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Message started by DonJ on Jan 4th, 2015 at 6:03pm

Title: Paintfox2015
Post by DonJ on Jan 4th, 2015 at 6:03pm
   Artnotes:  Clowning Around
A  curly-haired cherubic girl tried to give Harika bits of her foccacio, as we sat down to our second breakfast at Serafino on Saturday.  Harika, ever prudent of Greeks (in this case, Italians) bearing gifts, hid beneath my chair.  I accepted the 2-1/2 year olds’ offering and pretended to feed it to my dog.

A few minutes later another family, with two boys, joined the fracas.  The older boy, maybe 6, was a real clown.  He liked making the little girl laugh, and pretended to stumble over chairs, and bump into things, often sprawling on to the pavement on the restaurant’s terrace.  It was all very “Three Stooges”, and you couldn’t help but laugh at him. 

I’d not seen kids act like this – the three of them laughing and carrying on uproariously – in, well, maybe NEVER, or at least 40 years.  The little girl had that overwhelming laugh, bigger than herself, as only little kids can have.  Kids are king in Italy – treasured, indulged, and ever so evident. 

It reminded me of my own youth in Winsted, Connecticut – a town full of Italian families with at least a half-dozen kids each.  “Horsing around” we used to call it – making the other kids laugh with stories, crazy behavior.  And most importantly we could all laugh at ourselves. 

I’d have put these feelings aside had we not gone to visit the Villa Grock in Imperia that afternoon.  Villa Grock is the creation of the famous Italian clown, Grock.  It is a completely crazy house and garden dedicated to CLOWNING. 

We watched a film of Grock, the man, talking about what it was to be a clown – how you make people laugh, or cry, or you never know what they would feel.  There was no time for complaining, talking about your own problems…  It was quite inspiring, a little like art – you paint your picture and how people react is up to them.  You can’t say it will make people happy or sad.  Intention is only to entertain, cause a reaction.

My nephew, H, as a small child, was a “clown”.  He’d ride on his swing, make believe he was flying – or he’d engage you in some way to make you laugh.  We wouldn't give up.

I have mixed feelings about circus clowns.  They can make me nervous, or feel embarrassed, awkward; or even make me laugh out loud.  That’s the goal:  to make me feel something.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jan 5th, 2015 at 1:36am
I think I've seen too many scare clown movies too like them.

Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jan 12th, 2015 at 9:11pm
Art Notes from Laurie.
With the help of our Italian dictionary, Blair was able to sign us up online for the Italian senior discount on TrenItalia.  One hundred fifty pounds of luggage (paint is heavy) and a twenty five pound dog in a bag raced from track 21 to track 11 in Milan in under ten minutes.  For only 67 euros, Blair, I and Harika made our way from Cervo to Venice in just 6 hours. 

I had a hard time not bursting into tears as we stood on the Vaporetto gazing over Venice.  We had not been in this beautiful city since the 1970s:  it was BETTER than I remembered.  Blair agreed.

We made our way to our cozy rental apartment in the Dorsoduro district, near the Accademia bridge.  An enthusiastic Emma with her cocker spaniel Charlotte met us at the dock and took us to what used to be their apartment.   Heated floors and a grassy back yard – what more could a dog ask for?  A real Dog’s Palace.

We walked to the store to buy food for dinner – each little bridge and byway eliciting a new round of ooohs and aaahs.  And no cars.  NO CARS at all in Venice.  In fact, I noticed the “ambulanza” plying the waters today, with its flashing light.

Sunday morning found us on the banks of the grand canal – my work, a complete failure, already painted over.  As I looked upstream, the gondoliers were just getting underway.  One was singing Santa Lucia.

The gondola shop is very close to our apartment.  Blair checked out the ailing vessels, took pictures.   We rarely take photos, but we’ve seen so many scenes too good to pass up.
With Harika, we’ve walked to St Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace.  We’ve unearthed an art supply store.  I am limiting myself to smaller canvases at the moment. 

The fog has been most intriguing, but today we painted in sun, from the Accademia bridge looking toward Santa Maria della Salute.  I pinch myself and ask, can it really be this beautiful?
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jan 17th, 2015 at 11:24pm
Artnotes: Venetian Blind
“Forget putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it:  I want to rock my tutu and throw glitter in the air.” 
A note from my friend Jim this morning (he loves Venice)

Yesterday we got lost (not the first time) in Venice.  It is amazing how many twisting passages and blind alleys there are.  You follow someone who looks like they know where they are going and poof!you are looking into the canal.  Sometimes people follow us.

We were at the church of Ss. Giovanni and Paolo – it is where many of the doges are interred.  It is a kind of Pantheon of Venice.  There are paintings by Bellini, Veronese and Guido Reni – not just canvases, but alterpieces and ceilings.  A huge horse sculpture (Bartolomeo Colleoni) by Verrocchio stands outside.   Sculpted tombs line the walls, impressive, if not created by the world’s greatest artists.  I have been reading John Ruskin’s Stones of Venice and just have to visit some of the sites he describes.    We are expecting guests (staying in hotels) the last ten days we are here, so we’re saving the blockbuster places to see with them.

We were lost in an area I remembered being lost in before.  I had planned to spend a month in Italy on my own, after graduating from Art History school, last century.  More than one person thought it unwise for me to go alone, so Tom came with me.   In fact, I am the last person on earth who wants “protecting”, and I believe he came with me because he was afraid to come by himself.  We cut our time in Venice short, because he didn’t like it.  I realize now, that he was afraid:  afraid of being lost.

The essence of Venice is to be lost. It is unlike any other place in Italy.  It is a city of juxtapositions:  east meets west; byzantine meets gothic meets renaissance.  Arabesque providing some humor to the Renaissance, not every window is judiciously placed from the outside.  Not a place for left brain thinkers.

It is easier to like being lost when every minute doesn’t matter.  It is a luxury to discover things at a slow pace.  I am not sure whether Iphones don’t work so well here, or other people aren’t worried about just where they’re at.  Any day in Paris I see people staring at their phones to find the next goal; not so here.

I love being lost because it makes me a little scared.   I don’t want to live in fear (I do not like being the scared that terrorism in Paris makes me feel), but a little uncertainty now and then leaves that crack of light in the door that can lead to wonderful stuff.  Who knows what lurks around that corner?

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jan 25th, 2015 at 7:24pm
Art Notes, Venice

Five middle-aged men in a gondola ply the rio not far from the Piazzo San Marco.  All but one is holding an Ipad, cover dangling like the seat of their skivvies, looking AT the screen rather than at their fantastic surroundings. 

Nearly everywhere I go here, people are looking at screens rather than the view.  The most hawked item here on the street is the “selfie stick”, so you can hold your Iphone three feet away from your face to get a good picture.  It’s alarming.  But actually, I am having such a good time, I don’t care what those poor suckers are doing.

There is an art to looking, and Venice is a feast for the eyes.   The color is shocking:  pink skies in the morning;  water that is actually turquoise/blue, even when the sun isn’t on it;  stones that glow a soft yellow gold; not to mention the actual gold mosaic tiles that adorn some edifices.   Brick towers tilt this way and that; a pointed, byzantine arch sits near a Palladian-style window; a shrine is tucked at the end of the street.

It’s impossible to see when one is clicking, or in many cases, video-ing away.  Everything is reduced to two dimensions.   One of the most interesting comments I hear in our outdoor painting workshop in Paris, from people who used to paint from photographs is, “there is so much AROUND me”.  It is that atmosphere that adds to the impression in one’s mind, so much deeper than a photo.   And that impression is what follows you home, inspires you to write, to make jewelry, to paint your kitchen Venetian blue.  I don’t hold a paintbrush ALL the time, and we do take photographs, but we try to keep it to a minimum.

Most surprising this week has been the many museums we are visiting.  I am not such a museum-goer, really, but when we went to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, the floodgates of my Art History education flew open.  Like old friends (and some were – a number of artists had spoken at the Hartford Art School when I was there), I recognized the work of Mitchell, Penrose, Pollack, Paul Klee.  In contrast, the next day we visited the Ducale Palace, with one of Europe’s largest rooms, and paintings by Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto.   Today at the Accademia we saw a Giorgione and Piera della Francesca.

We are still painting daily, in the very early mornings (check out for another half dozen painted this week).  Friday, a photographer stood directly in front of me (I could almost touch her), with a tripod, to take a picture.  I stood up from my bench, hoping I wouldn’t take her tripod and break if over my knee, when she peeped, “oh, am I in your way?”  They could have heard my response back in Paris.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jan 31st, 2015 at 6:19pm
Artnotes, Painting the walls
We took a trip off the lagoon this week to see Giotto’s frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel.  Scrovegni was a usurer (money lender) later featured, by name, in Dante’s Inferno. Usurers were certain to go to hell in 1302  – Dante’s actual book wasn’t published until 12 years later.   God only knows what Dante might of thought of today’s bankers, joining Scrovegni in the seventh level of Hades.    In any case, in 1302, Giotto, the top artist of his day, was hired to decorate the interior of this chapel, an offering to God and the Church to spare the family from a horrible afterlife.    Amazingly, Giotto completed the entire project in two years, and it is one of the best pieces of art I have ever seen.

Giotto was a professional artist.  Seeing the work I have seen on this trip to Venice, I realize that Giotto, or Titian (200 years later), weren’t painting like Blair and I, for pleasure and sales.   They painted when major patrons like the rich Scrovegni, or even richer, Catholic Church, commissioned them to work.  In those centuries (14 – 16), you didn’t paint a picture and hope to sell it.  You painted a picture because a patron had an idea of what he wanted to see depicted, maybe even with himself in it (Scrovegni is depicted in these frescoes offering the chapel, like a doll house, to the Virgin Mary). 

A fresco is “painted”, or more accurately, applied as a colored plaster to a wall which has been gouged to bond with the material.  Many wonderful ceiling or wall paintings we see (Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese) were actually painted on canvas and applied to the wall or ceiling.  Giotto plastered these religious scenes to the walls and vaulted ceiling of this chapel.   The areas not covered with scenes from the life of Mary and of Christ, are trompe l’oeil-ed to look like marble. 

The chapel and Giotto are also significant, because making frescoes of this magnitude was a break from the Byzantine style mosaics which adorned most churches.  It is really the birth of the Italian Renaissance style.   No more round staring eyes and unbendable fingers – Giotto’s characters are flesh and blood depictions.

The ceiling of the chapel is of the deepest cobalt blue, adorned with small white stars.   Figures fill the walls:  the Massacre of the Innocents is especially moving, with mothers’ faces, looking like ladies just down the street, are streaked with tears.  The donkey carrying Christ on Palm Sunday is a happy, fuzzy animal.   The entire chapel is a joy to see. 

I am not sure I could make my living painting ceiling like that – it must have been very cold and very hot up there.  Plaster is heavy material.

Would I have been an artist if there was only commission work?  That system stayed in place well past the Renaissance.  Until the Impressionists started painting in the 1800s, most art  was done to order.

I am a little worn out of painting this week – we’ve been making nearly a painting a day since 10 December. Blair is still at it.     But Giotto kept it up for two solid years. 

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Feb 9th, 2015 at 4:26am
Artnotes: A Dog's Life
Harika in Venetian Color  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 0 cm 185.00

Two Jack Russell terriers in coats, perched on a delivery boat, barked uproariously as the vessel plied the waters of our neighborhood, Dorsoduro, in Venice.   Harika was duly annoyed, barked back, but eventually thought better of it, as there was no way to engage with the two canines.  We went on our way, but for some time afterward I could tell where the boat was, by the sound of the two sentinels.

Dogs are tops in Venice.  There are all sorts of breeds, often dressed up in coats.  We regularly saw:  a great Dane; a half dozen Jack Russells (one that had been immortalized in a sculpture in an art gallery); a griffon that Harika terrorized to the point it would run when it saw her; King Charles cavaliers; Brittany spaniels; a boxer; two Bernaise mountain dogs; a few labs; a golden retriever, and a collection of mongrels, from which Harika hails. 

The Square  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen   16 x 12"  40 x 30cm  250.00​

Venice is the perfect place for a dog, because there are no cars.  Although most dogs are still on leashes, it is possible to let your dog run freely in a square and play, without fear of being run over.  There are lots of dogs on boats, accompanying their masters at work.  Harika was sad to leave our apartment, where we had a yard, and a heated floor.

Harika in Venice,  Laurie Fox Pessemier

We left Venice this week to return to Paris.  Three trains, two of them planned, got us home seven hours late (the entire journey was meant to be a little more than 8 hours, so you get the picture).

It’s icy cold here but sunny.  Not painting weather, but not too terrible.  I am wearing my fur coat, which people like to “pet”, so I feel a little like a dog might.  The pond in the Luxembourg Gardens is frozen over, and watching the seagulls walk on the water always amuses us.

We’ve hung our Venice collection of paintings on the walls here.  Our apartment seems outrageously cluttered, with canvases stacked up everywhere.  I can’t to go someplace else and start over.


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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Feb 14th, 2015 at 9:11pm
Just a short note this week, wishing you a happy Valentine's Day.
LOVE is the thing!!!
If you can't open the book, you can download a pdf file attached to this email.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Feb 15th, 2015 at 8:42am
Thanks for a wonderful year Laurie & Blair, Happy Valentine's Day. We sure got a lot of hits on the forum, thanks again. I love your limited palette. Lately I have been doing a lot of 3 primary color paintings. No black ever keeps our work from being dull.
Your book was great. Fireflies are great, I lived in firefly country for 20 years growing up and never knew the different blinking rate was male and female. I got the new app, could you tell us how this magazine was made? Don

Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Mar 3rd, 2015 at 7:17am
Art Notes: Spring in a Shell
I scooped out the bulb and emerging flower from my balcony planter, and set it in a glass shell container, placing SPRING on the dining room table.  Yes, finally, the hyacinths are beginning once again to emerge in Paris.

As you can tell from a motley group of artnotes, our transition from Italy to Paris hasn’t been an easy one.  Harika was terribly sick, followed by me,  developing an infected lung.  I rarely take antibiotics, but the doctor let me know with a temperature of 39 (102.2), it was antibiotics or the hospital.  I am improving, with my last nauseating dose of antibiotic today. Ptui!

We sold more than 20 paintings from last week’s sale.  As if on cue, three new exposition opportunities have opened up for us in Paris:  Genio, a Venetian restaurant on Boulevard Raspail will host a wall of our Venice images beginning on Monday; in April we will have a show of our winter work “outside of Paris” at the Petit Lux; and from 24 June – 5 July we will be at Space 102, at 102 rue Cherche-Midi, where we had a show last spring.  As I type that (run-on) sentence I breathe a giant sigh of relief, that we will be able to show and sell work in Paris.

There is a grand bed of saffron colored crocuses in the Luxembourg Gardens this week.  I saw Mimosa for sale at the florist.  The sun comes up just about the time I wake up now, and it stays light out well after 6 PM.   It’s still a bit too cold to paint outside, but Blair and I bucked up on Friday at St. Sulpice.

It has been a difficult February for most merchants here – tourism is down.  I can see on Google Adwords fewer people are searching “painting Paris”.   Negative publicity is on the rise, and people who have zero credibility are spouting off about the dangers of Paris.  Some fellow walks around in neighborhoods which are of no interest to tourists, and wonders why people are rude to him:  he’s looking for trouble.  Honestly, it is much safer now that it was two months ago.  I remember how businesses closed in New York City after the World Trade Tower tragedy – in retrospect, what good did that do anyone?  Really, it was the WRONG-EST thing one could have done.

The sun is pouring into our apartment and I have a commission ready to paint.  After five years (we’ve been at 110 rue de Rennes that long), Harika walked into the kitchen for the first time.  I guess she thinks it is time to start living!

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Mar 8th, 2015 at 6:50pm
Artnotes: the Everyday
We’re back to the everyday life in Paris.  Everyone thinks, “oh gosh, living in Paris, incredible”  but it gets boring just like any other place.   So yesterday we decided to go for a little escapade outside the city walls. 

“ A walk through the forest leads to the fairy-tale setting of the chateau of Ecouen, with its collection of Renaissance treasures,” the book read.   Off we went.  We took the subway to Gare de Nord to board the line H train.   The approach to Ecouen, twenty three minutes from its half hourly departure from Paris was less than bucolic.  It is March after all.

We alighted at Ecoen-Ezanville.   We immediately recognized the map as “iffy”.  Fortunately, there were signs for the chateau. There’s a thrill to walking through the woods, dappled light, fresh air – exercise fanatics, some fellow doing pushups on a picnic table, kids balancing on branches.  I never felt I could fall into the hands of the fairy tale witch, like Hansel and Gretel.  Incredibly fit men dashed by: one guy made the 200 meter uphill dash in  19 seconds.   I wheeze.

This wasn’t our only foray this week – we also went to the beach --  in the car.  I needed to expand my lungs and clear my arteries. 

As time passed, I realize I left our house just after noon, and didn’t get to the door of the museum until almost two.  I had company coming for dinner.  Oh, well, we could always go out for pizza.   Harika would just have to cross her legs – I considered bringing her, but one never knows what it could be like.   As it turned out, once we got to the Chateau grounds (you passed through a little gate), no dogs allowed.

The Chateau was a little funky, but with certain fabulous collections.  They had the best Iznik ceramics (Turkish dishes) I have ever seen:  I love that sort of thing.  They had incredible tile floors from the Renaissance, and I particularly enjoyed a room full of  scenes painted on Italian wedding chests.   Gold, silver and jeweled trinkets abound.   There were wall paintings from early days of the chateau.  This chateau, built in 1555 for the very wealthy Duke of Montmorency, survived the Revolution unscathed.  Napoleon converted it into a girl’s school.  There are more guards than visitors.  At 3 o’clock there would be Renaissance music.  I opted to go outside to paint just before that.  I painted a quick panel – and made the trek back down the hill to liberate Harika hopefully before 5 and put the roast in the oven.

Our guest, Richard, came early so we were able to get in three games of cards and enjoy dinner.  I folded early, not winning at all.  I explained how tired I was from the walk.  “Oh, I meant to tell you when you mentioned that book “an hour from Paris” " he said, "– the times are underestimated.”

Don, How fast Blair mixes his colors, no black used. Color is everything.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Mar 15th, 2015 at 11:06pm
Art Notes, Spring sprang.
I am not really a writing person.  I write Artnotes, sometimes painfully, and I write here and there for magazines, but this sheet of white paper on my screen is scary. 

I have had a series of meltdowns this week, punctuated with funny, happy, events.   I broke my glasses, on Saturday evening, just about the time I got an invitation from an Argentinean TV travel program to do a feature on the Paris Painting Workshop: Monday.  We tried superglue, but eventually put a light blue cloth tape on the broken bow.  Then, shortly before filming, I thought I should have tape on the other side so it looked balanced.  We only had green left, so there I was on the South American screen, wearing glasses with one blue side and one green side.   The show airs in April.

Tuesday we were invited to the opening of a show of the work of Piero Fornasetti, an Italian painter, designer, style maven from the 1950s onward.  He painted chairs, and decorated cabinets to look like classical buildings.  He made dishes and umbrella stands, trays and tabletops, all in his signature campy-drawing/litho style.   It was a terrifically fun exhibition at the museum of Decorative Arts, part of the Louvre.   

Our own house had its share of breakage this week:  the water boiler kaput, the telephone buttons freezing up, the computer (this computer) having a serious stoppage.  I bought a new computer which seems easy to master (five stars from PC world), but certain elements (why can’t I get the words to wrap around in my emails?) are super-frustrating.   Like my little sister used to say “I hate learning new things”.

I spent days trying to get into a spring state of mind to write an article about springtime in Paris.  I sat before the Orangerie in the Luxembourg Gardens, watching the trees reach out toward the sun.   I like to think bees were flying in and out but my eyes aren’t that good.

We met a wonderful couple from California, who patiently walked with us and Harika, our seeing-eye-dog (HA!) over to the park while the optometrist was fixing my glasses.  I can almost see without my glasses, but can’t recognize a soul, so people think I am a snob.

My new water boiler is boiling up a tempest in a teapot, as I sit here wrestling with my new Chinese version of Word.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Mar 30th, 2015 at 5:59am
From the rooftop   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen 11 x 16"   27 x 41cm    400.00
Rock the Kasbah   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen 9.5 x 12"  24 x 30cm    250.00

The best trips are not always the easiest ones.

Blair and I have always wanted to go to Tangier, Morocco, so when we had a dog sitter arriving, we decided to pack our bags for north Africa.    Artists like Delacroix and Matisse spent significant time in Tangier, although the place is most associated with writers like Paul and  Jane Bowles, Jack Kerouac.   Ibn Battuta, a traveler (44 countries) and chronicler (hero of mine) was born in Tangier.  Christopher Columbus came here from Cadiz. Samuel Pepys, writer of the famous diary,  lived here in the 1680s.  Mark Twain came to Tangier.  John Smith, of Jamestown fame, named the island he landed on in America, Tangier, after the place close to his heart.  Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, loved Tangier.    The list goes on to today.

Tangier was not always part of regular Morocco.   It was an "international zone", subject to separate rules until 1956.   Normal Moroccans even needed a passport to enter then.  It was this international zone that attracted the writers, artists and musicians, including the Beatles and Rolling Stones.  It was near our rental house the Clash "Rocked the Kasbah".
Blair and I felt a little afraid here -- in a big sense, as a result of the media reporting about "ISIS" .  If I allow that  fear of terrorism stop me, I am letting the bad guys win.   But, in a daily sense there was not a soul we felt we could trust on the street here.  We lost only about $55.00 in sundry accidents of payment, and swindling -- unfortunately at the hands of a person we thought trustworthy.  I felt exploited, but not hated, and we laughed out loud about our follies.

It was as though we were on a different planet -- people were dressed like out of a Delacroix painting two centuries ago.  Crafts were executed in the same way.  Internet coverage and cell phones scarce as a full set of teeth.    Even more different was the approach to life -- no sense of "we're all in this together".   Which brings me to why creative people might have liked this place so much:  it is easier to paint, to write, to make art with an "apartness" (Paul Bowles' term) one cannot find in the United States, or a western European country.

We stayed right a the edge of the old Medina and the Socco (souk).  No cars, chickens in the streets, stray cats everywhere.  Children played noisily outside anytime they were not in school (every family had at least 6).  Men visit and smoke outside our window half the night.  The  meuzzin rang out every few hours, which I found quite disturbing to concentration, but that's the idea, after all. 

Did we have a good time?  Yes --  we painted, we thought, we wrote, we adapted to startling conditions.  We felt older than when we took off for Tunisia -- physically slower, mentally more wise, more philosophical.  We painted very early in the morning before others were awake, or from the roof of the house we rented: seeing, observing a lifestyle so different from our own.

Laurie and Blair Pessemier;  to see all 18 paintings from Tangier, click on
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Apr 7th, 2015 at 10:16pm
It's April 7th, I have had internet problems in my area. I'm on and off line. I received Laurie's post days ago.
Artnotes: Coming Back

The trouble with going to faraway places is coming back.  At first, there’s the rush of familiarity, home, relaxation, but then the bitter reality of rain, traffic and noise: the everyday.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dog, my sunny yellow apartment (albeit small), the fabulous street market just below my window.  But try as I might, I can’t see Paris with my baby-eyes anymore.

I bought over six kilos of meat from the butcher, on account of he knew I was going to use the credit card, and Blair wasn’t there.  I haven’t got a good concept of metric weight, but when the rubber hit the road, that shopping bag was awfully heavy.  I froze a mass of steaks and five coquelets (baby roosters), as well as some veal.  That left a giant amount of veal remaining, so I brought out the old Petit Lux (we used to work there, when we were babies-cooking-in-a-French restaurant) recipe for blanquette de veau, and invited two visiting Americans to dinner.   We’ve had another meal, and four Harika dishes as well.

The dinner guests brought a daffodil plant.  Very Easter-y.  Which brings me to tomorrow and brunch for seven of us.  It’s really all the apartment can hold, seeing as there are paintings piled half-a-dozen deep all around the place.  My six kilos didn’t actually cover my plan for Easter, so I went back to the butcher and bought four large pigeons.  It’s brunch, after all, and half a pigeon each should do the trick.

The paintings are relenting, with sales up significantly this last week.   A sale of twenty to North America, and 8 to Central America.   Our television spot airs in South America this month, and I have already had an inquiry for a workshop from an Argentinean.  The painting workshop is slower this year, as if the universe knows hauling fifty pounds of supplies makes us tired.

The trees are nursing young leaves in the park, and the beds are planted with brilliant pink primroses.  One of Harika’s best dog friends died this week, moving her and Atlas, her closest dog friend, into more senior spots in the pissing order.  We will miss Canaille, a mixed breed of 13 years.

Blair is painting giant canvases since our return from Morocco.  The dining room is the studio, and it underscores one of the reasons we go away:  to have enough room to paint.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER


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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Apr 11th, 2015 at 9:06am
Boats in the Mediterranean  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  20 x 24"  50 x 61cm   450.00

Blair’s painting in the other room and I am banished to the little bedroom.  He’s painting larger these days, as you might have noticed.  It precludes both of us being in the house.  Normally, I’d head to the library,  but there is a “fermeture exceptionelle” (odd closing) today.   It’s too polluted to be out on the porch – I don’t know how the flowers stand it.  We had a large bouquet of tulips out there on the table, and the greatest assortment of bees came to collect the pollen.  It was beautiful.

I ran into my friend S the other day at the Monop, a small local grocery (it is in fact part of a big chain called Monoprix).  She was carrying two baby bottles.  “I am a grandmother,” she beamed.  “We’re the old ones now”.  I told her we are not old, we are the WISE ones.  This delighted her, as it delights me.  I feel I have better decision-making skills than I did.  And if the decision I make isn’t the right one, I have the skill and experience to get through.

We are pursuing new digs in Italy, and leaving on Sunday to drive down there.  I am not sure it’s the right thing, but when one gets an idea it is best to follow it through to the end.  AT LEAST LOOK AT THE PLACE.  We are looking at a very large house on a big piece of land, not far from Bologna.  We would have lots of room to paint and maybe offer painting workshops at the property, by the week, four times a year.  Harika would have a yard, and we would get a car to explore Italy.  We’re both keen to learn another language, grazie.

We drove the rental car out to Auvers sur Oise to paint today.  It was especially Van Gogh-y, with fruit trees in blossom against a deep blue sky.
I don’t think of Italy as leaving Paris, but doing something else for a year.  With the proper space, we’d like to make some sculpture, and I would like to sew.  There would be a plethora of inspiration, for how ever long.

We are rather fixtures in our neighborhood.  Market vendors could go broke without our custom.   I can’t imagine being without my friend M, for too long, even though we only see each other once in awhile.  She wrote the book on wisdom: she makes the sanest sorts of decisions.  She’s out in the country right now, and here I am running huckledebuck.

The rent on the new place would be half of what we pay right now, which is interesting.   I try not to make strictly financial decisions, but it is consideration (I only have one workshop reservation for a half day this entire summer).   We could come back to Paris to visit, a month at a time, and rent a little furnished apartment.   Would we?  I like to think so.  Would you come visit us in Italy?

Don’t worry, it’s just an idea.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Apr 24th, 2015 at 4:52am
Artnotes: Smile, Pack, Repeat

Today's artnotes are shorter than usual, as we spend our time packing up 110, rue de Rennes to fit into a car set for the hills of the Apennines.  Yes, we decided to move to Rocca Malatina, Italy, to a large wonderful home called " Villa Loris". 

We arrived there on Tuesday last as the gardeners were taking the potted plants out of the Orangerie and placing them around the house.  We looked, before the estate agent arrived, at the three floors, the shelves full of books, the artwork on the wall, and fell in love at once.  All intention to be poker-faced hard bargainers gave way to irrepressible smiles and near giggles. We signed the lease, for 8 years, the next day. 

The owner is a woman who loves the arts and liked us as much as we liked her.  I feel like I should pinch myself, to be sure it is all real.  I envision huge canvases painted in Italian colors, deep and rich.  A five burner stove beckons, and a large, room-size fireplace in the kitchen awaits bubbling stews and grilled chops.  We are increasing our floor space five fold.Poking through our Paris belongings (we really only need to bring our clothes and sheets) the act of deciding how to dispose of it all brings us back to reality.   We sort to the tune of  "150 Italian Phrases" and "Learn Italian Online".

We take possession on the 1 May, but will return to Paris for a show at the end of June, and to remove our last items (our rent is paid until August).  I am even smiling now.

(Don) I loved Paris, and Italy. Keep painting and smiling!
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Apr 25th, 2015 at 11:03pm
Chestnuts in Blossom
There's been a flurry of activity this past week, in addition to packing up the move to sunny Italy. 

We went to the Giotto to Caravaggio show at the Jacquemart Andre Museum.  The museum is an unusual place -- while Americans were buying the French Impressionists, the Andres were buying Italian Renaissance classics, and left their house and its collection to France.   The house is over the top wonderful -- an oasis in a busy city, with an elegant garden behind.   Their collection is wonderful -- including a Tiepolo fresco painstakingly moved from Venice.

What better location for a Giotto to Caravaggio Exhibition?  The show is beautifully curated, and includes works by Piero della Francesco and Massacio.  The Caravaggios glow with luminescence (he experimented with adding fireflies to his sketches).  Giotto represents the very start of the Renaissance and Caravaggio the beginnings of the Baroque period -- and we see the portrait change as time moves on.

It was a welcome break from the endless sorting of our belongings -- we have literally hundreds of paintings.  Depite destroying many, we have at least 300 we will move to Rocca Malatina.  We return to Paris in June for a show at 102, rue Cherche Midi, where we had an expo in 2014.   This show will run from 24 June until 4 July.   We hop on the plane on the 6 July USA-bound for a show at Figure 8 Island in North Carolina, mid month.  Hopefully we will sell lots of our paintings in both places.

Packing up, I found pair of shoes I thought I'd lost in America in 2010; a plaid silk dress Blair gave me for Easter in 1983; photos of a mural we executed at my friend Sal's Volvo repair shop in 1996 (Tiepolo it ain't). 

We don't need to move any furniture at all because our new abode is completely furnished a la 1910, the year of the building.   But it isn't easy to find homes for what we have -- it may end up on the street in July.  Meanwhile, a friend took our olive and our azalea trees. 

I had a painting workshop with a wonderful woman from New Orleans, studying political science in Scotland.  We sat in the Luxembourg Gardens, under the chestnuts in blossom, enjoying April in Paris.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on May 4th, 2015 at 2:43am
Artnotes: Spaghetti and Chocolate.

The Tree in the Yard  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14x20"  225.00
​The Alps never looked so beautiful to me -- in past, I had only driven by in fog or night.   The sun played off the steep sides of the peaks, creating a super-three-dimensional image.  We stayed in Nus, Italy, on our way to our new digs in Rocca Malatina.    We woke up to the start of our new adventure on 30 April.

I am rather beside myself in confusion:  the complexities of packing up, fitting what we could in the rental car, driving eleven hours and finding ourselves in a completely different environment is discombobulating. .  Saying goodbye is something I rarely do, and I believe real friends will be with us forever.   Our  new home, so large it is hard to find one another and Harika, is sunny, warm and comfortable.   There are very few glitches, things we need to bring on our next trip from Paris, later this summer -- a couple of area rugs, particular kitchen utensils (my swivel peeler).
    We are surrounded by two acres of buttercups, punctuated by the red combs of the neighbors' chickens making their way though their veritable forest.  Harika is afraid of the chickens, and I admit I wouldn't like to be in a confined space with the rooster.
    Each morning we get up and go to the coffee shop.  The cafe is where I learned most of my French, pitiful as it was.  Now I search to recognize a few words in Italian.  I supplement with "Duolingo" and Youtube online lessons.  Our landlord's cousin in Bologna may provide additional help -- I need to increase my vocabulary -- according to Duolingo I am at 200 words, but I suspect I know many more.
    The coffee shop here is the antithesis of its Paris counterpart.  People are talking and gesticulating with great passion -- the couple at the other table is playing cards:  7:00 AM on Saturday.  People talk to us, we nod, smile and make an eng-fran-italo response:  spaghettios.   Harika is the star, she understands everything.
    This morning we walked up to the park:  Sassi di  Rocca Malatina -- so named for its unusual rock formations.   We encountered a one-eyed Jack Russell pup, who had a penchant for Harika;  numerous birds, and landscapes to paint.   We'll need to cover the 100 kilometers of trails if we continue to eat like we have been.   "Pasta Fresca" across the street from us sent over a welcome cake -- made of what else but chocolate and spaghetti?

Don, I loved Paris, but I have to say I love Italy too.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on May 9th, 2015 at 10:59pm
Artnotes:  Buon Giorno
We celebrated Blair's birthday in Bologna this week.  While we were there, we  mailed a package at the Fedex store (could people really be this friendly, or am I jaded after 20 years in Paris?), and we bought art supplies.   Earlier in the week we negotiated the purchase of a new cell phone and number, entirely in Italian, at Vodaphone.   So far, so good: lots of smiles and grazies.

Bologna isn't the easiest place to get around (Blair is sure we'll receive one of those photo/mail-in tickets), and I had jotted down possible restaurant addresses. We ended up at the Drogheria Della Rosa which was listed as one of the five best tables in Bologna --  it was terrific.   A fixed price deal included a glass or two of prosecco, an appetizer of delicious pancetta and mortadella (famous in Bologna), a first course, second, wine and dessert.   I had the green lasagna to start, which was absolutely delicious -- Blair chose a light cheese ravioli with zucchini blossoms.  I proceeded with the guinea hen, prepared with a sweet sort of sauce:  I tasted honey in there; Blair had the veal with tuna sauce, something I have never prepared at home.   Both were flawless, beyond delicious.   But I had no room for dessert.  It was a modest price for the two of us, on such a special occasion.

The other thing I LOVED about the restaurant was the people there.  From the young, skinny maître d'hôtel with his large head and very slight, black-suited body (imagine a male Nancy Reagan, serving wine), to the young woman, wearing a giant crown of laurel leaves, at the very large table of exuberant Italians on the sidewalk.  I later learned her family was celebrating her  graduation, hence the laurels.   An enormous man was seated across from me, one table down, and he seemed to be making love to his food.   The food loved him back.     The owner of the establishment visited with us in depth, and provided an extra couple glasses of wine to ensure our return.  He was a round little man, wearing a bright orange polo shirt and colorful glasses.   The whole experience was fun and delicious.

Everything in Italy is a surprise to us, most wonderful.  We've been out in the countryside painting GREEN landscapes, while Harika explores for local fauna.  The new vet comes to the house on Sunday, and who knows, maybe we'll invite him for lunch. 

We are all practicing SMILING and our Italian, and wake up embracing every day.  Buon Giorno!
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on May 17th, 2015 at 8:21pm
We had just been to the Swiss border (45 euros for a tax sticker for the car), only to turn around to try to get a passport stamp showing our entry into Italy.  No dice. 

Despite our Schengen Visa (it doesn't say Schengen anyplace on here, the Italian official tells us), we are required to have documentation of our passage from France into Italy, to validate our lease agreement.   So, we took the opportunity to drive up to the lovely Lake Como, and onto Lugano, Switzerland to procure said documentation.

It was our second outing this week, the first to see the Boldini show in Forli.  It was an extensive representation of Boldini paintings -- he is often just associated with pictures of attenuated, flighty women in evening dresses and pearls.  He actually is a marvelous portraitist, as well as landscape painter.   He enjoyed the support and communal inspiration of the Impressionist artists, and writers and musicians of the day (portraitist of John Singer Sargent, Giuseppe Verdi, Robert de Montesquieu). We continued our trek to the Adriatic, where we ate fried squid at a roadside stand, and Harika and I frolicked in the sea.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on May 24th, 2015 at 6:51am
Artnotes: On top of the World
    We live on top of the world here -- not the Alps, but the Apennines.  We have so many painting vistas to choose from, it is hard to pick the best.  Even more difficult is selecting one out of the sun, which is why we just bought a pavilion style tent, delivered today.  That said, now it is raining, and despite the tent, we are forced to be indoors, from where I paint roses growing in the back yard.  We have at least a dozen bushes, all different colors (so Italian) from pink, to red to pale yellow.
    On Wednesday, a very sunny day, we drove up  50 more meters from Rocca Malatina to Pieve de Trebbio.  There's a church there, various outbuildings, a small cemetery and open space.  At four in the afternoon the rays of the sun are at such an angle, it is a composition of greens, blues and purples across the valley.
    Harika gave her seal of approval, jumping out of the car and running around in big circles.  As we were taking our supplies out of the trunk, another car pulled up and started to unload. The alighting woman was quite beautiful, wearing a rather skimpy garment.  Hmm.  The older man took photography equipment from his car.   Harika was intrigued, but we kept her near us as we committed the landscape to canvas. 
    Blair and I painted for 90 or so minutes, and the other people disappeared among the architecture.  As I was near the finish of my canvas, the man asked if he could photograph the woman with me and my canvas in the background.  Shoot on, I encouraged him.
It turned out he was a photographer and she was his model.  He is an excellent life model photographer (she kept her filmy dress on next to me, though).   More astonishing than simply bumping into him and her  was that he spoke English, and had lived in Holland, Pennsylvania for part of his life.  Now he was a photographer, living in Modena.  We traded stories of Paris and Rocca Malatina, Holland Pennsylvania, and Modena,  and then traded business cards. 
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on May 31st, 2015 at 6:48am
Artnotes: Not too Seriously
A friend jokes about how his writing often goes unread:  "I got a letter from some guy threatening to sue me for what I wrote.  I thanked him for actually reading it."

Our first guests at Villa Loris spent three days with us, visiting, laughing, cooking… We drove around, they hiked, and the discussions over the dinner table  was fantastic.  Viktor is a writer (I will make the cover for his book), and Diana is his mate, muse, great supporter.  We are not 100 percent in accord on all topics, but really that is what its all about.

We had thoroughly opposing views about  a number of issues, including people rights/roles (you can imagine the banner I raised) ; the Marshall plan (all it did, he contended, was create consumerism in Europe -- did you ever even think of that?  I didn't, and thus towed the benevolence line, which sounded silly to me in the end); and the inability of people in America to communicate warmly/comfortably (like Italians) on account of social media, cars, and other 20/21st century inventions.   I finally got so burned up, I took Harika for a walk in the late night rain to squelch my fire.

While I was out there, I thought, isn't this a wonderful thing?  The reason we have people with opposing view points is that they make us re-confirm our own beliefs, or they bring us information that makes us see things in a clearer way, and they encourage us to discover more.   As Harika pulled on the leash towards the house (are you crazy, mom? It's raining out here) I thought, this is why I cannot eliminate people with a different point of view from my life.  I need them for me to see what else there is. We need disagreement to have progress.   I returned to the house ready for more, but everyone went to bed.

Blair drove to Paris on Tuesday, packed more boxes, sold a half-dozen paintings, got his "codice fiscale" from the Italian consul  on Wednesday, and drove back to Rocca Malatina on Thursday.   Harika and I rattled about in this giant house, with her following me around like a shadow.  This is a house that needs people.   A new guest is coming today, for a longer sojourn.  She writes, and will paint with us.

We painted portraits of Viktor and Diana.   This house is full of old portraits:  individuals who were in some way involved in the development of the country, or just this life.  It's my intent to make a portrait of everyone who stays here -- to add to the wall.

The one thing we did agree on was:  we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jun 7th, 2015 at 6:13am
Hi Laurie, this Haystack painting is really great, ​Haystack in the morning  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm  225.00. Roses is very good too. You did well on the colors. I'm sorry about your root canal. Don

​Don't learn unnecessary words, my language tutor online urges me.  How many times will you want to know the word for duck or watermelon in everyday conversation.

This week I had to bone up on dental terms.  Really, if there are words you never want to use, they are "il mal di denti" (tooth ache) "gengicive" (gum) or the truly dread  "il trattamento di radice" (root canal).  I kept telling myself it was getting better, but that little voice of my best friend in high school who became a dentist kept repeating "teeth are the one things that never get better on their own".  The power of positive thinking lost out to another sleepless night, and on Thursday I went to the dentist office, open just two days a week, in our little town of Rocca Malatina.

Blair and I have been painting in earnest this warm, sunny week.  In the cities the temperature is 90+F (33C).   It is a full ten degrees cooler here, but we do most of our painting in the very early morning.  Light is best, and it's cool enough if our site gives way to sun.

I went into the dentist office after painting -- the assistant said, come at 4.  When I got there it looked closed, but alas, it was open.  It was a father and son operation, and both spoke English, which emerged as soon as I began describing pain:  it isn't sensitive to hot or cold, but if I touch it, it really hurts.

The dentist could see the hole, as he described it, but he was afraid it went much deeper.  We'll skip the xray he said, it's got to be dealt with in any case.  Just tell me, I asked, what you are going to do.  It was only last year I got over my fear of the dentist, and this was taking much resolve.

I am really surprised how slow I am to speak Italian.  My course says I am 37 percent literate, I have an official vocabulary of 837 words (I know more than 1000, though, because root canal isn't one of the official words), but it's still slow to come.  I read that recent studies have shown it has nothing to do with age, but rather the lack of fear to speak as one gets older.  Not to mention one false move in French and you feel like an idiot -- the Italians are much kinder, they WANT it to work out.

The dentist proceeded as I sat there to numb my jaw, and yes, perform the root canal procedure right then and there!  It was not painful, but I was sent home with antibiotics and pain medicine. The next afternoon I went to the cafe across the street.  I described my tooth ache, and he told me I needed a "pastilla" (soothing candy) -- no, I replied, I need a whiskey. 
I have to go back next Thursday for the final sealing of the tooth.  Momma mia!

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jun 13th, 2015 at 8:43pm
Everyday I get up to sunshine and roosters crowing.  Harika is "up with the chickens" as they say, and she goes out to inspect her yard. I have been studying Italian like mad, and we've managed many small conversations -- we are most proud of our communication with Ludovico, our gardener who just looks at us in wonder as we pronounce our Italian.

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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jun 20th, 2015 at 9:55am
Artnotes: Packing up Paris
At 7 this morning I watched a man hoist the French flag to the top of the pole at the Rennes metro stop.  We are packing up our Paris flat and enjoying the fleeting views from the windows.

It is a bittersweet parting.  We have no doubts about our move to Italy.  I hope we will sell enough paintings from there to support  yearly trip to Paris.  Just yesterday, I had an inquiry for a painting session in Paris for twenty people in June 2016.  I am thinking it could be a good time to visit.

We met the new people moving into 110, rue de Rennes. The are young and have the enthusiasm we had for Paris ten or twenty years ago.  They are buying our stove, refrig, washer, dining table, two chairs, and wardrobe.   Blair is at the flea market trying to peddle the rest of our furniture.  We are only keeping some of our paintings --  a few are this week's images.  Last call.

On Wednesday, we picked up our seventeenth ( we have lived here over 20 years) one-year visitors visa -- it is impossible to feel at home under such unwelcoming circumstances.  Despite passing the nationality test, the woman at the desk never sees fit to give us our 10 year card; asking for it (we have in past) is akin to requesting another bowl of soup at the gulag.    The same day, we went to the Italian embassy to get my fiscal stamp, without problem.  That is not to say Italy isn't a bureaucratic nightmare, but at least it is handled with humor, more lightly.

Harika  lies on the bed all day long, pining for her 2 acre yard and sister chickens.  It is likewise disconcerting to her that we are packing everything into boxes, indicative of yet another move.   We'll go visit my father in July.

We ate a wonderful dinner on the terrace of friends' apartment last night.  We will miss them, and they feel likewise.  "Don't feel bad", M tells me, "Paris is like a grandchild:  you love to see it, but are happy to leave it -- but you always come back."

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER
Don: I think for next weeks painting I'm going to name the jpg differently, I'll put a (-) in it to denote a painting by Blair. You both paint closer to alike now and it's hard to tell the difference.
I love Paris but the weather is better in Italy. I'm on Maui for the weather and I just couldn't learn another language. That's why I moved here 40 years ago.
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Title: Re: Paintfox2015
Post by Admin on Jul 3rd, 2015 at 6:32pm
Artnotes:  Up and Down the Elevator
In next folder.

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