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PaintFox Laurie Jun-Dec 2011 (Read 1193 times)
Reply #25 - Dec 24th, 2011 at 8:37pm

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The temperature is fine here, but the wind is fierce. It’s very difficult to paint outside under these conditions – clouds obscure the sun every couple of minutes then blow off as if they were never there. We’ve taken to traveling.

We made several trips this week: first, to Lourdes, France, deep in the Pyrenees, where Bernadette saw the Blessed Virgin Mary. We left early in the morning and arrived in time for an early lunch. It was a rainy day (normally it would have been snowing – thank you global warming), and frankly, the town was just as I had imagined it would be. The religious nature of Lourdes, the village, is not limited just to Bernadette: we saw St. Patrick’s gift shop; the Jean the Baptist Hotel, the St. Laurence Grille… for example. We ate, with Harika at the Croix de Lorraine, cassoulet and chicken, Harika gleaning from both plates. She was relegated to the car as we made our way to the shrine

I was surprised how few people were there: we saw less than a dozen people where summer crowds reach the thousands. It was a very moving site, religious or otherwise. Just the day before I was reading
Travels with a Tangerine: about the voyage of Ibn Battuta, from Tangiers, in the early 1300s. This writer was following in IB’s footsteps, visiting various shrines throughout North Africa, Middle East and Asia. When he arrives at a particular shrine he tells the keeper he is not Muslim: “no problem,” the guard replies, “saints are for everyone”. So it seemed at the shrine at Lourdes. I was amazed at the number of languages posted; and even more amazing was the fact all the areas we visited were free. We did splurge on a three foot tall candle: I hope it will last my lifetime of needs. Blair and I prayed for all the intentions sent to us through artnotes.

I don’t quite know why I wanted to go there – I tell people I have had more religion than I’d ever need after 9 years in Catholic school. We walked up around the hill where Bernadette had her first vision. There was clearly a special quality to the place. Of course, there are churches, chapels, crypts, amphitheaters – but the main attraction and most moving aspect was the spring which was formed when Bernadette stuck her finger in the ground at the cave. This water is said to have miraculous powers. The people who were at the spring were clearly experiencing extraordinary feelings. We were able to put our hands directly into the very healing waters which bubble out of that original spring

There are also dozens of spigots where one might fill bottles with this water. I actually filled a jar (well, two), and massaged Harika’s knee. No matter what one feels about the Catholic religion, Lourdes had a spiritual quality. It was infused with hope, from the millions of people who have gone there to be healed, or from the actual miracles which have taken place there. As we were leaving , a nun waved to us, encouraging us to stay for a further tour. Nuns have always scared me -- after all those years at St. Anthony’s; but this one seemed so infused with love and joy, I was actually tempted to follow her. But I will leave that for someone else.

Merry Christmas

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #24 - Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:32am

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We drove to Carcassone on Saturday to purchase art supplies. Perpignan is the bigger city, and closer, but at the store we visited there, the canvases cost twice as much as they did in Paris, and the clerk was nasty, in that Communist sort of way. “Why are you buying that many canvases?” and “no, you can’t have a professional discount unless you belong to the “Maison d’artistes” of France. “ The extra hour to Carcassone proved worthwhile, as canvas cost half as much and the person behind the register was a peach.

We decided to take a smaller road home. We drove to Quillan and turned due south to Perpignan and Collioure. At first the road seemed picturesque, like any French road: huge plane trees on either side, little burgs with thousand year old churches. A few kilometers further the sign declared this is Cathar country. Huge stone mountains loomed ahead. “We’ll turn before those,” Blair said. Hmmm.

An hour later we were driving through a deep cavern between rocks. Arches, or half arches in most cases, were hewn from the stone for us to drive through. “Lucky we got here while it was still light out,” I said, glancing at the clock: 4:46. “Only 73 kilometers to Perpignan”. Forty bat-turns later, the sign read 70 kilometers to Perpignan. We passed two castles we hoped to visit Sunday – unless there are high winds: no guard rails, a walk not suggested for the faint of heart.

I picked Collioure as our holiday refuge, keeping in mind we would be nestled on Harika’s ocean, the Mediterranean. She loves the beach, and to illustrate just how delighted she was, she leapt into the air with joy. Harika has never been much of a “leaper”, unlike some of her friends who can propel themselves four feet into the air. She had barely left the ground when she landed back on terra firma, ass-over-teakettle. Blair and I laughed as she loped off, ears and tail down – she has no sense of humor when it comes to herself. Lo and behold, later that day she was an arithmetic dog, as my father puts it, dropping three legs and carrying one. This “carrying one “continued, off and on, for a couple of days, until Friday, when we had to carry all 25 pounds of dog back up the hill from the beach to home. We hemmed and hawed, but it was clear a trip to the vet was in order.

After quizzing a Chihuahua owner, we found the local vet clinic: a warehouse-type building with metal cut-outs of rhinoceros and similar exotic species on the outside. The waiting room was populated with an enormous pit-bull mix who could barely walk, a young hound dog, a Doberman puppy with protuberant yellow spots on his black coat, and a cat. The barking Harika heralded the arrival of a young German Shepherd who looked around to see what all the commotion was about. We were relegated to the bench outside. But they would “fit Harika in”.

“She’s twisted her knee”, the doc confirmed as Harika winced with the touch. We were off with a pocketful of anti-inflammatories and instructions to “take it easy” for the next three weeks (the duration of our trip!). 26 euros.

On the way home, we stopped in Argeles-sur-Mer, where we looked at houses built in the early 1900s along the beach. In summer, one can’t move in the town; today we were the only people on the mile-long sandy beach. We went to the port where we bought fresh fish: the very ugly lotte (the local species called bauderoie), which I prepared with amaretto and tangerines for lunch; and a wolf-fish I’ll use in stew. The woman at the stand was from Holland, and spoke English well; she’d just visited Utah, the au courant tourist destination for the French.

We’ll make several day trips from here to offset our change of beach plans with Harika. We’re thinking of going to Lourdes – I have been painting many saint/church pictures and this fits in. Send me your intention, and I’ll present it on your behalf. We’ll head to Marseilles for a bowl of bouillabaisse on my birthday; and visit the Pyrenees to paint the snow. Brrrr.

www.paintfox.com (for all the paintings!!)
Collioure at Night Blair Pessemier Oil on linen 15 x 21.5 $450.00

Blair and Laurie PESSEMIER
 
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Reply #23 - Dec 5th, 2011 at 10:05pm

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Thanksgiving Trees at Burr Pond Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic on canvas 12 x 12 inches $150.00


Artnotes and painting fell by the wayside as I flew to Connecticut for a couple of days for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s our first Thanksgiving without my Mom, and everyone was a little blue – so Blair found me a very cheap flight to Connecticut (leaving Wednesday), where I was able to spread a little holiday cheer.

It was perhaps the worst flight of my life – on the new airbus 380. Once nestled in seat 49F, on the ground floor, I tucked my arms into the seatbelt to keep them from flopping onto my neighbors. King Kong, seated to my left, was not as thoughtful. A matchstick girl on my right, who had been en route for more than 40 hours from Kilamanjaro airport, was friendlier – bumping into one another was ok, actually a comfort among the 582 passengers on board, 10 across.

The air was so thin, there was a request for “a doctor” as another passenger seemed to be having a heart attack. I had difficulty breathing, and when the panic set in I realized we were pitifully deprived of oxygen. Moments after the medical call, puffs of O2 burst forth from the air handling system and I could once again think clearly. The lady beside me told me how she loved Africa – she’d been there as a volunteer in Tanzinia. “I spent 8 hours sleeping on the floor of the airport in Sudan due to a delay – no lights, no services,” she told me, “and then to arrive in Paris to buy a 10 euro sandwich was such a contrast!”

It took 30 minutes to get the plane docked after landing (we needed a special tractor to bring us to the gate), and another half hour to get us all off. “Welcome home,” the passport agent greeted me.

I hopped on the Connecticut Limo with ease. It was already full, and I had to squeeze in next to a slightly smelly man with an Eastern European accent. A French guy from my flight perched on the edge of the seat next to me.

We stopped at another terminal for one more. A large, long-haired fellow up front threatened to “drop” the driver, speaking loudly into his cell phone, if we didn’t get underway at once. The girl next to him seemed embarrassed. The Indian we picked up had six suitcases. There were groans of outrage in the van. The French guy and I visited about how we liked New York at Christmas. “Where are you getting off?” he asked.

The Frenchman moved back to the widest row, to the dismay of the very round couple, dressed in fur with piggy eyes, ensconced there,. The Indian then sat beside me. All the way home, the Eastern European was poking me in the ribs – “we’re driving too fast”, he’d hiss. I wished for a seatbelt.

While the driver was arranging the six bags in the rear of the car, a radio reporter interviewed a woman at a New Jersey turnpike rest stop. “Yes,” she said enthusiastically, “we’ve got four adults and a chihauhua in this car. But I kind of like it, lots of conversation.”

“Like us,” I told our group, “it’s what the holidays are all about”. You could have heard a pin drop.

The Frenchman and the “tough” longhair debarked in Greenwich. My smelly seatmate got off in Shelton. I wished the round woman in her fur coat a Happy Thanksgiving as her husband chided her “don’t fall” as she stumbled out of the car in Middlebury. “We’ll be alright now,” she told me, “now that we are almost home.”


Laurie (painting and text) and Blair Pessemier www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #22 - Nov 13th, 2011 at 9:49am

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“Les Marines de Port-en-Bessin” the invitation read, “10 Novembre 2011”. Blair and I and our old friend Quentin had an expo in Port-en-Bessin in February 2005. At that time, the museum/cultural center took one of each of our nautical scenes. And for the next two weeks those paintings are once again on exhibit in this historic World War II town on the Normandy Coast.

We couldn’t pass up the chance to go the the vernissage, the following night. We rented a car and cast out at 9:30 AM the next morning. Harika was in complete agreement -- another opportunity to play on the beach. Whooppeee!

We sat down for a lunch of mussels and lamb chops at a beachside restaurant in Trouville, about 25 miles from Port-en-Bessin. Trouville has a long, sandy beach, and men were paddling on surfboards as the tide receded. Harika frolicked on the sand as we ate outdoors. It was brilliantly sunny, counteracting the nip in the air. In mid-afternoon we drove West to Port-en-Bessin, where we would paint.

It was the most wonderful day, with a super low tide. We could see remnants of World War II wrecks, and could walk out nearly to the end of the jetties at Port-en-Bessin. Men were harvesting pentoncles (bay scallops), with wooden-handled nets. Some were in giant boots, others bare-legged in the icy sea.

Blair painted from above, but Harika and I opted to sit by the water. A short while into the painting we were chased off the beach by the arrival of a pit-bull: he sent the two of us plunging, me in my good shoes, across fields of seaweed alive with sea snails. Paints and canvas akimbo, Harika leaping, we made quite a site. I could imagine the other dog snickering at us from behind.

One half of the beach at Port-en-Bessin is the scallop-shell graveyard. The chalk-on-the-blackboard sound of shells beneath our feet results in Blair carrying Harika over the rough spots. The other half of the beach (on the other side of the locks which keep the fishing boats afloat) is an enclosed bay – this is where we painted. The light is extraordinary this late afternoon, and the pools of water amidst the sand are mirrors to the sky.

The last time we showed paintings at Port-en-Bessin the Mayor of the town sang the “Star Spangled Banner”, a cappella, in our honor. He was there again on Thursday night, but we assured him he didn’t need to sing. He was cheery as ever, but a tear filled his eye when we informed him of the demise of Q. Quentin was a veteran of World War II, and participated in memorial festivities in Normandy a couple of times.

It was appropriate to be at such an historic setting as the Normandy beaches on the Eve of Remembrance Day. There are fewer and fewer witnesses to the big wars of Europe. Museums, cemeteries and cultural centers keep the flame lit. In Port-en-Bessin this weekend there was a big scallop festival and circus., in conjunction with Veteran’s day. We left the vernissage early, to drive back to Paris by night.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER
 

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Reply #21 - Nov 7th, 2011 at 12:20am

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11-5-11
Blair also painted from their window.
 
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Reply #20 - Nov 7th, 2011 at 12:18am

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11-5-11

Why are all these people walking around here? I wondered aloud.

Blair and I are constantly seeking new places to paint in Paris. We’ve been painting here for about 12 years, and we’ve covered a lot of territory. Maybe it was Halloween, but for some reason I felt inspired to visit the cemetery at Montparnasse. It’s walking distance and is serviced by several buses, too. Monday was a brilliantly sunny day, and the trees looked heavenly.

What did surprise us is that there were so many people walking around, plants in hand – but of course! November 1 is a holiday in France (Toussaint: all saints’ day) to commemorate the dead. We soldiered on, despite my protestations that maybe we were being irreverent. Actually, a lot of people enjoyed seeing us painting, especially the kids, who were dragged along to pay respects to grandma.

The cemetery at Montmartre is not the stellar attraction that the “Cimitiere Pere Lachaise” is. But even though Jim Morrison is not buried at Montmartre, several other noteworthy folks are, including Baudelaire and Man Ray. While I was painting, a woman approached me to ask if I knew where Jean-Paul Sartre was. Huh?

I managed to paint an alley of turquoise trees, as did Blair. People walked about, carrying pots of chrysanthemums – the classic grave flower here. Paris cemeteries are quite beautiful – elaborate flower arrangements and extraordinary chapels and sculptures abound. An extremely lifelike bas-relief of Honore Champion caught my eye. I also like the stained glass, and cut metal work of the little chapels.

Holidays here are not much fun for Blair and I – we’re not part of society (in some ways a great advantage). Finding a croissant on the 1st of November was challenging. We ended up at the Rostand, where I painted the waiter and barman. Blair got in a “snapshot” painting of trees at the Luxembourg Gardens that morning. I wasn’t as pleased with mine. The outdoor food market took place beneath our windows, as usual, but was feebly staffed.

Later in the week, we took to painting from our apartment windows. It is a bit of a challenge, as space is limited. We try to keep up appearances, in case we need to kick in the “bohemian art gallery” mode. A woman did stop by on Monday to inspect our premises for art lessons, but didn’t seem impressed. She was very nosy, and I breathed a sigh of relief when she took the elevator down.

Blair painted a view out the kitchen window, as I looked out at the corner of rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail. We are both looking forward to our December soujourn to Collioure, where we’ll have a view of the Mediterranean.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #19 - Nov 3rd, 2011 at 3:51am

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Christine, Canaille’s mistress, was talking to a most unusual man in the garden when we arrived early on Monday. He had eyeballs so large, I could barely see any whites; his eyebrows were completely shaggy and encircled the top of his eyes; he was round. He was as taken with me as I was with him, and came over at once to introduce himself. He was the beekeeper at the hives at the Luxembourg Gardens.

Blair and I have painted the hives, and the bees innumerable times. There is a collection of antique hives, and there are new, beeswaxed teak boxes with copper roofs which seem to please their occupants.

We sang our praises of the bees and hives to the beekeeper. I asked how the bees were doing. In fact, he told us his bees were among the healthiest and most prolific in all of France. Why? No pesticides.

We discussed the current nemesis of bees: colony collapse. There was no sign of that here. “Because of industrial farming, insecticides and pesticides are now integrated in the seed: at levels 2,500 times that of “crop dusting” – the former method for eliminating pests. Bees are fragile creatures – they have to remember where they are, how to get back to the hive and how to direct the other bees to the flowers – that’s too much to do when their bodies are compromised by pesticides.”

As he related this story, he buzzed with passion. “Here, in the gardens, we replace our queens every 2-3 years; in America, queens are replaced 2 or 3 times each year.” Life is hard for the industrial bee, even if you are royalty.

At Tuesday’s open air market, the flower man had exemplary specimens: we settled on 18 pale pink and pale green roses and a meat-colored chrysanthemum (in retrospect, perhaps we should have visited the butcher first). He had other equally beautiful flowers: multi-colored anemones, carnations and cyclamen. He had a wizened look: a painfully thin nose, wire rim glasses and he was smoking home made cigarettes. He worked slowly, wrapping each purchase. He was the antithesis of the bee man, but perhaps just a drone instead of a royal bee. Or he could have been a wasp.

While walking by St Sulpice on Saturday, two honeybees seemed to be engaged in a fight, one pursuing the other, first here, then there, flying at what seemed to be the purported 20 miles an hour a bee can achieve, not carrying pollen. (Someone once told me you can outrun a bee, but anyone who has stepped near a nest knows that is not true. It's not a bad idea, anyway.) After lunch with friends we walked back and found the two splattered on the sidewalk, engaged in a fatal embrace. I wondered if they were bees from the Luxembourg Gardens.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #18 - Oct 22nd, 2011 at 7:04pm

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"The future you see is the future you get." Robert G. Allen

I ate the most delicious fish of my life on Monday night.  I hadn’t really thought about the Saint Pierre, that fish from French waters, for years – I used to have a recipe for it.  The St. Pierre is a flat, upright fish with spiny fins and a thumb and fingerprint on each side where St. Peter picked him out of the water to remove the gold piece from his mouth.

Generous friends took us to the Dome, where we had the fish.  They were seeking sole, themselves, and the Dome reputedly has the best.   My meal was so good, I wanted to cook a Saint Pierre myself, and set out for the market on Tuesday to buy one.   When my fish monger told me he had none, a woman customer sniffed, “it’s too expensive”.  I examined my dress, and was looking a little down-at-the-heel.     Oh, well, I went on to the butcher and bought a wild hare, which I soaked overnight in red wine and spices.

On Wednesday, friends took us out to a “les Halles” restaurant which served hearty French fare.  I had sheep’s brains, which were cooked “meuniere” – they were lightly breaded and fried producing a crunchy outside and  a remarkably light center.   I endeavor to eat differently than at home, whenever we go out, so I can expand my menu repertoire.  There was a table of Chinese people next to us, who ordered what looked like everything on the menu.  They were drinking red wine, so when it was our turn to order the wine, we said, “we’ll have what they are having.”  “Are you sure?” the waiter asked, “it’s 120 euros a bottle.”   They had four or five bottles while we were there.   Upon closer inspection it was a 1979 Bordeaux.  We opted for a respectable ’09.

I cooked my rabbit (he had the biggest legs!) for about 4 hours, with onions, cepe mushrooms, and carrots,  and invited over some French friends.   I needed to practice my French.  We’ve had a back-to-back English-speaking visitors since the 6 September when we returned from vacation.   I’ve alternated between feeling delighted, overwhelmed, tired, but it is clear to me Americans are at their best here in Paris.   We live in the one place that brings out creative thinking and joy in everyone.  It especially works well for artists, musicians and writers, but that’s for another artnotes.

I couldn’t be happier here, I think.  We visited with Voyeu (the dog)’s, mistress in the park Friday morning.  A bright sunny day and we are talking about the dinner we made: more specifically, about blood, and how and when one introduces it to a recipe.  Can you imagine such conversation?  I took it a step further to the butcher . " Yes, he said, I remember when my grandfather would slaughter the pig, then removed his eye to capture the blood.  It’s really wonderful in a coq au vin and with hare.  You must put a little vinegar in with the blood to keep it liquid."  Both Mme. Voyeu and Christian, the butcher, recommended pig blood. " I’ll bring you some," Christian offers.   "Oh, no," I protest, but sort of hope he has some on Tuesday.

When I walked by the fish stand on Friday, there were three Saint Pierres chilling on ice.  I chose the one with the clearest eye.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER    www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #17 - Oct 16th, 2011 at 10:08am

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A friend called on Sunday night to see if we’d like to paint at Giverny, Monet’s gardens, on Monday.  It turns out that the gardens are open after hours (and before hours 6AM) to painters.  If we arrive after 5:30 in the evening, we can paint until 8.  We packed up our supplies and headed away from Paris at 4.

We paid our (artists’) entry fee as the guards chased out the stragglers.  Blair set up his easel in the main garden, and I crossed beneath the road to the pond.

Giverny is a wonderful place, but in summer is chock-full of visitors;  this painting opportunity was like a dream.  It is a good reason to take my painting class – you, too, can inspect the dahlia up close and personal.  I took this week’s two students to paint: both chose the water lilies.

I am looking at a deep yellow petal-ed flower, its edges beginning to turn brown.  In this fading light the withering  border looks purple.  A small snail makes his way toward the center of the flower.  I suspect this flora to be a sort of sunflower variety.  The sunflowers are magnificent – the entire garden is a riot of yellow and purple.  For the first time ever here, I can smell all the flowers as the dew begins to form.  I can almost taste the nasturtiums which line the main allee.  A pink rose shocks my eyes with its brilliant color.

I feel tremendously lucky to have had this experience.  It’s not that I don’t like painting in the nether-reaches of the garden on a regular afternoon, but this day I am one with the water lilies.  There’s a photographer also present –  she sells her photos in New York.  She sometimes arrives here very early to capture the fog on the pond.

The sun streams across the water – picking up just the edge of a lily pad.  I can’t do it justice in my painting.  The reflections in the water and the water lilies are really too much for me.  I paint quickly, almost madly, trying to freeze time as the light changes.   Every time I visit this place to paint, I bite off more than I can chew.  Monet was truly a master.  I am just a page.

Blair has more luck – painting in oil – with his overview of the flowers.   Our painting companion makes several gouaches – she paints longer than we do.  Blair and I collapse on a bench, in a daydream :  after just one hour and a half I am “all in”.  I want to go home and drink red wine and plan on another day with the flowers.

On Tuesday evening, our students are happy.  We pack up our tools and take one last longing whiff of the flowers before the trip back to Paris.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER   www.paintfox.com
Giverney: Flowers
Blair PESSEMIER
15 x 22
$325.00
Giverney:  Waterlilies
Laurie FOX Pessemier
15 x 18
325.00
 

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Reply #16 - Oct 9th, 2011 at 10:14am

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Harika is mad at us.  She doesn’t want to wear her leash.  She spent three days “en liberte” (free!) in Normandy and now there is H-E-double-L to pay.

Earlier this week, we took a self-catering studio apartment in Trouville, on the English Channel.   After signing the papers for the small, but well equipped room in the Trouville Palace, we stepped outside onto the sand.  Harika ran around wildly as I committed a couple of swimmers (yes!) to canvas.  Blair painted the corniche with its wonderful Victorian architecture.  Our hotel/apartment, in the same lyrical style, was built in 1918.  It matches the original casino, intended to serve the English gamblers who’d won enough to buy a boat to take them across la manche.

A group of people gathered around a fishing boat at the quai.  We joined the fray and found the boat to be full of scallops.  We bought ten big ones at once, to take home to cook for dinner.   I seared them and set them in a sauce of bacon, garlic, crème fraiche and blue cheese.   

I woke up feeling refreshed and we set out the next day to find more great seafood.  We settled on a dozen oysters each and a glass of white wine for lunch (with a baguette).  For dinner, I made fresh sole Meunière, using true Dover sole fished out of the water that morning.  This was something I could get used to.  I bought fresh fish soup, served from a slushie machine, with accompanying rouille and croutons.    As a nod to the Calvados region, I bought fresh picked apples and local sausage.

There are postcards in our room at the beach.    Not only could we rent this studio, but the same people have a floor in a pink Victorian house on the beach, and another in a Victorian building I just happened to paint, with a turret.  I take one postcard, I promised to send to a friend moving back to America.

At 6:30 AM on Friday, we hop in the car to drive like mad to return the car at Avis at 10.  Rush hour.

Come to think of it I am a little disappointed to be back, too.  My leash is pretty short.   That is why I am writing to you today.  If you (or anyone you know) might like to rent our fabulous Paris apartment for the month of December, let us know.  We’d consider other months, or just a week or two, even.   And, if you are a dog lover, we might trade a week for free if you’d mind Harika.  Just don’t tell her we went to the beach.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER  www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #15 - Oct 2nd, 2011 at 7:46pm

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Even though Paris is thought of as a dog-friendly place, it is very difficult to find a park which accepts dogs.  The little corner parks have a sign sporting a dog on leash, with a big red “x” on it.  In our neighborhood, only one corner of the Luxembourg Gardens is designated dog-friendly, and then all canines must be on leash.

Don’t get me wrong , Harika isn’t suffering.  Yesterday she went to three cafes.  For breakfast, at the Tourne-Bouchon,  where Omar greets her in Tunisian.  For afternoon “tea” we go to the Fleurus where Pierre plies our little beast with cookies and a bowl of water.  And this Friday evening, we went to the Hippocampus to hear a new combo – Harika only goes for a bit of the last set, on her last walk of the evening.

Things have really perked up at the Hippocampus (not to be confused with the Hippopotamus  all-you-can-eat restaurant chain – honestly, wouldn’t you feel a little bad about a turning into a hippo?  Maybe that’s the strategy…).  Our “Hippo” is a jazz club.

It is my idea of a perfect jazz club, that is:  imperfect.  It is accessible, yet with professional musicians.  The food is mediocre, at best.  But I can go there, be a regular, and enjoy the crowd as much as the music.   A middle-aged French woman with red hair wears a blue flare-skirted dancing dress, with red and white piping;  I know she hopes to dance, but the men are glued to their seats.  I encourage two Americans to leave a good tip for JB, the waiter.  He’s the only waitstaff left, and now he has more than a dozen tables to serve.   The lights are a little too bright, and the interior has the sense of a designer who never saw New Orleans (neither have I, so maybe IT IS authentic?).  There are pictures of Jazz musicians in 3-D, plantation shutters, a neon saxophone, and the ceiling looks like the night sky with sparkling stars.    The music is still playing when we leave at midnight and walk around the block – it’s still warm enough to be wearing a sleeveless dress.   I think of New Orleans.

I never think “perfect” things are perfect.  A Louis Vuitton handbag may be perfectly turned out, but does it have any character?  I never like those showdogs at Westminster – give me a mutt with a wink and a strut any old day.

Impressionist painting made painting “imperfect”.  John Singer Sargent’s portraits tell a more interesting story than Gainsborough’s.    One wonders what goes on in the mind of an “imperfect” Toulouse Lautrec painted performer.  Imperfection leaves room for interpretation and hypothesis.

I paint the Seine, and the hideous Bateaux Mouche (tour boat) floats by:  worse yet, at night, its  spotlights blinding passers-by.  But it is Paris: a perfect city riddled with crazy French ideas.  A homeless man gave me two hot pink Eiffel Tower key chains the other day – the idea of a beggar giving me something, much less the icon of the city we live in was, well, imperfectly perfect.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER  www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #14 - Sep 24th, 2011 at 10:24pm

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Last week a friend went to the “Epees” (sword) show at the Cluny museum.  “Did they have Joan of Arc’s sword?” I quipped, thinking it unlikely.   “Yes, they did!”  Not only that, but  Roland’s sword  “Durandal”,   Charlemagne’s “Joyeuse”,  and el Cid’s “Colada”.    Blair and I had to go see for ourselves.

Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, was the only major museum in Paris we hadn’t visited.  I just never got around to it, and most guests prefer the Musee d’Orsay or a blockbuster Impressionists’ show.  We arrived too late on Friday, so we went on Saturday at noon:  no line.

Cluny is actually the “northern thermal baths” of Lutetia, a gallo-roman site (the only significant one) in Paris.  They were constructed in the 1st century – and used for two more centuries.  It’s pretty breathtaking when one enters the “frigidarium”, where the Sword Show was staged.   People in odd shaped shoes (we saw them, the shoes, that is) were walking there 2000 years before me.  The building itself was older than any sword in the collection – including the hilt of Clovis’s father, Childeric’s sword.  It was this sword that defeated the Gauls and “made” France.

Swords are as much mythical and symbolic as they were useful.  People named their swords and attributed them with magical powers.   Some could fly, and everyone remembers the mystery of Excalibur.   I was surprised at the size of some of the swords:  Joyeuse, Charlemagne’s sword, must be three feet long (Blair says 40 inches – officially it is 38.54 inches) – one can see it in the portraits of King Louis XIV, XV and XVI.   Joan of Arc’s sword had a smaller grip, and was double edged – she brandishes it in her famous equestrian statue.   The show included the skull of someone who’d recuperated from several sword blows to the head before their death.  There were guides to how to wield a sword, and you could actually handle a sword:  I thought it was heavy, but Blair was impressed with how easy it seemed to use.

In a word, it was a very stimulating show.  And I got to see the Unicorn tapestries and all the marvelous portable arts of the Middle Ages.   It is a favorite period in art history – with so many rich crafts (okay, not everybody wants a reliquary, but I think how neat they are to carry/house things – a place to store chili peppers, for example).   There were ivory treasures and silver pieces; crowns and column capitals.  As we left young boys were climbing into the well in the courtyard.

We’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of life in Paris since the summer.  We’ve had many distractions, and finding time to paint has been difficult:  it’s not that we don’t have free hours, but there is a mental “open road” one needs to achieve before launching creativity.   

The sword show, and more importantly, the Cluny museum put me into the mind of making things again.  It’s our chance at immortality.
 
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Reply #13 - Sep 18th, 2011 at 5:23am

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Our building is framed by neon eyeglasses on both sides.   Going up the hill toward Montparnasse is a pair of red round rim glasses; walking away from our building toward St. Germain are a pair of sea green pince-nez.

Blair is ordering eyeglasses online.  He went to the optometrist for an exam, and his glasses, here, will cost at least 560 Euros, or 775 US dollars.  We can get them online for $112.00.  But we have to measure his pupillary distance.  He wants to do it himself, but every time he looks in the mirror, his eye shifts.  He tells me how to hold the meter tape, convinced I am trying to blind him.  I tell him it’s 58 mm, he thinks its 62; we compromise at 60.

The man who made my glasses had me put clear glasses on, then made a dot where my pupil was and measured between them.  It is the tack we eventually take.

The glasses are such a good price I am thinking about getting a pair myself, although I have these terrific 60s frames.  With the mail-order glasses one must select an online frame.

While the bus was stopped on the way home today, I watched two men in the eyeglass store trying on frames.  One was a large headed big man, probably a customer, observing himself in heavy black frames.  The other guy, a handsome long-haired fellow was wearing a rimless variety, plucking frames from the walls.  I thought he had a universal head  that would look good in any frame.  That’s probably why they hired him.

There are lots of eyeglass stores in France.  Eyeglasses are covered by the country’s social security system, and in this myopic society everyone needs to see more clearly.  While contact lenses  prevail, I would venture everyone owns at least one pair of glasses.

Every occasional I paint without my glasses on – it is an interesting phenomenon.  Colors look brighter.  Sometimes I think my paintings are what everything looks like without corrective lenses.  It leaves a little to the imagination.

I believe Harika doesn’t see well.  She often barks at a baby carriage or a rolling suitcase, mistaking it for another dog.  She shies away sheepishly when she realizes her folly.   Her hair is usually in her eyes – a fine line between a sunshade and an obstruction.    Once a little girl asked boldly, “how does that dog SEE?”

I got a marvelous book from the library on eyeglasses.  Of course, it claimed eyeglasses were invented in Franc e (but did credit Benjamin Franklin with developing bifocals), and had pictures of glasses used by Louis XIV.   There were all sorts of interesting methods of using glasses:  embedded in fans, for instance.

I love to LOOK.  As the trees are changing, I see the many shades.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER    www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #12 - Sep 11th, 2011 at 7:43pm

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Blair painted one too, they were in wine country.
 

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Reply #11 - Sep 11th, 2011 at 7:41pm

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FIP, my favorite French radio station, is commemorating this 9/11 weekend by playing songs about  New York.  I hadn’t realized the theme, until the “Fipette”, noted for her smooth, velvety voice announced the dedication.

I listened  to the New York songs on our way home from Reims yesterday – a friend is here, with many more visitors to come, and we went to champagne country to lay in a supply of bubbles for September and October.  We have a particular champagne “house” we like – Dumenil, currently run by a vivacious young couple.  They have created a number of different varieties of champagne that make it hard to choose the best.

We stopped by to see Joel, our wine merchant to pick up a new wooden box that I might disassemble and paint on.  “Do you remember the event,” he asked, “ten years ago?”  I said I did, having purchased a bottle of scotch whiskey from him on that fateful morning, telling him the news.  “It was incredible that it was broadcast direct,” he went on, explaining how he saw immediate footage of the second tower.

I alleged things were never the same after that, but he disagreed.  He felt things had slowly gone back to normal.  “But it depends on the country, the culture,” he added.  I guess France has had a number of wars and events to which they’ve had to adapt.  On the other hand, many of my freedoms were taken away after 9/11.

We stopped by the cathedral at Reims, my favorite in France, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year.   It is where Clovis was baptized and Joan of Arc saw to the coronation of Charles VII.  I spent some time at the “vintner’s” window, which I hadn’t noticed so much before.  Officially, it commemorates the wedding at Cana, “our good lord’s first miracle” as I like to say when pouring wine.  From sowing grapes, to harvesting, crushing and drinking, the miracle of the blood is depicted.

I realized I could have spent the whole day in the cathedral – it is all spiffed up for its birthday.   Statues on the outside are especially clean, and the lead gargoyles out front very prominent.  Of course, we said hello to the smiling angel.  I vowed to spend more time next trip, and to see the cathedral treasures and the Reims art museum.

For the first time we visited the Carnegie Library in Reims.  After World War I, Andrew Carnegie donated libraries to three cities (also Belgrade and Leuven) devastated by the war.   It is an art deco style building, with an ornate entry and reading room.  Reims raised part of the money for the building, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace provided the rest.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair (painting) PESSEMIER

we're so happy to be painting again, we've included two images:    "Vines" by Laurie Pessemier acrylic 12 x 24" $225.00; and Bubbles by Blair Pessemier acrylic 6 x 13 "  110.00  -- also, see www.paintfox.com for a few summer works.

 

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Reply #10 - Jul 31st, 2011 at 3:55am

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Another painting vibrating color. Magenta to cad red, cyan to blue and yellow to green. The dark blue to neutral black and white patterns are powerful, Laurie did it again, a living dynamo.
 
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Reply #9 - Jul 31st, 2011 at 3:34am

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We were the first to arrive at the HippoCampus* for dinner last night. It was 8:15, and the dining room was empty. We’d asked earlier about the jazz: “yes, there will be music in Friday night”. A few more tables straggled in as we ate our appetizers of deviled eggs, salad and sausages.

I’d been hearing a lot of Amy Winehouse music this week. I really like her voice, her music – I had not listened so much until now. Her sound is memorable, a bit tortured, and profoundly “soulful”. You can detect that spark in her voice like you could see in the soul in a Van Gogh or a Soutine painting. It is an enormous burden to have “soul”, without the armature to carry it. When one is young, one never thinks of life and death.

The musicians came and took their places in the center of the Hippocampus dining room. Denis Castelli took his place at the piano and Pascal Perrin on the clarinet and sax. They don’t always play together, and it was amazing how the two, totally at ease with their instruments, communicated like parts of one body. We heard some Glen Miller and Gershwin; this being France, there was a little Sidney Bechet thrown in: Petit Fleur and another. They played Misty for our friend, F.

Two people danced, in a vigorous, vibrant style, miraculously not knocking anything over. They looked terrific, she in her little summer dress, and him in his white shirt. It was as if they musicians ordered them, only they didn’t seem to know each another.

Pascal Perrin, the wind section, had a beautiful clarinet with a crystal mouthpiece. Under Perrin’s guidance, it produced a sound which made the wood seem cork-lined – as if it were “upholstered”. Better still, in the second act, he took up a well-aged soprano saxophone, and for the first time, I could really hear the “brass” in the brass section. “That’s because it is an older instrument,” F told me, “new horns don’t have that quality.” She plays the alto sax. Whenever he changed instruments I would know at once, without looking: wood or brass. And I could feel the sound of the piano, from my seat so close by.

I looked thoughtfully at the two musicians: they were so consumed in their art, joy beamed. I wondered what they did in life when they weren’t playing. I know, from my own painting, one can’t have that passion all the time. I love that feeling of being on another planet as my muse plays out her fantasies: but then she is exhausted and leaves me high and dry. It’s a dangerous moment in an artist’s life. Poor Amy Winehouse filled that time with drugs and alcohol.

We listened to one wonderful song after another, customers coming and going. This is one of the last jazz nights until September – Paris is on vacation (us too, exiting Wednesday until 5 September). We left at the end of the second set, so F could catch her subway home. I couldn’t go to sleep afterward, but lay in bed thinking about soul.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER
 
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Reply #8 - Jul 26th, 2011 at 6:32am

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Laurie, in this latest painting (above) has a 3 pigment color theme of cyan and red (opposite colors) plus yellow and shows the combinations available to her. She's a master colorist.    
 
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Reply #7 - Jul 23rd, 2011 at 7:21pm

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On our way home from Harika’s walk early last evening, we saw a woman with a black afro hairdo four feet in diameter. She was wearing a dashiki, and her nose was the only bit of her one could see; who knew if she could see us? It was clearly a joke, so we laughed, which was a great relief to everyone, because people around us could laugh, too. She and her friends laughed as well.

I love living in the city, I tell Blair. Early this morning a man, sitting on the sidewalk, was playing North African music on a saxophone. A little dog, who must have known him, was jumping in the air around him – like he was a snake charmer, but with a dog.

We’d just come from coffee in the park, where Harika was harassed by a stray cat. It’s a slow day today – we just finished up the last of our scheduled art lessons before vacation.

Yesterday, at lunchtime, we went out with our painters for a bite to eat at the Petit Lux, where we have a show now. “Can I pick this toast and chevre (goat cheese) up in my fingers?” L asked. “Of course,” I replied. “People in France wouldn’t do that,” S, the other painter chimed in; she’s right. It’s hard to know how to be.

I act however seems comfortable, as long as it doesn’t directly interfere with other people. This is my third round of living in France. The first time, in 1993-94, it was a giant and mostly wonderful culture shock. Policemen still wore capes, the Minitel (an early Internet device) was in use, and cigarettes were passed around the table after dinner. Despite having quit smoking in 1979, I returned from France smoking in 1994. I only quit until I am 65, and I can start up again.

When Blair and I moved back to France in 1998, we were determined to BE FRENCH. It required constant study, and we had French friends, called on French businesses, worked in a French restaurant. Our papers were always up-to-date, and we apologized for faux-pas on behalf of American visitors. We kept it up for about 9 years, when I finally couldn’t stand it another minute and we moved to Tunisia.

So this time, our 2010 foray, we are just ourselves. We pick up toast and chevre with our fingers, and laugh out loud. I think it is the role of Americans in the world: to be humble and respectful, but to be ourselves.

On a trip a long time ago, a European friend was really happy there were Americans around. “They put us so much more at ease,” he said. “You just have to be yourself here and everything will be alright.”

While I was painting with one of our students yesterday, and young Italian woman came up to me: “picture together?” she asked. “Sure,” I responded. At which time she picked up my paintbrush and pretended to add a stroke to my canvas, as her husband filmed us. “Thank you,” she added, “you special”. To which my painting partner laughed hilariously.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER   www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #6 - Jul 16th, 2011 at 10:54pm

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“Aren’t the fireworks scary for her? Dogs can’t stand this…” Harika yawned, as the American woman looked at us like the SPCA enforcer. Harika isn’t afraid of fireworks, I tell her, or any noises, really – Harika grew up on the beach in a resort town. Her biggest fear is of German shepherds and horses (hide the puppies!).

Thursday was Bastille day, and it has been years since we’ve watched the fireworks. They were better than I remember, with red, heart-shaped explosions; multi colored sprays, like Christmas lights; and showers of gold coins. I try to paint them, after the fact, but it’s just not the same. I will keep trying.

We missed the morning parade, but I stood on our balcony watching the airshow from afar. In fact, the swallows stole the show. They looked bigger to me than the planes (from my vantage point), and are ever more maneuverable, turning on a wingtip, beaks wide open.

We all waited nervously on the bridge at Concord for dark, 11 PM. I listened to the banter of mostly Americans, some Italians, around me. Chatter, chatter. No French, they are all on vacation. I try to put it all into perspective, but it’s better just to ignore it. One man is going on at length about how lucky they are to be in Paris while they can still walk; the talk evolves into estate planning and who is getting what in his will. I try to make believe I don’t understand, but I do. The Eiffel Tower twinkles. Soon it will be extinguished for the show. The iron lady disappears. There is a hush and a scattering of red white and blue bursts fill the sky. We are underway.

I’ve been reading about how to be positive, succeed, lead my life -- there are scads of internet preachers, and enough people around me with the same mission. However, I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION: it is one thing to read about it and try to make yourself do it, but there is something deep inside which tells me what is right. I have an inner compass. The word in French is "boussole" – someone in the park brought the word up, asking me what it was in English, and I thought yes, I have my own.

I know what to do, and when and how. It is all there. I am complete, like a set of dishes, and there’s no sense in bringing out the dessert plates when we’re going out for ice cream.

Who I am is a strong person, sometimes weak when it comes to dealing with other people. I have a giant desire to be happy and self actualized, with Blair and Harika.

There is no formula to happiness. In fact, what works for one doesn’t work for another. Two great individuals might have two completely different formulas for life. But they didn’t read about how to get there on the internet. They didn’t cling to other people’s ideas at all. They listened to the universe with their own two ears.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER www.paintfox.com www.parispaintingworkshop.blogspot.com
Fireworks 2011 Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic on wood 6 x 10 inches $90.00
 
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Reply #5 - Jul 11th, 2011 at 9:53am

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One of Harika’s friends is moving out to the country in just a few weeks. They’ve already placed their order for dog biscuits, to be delivered by post. My latest dog biscuit recipe, oatmeal-beef liver, has been well received. I have orders lined up for September, when I launch the “Harika Biscuit” website. I whip them up to order in our convection oven, and dogs cry for them.

S’s mom, a dyed-in-the-wool Parisienne, is ordering biscuits, too. “I’d never move to the country,” she whispers to me, “those people invent stories and make your live miserable.” I have to agree with her, although Blair, who never lived in small town, is doubtful.

We talk with her about living in other cities. She has a dream of moving to Rio when she is old, to live in a retirement home with the nuns. Blair and I encourage her. It is another city we’d thought of moving to, rather than Paris. One never knows.

We visited several monuments this week, on a one-day whirlwind tour of Paris. I actually like to go to the Eiffel Tower. It is so big, yet extraordinarily elegant – I still get a little flutter in my heart standing beneath it. We didn’t go up, but our associates ate lunch at the restaurant. We took a short break and ate at Sancerre, an omelette restaurant featuring Sancerre wine on Avenue Rapp. The owner, a Breton, and his wife, have been there since before 1993, when we lived in that same building, having just moved to Paris.

Our tour began around Notre Dame, on Ile de la Cite. Two blocks from the church there are charming streets free of tourists; we point out the fabulous carving and gruesome gargoyles; nobody goes inside. We try to take the bato-bus from the Hotel de Ville to the other end of town, but the fare is 14 euros; we opt for the city bus.

We’ve been in the thick of tours, and painting workshops, and guests since May. I am not complaining – I have not only enjoyed our guests, but the fact I have crested the critical mass of making my living with my art. That was my New Year’s resolution 2011. I am more than half way through the year, with a roof over my head, eating, and having fun.

But it has been a long time since I lay on my divan and pluck my ukulele. I need time to think, to write, and after reading the letters of Edward Lear, I’d like to compose some nonsense poems.

And when I have the time to do such, I will undoubtedly complain about being lonesome. At least I am still in Paris.

Here are Blair's and Laurie's impressions of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, sitting side-by-side this Sunday morning.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER www.paintfox.com www.parispaintingworkshop.blogspot.com

Blair's Impression of early morning Luxembourg Gardens Acyrlic on canvas 8 x 12 inches 190.00
Laurie Pessemier Early morning Luxembourg 12 x 16 inches $275.00

Don: This is the first time the Pessemier's painted the same scene side-by-side, on this forum. I love the way these two work together.
 

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Reply #4 - Jul 4th, 2011 at 7:40am

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Paris has been hot, rainy, cool, moderate – all in few days span. I am looking out on golden sunshine on the building across the street. There is nothing like these rays at the end of the long summer day.

Like the weather, our life has been up and down and settled. I’ve a terrible respiratory ailment, partially due to the wild fluctuations in temperature. The computer pooped out – the new one, that is, that we got instead of regular pay from the Germans we work for. I only kept on working to keep the computer. When I write that, I realize what a lame justification that is for working at something. In January, I resolved to make my living with my art. Wouldn’t I be better off peddling my paintings, and lessons, and art expertise?

Writing things out is such a good thing to do. And I thank you all for listening. I do wish I could get the computer to start again – I was editing a photo in Picasa, when the cursor turned to stripes, and the whole thing crashed. Now, when I start the machine, it makes a gulping noise and freezes with nothing on the screen (it isn’t the screen, as I hooked up a separate one to verify). I am giving the computer back, of course, but I would like to retrieve my own week of un-backed up information before I do. Advice gladly accepted (nor do I have a boot disk).

I’ve dabbled with the romance of writing with a pen or pencil. A friend here has been in hot pursuit of writing paper – he wants to write a letter. It is occasionally done here in France, writing, that is. There’s a special charm to words hand written – the pressure of writing “I THINK” or the timidity in “I love you” – perhaps not, maybe those feeling are the other way around? Does the line go up slightly, in a hopeful way; or down, on the slippery slope of pessimism? At the postage stamp market, in the park at Rond Point near the Champs Elysees, one can buy old letters written in fountain pen on pastel shades of paper which make up their own envelope (usually with a plain stamp): 2 euros. They are often invitations to dinner or such, written in a flowery hand. I bought one to decorate.

When I lived in North Africa, there were places where people would write letters for you: “Calligrapheur” or fabulous writing samples posted outside indicated the service. Fine Arabic lettering was something prized – used as artwork.

When Blair and I first lived in Paris, mail delivery was still twice a day. They had just discontinued the pneumatic delivery tubes, where one could put a letter in at one end of town and it was delivered at the other, tout suite! Telegraph buildings still exist, but have been rehabilitated for other purposes. One is just across the market from us at Raspail and Cherche Midi, with “VOX CLAMANS PER ORBEM” etched in giant letters in the frieze. Although I never sent a telegram in Paris, I did send one in the USA, and saw many examples of telegrams delivered to others.

Many years ago, I offered to write letters for people. I set up a desk, with special papers, at Christmas time in Rainier Square in Seattle. It was a very romantic ambition. In fact, I had two people hire me to compose and print Christmas letters (one in French) and a man ask me to help him write a love letter to his girlfriend.

There’s no personality in these Calibri characters, no sense of the line waving, or my hand sweating. I am glad to still have the paintings which are chock full of inexplicable emotion, when we sit in the park and paint.

Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) Pessemier www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #3 - Jun 25th, 2011 at 11:25pm

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Why why why did LinkedIn send out 778 invitations to "connect with me" this week?  I have no idea.  I was just trying to connect with one person, who I don’t really know, to sell our 3D Interactive Hospitality Management services.  Is that ever a far cry from teaching plein air painting?

Not that teaching plein air painting is my penchant.  Painting: YES;   plein air: yes;   teaching:  half and half.    For me teaching is a dangerous thing:  I realize I can seriously damage someone’s creativity if I am not careful.  Teaching requires a lot of responsibility.    Honestly, does a bridge need to look like a bridge, or a boat a boat, or a building a building?  No, they don’t.  So I like to think of myself as a guide to helping one connect with one’s muse – and in doing so create a provocative work of art.

While I was guiding our youngest “stagiare” on the banks of the Seine, what should appear but a ballerina?    Blair was painting on a slightly elevated area near us, as the ballerina, wearing a black tutu, skimpy leotard and pale pink tights and shoes, jumped onto her toes near him.  “Look”, I exclaimed, as she swung her very thin arms and expressive fingers over her head.

It’s what I like best about Paris, and best about teaching, even:  anything can happen.  Pure magic lightly touches down on the cobblestones.    The ballerina’s photographer asked if he could snap her with Blair, who eagerly agreed.  L, my student, and I, were surprisingly involved in our own work (at this point she made the bridge light purple, which was what the picture needed).  It wasn’t until the dancer took to pirouetting, en point, in front of me, at the edge of the quai, I decided to paint her.

We had three sets of guests this week, from America and Germany.  We drank wine, and ate delicious dinners (cold pea cream soup, langoustine ravioli, quenelles of pike, veal, stuffed quail, profiteroles with hot chocolate) listening carefully for a special message from afar.  There are many messages:  mostly stuff about life, which I hold for a day I will need it.   I am so lucky to have far reaching relations on account of artnotes.

I sent my mother roses on the “find a grave” website (I am subject to becoming morbid when left alone too long), and immediately afterward a letter came in the mail, expressing condolences, with yellow rose petals inside.  My mother was a big fan of roses, and St. Teresa, the “little flower of Jesus” kept my mom in roses.  Shorty sent off many a novena on my behalf, like it or not.  I had a fight with St. Teresa in her basilica in Lisieux, France some time ago over my mother and Alzhiemer’s.   But all is forgiven.

Lots of people I hadn’t heard from in years became contacts on LinkedIn.  It wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  It’s hard to have magic when one is in control.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER
 
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Reply #2 - Jun 20th, 2011 at 11:58am

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I can’t believe it’s another week since I wrote artnotes.  We’ve had a busy week – guests, many paintings, a weekend full of art lessons.

I am making the adjustment from painting with my friend Y, to painting with my darling Blair.  Sometimes we can bring out the worst in one another, or the best.  Somehow we’ve managed to paint together four times this week.

We went, with Harika, first to the café La Palette.  It’s a bit of a meat market, but what could be better than men and women looking and acting their best?  Hand gestures, good hair, SMILING.  It’s funny, from the outside looking in.  That’s the role of the artist.  It’s always been my role.  I prefer to look into a closed shop, or restaurant, or a night time window across the street, than actually being “inside”.

Without Harika, we went to the café at the mosque the next day.   Men with trays of hot ultra-sweet tea come by tables to take your order.  Just putting my lips on the edge of the glass makes me as happy as champagne.  The place is more populated than it was a few years ago, by all nationalities.  The hubble-bubble pipe is more present: I could smell different, delicious tobacco.   There were two veiled ladies beside us, one toking heavily on the narghila.   An affectionate couple in the corner confirmed the relaxed atmosphere of the place.  I took out my paints and made images.

I took Harika to the park on Wednesday: she lies beside me while I paint.  Blair painted an exceptional “boules game” in oil,  in another part of the park.  She and I did a series of people paintings on wood.  Two people are lying in recliner chairs near us.  I feel a little sorry for them, with nothing to do.  Are they thinking?

We brought two students to the Luxembourg Gardens on Friday.   They were very different:  one about 45 and charmingly reserved, the other 16 and charmingly confident and direct.   What we all had in common was art, and we painted up a storm:  in about 5 hours of painting, we produced, among us, 13 paintings.  A (very good) painter we painted with a few weeks ago would say:  “I can only give birth once a day”.  Altogether yesterday we produced a litter.

On the phone I talk with my Dad about my nephew:  he is a great young pianist.  It is not clear he will pursue music as a profession, but we agree that to make music or make art is a gift:  he will never be lonely.  It is a wonderful door to open.

Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) PESSEMIER    www.paintfox.com
 
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Reply #1 - Jun 12th, 2011 at 6:41pm

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We’re on our second religious holiday in a “lay” country this month.  I really can’t understand how we can prohibit women from wearing burkas and children from displaying crosses or the star of David at school while celebrating the Ascension (2 June) and Pentecost (13 June).   It makes for lots of store and cafe closures, no mail and a deserted neighborhood.    On our walk to the park yesterday, we could hear chanting – “sounds like church” I said to Blair.   From Gregorian notes to “Hark the Herald Angels sing”, pilgrims were starting out from rue St. Jacques in Paris to walk to St. Jacques de Campostela in Spain.  I don’t think the whole group was going the entire distance – but some had formidable backpacks and walking sticks.  Nuns in white getups, and banners like the crusades instilled a certain fear of God in me:  I’ve had the misfortune of reading a book which includes scenes from the Inquisition.   We hurried by with Harika during a break in the traffic.

We went home to work on our house.  We are wallpapering our kitchen in cookbook pages.  I am strategically placing “equivalents”, cuts of meat, temperatures and substitutions where I can see them again.  Mustard greens with salt pork and Brussels sprouts have found less prominent venues.  I am not sure the stuffed squid can really be seen in full, but I’ve had that recipe over three years and never made it.  I have many marvelous cookbooks, not all of which I use.  So, on three walls, we’ve created a random pattern of squares, in tones of off white pages and black writing.  I was inspired when a visiting friend brought me a cookbook – and I thought how it would be nice to have it open to a recipe all the time.

We’ve had American friends and painting students here for a month.   It’s very wonderful when we have guests:  inevitably, I learn something new and unexpected.   One friend just called to say they found a really nice easel on the way to the train station.  I ran downstairs, barefoot, to retrieve it from them.  Sure enough, it is a wooden “French” easel, with a handle.  This kind has no drawer, which makes it much lighter to carry;  I set it up in the living room.  It has been a treasure trove couple of weeks:  we found a stool, glass table top, orchid plant, wooden curtain rods with rings and finials, a light for the kitchen, more than twelve dessert plates and a red swivel chair.

It has equally been a treasure trove of food:  friends have taken us out to lunch, dinner (three times!), and brought over champagne.  But most importantly, we have had productive discussion: about art; working; deconstructionism in language and architecture; flowers; owning up to our flaws and dealing with them; the demise of parents; games.  There is something about being taken out of one’s daily routine to provoke thought.  As Mark Twain suggested:  “take out your brain and jump on it; it gets all caked up”.    Being on top of the Eiffel Tower, beneath the trees in the Tuileries, in front of Monet’s water lilies or in a café sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone you don’t know will prompt a fresh thought.   I think of what I could come up with on a walk to Spain.

Laurie (text and painting) and Blair (painting) Pessemier  www.paintfox.com
 

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Laurie6-12-11.JPG
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Jun 5th, 2011 at 9:41pm

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When friends asked if we’d like to go to Versailles for a picnic, we jumped at the chance.  It was the fourth birthday of our darling dog, Harika, on Friday, and she needed a trip outside the city.  We packed our tiffin with  tomatoes and mozzarella, stuffed endive, and devilled eggs.  Our friends brought roast pork and tabouli, red wine and water.  There was cake for dessert, and we sang “Happy Birthday Harika”.  Her best friend, Urti, the fox terrier, helped her celebrate.

It is possible to enter the grounds of Versailles from the back side.  It used to be free to park there, but now Indians have the franchise to maintain the lots: 5 Euros.  The three cars in front of us (all carrying descendents of the king, no doubt)  fought the guy in the booth, but eventually paid.  We passed Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, and parked near the Petit Trianon.  Harika ran ahead to the big pond (sufficiently sized to land a 747, thanks to Louis XIV), where we pitched our blanket.

It’s been a long and sunny week in Paris.  The tilleuls (little leaf Lindens) are in bloom, and my eyes and nose are running to beat the band.  Our geraniums revel in the sunshine, blooming  like never before.  We water them daily, but otherwise it has been the driest spring since 1976, an outstanding champagne year.  It makes me want to go out there to inspect the vines.

I alternate between loving the city and longing for the country.  Our seven big windows let in a lot of light – despite lined drapery in the bedroom, the light begins around 5:30 AM and lingers until past 10 PM.  We’re sleeping less and midday at the dining table can be pretty warm.  Running the oven for dinner is not advised (it’s 10:30 in the morning and Blair is cooking a chicken).

We have lots of friends and things to do here in Paris, but the grass at Versailles felt good beneath my feet.  Harika ran around in circles and rolled in what we hoped was just the scent of tilleul blossoms.  A boy was flying a kite with his father, and his sister was robed like Marie Antoinette, plus a baseball cap.  Other daogs, mostly small, milled around the end of the pond.  One could rent a boat.  We switched sides of the pond to accommodate shade, between lunch and dessert.

I had packed painting supplies for the group, and encouraged  everyone to paint.  Neither of our friends had ever painted outside before, nor used acrylic paint, particularly my five colors (I make all of my paintings with five colors only:  turquoise, magenta, lemon yellow, dioxyzine purple and white).  Three of us painted the same view of the Grand Trianon, and I made a portrait of Urti afterward.   It is always delightful to see such different outcomes:  one royal, one like the Dordogne (it must have been the red wine) and mine, in my regular style.  Blair didn’t paint because he painted Notre Dame at 5:45 Friday morning:  www.paintfox.com

Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) Pessemier
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris    Blair PESSEMIER  Oil on canvas  22 x 18 inches  $325.00
 
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