While in France, I learned of woad, a natural pigment used to dye fabric, baskets, used in paint, and more so I went online, found a supplier and bought some. The good people at Golden paints gave me advice on how to mix it to create acrylic paint. I used it for the background in the above floral. I've got a test piece in the window to see how lightfast it is. Golden, and any other paint manufacturers have nothing to worry about with this gal making paint. First the stuff stinks and second, you've really got to get finely ground stuff to work well and it's just not as nice as their paints. But, with that said, I feel like I authentically brought a bit of Europe back with me and not just souvenirs I bought.
Recently, my family spent a week in Captiva, Florida where I spent many an hour picking up shells. I brought a lot of them back and made my own version of a sailor's valentine. Both my husband and my son like it. What do you know?!
Another piece with woad paint in the background.
This clock base is a recent estate sale find. I really paid almost nothing for it. It was in a lot of items and it was so dirty that I couldn't tell what I'd have to do to use it. Turns out I just needed Murphy's oil soap to clean it. Then when the clock insert arrived, just poppped it in.
Kari and Shelly waiting for our Toulouse to Paris flight.
Later that night, poor Kari was dead asleep by 8 p.m. It's not easy being an art teacher. After the trials of getting to France, then Durfort by rental car, shepherding us all around to sightsee and then teaching for a week, she was beyond exhausted. She was talking to us one minute, laid her head down on the pillow and was gone!
Here's the Office de Tourisme at L'Orangerie that we got to know pretty well. We got our museum passes and transportation passes for the next 3 days. What a deal! We could go to any museum and go in without waiting in line for a ticket or we could take the subway, bus or train anywhere in the area. They even helped us locate someone for a charter trip later.
Here's Shelly waiting in the hotel foyer. We never could quite 'get' the painted bamboo poles. They didn't seem to fit the hotel's decor.
On to the train for Paris.
We head to the Musee D'Orsay. It was fabulous!!
I loved the glass awnings over the door.
Live music on a Friday night. They were good.
I made it! Seeing the Eiffel Tower again (I was 16 last time) was one of the things I wanted to do in Paris.
You always hear about English roses and indeed they are wonderful, but France was ablaze with them everywhere.
There were some good photo opportunities that day.
Of course, we had to get a crepe while there. The scenery wasn't too bad either. :)
I enjoyed the signs in the subways and around the city. Until tomorrow.
This is a little park between our hotel and the tourist office.
The had all sorts of aviation posters and vintage pictures up. Then, I saw a tree that was identified and I suppose it's unusal for there but I had to laugh! The tulip poplars like those that grew below my parents' house. Raked many of those leaves!
We tried to find a subway stop that would take us near a train shop so I could get one for my son. We decided to go "up" and see the Arc de Triomphe since we were there. :)
Finally, I found a nice cabbie who took us to the shop (which I think was Trans Europ but there are three train shops side by side), waited outside while I made a purchase and then took us to the Louvre. I found out about the shop from a blog http://www.quinntopia.com/2010/08/paris-hobby-shops.html of a guy who's been to quite a few of them and gave very helpful reviews on them. He mentioned a lady named Claude and I got to meet her as she was needed to interpret and she was so helpful!
We were able to see more of the city, too, by being above ground.
The Louvre at last!
"Winged Victory" below.
I have a thing for the religious icon paintings. I know that they are very labor-intensive.
Just a cafe scene near the Louvre. On our way back to the hotel after getting an eye- and mind-full of inspiration. We've booked a trip to Giverny in the morning and it will be just us. They take us there, wait and bring us back to the hotel. NO subways! rofl
On the way to Giverny, the countryside was beautiful.
The red blur you see in the picture above is the poppies as we go by.
As we stood in line for tickets to go into Monet's gardens and visit his house, I took pictures of the flowers by the path.
First things, first...the gift shop!
Out the door and into the gardens...
Roses and bachelor's buttons...
More poppies, which I love and won't grow at home...
Here I am after just touring Monet's house inside. The walls were colorful and furnishings charming. One room had lots of asian artwork. The kitchen had copper vessels and lovely pottery. Unfortunately, I can't show you as they didn't allow pictures.
Kari and I stop for a photo.
Color, color everywhere!
Then on to the waterlily garden which inspired so many of his paintings.
There were chickens and turkeys there also. The chickens had style with their 'hair-dos'.
We enjoyed our tour of Giverny so much and went back to our room inspired. A few hours later, the same driver picked us up for a night tour of Paris.
He dropped us off for a bit of shopping along the Champs Elysees. We could have spent a whole day there but there wasn't the time or the money for that!
We laughed at the little Toyota vehicle in one showroom.
Then I found the car I'd rather have.
Just a cafe scene along the way. I liked the typically striped shirts that the waiters were wearing.
We saw the Arc again at night, then Notre Dame.
the Paris Opera House...
and the Tower once again. It doesn't show but it was lit and after a while the pattern changes and it began to flicker. The crowd nearby went crazy cheering. It was a great way to end my time in France.
It is our last day in Durfort and being together as a "class." I want to capture bits of the house that have become so familiar over the past week. The colors that fit the area so well, the broken-in comfortable feel of the furnishings, the laughter that permeates every day sometimes over the craziest things. We were assigned our own napkin anr holder to keep track of (the napkins were changed periodically).
The staircase looking down from the 3rd floor studio. The steps were well-worn, uneven and creaky and we all joked about no way you could sneak out at night if you were a teen in that house.
Then to the studio to put some finishing touches on our journals. We'd add our own details inside later. We had made molds of our flea market finds using Townsend Atelier molding products then used Ultralight Sculpey to make clay copies of our find. Some painted their items with metal paints containing copper or bronze and patinaed them. Looked very vintage and cool. I haven't decided what will go on the outside of mine yet. We all used the same paints on the covers of our books. Now bound, they were really looking good.
Kari showing us how to make journaling spots using stencils. Her pages were beautiful.
We really hadn't had rain much while here and the clouds on our last day seemed shed a few tears to see us go. Or at least I like to think that.
We've come full-circle in our trip and returned to Revel for a last visit and lunch. The fisherman fountain stands guard over part of the town.
We drooled at the bakery window (we weren't the only ones though - see photo) and purchased a few small macarons.
I got tickled at the pastry pigs lined up in the window. I wonder what was on the inside. I was too full from lunch to even inquire.
The square, so busy on Market Day, is now quiet.
Connie toasts our last night as we did on every evening to good friends, learning and good times. Indeed.
Tuesday morning had us working on our journals and getting them to a point where they'd be ready to bind. A real treat presented itself in the form of Carole Watanabe. Her art hangs on the walls of La Cascade and she is a friend of Gwen, the former owner. Carole had stopped by a few times to see us and we all took a liking to her. She was kind enough to invite us to see her place in Soreze and we had planned on taking her to lunch.
Carole had a student (and friend) named Heike who was there taking lessons from her. Heike is a dear. The two of them prepared a spaghetti lunch for us and it was delicious. We were awash with their hospitality.
Carole took us on a tour of her house and each room is covered with Carole's art hanging on the walls, painted directly on the walls and there are mosaics of broken pottery that she's put in spot all throughout. Each bedroom has a different feel to it. One may be the Matisse room or the Monet room.
The wall below is in one of the bathrooms.
Yes, it was Art Heaven and had the most warm spirit about the home.
Carole's studio in Soreze.
I loved the painting on the easel and found out it was done by Heike. I told Carole I thought it was her own work and was going to ask if it was for sale. As it turns out, I bought Heike's first art sale. I love it. I had to remove it from the frame to get it home but will have it re-stretched and possibly framed. We all bought some of Carole's pieces and loved them all.
We took a walking tour of Soreze.
Every where you turned, there was a spot for a picture and worthy of being a painting.
It was the highlight of our time in southern France for me. I loved the other places but art is why we were here and it was great to meet a fellow artist.
On Monday we made our way to Carcassonne but made quick stop in Montolieu, called 'the book village.' We stopped at the time that most shops close (usually between 12 and 2-ish) but found a place still open where we got a snack and looked in one book store then were on to Carcassonne, the ancient double-walled fortress.
I remember my first thought when seeing Carcassonne was that it looked like something from a fairy tale. My next thought was that was a heck of a hill.
But we did it.
As you see from the little train coming down the hill, there were others ways to get in there (and a drawbridge that heard about later that you could walk across) and there are lots of touristy shops inside and places to eat. We didn't even make it through half of the fortress. It's huge!
After a good bit of walking, we stopped for something cool. Framboise sorbet for me and a cappucino. Some of the others got chocolate ice cream and said it was fantastic.
We went in one of the chapels in the fortress.
It was lovely.
I am not Catholic but couldn't quit thinking of my sister-in-law, Lucie Pelletier (yes, French Canadian descent) while in this chapel (there are more in the fortress), so I lit a candle (red one, second from the right) for Lucie and said a prayer. I am grateful for the time we had her and the imprint she made on so many lives.
This is my room in Durfort. La Cascade is about 400 years old but the owners rennovated it. They managed to keep its charm with the decor, paint colors and furnishings.
On Sunday, we set out to find some of the vide greniers or 'clean out the attic' sales that the towns have. The scenery along the way was great.
We stopped at Lautrec and found some goodies!
I wanted to bring home all these watering cans and lots of copper pots. So instead, I got some metal bits to use on journals, a tiny copper pot and the coolest Art Deco ink well set.
There was an artist there who had some really nice paintings. So I purchased a small sunflower field painting that will travel nicely in my suitcase.
I was fascinated at the plants that seemed to spring out of the rock walls everywhere. Even poppies.
This particular scene made such an impression on me that it was the first thing that I worked on when I got home.
This was my acrylic rendition of the scene with a bit of artistic license taken...I added poppies that I don't remember seeing at this place but were seen commonly in places like it. :)