (the communists; the new “anti-capitalists”; the “citizen-revolutionaries” – all of whom have very interesting ideas I didn’t share in this short missive)  .  The final election is on the 6 May, after which  the news of how broke the country really is, will be released.

A few years from now, who knows, maybe we’ll all look back favorably on the early 20-teens…  Was the weather really that bad?  Which way is the wind blowing?

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on May 2nd, 2012 at 9:28am
Trees across from the Hotel   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on linen  9 x 13 inches  175.00

“So you’re an artist?” said the woman at the desk.
I take Blair aside, “Did you tell her?”  
Blair:  “I didn’t mean to.”
Me:  “Oh, no.   It’s starting,”
  I hate staying at bed and breakfasts.  This weekend we went to Blaye, in the Bordeaux region, for Blair’s birthday.  I’d booked a mini-chateau, where we could hole up and drink wine, think, paint a few pictures.  In fact, the mini-chateau turned out to be in a large parking lot with a warehouse attached.  The house itself bore a strong resemblance to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, and the curtains looked like they were made of cobwebs.  So we beat a hasty retreat and found ourselves in downtown Blaye.
  Blair had done his own reconnaissance via the internet, in case the mini-chateau was a dud.  I had to admit Villa St. Simon was beautiful –“ but Blair, it’s a bed and breakfast, my most dreaded accommodation.”  I am as much to blame, but the proprietors inevitably engage me in intimate conversation about topics that are really not any of their business.  Lonely people meeting other lonely people is how I describe it:  give me a discreet, impersonal hotel any day. I don’t want to engage – I have friends.
  I cried, drank half a bottle of wine, and bucked up to the challenge.  I threw the bull with the best of them – in fact, arranging a week in November for a painting workshop, and a show at the gallery across the street.  It may not have been my first choice for a romantic weekend, but heck, maybe we’ll make enough money to take another trip.
  I actually liked the owners, a pair of lively South Africans who spoke English.    She’d been an artist, he played music and they did a terrific job renovating the property (with the help of a third “hands on” partner, who also worked on vintage French cars (think 2CV, or the marvelous beetle-y DX Citroen with the hydraulic lifts)).  All of this equals an inevitable friendship.  
  It poured rain on the drive all the way there, and the entire next day.  Luckily, we had the room with three floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out at chestnuts in blossom and the little ferry that chugged over to Medoc.  I sat in my chair and looked at trees.
  Trees have been my penchant of late, with red and purple trunks, little jewels of the sky peeking through fresh leaves.  We took the ferry to a winery across the Gironde and painted umbrella pines and pin oaks.  We drove to lunch where we fished with a local boy trying to catch eels.    That night we ate sturgeon raised in the river.  We even visited the point where the river joins the sea, punctuated by one of those rugged French Atlantic lighthouses.
  All this was to the tune of Bordeaux wines:  margaux and medoc, cote de bourg and cote de blaye – the northern Bordeaux.  The painting workshop, in fact, will be a wine and painting workshop – with the opportunity to paint or taste wine, or both.

Laurie and Blair Pessemier
LaurieTrees9x13_175.JPG (263 KB | )

Title: Re: Paintfox 2012
Post by Admin on May 6th, 2012 at 7:48am
We had a rental car in Paris this week, so we decided to take a trip to Fontainebleau, in the spirit of so many impressionist painters.   Our initial idea was to paint “rocks” – a unique feature to the park.  We invited a friend, who suggested we make a sidetrip, which actually became the focus of our journey.

We visited the home of Stephane Mellarme, a French poet born in 1842.  His work is among the most difficult to translate into English – when I read it in French it is wonderful, but to put in English just doesn’t “go”.  He worked as an English teacher, to make ends meet; he translated Poe’s Raven into French, where it was illustrated by Manet.    Mallerme had an apartment in Paris, and the cottage we visited, in Vulaine- sur-Seine, on the banks of the river.  He was a “connected” artist – he conducted salons attended by  Degas, Manet, Whistler, Poe, Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Valéry, Stefan George, and Paul Verlaine, just to mention a few.   His portrait in an etching by Gaugin, hung on the wall of the house we visited, alongside a photo taken by Degas, with Degas reflected in the mirror.    I felt tremendously inspired to get my Sunday salon underway, something I’ve been trying to do since January.

The house was filled with interesting pictures, his furniture (he is associated with his rocking chair, wearing a plaid blanket over his shoulders) and a small show of his work and accompanying illustration.  He wrote some of his poems on fans, intended for his wife, mistress and daughter.  The gardens were marvelous, and he even wrote poetry the wall of the privy.  

We’d brought a picnic to eat, and afterward ate  on the banks of the Seine, with Harika.   We saw a very large bird winging our way, “a heron”, I announced, but it was in fact a swan.   The gigantic bird landed on the water by running on its enormous black feet,  loud slaps on the water.  It was clearly interested in our lunch.  Harika had no intention of sharing, and eyed the bird menacingly.  As the two got closer, the fowl took to hissing, and having had enough, Harika jumped in after it.  I had to clamber down the rocks to haul the wet dog out of the water, but it succeeded at putting the bird at bay for a short time.

The sun was warm enough we took of our coats and shoes and dangled our toes in the Seine.  After chicken and remoulade, carrots, cheese and bread (with wine, of course), we packed our bags to be off to paint.  

It is quite amazing how large the forest of Fontainebleau actually is:  an area of 110 square miles!  We opted for a little turnoff by the road, where the trees seemed illuminated, pale green and yellow.   Blair sat down at once, and our friend, Harika and I went further into the woods, where cars were barely heard.  I painted the illuminated trees.  There were no mosquitoes yet, but lots of little insects.  Two of the king’s horses passed by (the police, on the trail of prostitutes), and we found a rock which resembled a large chunk of ice.   I picked it up for a souvenir from our foray into the country.
Blair, $175

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