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Message started by Admin on May 5th, 2013 at 8:45pm

Title: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on May 5th, 2013 at 8:45pm
We are looking to get out of town tomorrow – our days off are so few and far between at this time, the chance to BREATHE clean country air is compelling.  So, I research the trajectory to Reuil-Malmaison and Josephine’s house where we can satisfy Harika’s country needs and our cultural penchant.   By mistake, I go to the Google map feature instead of the Paris heavy-rail network, and find I could walk there from my house in three hours and four minutes, along the route de l’Empereur. Did Napoleon really march from our house to Josephine’s place that way?

We had a big walk on Wednesday, the first of May, at the Bois de Boulogne with Harika.   I love to go there on the 63 bus, passing the Assemble Nationale, Concorde,  Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, near the Eiffel  Tower, Trocadero, the statue of George Washington on his horse, and out to the edge of town.

Harika  goes off leash and we gambol down to the lake.   Ducks, baby ducks, coots and their tiny charges float in the water.  We sit by the shore and see a hundred shades of green.   I have a lump in my throat it is so lovely and I am here.   We continue our walk around as I notice small droplets on the lake.   They, too,  look beautiful to me, but as they get closer together (actually it looks even better), Harika starts to high tail it for cover.  We have to put her on the leash because she’s so much faster than us.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on May 12th, 2013 at 11:16pm
My early morning writing has fallen by the wayside as we have more and more painting workshops.  This week we went out to the Bois de Boulogne and Auvers-sur-Oise.   Coming up is a day at the Seine and Tuileries, just before the opening of our “he loves me, he loves me not” Flower Art Show on Thursday.

We picked up our painter at 9:30 this Sunday morning – traffic was negligible as we headed Northwest out of the city.   We visited the graves of Vincent and Theo van Gogh – Harika snuck in behind us, despite my best intentions to keep her outside the cemetery.  “We in France welcome dogs,” an older woman told me as I tried to catch her, so off she went.  Something about all those bones made me nervous, but it was fine.

We walked through the field where Vincent was shot – it is pretty clear now that he was accidentally murdered by young boys playing with a gun.  I really feel happier about him knowing that.  A path leads from the fields down to the church.  We continued through the town – Blair had hoped to paint in the city park, but there was an event going on.  We continued further on, where our associate visited Vincent’s rooms.

We painted not far from there –on a street overlooking buildings and flowering trees. Harika schmoozed with every tourist that walked by, as well as the locals.   “This dog wants water,” a local woman in a house dress and penciled on eyebrows admonished me.  She could have been Vincent’s model.  “There’s water in the park, where they are serving lunch,” she continued, “it’s the best water in all of Europe.”  I told her I’d be sure to try it.
As we finished up our morning painting, we decided to go for the lunch “event”  on the grass.  Salad, bread, duck and roasted potatoes,   crepes for dessert,  wine and coffee.   Eaten beneath a tent, people sang-along to live tunes played on the accordion.

We had lunch of a different sort at our Bois-de-Boulogne session.  We took the ferry across the lake to the Chateau-des-Iles, where we ate a gourmet lunch on the patio.  Men wore jackets and the napery was linen.  I did my best to clean my painted hands.

There were a plethora of dogs, people and bicyclists at the Bois de Boulogne.  Most played well together, save for an English bulldog who took exception to a fluffy dog (all ended up intact).  We had lots of admirers and our fellow painter was a good sport.

Mid-week, we ate dinner at our house with an old friend from the Cordon Bleu Cooking School here.  I made a Barbue (which I believe is the equivalent of a Sunfish) – more than four pounds of fish, like a giant sole.  I was honored she took a photo of him.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on May 19th, 2013 at 9:12pm
The line extended around the corner of rue Guynemer, from rue Vaugirard, leading to the Luxembourg Museum last night.  It was the ”night of the museum” throughout Europe --  museum visits were free to the public until 1 AM.  Judging by the crowds, I believe people would like to visit museums, but are discouraged by the cost.

Thanks to Artnotes, I get to go in for free as a journalist.  Blair pays the big fare, which seems like half as much when we go together.  So we decided to wait until this morning to see the Chagall show.  “I’ll bet nobody will be there at 9 AM,” I said.  I was nearly right.

Many people I talked to complained about the Chagall show not being so good.  There was a poorly lit section of Chagall’s more somber, religious work which I breezed through at the start.  But the large colorful paintings were wonderful, further along the route.  It was a oddly curated show – there were certain paintings hung in narrow rooms which you could not see in one solid glance – too big to fit in your eye from where one had to stand.  But in general, very lovely yellow, reds and brilliant blues:  Liberation,  The Dance, the Dream.  Smaller sketches were great, as well.   Chagall was an essentially happy man in spite of living through two big wars.

We made a day of it today after a long, hard week of lessons and the Vernissage for our “he loves me, he loves me not” flower painting show.  We had more than 100 people at the opening on Thursday night, hot on the heels of a full day of painting Wednesday in the Luxembourg Gardens.   I have been working in such a detailed date-oriented way my drawing perspective is improving.

After the Chagall show, we bought bus tickets and went to Chinatown for lunch.  We had not been out there for more than two years.   The Empress Trees were in flower all along the route – beautiful lavender blossoms looking a lot like wisteria but 40 feet tall.   The gardens  looked nicer than I remembered,  and when got off the bus the escalator was actually working up to the Paris store.  There were more decorative accessories for your i-pad, but otherwise merchandise is not much changed in the little stores.  Rice (basmati) was 9.70 for five kilos (we just paid 5.60 for one kilo in our market!), and I got a spaghetti strainer, stainless steel, albeit a bit sharp in spots (small holes, I might use it for couscous, too). 

We admired the homemade donuts in the Vietnamese restaurant, and the owner brought us one.  They were real donuts, long fried cake-dough affairs one split in half for two.  They gave us a little dish of “crème anglaise” to dip in.  I saw another couple eating them with their soup, into which they also poured sugar.  I am not sure about that.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jun 3rd, 2013 at 3:33am
Van Gogh's field in Rain   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic on linen 13 x 16 inches  325.00
Sailboat School Trouville  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on wood 7.5 x 16 inches  125.00

“de St Marie, Matsushita, Pessemier, Nahem, Claes--  are those cities where you have galleries?” someone asked the other day.  Two weeks after our opening we received the sign listing the names of the people who have paintings on our gallery walls (the vendor promised it on 9 May, but, alas, it’s France).

When I looked at the sign, I realized someone might think that these were cities, in different countries.  In fact, they are the names of five (six)  American artists with work hanging  on the walls of 14, rue Servandoni.  I love the diversity, acceptance and cooperation of the different cultures of America.  NEVER would that occur, without the help of an American, in Europe.

Over drinks the other night, a couple of American friends said we no longer knew America, that it wasn’t all friendship and cooperation there.  But there is no other country that comes as close.   We are ambassadors here, hosting painters from Australia, Brazil, Slovakia, England, Austria, Japan, Canada and the United States.

It was a week of Americans in Paris for us – Memorial Day perhaps brought the American theme closer to home.  On Sunday, we had four young Americans (18-20) over for a mock Memorial  Day picnic in our apartment.  I made a Venezualan-barbecue beef roast, potato salad, goat cheese stuffed peppers, cantelope and asparagus.   It warmed up enough to take in the view from the balcony, where we witnessed 200,000+ protesters on rue de Rennes. 

It was NOT a diverse crowd of protesters as we all observed – we could pick out two black people and an asian woman, but otherwise it was all white bread.   People waved fuchsia and turquoise flags, which made it difficult to identify what kind of angry mob the were.   They were protesting the fact gay people could now adopt children, after the passing of the equality law in France.    With trepidation, I sent the four off to put their locks on the Pont des Arts.   Facebook postings later assured me they made it.

We rented a car on Monday, our first great sunny day this spring.  We drove with two California friends to Trouville, where we spent the day on the beach.  I had half a mind to go to the DDay cemetery, but it was at least another hour in the car.   Bells rang out at the church for a long time, which I believe were in honor of the Americans in Normandy 69 years ago.   In any case, we had a sense of Memorial Day – I can take out my white clothes and shoes, to wear until Labor Day.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jun 8th, 2013 at 8:44pm
  ARTNOTES:  Summer in the Park
Theater Odeon Balcony View  Blair Pessemier  18 x 22 inches  Commission/NFS

Blair was out painting a scene from a balcony at the Hotel Meurice, as Harika and I settled into the park for the morning.  Blair was inundated with painting commissions this week, for a total of five in the past two weeks (see them on  our  blog page: ).    Our painting “workshopper” wound up his week of classes alongside Blair, painting the panorama from his room.  My buildings don’t always “stand up”, but are colorful and fun.
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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jun 17th, 2013 at 7:30pm
After moving back to Paris in 1998, people would ask “why are you here?’.  We would respond, “for the light”.  It was the light that fueled the impressionists, a sort of misty, thick colored light (from yellow to blue to pink) that made those paintings wonderful.   About 18 months ago my friend Y said she felt the light had changed here “it’s never pink!”  I thought we just weren’t outside early enough.   Now, this spring/summer 2013, I notice the change, too. 

I had my most talented workshop participant ever, I believe, this week – a young woman, about 18, who was born to paint.   She was home-schooled, and just started taking some art classes.   She had such a way of building up her painting from paint, not from drawing – and the result was practically pure impressionism.  It was thrilling -- beside her, I felt humbled.   I learn from each and every painter we paint with.

The British call it “white cloud” in their weather reports.  It is the refrigerator  type of light that Seattle had.   And it is the light in Paris the very moment of this writing.  It is somewhere between overcast and brightly foggy, but it takes the light, shadow and warm coloration out of the picture.  A photographer I met here a few weeks ago commented on it, and a painter I just painted with had a hard time defining the light here.  I am not sure what is happening, but it has pushed Blair and I to seek new sunsets.

We are looking at new locations for painting this winter:  of course, Tunisia comes to mind, but there were security issues I wouldn’t want to repeat.  We’ve been looking at the Southern United States, where we can paint and sell paintings (or I could open a game and wild herb/vegetable restaurant:  Afield (or is that just my thinking?)).  Morocco is also possible, or the south of France, like last year. 

It’s not that the light was always perfect in Paris:  just sometimes.  And those times are breathtaking.   Indoor light has changed as well, with the introduction of energy-saving/mercury laden light bulbs.  Warm incandescence, casting a golden glow on your partner’s cheeks has given way to a fluorescent-green-y glow (think lime-light?).

I am painting dogs in the park now – we are going to have a “dog show” at 14, rue Servandoni, before we close on 30 July.   They go for walks in clouds or sun, Harika, in her black coat, officially preferring the shade.  You never hear them complain.

We’ve still not had a single summer-y day here.  I feel the earth has tilted on its axis and we are headed for a new ice  age.  I am reminded of the documentaries on the public TV of my youth: “there was no summer and crops failed”.   I feel hair growing in my ears and nose and Harika’s canines seem to be getting longer.  The ice age, right around the corner, darn it!    I joke we are having summer in Siberia, but in fact, the temperatures there have been warmer and the sky sunnier than here.    Picnic, comrades?

Umbrella in the Luxembourg Gardens  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on canvas panel  12 x 12 inches  175.00
Atlas and Astor  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on canvas panel 12 x 12  175.00

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jun 23rd, 2013 at 8:19pm
Artnotes:  Look Around
Newspaper  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on wood  13 x 7.5 inches  150.00

Friday morning a song drew my attention to a planter I never saw before, at the entrance to the Luxembourg Gardens at Place Auguste Comte.  A little bird was heralding in the first day of summer from a carved stone perch fifteen feet above our heads.  When I looked at him he stopped, jumped back slightly – do birds really know I am looking at them or is this a coincidence?  I said to Blair I must be mistaken that there was a bird there, but as we went around to the back, I spied his little profile.

While painting outside in the Luxembourg Gardens, the skies opened up and the rain came down “in cords” as one would say here.  It was buckets, tons, forks and knives of rain, obscuring vision and soaking to the skin in just a few seconds.   Under these circumstances, we moved our painting gear and two other painters beneath the pavilion in the park.  There were a good 75 people with us under there, including someone from Connecticut who had bought painting from us in past.  He helped me move our chairs to beneath the roof.   What were the chances?  Their daughter was running in the rain and joined us drenched and cool (the heat and humidity has been oppressive these last few days).

There was a beautiful mother with her child in my view, and a group of black teenagers all a-giggle with being stuck inside/outside.   A school classroom of kids enjoying the park shared our haven, and a French woman was eating her lunch was close by.   It was a smattering of humanity, which always makes me feel glad to be part of this planet.

There are other things I love about these unexpected moments – they make an otherwise “perfectly-planned” day oodles more interesting.  For a moment I felt thrilled with the rain, as it made me feel like there was more to life than what I expected.

On Thursday I actually saw something I’ve not seen before in Paris:  men putting little cloth sacks over the immature fruit on the trees in the Luxembourg Gardens.  This protects the fruit from the ruthless starlings, who know the minute something ripens.  I love the gentleness of this action, fitting the little bag around the fruit.  The bag has an elastic edge to keep it on snugly, without restricting growth.

I think I still miss so many little details, which contain the very essence and importance of life.   I make a point to leave my phone behind and take my time, look around.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jun 29th, 2013 at 7:12pm
Eglise Auvers   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic on linen  13 x 16 inches  300.00
The pond at Giverny   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic on linen 15 x 18 inches  350.00

Blair returned from picking up the rental car on Thursday, announcing, “the offered me a convertible so I took it.”   I had ordered a seven passenger van to accept our painters (fortunately only two) and all of our equipment.   “What?  What are these people going to think?” 

With some difficulty, we managed to get our painting gear, minus the caddie, into the back of the car.  It was a new Volvo C70 convertible with the retractable hard roof.   It looked like a “transformer” (do  you remember those kids toys from a few years ago?), and people congregated on the street as we performed the metamorphosis between a sort-of-sensible and wild-and-crazy car. 

“It’s only got two doors,” I moaned, although secretly I was thinking it was pretty spectacular.  I had recently accused Blair of being no fun, and he figured this would be a good way to show me he was still the sporty, stylish guy I married.
After learning how to operate the roof, we picked up our charges, a mom celebrating 50 years, and her 18 year old son,  at the edge of the Latin quarter.  It was a period of non-rain, and although only sixty-five degrees, the sun peeked out.    We drove (slowly) down the congested St. Michel, along the Seine and beneath the Louvre to Madeleine.  I’d never seen the buildings in such detail – from the middle of the road without a roof I could see EVERYTHING.  I heard the people in the back seat whisper, “this is better than the bus tour”.

We drove North, by Place de Clichy (we couldn’t see the Moulin Rouge) and past Montmartre.  Paris thinned out as we made our way to the country.  I began to smell the trees (little leaf lindens, achoo!) and the wheat.  Harika hung on for dear life as the wind buffeted her fur.  THIS is living!
We parked the car on top of the hill in Auvers, overlooking the countryside.  We visited the graves of the Van Goghs, and walked through the wheat fields.  We visited many of the plaques indicating Van Gogh’s last works, and some of Cezanne, Corot and Daubigny.   Making like those famous types, we painted around the church.  After a visit to  Dr. Gachet’s house (there was a cat, much to the chagrin of Harika, who was on leash), we piled back into the car and drove into Paris:   with the top down.

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:47pm
Did dogs figure out if they made meaningful  eye contact and wagged their tails that humans wouldn’t kill them?  How did that happen? Or was it just collaboration so they could both get food from the hunt and a covered place to sleep?  I am sure someone has studied all this, but man’s best friend must have had some role in earning that title.  I am not going to confuse science and romance today, for once.  I am going with romance.

Harika has been spending lots of time in restaurants – my family is here from Connecticut, so we have had stellar meals here and out, a picnic by the Seine and another Sunday at Versailles ( The magnitude of this place and the revolution it provoked is mind-boggling; "occupy wall street" pales in comparison) .   Yesterday we ate outside at  the Place Dauphine – veal chops.  They always taste best at a restaurant, where they can get their oven to temperatures greater than my stove at home.

We had a fourth of July picnic by the Seine – we planted our American flag in the sand and celebrated the occasion with endive stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts; roasted peppers and onions; tomatoes and mozzarella; cold pintade with figs; melon and drinks.   I hadn’t been to the section of the river nearest the Musee d’Orsay for some time.  The left bank has been made pedestrian (in fact, all the way to the Eiffel Tower), with benches overlooking the river, and game-diversions on where the road once was.  The right bank had a photo show of coffee – large enough to see from across the way.  The entire effect was quite pleasing.

We picnicked near younger people bearing musical instruments – a guitar, violin, accordion and drum.  Their rendition of “Summertime” a la jazz/jam was nice.  To be able to play an instrument is to be able to communicate with others on another level.   I am thinking there are so many ways to connect:  I am starting to think there is a big collective-consciousness cloud out there – or maybe many, that we store memories and knowledge in.

Painting with others just isn’t the same as the music connection, because painting is such a solitary activity.   I painted with five people on Monday, and  with someone every day this week, but it is not like a touching of souls in music.

Between visitors and work, I have much fodder for thought.  And soon, Blair and I and Harika will be on vacation.

Laurie and Blair Pessemier

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jul 8th, 2013 at 10:59pm
Painting and skiing, I love them both. Both are solitary activities. I guess I can add working on the computer to that list.

A friend brought me up a pineapple the other day, I painted it, then ate it. Very sweet, did you know that by adding a little coconut milk to the pineapple the acid taste is removed? That can be done with a couple of minutes in the micro-wave too, put them together then in a processer and you have a great drink to drink while typing on the computer :)

A wine filled bota-bag is great while skiing, I don't eat or drink while painting, I concentrate instead.

Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jul 15th, 2013 at 7:42am
Happy Fete Nationale!  Happy Bastille Day!  Nobody here actually says those things – most of the Parisiens in our neighborhood are off on vacation, anyway.  We’re having a little indoor picnic (card playing afterward) with R and V.  Indoors, you ask?

We had seventeen students yesterday, painting outside in the Luxembourg Gardens.  Seventeen?  We  do it because we like them -- they are the most civilized crowd I ever have.  They come from the Choate Rosemary Hall Summer Program, from Connecticut.   Nonetheless, I am dog-tired afterward (we ate lunch outside in the garden on top of it) from being outdoors so much.   
It wasn’t only this painting class – I had guests early in the week, whom I LOVE, but I walked even further than usual on Monday and Tuesday.    While sauntering with them along the Seine I had  the first tip off of the Bastille day parade – the jets, spewing red white and blue smoke, were  practicing overhead.    Then the World War II planes, the helicopters – you get the picture.  I love the parade and hate to miss it, but people stand six deep along the Champs-Elysees and oh, my aching feet.
Friday night prior to the seventeen students, we painted after hours at Giverny.   The sun is at just the perfect angle when we make art between six and eight.  I had slipped a pan of Osso Buco into the oven before we left at two, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious at 10 PM.  I laid potatoes on top.

Saturday  was the BEST day to be painting in the gardens – on 13 July the French Foreign Legion gets together and awards medals  there.  The “Legion Etrangere” is an amalgamation of folks – many who still don’t really speak French.  They are guys who are escaping their own, often oppressive countries.  After seven years  of hard work for la France, they will be full fledged French citizens.   Blair and I thought of it once, got the hat, but just couldn’t picture ourselves in the Sahara.

Our first tip off the Foreign Legion was imminent, was when several extraordinarily fit men, in uniforms, with bright red epaulets (French word!) and crisp white Kepis, stood, guns in hand, watching our young painters.   All were in awe of each another.   Soon, a contingent of uniformed musicians marched down the main alley, turning toward place Auguste Compte, playing the Marseillaise.   Once assembled, the awarding of medals transpired.   My painters painted.

At the end of the show, the entire group, including the axe-bearers, in leather aprons (think Lizzie Borden) marched by us.   It really put me in the mood for a picnic.
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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jul 21st, 2013 at 9:08pm
At lunch the other day, we were placed in the air conditioned dining room of the Tourne Bouchon, a neighborhood restaurant.  I thanked Madame – it’s been extremely hot out, and the cool air was refreshing.   For me, in any case:  several groups of French people came afterward and refused to sit there.  They insisted on tables in the bar, where they woudn’t have a “courant d’air”.  Never mind it’s 85 degrees.

It’s the same on the bus or train – the temperature can be 90, if it’s a degree, but French people will get up to shut the window. On the way to the park with Harika, we pass a friend, huffing and puffing, but wearing a sweater.   Parisiens are convinced if a draft hits them, regardless of temperature, it spells doom.   My luncheon partner explained to me, were it to happen, one must cover the area  exposed to the air at once.

I’ve always loved the wind – it brings me new ideas, I say.  So not only do the French think I am inviting sickness, but I am crazy on top of it.  A former neighbor, a French physician, cautioned us about going to the Pyrenees when the wind is blowing.  “I have seen men go mad,” he told us, quite seriously.  He implied it was why the Basques were so rebellious.   I write this as I sit in the wake of the fan;  Harika, too.

We’ve been spending a lot of time at the gallery, where it is nearly glacial.   Blair carries out a gallon of water from the de-humidifier every day.  You’d think you were in the freezer section of the super market when you go downstairs.   I love this.  I even went to work today, Sunday.

Yesterday, when I was sitting in the breeze of the doorway to the hall, I offered my chair to a sweaty arrival, “it’s marvelous here, there’s such fresh air.  Would you like to sit down?”  She rushed away, crying “on, no, it will be a courant d’air!   I must go, it is too cold here!”

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Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Jul 28th, 2013 at 9:36pm
Artnotes:  Leaving Servandoni
All our new work is packed for our US East Coast Trunk show, month of August!!!  Let us know if you'd like a look.  (we'll be in Madison CT on the 10 August and High Point, NC on the 22)

In January 2013, I answered a question:  what stands between you and success?  My response: exposure.  So we rented the gallery at rue Servandoni, in earnest.   At the end of July our term is finished, but now I see 100 other ways to keep up that exposure.

Leaving Servandoni is a bittersweet event.  Our studio/gallery is really the first one we’ve had in Paris.  In the overall, it was a success:  it increased our exposure, we could always pay the rent and we made a little money.   On the down side, going in every day at 2:30 kept us from some painting opportunities we’ll never have again.  I can’t say I
enjoyed time spent there.

Title: Re: Paintfox May to Aug 2013
Post by Admin on Aug 5th, 2013 at 8:57pm
Hi Laurie, my computer still can't download anything, maybe you can add a picture, I liked the Yellow Sailboat.

“Hey, you’re an artist. Want to paint our picture?”

The kid who stays at the summer cottage near ours was playing on the beach with his cousins, and saw me arrive with my painting gear.  They stay in their place, which their grandfather rents in July and August, for his extended family, and we stay in ours, bigger, but across the road from the lake. We share a beach, along with the property owners and their 29 grandchildren. The lake is plenty big enough for all of us.  And the activity  makes perfect subject matter for me to paint.

“WOW, it’s beautiful, that’s great (and other squeals of delight)”.  I tell them it is for them, for their house, and hand it to the brave boy (maybe 11 years old) who asked me to paint it.

They return ten minutes later, asking for a signature, awash in thank-yous. “I seen your work before,” the brave boy tells me,” in your house, you painted picture of my aunt and her dog.   It was great, too.”

It’s all an artist lives for.

“Let me finish the background,”  I tell them, as I dab on more blue on the water.  They are flabbergasted I am saying yes, the lady who they haven’t talked to before.  “I’ll call you when I am ready.” 

About five minutes later, the four boys line up in front of the water.  I expect them to stand still for five minutes max, but they are serious about this group portrait.   Counting the minutes, I opt for gesture, hair color and bathing trunk color to define each one.  They are still not too fidgety at twelve minutes, but at fifteen I wrap it up and turn the canvas their direction.

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