Monday, July 25, 2016

From the Art Journal

If I had any goals at all for a fun summer, one was to spend more time painting and sketching. Not that I might not pick up a glue stick now and then, but this would be my focus.

There is the not-so-bad and the not-so-good and I'm sharing a mix of both here. The deer above on watercolor paper falls into the not-so-bad category.The one below (in the art journal) is a vertical of the one above. The primary differences are in the leaves. I still have trouble with foliage. I'm reasonably happy with both of them. Not that there isn't room for improvement...

Below is Herbie. Herbie is my cousin's dog and he's the sweetest thing on four legs. When the photo I did this from was taken, Herbie had a rather large goiter but over the winter he had a face lift and is now sleek on the chin. I would like to be sleek on the chin, too. But I'm not.

Anyway, Herbie deserved a painting without his goiter but I didn't have new shots that were going to work so I gave him a facelift on the page. With mixed results. I'm missing his sweet soul in the facial features. He looks grumpy here and he's not at all. So, another try or two or three is due!

Above and below are two versions of the same sunset. This was the most magnificent sunset I have ever seen at the lake and I enlarged the photo to 16x20 for the cottage and have it on some of my Marmelade Gypsy note cards.

As you can see, the color is quite different  One is very vibrant (and I think the colors may be closer to the photo). The other a bit gentler. I can't decide which I like best. I think the painting in the more vibrant one might be better but the color in the second is a bit more to my liking. I'll try again.

I've done a few sketches. I showed this one of Lizzie earlier (graphite).

And the boat on the beach. Not quite proportional!

I don't hesitate to share the not-so-good work here, too, partly to keep me honest. I was wildly thrilled with this portrait of Gypsy (see the sidebar here on the right for the original photo). Thrilled, that is, until I got to the left eye. I've fixed it over. And over. And over. And it's still not right. (The right is nothing to write home about either.) I'm not sure how much more I can repair it so I'll try again.


My friend Gina came by and of course, when Gina comes, art is on the menu. We painted our silk scarves, Sharpie-style! Loving this technique!

I leave you with a jaunt to Paris. Because really, what's not to love about the Eiffel Tower?

Still in the Land of Limited Internet and sorry I haven't been able to visit as much or comment as often as I would like. I'm checking in when I can and look forward to getting back on schedule soon!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Postcards from the Lake 2 -- Bits and Pieces

Enjoying time at Rick's family reunion so here are just a few pix from the week. The captions say it all.

Building art                      
Favorite Petoskey store -- Joie de Vie

Horton Bay bookstore

Visit with Mark and Katie!

Farmers market favorite! Sweet black cherries!

Crafternoon with Katie making scarves!

On my walk

Another sunset. I know they look all the same but I can tell the difference!

A little rain means time to talk by the fire!

Hi Mary! Good to see you!

Nothing like a good fire!
Back soon with more postcards from the lake!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Paris in July 2016 -- Montmartre Redux

I recently completed a pretty badly written book titled "Suzanne of Love and Art," a sort-of biography of artist Suzanne Valadon and by extension, her son, Maurice Utrillo. The history seemed well researched and interesting but let's just say that the author wrote the most tedious dialogue I've ever read and I found myself scanning every dialogue passage by about the first third of the book, concentrating instead on the sections regarding the artists, their art, lives and techniques.

But one thing I found fascinating was the depiction of life in the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre during this period of great creativity, creativity that revealed great masters of Impressionism including Degas, Monet, Renoir, Lautrec, Utrillo and many others, along with some of the composers of the period.

I was so glad that during my two trips to Paris I visited this area, first in 2009 with my friend Jerry and then again with Rick and my blog friend Peter (best guide ever -- just saying!) in 2012.

I thought as part of the annual blogging event, Paris In July, I would revisit bits of both of those trips in photos to share with you.

The two visits and my guides were very different and it was wonderful to experience both. On my first visit, we went up the Butte via the funicular and the first things we noted were the magnificent views of Paris below.

From there, on a gorgeous sunny day, we first ventured into the legendary Sacre Coeur, built between 1875 and 1914. It is considered a monument of political and cultural significans -- a nantional penance for the Frace's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and the crowning of the most rebellious neighborhood of the socialist Paris Commune (1871(, It is considered an embodiment of conservative moral order and is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

We journeyed on, stopping in Place de Tertre to observe artists at work -- along with every other tourist in Paris!

I have to confess, it may be touristy as all get out and the art may or may not be spectacular, but I loved this part of our walk!


We wandered on past the famous Lapin Agile (and I have still never been inside!) where the great artists drank (a lot) and paid off their bills in paintings. This was a location often mentioned in Suzanne, and it was nice when reading to have the vision in my mind.

Jerry and I wandered the streets, eventually ending back on the steps of Sacre Coeur, where we enjoyed a dusky picnic. A bottle of wine, bread, almonds, dried fruit, cheese. A perfect people watching site.

Then back to catch the Metro as darkness fell and the Moulin Rouge came alive with light.

My day with Peter and Rick, three years later, was less sunny. In fact, it was pretty gloomy and by the time we departed, umbrellas were out!

We met Peter at the Abbesses metro and our first sight was the famous "I Love You" wall, with the phrase written in hundreds of languages.

Peter was wonderful about explaining the architecture, the street sculpture and he knew where everyone lived!

As I did before, we wandered the streets, approaching things from different directions, seeing things in a different light.


We stepped into churches, including the smaller but lovely St. Pierre de Montmartre.

I marveled at the bounty of wisteria.

Peter and Rick shared stories of music and admired -- yes, bicycles.

We passed by one of the residences where Suzanne Valdon had lived -- Suzanne and a host of other well known names, including one of her many lovers, Eric Satie.

The site now houses the Montmartre museum. We didn't go in -- not enough time -- but I suspect I would find it fascinating.

We passed by familiar buildings seen in paintings since the Impressionists times (including, of course, Utrillo) and who knows, probably before.

We passed by Clos Montmartre, the remaining vineyard of Montmartre. The area hosts an annual wine festival.

Our day included a delightful lunch and champagne was a special treat!

We passed by the Moulin Rouge on the way to one of my favorite spots, the Montmartre Cemetery. The cemetery itself was filled with famous names, including one of Rick's favorite composers, Couperin, Degas, Hector Berlioz, Jacques Offenbach, Nijinsky, and many others. The sculpture on the monuments was often tremendously poignant.

And of course, we saw the famous cemetery cats. Take a good look at this one, hiding out from the rain.

Four months later, The Marmelade Gypsy (who looked like the Montmartre cat in the photo below and was never far from my heart) would be up in the heavyside layer and Lizzie Cosette, a dead ringer for the one above, would have her new home.

I confess, my feelings about Montmartre as a Parisian spot to visit changed because of visiting twice. The first time it was fun. It was enjoyable to watch the artists at work of course.


And I loved our picnic and getting a feel for this part of Paris. But by and large, it felt like a touristy part of the city, almost not real.

But by the second visit, I had read much more. And Peter, who volunteers as a guide in Paris, was so knowledgeable about every nook and corner, that I felt I learned more and would love to continue that learning.

Certainly reading the book, despite the lousiest dialogue I have ever read in a historical novel, gave me an insight into life in this part of Paris during the Belle Epoch. So it felt more meaningful.

Walking through Montmartre is indeed walking back in time a bit. Let your mind wander, do your homework -- and call Peter's Paris Greeters, the guide service he volunteers for, and ask for him! It will be a walk to remember.

(And don't forget to stop and enjoy the view!)

Paris fans! Don't forget to stop by Thyme for Tea and check out the other  French-themed posts that include travel, film and literature! Feel free to share your Paris links, too!

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