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Paintfox 2013 Jan19th to Apr (Read 712 times)
Reply #13 - Apr 29th, 2013 at 4:49am

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Harika ran around in circles, rolled in the grass, jumped in the air when we got to Giverny on Monday.   She doesn’t  care about the gardens, where she’s not allowed, but loves the air, the happy tourists, the smells of nature. 

Friends from Tunisia stopped by last Sunday.  They brought a sugary dessert and a tanagram game. We’d not seen them in nearly a year.  “There’s a brocante (yard sale) in our neighborhood,” they announced.  “If you’d like to come back there with us.”  We had a rental car that day, so we all piled in and drove to Maisons-Alfort.  They were impressed with our rental van – a new Volkswagen model, with a retractable roof and wind baffle.  We used the GPS.   “I sure wish they had GPS in Algeria,” our passenger commented, “we’re always get lost there”.  I had visions of driving through the desert, plugged into a satellite.

The sale was enormous, covering four large streets, crossing in the center.   We were in the market for vases and flower-y paraphernalia for our “He loves me, he loves me not” show coming up at the gallery.  We found vases galore, for one, two and three euros.  Blair bought a 1960s flower embroidery, framed, for the Retro gallery downstairs.  I got a marvelous umbrella, dull puce on the outside, but filled with flower print on the inside.   We came away with a giant haul for twenty euros.   And best of all, it was unexpected.

The flower theme was the perfect setting to our week, with a trip to Giverny on Monday.   We had two painters who had spent the weekend out there, and painted with us Monday afternoon.  They were thoughtful painters, who studied exactly what they wanted to paint that afternoon:  both chose the bridge across the water lily pond.   
It was the earliest I’d been to Giverny to paint, in terms of blooms:  the flowering trees, the pansies, and tulips were out.  I picked one scene outside of the park with apple blossoms and soft green grass.   The next day we went with an Australian woman out to Auvers-sur-Oise, where she completed a nice painting of a Van Gogh street, and we painted around her. 

Harika loved that trip, too, spending the entire day lounging on the grass, save for lunch, where she regaled with the regulars at a traditional restaurant the proprietress had been running for 52 years. When we entered the restaurant we asked if Harika could join us.  “Excuse, me, “ the owner announced, “does anyone object to this dog eating here?”

 
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Reply #12 - Apr 21st, 2013 at 9:38pm

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Magnolia in the Park  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic on wood    10 x 14 inches    185.00

I found a large tuft of platinum blonde hair (I hope it was just an extension), and a cheap gold hoop earring.  An inexpensive handbag was thrown in the bushes, with nothing of merit inside.   I pocketed a kind of nice madras plaid hat which I’ll wash and use for summer.  I’d been looking for a new painting hat.  Blair isn’t keen on  it, but I can see the potential.    We were on a walk in the Bois de Boulogne this spring Sunday morning.

Harika was also on the hunt – there was evidence of rabbits and moles, which she sniffed for, to no avail.  Finally, she came upon the strangest of prey:  a football sized prickly mass that simply would not move:  a herrison, or hedgehog.  I am sure she never saw one before – growling at it, jumping around it produced no response.   Blair thought it was dead, but I pointed out it was very successfully “playing possum” – it did wriggle when he gently poked it with a stick.   It was a find we were all happy with:  Harika, the great huntress,  obviously subdued it, and we didn’t have to worry about blood.

We were in the woods because we have a rental car: a big van-like contraption so there’s room for our painters and paints.    Our painting workshops begin in earnest this week – on Monday we will paint like Monet in Giverny, and on Tuesday we’ll be alongside Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise.  I believe I am the most enthusiastic workshop participant – I can’t wait to go.

We’ve passed the cusp of frigid winter – now it is frigid spring. A mere 50-something degrees Fahrenheit (13 or so Celsius) in the morning, but sunny.  It is my favorite time of the year, with the introduction of green leaves but not the full, shade-producing cover.  It’s all about light and dark, or light and movement, which brings me to the show “DYNAMO” which we went to at the Grand Palais this week.

At first, we thought the show was in the big glass-covered Palais, so we didn’t get there until after dinner, 8:45 or so – in fact, DYNAMO occupied huge space in the official gallery side of the Grand Palais – it was nearly  40,000 square feet!  It was too much to get through in an hour, but I had the sense of being in a 1960s wild, hypnotic, spinning wheel  atmosphere as urgent-looking guards would say, “you’ve three large rooms to go!” Like Patrick McGoohan in “the Prisoner” I had to make it to the outside by 10PM.  And EVERYONE was so HAPPY at the end of the show – smiling attendees who just didn’t want to leave -- that is incredible!

Classic artists like Vasarely, Agam, Flavin, Turrell opened the show.  But there were also people I was not familiar with, including Carlos Cruz-Diez who created big rooms of light produced color.  It made one think about art differently:  not painted on a canvas, or sculpted from a block of wood, but our participation was required to make it be art.  I would call the show a blockbuster just for the fact is was so different, so thought-provoking.  I liked it very much and will go back to look in greater detail.

I sat outside the gallery in a chair this week, it was so warm. On Saturday,  I was painting outside with Harika at St. Sulpice.   A crazy woman in apparently normal French dress appeared with her dog, a shepherd of somesort,  and a big playground ball.  She throws it up in the air and the dog bats it back with his nose.  There are about 100 people in the square, I am sitting on a bench.  Several people are hit by the ball.   Harika is having a nervous breakdown – for her,  we may as well be in Syria – the sky is falling!  She hides under the bench.     As I am painting the trees, the ball bounces off my very wet paint-filled palette, onto the painting.  The woman doesn’t apologize, makes some comment like it is my fault.  She must need the attention or just a walk in the woods.



 
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Reply #11 - Apr 16th, 2013 at 11:36am

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On Sunday the sand was packed with families of all ages and mixes, having fun on the beach.  I enjoy the increasing cultural diversity in France.  It used to be I was the odd ball in Normandy, with brown eyes.  Sunday we sat beside a Russian/Chinese couple with two French children.   The daughter staged a coup on someone’s abandoned sandcastle, built by two English girls.  A woman passed by in an Arabic dress, black with bright pink sport stripes down the sides. 

People ask me, isn’t it too crowded?  I LOVE all the people, at ease, in various stages of dress.   I also like the beach without people, when we can see forever.   This morning was clear and blue, the sky reflected in huge puddles the tide had left as it receded nearly a quarter mile.     We picked up shells and rocks.  I found a piece of corroded iron that looked like the nativity, but not quite enough. 
 
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Reply #10 - Mar 24th, 2013 at 7:43pm

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TEFAF, the  European Fine Art Fair takes place every year in March.   It is one of my favorite events to attend:  like rummaging about, deluxe-style, in a museum basement.  In addition to the regular fare of the world’s best art and objects, this year there was a show of Van Gogh’s drawings.  We drove the 4 and a half hours to see it all last Sunday.

My favorite piece of art for sale was a painting of  Jawlensky’s:  Church in Prerow.  It is brilliant orange and green – just fabulous.     There were some other wonderful Jawlenskys, too.   But the artist I most liked for body of work was Kirchner.   Many different works of his  were shown,  from trees to flowers to people (extra good).   

The thing I noticed most at TEFAF was the marvelous curation of things.   I often notice that in museums now, the work seems to be chosen to make a good catalog, and is hung to accommadate giant crowds in a linear, chronological fashion.   Not so at TEFAF: art is arranged to catch your eye, to draw you in from one piece to another.  A furniture dealer in specializing in Hoffman hangs a hinged flower planter on a leading corner, your eye turns to the most important piece in the stand:  an armoire; one circulates around some rather odd statues.  All is illuminated by the best lighting I’ve seen.  I get an idea for making lampshades with silk scarves.   Right around the corner from them was a New York dealer, Jason Jaques, who sold outstanding ceramics. There were vases from the art nouveau period I’d never seen the likes of.  But more than just the work, he had the BEST display – art nouveau style iron work:  wall shelves, console tables.  It was so terrific we went in to tell him – and he said, “you guys present well yourselves”.  Which made me take a look around at people, and for one of the first times in my life, I realized our personal style fit in nicely with the crowd.

Holland is an intriguing place.  One knows instantly when leaving Belgium that you’ve arrived someplace far more interesting.  The houses – large painted brick mansions, square or rectangle, many windows, peaked pyramidal roofs with lyrical lanterns.   Sand is everywhere, along the many rivers – and the people are larger than I am.  It’s the only place I can go and feel short. There’s a boldness and confidence in them which allow them to wear bright colors, daring designs.  They are very open – they have to be because they’ve always been the traders of the world.

Soutine, my favorite artist, had two paintings in the show – a hunter, with an unusual blue background and a landscape.  I loved a bridge painted by Lyonel Feininger.   It’s humbling to return to our own gallery.

We had our first outdoor lesson on the 19 March.  Blair and I painted surprisingly similar pictures this time – and our brave Australian colleague toughed out the 35 degree day (no more than 2 Celsius).  Her husband, in shirtsleeves and down vest went with their son, in shorts, to the catacombs.  Crocodile Dundee had nothing on him.

I spent the rest of the week in the gallery making prints.   While I was there, a family stopped by -- the older of the two girls, all of seven, asks how I made the butterfly prints.  I show her the technique.  She’d  like to buy one, she says, but this is the last day of her trip, and she’s spent all her money.  Her sister, about four years old, is examining the stairs to the basement.   I tell her Vincent is working down there.  She turns to her father,  and announces in a stage whisper, “THAT is NOT Vincent Van Gogh!”
 
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Reply #9 - Mar 16th, 2013 at 9:56pm

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ARTNOTES:  Dual (sic)   
Jonquils  Laurie Fox Pessemier  11 x 16   225.00
The Duel  Blair Pessemier  11 x 16"   225.00

Harika and I came down with the same stomach bug this week, and now I know what it is like to be sick as a dog.   We spent two days on the bed together, thinking of crazy ideas in our delirium (An April Showers/May flowers show, for one thing).   As near as I can tell the first use of “sick as a dog” was from 1705.  I would have thought the expression would have come from “sic” as in “ Sic(k) ‘em Harika,” but no,  it has to do with the gastro-instestinal  difficulties in dogs.

The week was historic all around, with the staging of a “d’Artagnan” event on our very street, rue Servandoni.  Although the Three Musketeers was written by Alexandre Dumas in the 1840s, it is about d’Artagnan going to join the Musketeers in 1625.

A man in a red velvet suit and a feather in his hat emerged from our basement at the gallery.  He was followed by another man similarly attired, carrying a sword.  A milkmaid, a rapscallion, a cavalier who looked like he stepped off a playing card… 

Two weeks prior, a red-haired woman came into the gallery.   “Would you be interested in hosting an event surround d’Artagnan?” she asked.  “YES, “  I replied, “when?”   She stood dumbfounded.  She went on to explain she’d asked every business on our street and each person had said no.  “It’s because I am American, “ I told her.  “Really? You speak English?”  Like a champion.

It turned out our gallery was perfect.  There was a scene in the performance which required a place under renovation – and I had three gaping holes in the ceiling.   In fact, I was given a line or two:  when the rapscallion brought the visitors to the door, I was to tell them I had a message for them from d’Artagnan’s father – written on parchment, found during our renovations, if they had the “sign”.  They would show me a large chess piece and Voila!  I would present them with a further clue.

There was a duel in the street, and a fire breather in the place St. Sulpice.  It was a marvelous juxtaposition between the Musketeers and the twenty-first century, a performance gifted from a husband to his wife and son.

The performers really hammed it up, in the way those artist-types can.  The fellow in black lay in the street, in front of a car, while pictures were taken of the performers and the patrons.  A little girl begged to touch the lady-in-waiting’s dress, squealing  “ a real princess!!!”     The rapscallion in black (he reminded me most of the peg-legged sailor in a Wyeth illustration) terrorized children and parents passing by, and garnered 5 euros from someone who was sure he was some special style of French beggar.

Two hours later, we returned to our everyday life, with the knowledge a change of outfit and no fear could turn our lives into something altogether different.

Luckily, this all took place before the snow on Tuesday.  Yes, it snowed all day.  It allowed me to perfect my snowball.  Since my clavicle repair in February 2009, I’ve been off on my “pitch”: boules, bowling, snowballs.  After reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour Chef piece on how to make a perfect Foul Shot in Basketball, I was able to line up my eye and arm, and hit the stop light at, well, at least 15 feet! 

 
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Reply #8 - Mar 11th, 2013 at 10:16am

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It was one of those weeks:  the good and the bad, the sun and the rain, the up and the down and more.

We spent three days in sunny Trouville.  We painted pictures of the beach every day, made lots of sketches, and carved some printing plates.  We found:  a cocktail umbrella – reminding me of a ‘Shirley Temple’ with a maraschino cherry served at a grown-ups party;  a mass of net and seaweed, suitable for a scarf; a rock [among millions], completely black, another completely white; a yellow plastic boomerang which never came back; paper amidst the sand giving the impression of blue willow pottery; a bottle cap shaped like a hat on top of a sand fort.   Sand castles abounded – it was school vacation week and kids were prolific.

All this was thanks to a friend’s apartment.  It was a rugged place, three uncomfortable twin beds and pigeons on the roof and in the walls, day and night.  We walked up three flights and a near-ladder (Harika had to be carried) to the penthouse, and my neck has just regained its normal verticality.  The view was good.   I don’t put much faith in feng shui, but I can say this place had an oddly disagreeable nature for me. I sneezed and coughed all night long, but recovered during the day.   I cooked fresh fish two days in a row, on a faulty gas-fired stove, two of three burners working.   The olive oil was frozen in the bottle when we arrived.  Lucky the heat worked in the bedroom.  We stayed three days because Harika was having a good time and we had to get back for work at the gallery on Thursday.

At the gallery, butterflies [prints] flew out our door, into the hands of an old friend we’d not seen in years.  I sold another painting, just as our landlord let us know he's sold our space.   We have to move out by the end of May.   The French authorities called to let us know our naturalization papers would take another five years (the cheery woman behind the desk,  told us "don't be discouraged")   There are lots of other people who need naturalization more than we do.

The highlight of the week was the staging of “D’Artagnan” from our gallery, by a private troupe of players for a Russian man making a gift to his wife and son.  But I am saving that story for next week, no kidding!

Laurie and Blair Pessemier
 
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Reply #7 - Mar 3rd, 2013 at 11:15pm

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Artnotes:  Has Anyone Seen a Butterfly?
“Has anyone seen a butterfly?”  G would ask when the conversation went awry.   What DO you do when the conversation goes funny – I guess a butterfly is so positive, everything turns around.   

I once had a large collection of marvelous butterfly specimens.  I think of them with great fondness, and sometimes wish I still had them.  They are not, however, part of a clutter-free life, because there is nothing quite so “clutter-y” as a butterfly.  Not that I have a clutter-free life.  But I realized when we stayed in Villefranche-sur-Mer in an uncluttered apartment it was easier to calm down and feel relaxed.

On the contrary, few people lead a more cluttered life than Blair and me.  We have hundreds of paintings and props – I have been bringing them to the gallery with the intention of painting still-lives with my Wednesday student.   My ukulele (that I only play in the winter), masses of flowers, oriental carpets, vases, colorful tickets, hats, candles:   all contribute to inspiration.

I still have all the printing plates I made of my butterflies, so I’ve been making butterfly prints this week, putting spring on the wing.  They are light and joyous, and each time I produce a new work I feel very happy.   I put light bright colors on the background and print the Lepidoptera in gold.

We are still painting outdoors, too.   Blair had one hour to create a double portrait for a couple getting engaged near the Eiffel  Tower on Thursday.  He  painted in the background from Trocadero before they arrived.  Our client had the idea to suggest to his girlfriend “wouldn’t it be nice if we were in the picture?”.   What he didn’t count on was the 32 degree temperature – “stand here in this cold, darling?”   But the plan went off without a glitch. 

When the to-be-betrothed bride saw the ring in the picture, he dropped to his knees, took the velvet box from his pocket and she said, YES!   It was extraordinarily romantic.

We’re spending much time at the shop – we’ve sold two paintings in these last two weeks there.  Being at the gallery is about waiting, but not looking like one is waiting.  I try to keep busy, but have one eye peeled for the window, when I see someone I smile, and if it looks positive, I encourage them  to come in. 

Harika is a foil to all this, because she barks each time someone looks in the window or approaches the door.   “She’s saying welcome,” I tell people, but somehow her stout, hairy, black self and screeching voice are not soothing.  She is the antithesis of a butterfly, and; consequently,  has to stay home a lot.

But if conditions are right, people come in and we have lovely conversation and sometimes a sale, over a butterfly.
Butterflies  Laurie Fox Pessemier   linocut on paper  (each unique -- specify a backround shade if ordering)  8 x 10 inches   $25.00
 
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Reply #6 - Feb 24th, 2013 at 9:11am

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ARNOTES:  NO BAD WEATHER
“There is no bad weather, “a friend quotes her grandmother, “just wrong clothes.”

It was only 22 degrees Fahrenheit in Paris this morning.  Harika embraces this weather like she was born in Siberia instead of Tunisia.   Our only visitors to the gallery, in fact, have been from the more Northern climes, like Russia and the Scandinavian latitudes.  I feel pretty robust about the weather myself, bundled in my furry coat.  Blair and I went out yesterday to scope out a spot to paint a portrait of a couple on their engagement, en plein air, near the Eiffel Tower. 

Fifty trees were felled from the dog walking area in the Luxembourg Gardens.  It looks pretty grim, but the trees were diseased -- evidenced by large holes through the limbs and trunk.    I’ve suggested the vacant area, populated by stumps (spray painted fluorescent pink so we don’t trip on them) become a dog park.   We could dedicate the park to Idéfix, Obélix’s dog, who cries whenever a tree is cut down.   Obélix, Astérix and Idéfix (Dogmatix in the English version of the cartoon), are Gallic cartoon characters familiar to every child in France.Fifty trees were felled from the dog walking area in the Luxembourg Gardens.  It looks pretty grim, but the trees were diseased -- evidenced by large holes through the limbs and trunk.    I’ve suggested the vacant area, populated by stumps (spray painted fluorescent pink so we don’t trip on them) become a dog park.   We could dedicate the park to Idéfix, Obélix’s dog, who cries whenever a tree is cut down.   Obélix, Astérix and Idéfix (Dogmatix in the English version of the cartoon), are Gallic cartoon characters familiar to every child in France.

I’ve taken to decorating the stumps with stones and twigs that my dog Harika takes joy in removing.  I’ve better ideas to come, but need the temperature to crest freezing, at least.   Earthworks:  I love it when things evolve.

We had an outdoor art lesson this week, fortunately the day before the mercury plunged.   We painted at the carousel, which was garnished with tons of kids on Wednesday afternoon, the traditional afternoon off from school here.   It is the finest day in the park, with everyone from infants to grandparents enjoying the garden. 

It felt great to be out, but as the sun crept behind the trees we returned to the gallery/studio, where we spent a half-hour drawing.    Usually, I have a large collection of mismatched gloves suitable for wear while painting, but not this day.    In fact, my student had gloves, but we were beyond the point of no return.

We might have stayed in the whole time, but work is being done on the floor above the gallery, and the workmen have fallen through the ceiling three times.   You think I am joking, but I am not.   There are no precautions being taken for the safety of the workers, or us, as they remove the floor from the apartment above, leaving only the 16th century beams to separate the two spaces.   As long as the outside of the building isn’t breached, renovation work can take place inside without  any permit or restriction.   I wear my hat, as small chunks of ancient mortar/plaster bounce off my head  from above.   It makes selling paintings a little difficult, but traffic is light these cold days. 

Peruvian Lilies Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acyrlic on linen  16 x 11 inches  225.00


 
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Reply #5 - Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:06pm

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  Artnotes:  Communication
I only painted one new painting this week  between Monday and Friday, on account of bitterly cold damp weather.  I hope to do something later today while  the sun is shining, but I feel so thrilled with the sunny weather I just want to bask in joy.  Blair has taken up the slack…

We made a foray to see the bells at Notre Dame this week.  The bells are being replaced in honor of the 850th birthday of the cathedral.  Currently Notre Dame has discordant bells, a result of the events of the French Revolution, when the original bells were melted down to make cannons.    The new big bell, Mary, weighs more than six tons.  The other 8 bells, which make an octave, are named after bishops and such associated with the church:  Marcel, Benoit, Anne-Genevieve (a mere 3,477 kilos) and others.   I gave one a hardy tap, but my hand produced no sound.  The clappers are as large as cannons themselves.   It is a bit of a mystery as to how they will be raised to the tops of the bell-towers, but I will pass by after 25 February, when the moving process begins. 

It’s been a year since my “resolution” to write to people via snail mail, aka the Post Office.  I was very weak in this department, but others were faithful,  especially LHH with her beautiful postcards, each one delightful.   What would St. Valentine make of all this?   We are receiving cards and letters from another friend, who doesn’t have email, which makes the written word a more natural choice.   I tried writing today’s artnotes with a pencil, but I have to type them anyway.   

I transcripted a skype interview this week that covered this very topic. Ted Nelson, the father of hypertext, chatted with a French scholar about the use of the pencil versus the computer.  The talk circulated around notes and language and the philosophy of getting our creative thoughts from our brain into a finished presentable state.  I am always thinking of this sort of thing with painting, so to hear it discussed in relation to literature was a treat. Plus I got paid.

We’ve been moving bits and pieces to the gallery once again. 14, rue Servandoni  has a warmer feel this time around.  Parts of our  collection of conversation pieces populate the place with interesting “nature morte” scenes.  I am giving lessons beginning Wednesday in painting and drawing – these cold days we’ll work inside.

Other news:    Paris Painting Workshop  (outdoors) starts in a month!   CPK won the contest for signing up the most Artnotes new subscribers:  16!  Thanks to all who participated, especially runner-up CT with 12 names.    So far, my resolution to post a painting-a-day on Facebook has been working (ok, I missed one).   We’re at Studio Pessemier on Facebook.  Tweeting is still beyond my grasp, but if I ever get an i-phone it may become apparent.  The www.StudioPessemier.com site (thank you www.allisonlounes.com/consulting/ ) is operational -- but contact me for prices (retail listed on site).

Rose in Winter   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on linen 9 x 13 inches  175.00
Mary Bell  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic on linen  11 x 16 inches 225.00
 
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Reply #4 - Feb 12th, 2013 at 4:02am

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Artnotes:  A Coffee for You
The ride home to Paris from Villefranche on the TGV was a preview of things to come.  After turning North at Marseille, the sky clouded up and shortly after we were powering through driving snow.  The weather has remained wet and cold from that day forward.  There have been sun breaks but our temperatures are just above freezing.   I long for a sit on the beach, but things aren’t looking hopeful.

My mind wanders back to last Sunday at Eze, a village on top of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean.  It was the third time we tried to get there, which seems to have been the charm.  It was a friend’s birthday, so we made a reservation at a fine restaurant with a view.

We took one bus up the hill, and waited another twenty minutes for the next one.  The natives were restless, but I knew we’d make it this time.  It was a maniacal ride, with bat turns and no place to sit down, but I managed not to get carsick.

We walked the last few yards up the hill.  A stony outcropping at the top of a hill is home to a 12th century village.  Stone pathways give way to two Relais/Chateau hotels (one was closed for the season) and lots of little shops catering to summer tourists.   At the very top of the hill is a cactus garden (the French call it a "jardin exotique") intertwined among the ruins of an ancient castle.  The views are beyond fantastic.

After an aperitif on the terrace, we took our lunch inside.  The food was impeccable, the best we had on our month in Villefranche.  It was a lengthy sit, and our friend insisted on taking a taxi back down the hill (it is also possible to walk down a path).  In the end, the 3 mile  taxi ride cost as much as one of the dinners.  So goes the life of a tourist.

We had such a wonderful time painting in Villefranche we are planning a similar foray next year, for a longer period.  I rarely go back to the same place twice, but left so many stones unturned I have to go back and see what lurks in Antibes and Nice.

And next year, I hope to have more painters with me – the sunshine and turquoise water are just too good to pass up.

In Paris this week, I painted at a café by myself.  The waiter must have thought I was waiting for someone, because he never took my order.  After two small paintings, I left.  Blair bought flowers, which I have painted in the house.

We’re planning to take our gallery back, this time with a different twist.  An artist friend has offered to occupy the studio downstairs, which makes our rent more affordable.  On the main floor, we are going to include artistic objects in the mix a things – you might not want to buy a painting, but what about a chair?  We’ve some very odd items which might stimulate conversation. I am buying a coffee machine (you know, those Nespresso things?  You put a little tablet in the machine, add water?  No mess) so I can treat myself to cappuccino and offer one to you.

View from Rothschild Garden  Blair Pessemier Acrylic on linen  13 x 18 inches   350.00
Ranunculas in Paris Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic on linen 11 x 16 inches


 
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Reply #3 - Feb 3rd, 2013 at 4:35am

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February 2, 2013,  Artnotes:  Come Back in Primavera

The best laid plans are often better dashed.  On Wednesday we set out  to see the Bonnard museum in le Cannet – we were just minutes late for one train, and the next  didn’t arrive until an hour later.  “Let’s go to Ventimiglia”, our friend suggested.  So we bought three tickets, round trip, and saw three countries in twenty minutes. 

There was a clear difference in landscape as we chugged into Italy.   More umbrella pines and palm trees, less tall apartment buildings.  The light seemed to switch to a more atmospheric yellow.  As we debarked the train, one immediately noticed the swagger of Italian men, and the women jabbering, many over baby carriages.   We were determined to have a cappuccino.

But first, we walked to the ocean.  Along the way were stores, very different from France.  A hardware store features  espresso makers for induction cooktops and sea-urchin scissors.  The pharmacy offers veterinary services  and  perfume.  We passed a pastry shop with beautiful Italian pastries and coffee we will stop by on the way back.

We cross a footbridge over a small inlet to the sea.  Shore birds abound, and men are fishing.   A small oasis along the river is full of flowers. A little man is hoeing his row.   He told us how he took care of the ducks, feeding them, and providing a safe haven in his little plot.  He was orphaned in 1939, and ended up on a farm, taking care of the flowers and animals.  His education came from the earth.

He wanted me to come down by the river to give me a gift.  We walked down the stone stair.  On second thought, the roses weren’t fragrant enough for the signorina he said: come back in primavera.    We said we would, or at least send him a card.

After pastries and cappuccino, we boarded the train for Villefranche.  The only other person on the train played his cassette player out loud: romantic Italian songs.  We told him we liked that.  Benny was his name, and he was from Albania.  I’d never met an Albanian before.

The train makes a lengthy stop at Monaco, where the bankers for the select few juggle the books. It’s a somber crowd, and a man sat beside us with a look that could kill, as he settled in for a long jaunt on his iphone.  We watched the sun set over the Mediterranean as  little dots of light illuminated the darkness.

Hyacinth  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on linen 16 x 11 inches   275.00
Villefranche from above  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic on linen   15 x 18 inches   400.00
 
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Reply #2 - Jan 27th, 2013 at 1:12pm

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Blair,
 
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Reply #1 - Jan 27th, 2013 at 12:41pm

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http://www.paintfox.com/
Artnotes: Off Season

“This place is great until March”, the German man tells me.  “After that, the town is packed with tourists with 800 Euros to spend --  they could be anywhere.  “   He’s been here twenty three years and twenty-five days he tells me.  Blair saw him again today at the market.

It has been incredibly wonderful in Villefranche-sur-Mer this month.  Harika and I and a half dozen other people spend our sunny afternoons on the beach.  Harika digs a hole to keep her belly cool, and lies in the blazing sun.  I am constantly rearranging, dipping in the water and painting pictures, pinching myself to be sure this isn’t a dream.  As soon as we’re out of the sun, I have to put my coat back on – a little reality.

We’ve found ourselves a decent coffee shop, right on the Darse, where the boats are docked.  Blair and I painted there on Thursday, while Harika chatted up the crowd.  Coffee isn’t great here, which is surprising, so close to Italy.  The more “ Italian” shops near Monaco are better  -- we’re only twenty minutes from the border.   I had a great dish of eggplant parmesan in Beaulieu, where we do our grocery shopping.

We’ve been to Monaco and Menton, Beaulieu and St. Jean Cap Ferrat.  At the Rothschild Gardens, we were almost the only visitors.  We’ve been without a car on this trip, which has done wonders for our marriage – no fighting.   We’ve taken buses and trains everywhere, to the tune of a euro or so per trip.

On the other hand, I’ve got housemaid’s knee from so much walking.  At the market today a weed-woman sold me Tamuss root.  She shows me how to grind it and apply it.  “Let me do it,” she says.  I beg off as I am wearing tights.  She goes on to suggest we wash the inside of our body:  tilleul.  I giggle at the thought, and leave with a large root.   While at the market, we both paint the flowering cherry.

I am surprised more people don’t vacation off-season.   Of course, I am glad they don’t.  This way we talk to the locals.   There are people here from all over the world.  Signs are in several languages.  To date, I have heard English, German, Russian, Danish (well, a Scandinavian tongue, in any case), Italian, Spanish, and of course, French.  An Englishman Blair spoke to today told him this international flavor exists year round, even more in the summer.

We’ve been watching movies here at our apartment.  It’s a shock to us both, who only went to the cinema twice last year, once the year before.   Clearly, it’s the proximity to Cannes.  When I look at the films, I am astonished at how empty the Jersey Islands are, and the Italian coast.  But of course, it must have been filmed off season.

Blair: Acrylic on linen  10.5 x 16 inches  275.00

 
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Jan 20th, 2013 at 5:53am

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