Saturday, July 19, 2014

We'll Always Have Paris

It was touch and go but we made it to Paris.

Despite the transit strike that was going on when we arrived in France, our artists group managed to make it into Paris by train one day. Jane and I had never been to Paris before, so we were going to be mighty disappointed if we were that close but couldn't go. It was a bucket list issue for us.

First we all walked over to the Musée d'Orsay where a few of us lunched in the exquisite restaurant before touring the museum.

(It's possible that you might be seeing the remains of some absinthe cocktails.)

Jane and I then went through the Impressionists wing of the Musée d'Orsay and because we were so awestruck we wandered through too slowly. So we didn't have time to view many of the other rooms in the museum before it was time to meet up with our group again. I think that means a trip back to Paris is necessary, n'est-ce pas? (Alas, we weren't allowed to take pictures.)

Then off we went across the Seine river and through the Tuileries Gardens to the Musée de L'Orangerie. Monet, Degas, Matisse ... oh my! Again, sorry I don't have pictures to show.

We crossed one of two bridges in Paris with the "love locks," the tradition of lovers writing their names on a padlock, locking it to the bridge and throwing the key into the Seine ... a symbol of their undying love.

The bridge is packed with locks on both sides ... you have to see it to believe it! Recently a portion of the railing collapsed from the weight of them.

As our day in Paris neared the end, we walked a different route back to the metro, through some elegant areas.

The window shopping was phenomenal.

Paris .... CHECK!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


After more than a week of painting in the studio, we held our Vernissage, the reception and showing of our work.

It was a mad dash to get the studio cleaned up but it looked so great. Our beautiful gallery!

Lots of Kippy and Jerome's friends came and joined us for champagne, appetizers, interesting conversation and to view our work. So exciting! As Kippy said, now we can say we've shown our work in Europe!
(I think I missed the memo to wear red.)

Here's Jane standing next to her board. She didn't have a lot of experience painting figures before coming to France but she could have fooled us! Her paintings were wonderful and accomplished!

Kippy and me in front of my board.

I reluctantly show you my entire board because I was teased mercilessly by a certain fellow student from Tasmania (yeah, that's you Vicki) about the one nude painting on the lower left ... you know, The Full Monty? I can't help it!! That's the pose I saw from my easel position!

But once I got home and taped my paintings to the studio wall, that painting kept whispering to me ... "TMI, TMI." So I gave her a little makeover. Er, uh ... down under. Happy now, Vicki?  ;-)

 Next post: our day in Paris. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beyond the Turquoise Door

Is anyone tired of seeing this photo of the turquoise door?? Because this is probably the 5th time I've posted it, in one place or another. But it symbolizes so much! Beyond this door is the artist studio of La Bonne Etoile in France, where we spent blissful hours learning the amazing pastel painting methods taught by the great Margaret Dyer! 
We started off our first night in the studio with a demo from Margaret, shown in progress here. Her process is so unique, with emphasis on value and the layering of warm and cool colors to give a vibrant, energized effect.

Our beautiful model sat for us for several days and we usually painted one pose in the morning and one in the afternoon. For me that meant working much faster than I was used to and so my paintings didn't feel very accomplished or complete. In the beginning this was so frustrating, but then I began to realize  that I was there to learn the process, not to turn out polished paintings.

It was so exciting to see the beautiful work appear day after day. We had some really amazing artists in our group. 

As paintings were finished we clipped them to a wire overhead. After about a week, there were so many paintings hung that you couldn't find a spot anymore! It was a beautiful sight.

Jane hard at work. She created some beautiful paintings while we were there.

In addition to our paintings of our model in the studio, we also had some photo shoots in the garden and  the house, using ourselves as models. This is one I did of our young resident assistant, Kathleen, hanging laundry. Btw, all laundry done at La Bonne Etoile was hung on the clothesline to dry, which was so fabulous! It smelled so good! (I just realized I've already put this one up as my blog cover photo... I guess you'll have to see it twice.)

And I am proud and honored to say I now own this one that Margaret painted of us (Margaret and me) at the piano. We had a photo shoot where we donned robes and I pretended to play while Margaret  enjoyed my imaginary talent. I could not resist buying the painting. AND I bought another one she painted while in the studio, shown below.

I had to have this painting by Margaret Dyer, not only because I think it's breathtaking, but because it is such a beautiful example of what she achieves in the skin of her nudes. Her method results in the most beautiful colors coming through on the skin, the drape, sheets, everything. I will forever have this as a wonderful reference, not to mention a memory of my week studying with Margaret.

Here's one of mine. Eek! I must be nuts to post this following Margaret's.

Love this! Four artists in a row, painting with focus!

Check out all the hung paintings. That's just one wire ... there were several.

One more of mine, painted on the last day in the studio.

Next up: our Vernissage, which was the party where all of our work was displayed and friends and neighbors came to see! Stay tuned ........

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bonjour, France!

Nope. I wasn't able to blog from France after all. Access to wifi was limited and time was even more so. We were busy, busy, busy with painting both in the studio and en plein air, touring charming villages and amazing museums, shopping at the local brocantes and oui, oui ... eating lots of beautiful French food.

So I'll play catch-up. This will be the first of a series of posts I will write to share my fabulous experience. For those who may not be aware of my reasons for going to France, here's the thumbnail. My good friend, neighbor and fellow pastelist, Jane, and I decided that we MUST jump in on the great opportunity to study under the tutelage of award-winning and master pastelist, Margaret Dyer. She would be teaching this two week workshop at La Bonne Etoile in Fontaine-Fourche for the 5th year, I believe. Jane and I followed her daily blog posts from her workshop last year and we fell in love with the idea of it. So as soon as registration opened up last fall, we were the first two students to register for this year's workshop. Voilá!

Off we went to France on June 10. We were exhausted but exhilarated upon arrival. It was so beautiful there! The weather, the gardens, the food ...  all gorgeous! Day one in the studio was challenging but fun and so informative. Margaret Dyer is an amazing teacher. Enough words ... see for yourself!

Through these gates we found a wonderland waiting for us on the other side.

In the village of Fontaine-Fourche (east of Paris) is La Bonne Etoile, the magnificent home and artist retreat owned by Jerome and Kippy, the greatest hosts ever. The house and gardens are breathtaking!

This is the massive barn where the studio is located, right through that turquoise door and up the stairs.

Jane and I stayed in the gite (pronounced zheet) across the road from the main house. It was a charming little place that housed four of us. Jane and I were in the spacious upstairs bedroom with bath and there were two other ladies downstairs, where there was also a common kitchen and dining area.

 I couldn't resist taking a picture of our magnificent bathroom sink. We found most bathroom fixtures and faucets in France to be grand and beautiful.

We even had our own private garden at the gite. Here's Jane enjoying her morning coffee.

Here we are ... the fabulous artists and soon-to-be-friends attending Margaret's workshop. There were 12 of us, hailing from all over the place; New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, and three from Tasmania. Aka the Tasmaniacs. Which they are. We adore them. See Jerome, our fabulous French host, hiding amongst all those women!

Every night we were served a five course meal on this beautiful patio, lasting three hours from about 7:30 to 10:30. The food ... magnifique! I returned home with extra baggage ... and not in the suitcase!

Beyond the turquoise door lies the studio, where the magic happens. Next post: painting in the studio. Exactly what we came to do! Stay tuned!