Monday, July 24, 2017

A Favorite French Musee

Today I am going to take you to my favorite museum in Paris -- The Musee de Cluny (also known as Musee national du Moyen Age) and often called Cluny. Here's a little traveling music. You'll find it in Paris' 5th arrondissement not far from the Sorbonne.

The museum's home is an exceptional Parisian monument -- the Cluny Abbey Hotel, which was built in the late 15th century, partially on remains of third century Gallo-Roman baths.

Its styles combine Gothic and Renaissance architecture and you'll find gargoyles dormers and craggy walls.

To tourists, Cluny may be best known for housing the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries (15th century).

The tapestries have their own room, a windowless chamber (and getting pix here is tough without flash!)

Considered one of the greatest works of art from Middle Ages Europe, there are six scenes that tell the story of chivalry, virtue and romance. Look carefully to discover which of the senses the tapestry depicts -- sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and one often interpreted as Love. The detail on the stitching is exquisite.

But there are other remarkable treasures here as well, including medieval sculptures...

illuminated manuscripts and stunning stained glass.

The stained glass is really remarkable, the colors as vibrant and beautiful as they no doubt were the day they were made.

The collection of medieval and Renaissance art and objects came largely from Alexandre du Sommerard and was acquired by the state upon his death. The museum opened in 1843.

There is a great sense of peace in this museum. It's more than the religious and historical artifacts that lend to the feeling of sacred space.

It is simply a feeling that surrounds you, wandering in the quiet, cool areas.

This isn't on everyone's "see it on my first trip to Paris" list -- but I would encourage one who loves history to rethink that! It's well worth it.

Happy to join in this week with Paris In July and Dreaming of France as links become available.

At both sites you'll find links related to French travel, museums, films, books, music and more.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Postcards from the Lake: Road Trip, Alpenfest, Friends and Family

A little rain, a little sun. Sun is wonderful for outdoors, rain and gloom means road trips, reading, writing. I'll start with the road trips.

Last week I made a couple of trips north to the Petoskey/Harbor Springs area. The first was for an art fair where I did a bit of damage. The second was to enjoy lunch with my friend Susan who moved north about a year ago.

And a mighty fine lunch it was!

Of course, when I'm in the area, I have to go by the gingerbread houses and interesting homes in the Bay View area.

This area is so pretty, older homes. It reminds me a great deal of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, but the homes are spaced farther apart and over a different (hillier) terrain. But both were founded originally as camp areas for religious organizations (in Bay View's case, the Methodists.)

I need to go back and do another post on this area, walking more within but these pics were from as I was driving by in traffic that was stop and go.

Summer in the north is filled with loads of color, like kayaks...

...and carnivals!

It's Alpenfest time in Gaylord. I can't say it's my favorite event of the year but I can say it is colorful!

The midway always attracts loads of people, and they were out on this particular evening. The day had been rainy and dreary but it was dry enough to enjoy all the carnival fun.

Alpenfest is Gaylord's summer festival. Everyone dresses in Alpine clothes, there are outdoor summer concerts, a very long parade and a usually very bad air/craft fair (or crapht fair, in this case). You might find a good vendor but they are few and far between. At least for me. But the kids love the midway!

I even got Rick to Alpenfest! And Rick avoids stuff like this like the plague!

I confess, we weren't into the knobby knee contest or the prettiest ankle contest. But it was fun to hang out on the only sunny day of the festival and enjoy watching the rides.

This carnival organ was also pretty cool and played a non-stop repertoire of carnival music to add to the ambience.

We even caught some of the parade. I don't envy this woman who had to carry around the Alphorn and then play on it. (Family lore: I believe my uncle was part of the group from Gaylord who brought back the Alphorn for the first Alpenfest 50-something years ago!)

Despite all the cars, bands and floats (and a plethora of queen candidates), the parade is the longest parade in the world. (I really think Macy's might be shorter.) And on a day with sun like that, especially after a gloomy, rainy week, we headed back to the cottage.

One other thing on Alpenfest, which has the worst art and crapht fair in the world (I know I said that before but it bears repeating), is that someone makes a bundle selling these little Alpenbloom crowns that loads of people wear for $25.

I bring this up because the best part of the week was that for most of it Mark and Katie were here. Mark is my cousin's oldest son and I love it when he and Katie come to the lake! And Katie made her own crown from some faux flowers at the cottage for free.

No fleas on Katie! Life is good this summer!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Le Baguette

Oh, those baguettes. When I think of my time in Paris, I think of walking to the boulangerie a few blocks from my friend's apartment each morning, standing in line by cases of pastry, to get a fresh baguette to take along for the day's activities.

Our boulangerie was called "Victor's" on Rue Rambuteau. The cases were packed with wonderful delights but the fresh bread and the tartines were simply the best.

Victor's wasn't the only boulangerie in Paris, of course. There are many more famous and others more charming. We stopped here to pick up something for a later picnic at Place des Vosges.

Nothing like a picnic with soft, delicious cheese and that baguette with the perfect crust! (I enjoyed another picnic on the Seine, no less, with a great baguette playing a major role!)

And the obligatory bottle of a perfect Medoc to go with it!

My resident bread baker, Rick, took a baguette class a few years ago at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor and came back making wonderful baguettes. But he was able to cut his time down significantly -- and still make a baguette that was far better than any you get in any shop here using the recipe that Paul Hollywood shared on the Great British Baking Show masterclasses.

It's remarkably easy and really tastes fabulous. (American bakers, please note that Paul uses grams and weight of ingredients so a reliable scale might be in order or check conversion tables!)

Sharing this with Paris In July and Dreaming of France when links become available. You'll find loads of links to French-themed topics including books, movies, travel and more!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Water Coloring

I've been concentrating on watercolor again this summer and I figured I'd best do an update. The good, the bad and the ugly. (Yes, I did show some of these before but I wanted to make a so-far, so-good collection here, so just blow by the ones that are familiar!)

Most of these are on regular watercolor paper (Arches) (as opposed to the two Strathmore 140# card stock) using (mostly) Windsor-Newton/Cotman watercolors, along with Prima Tropicals and a bit of Grumbacher.

I've found that when I put a mat around a painting it gives it better definition and looks more finished. Here is before...

...and after.

This is Jack, my friend Judy's dog. I know the mouth looks wonky but that's exactly how his mouth was in the photo.

See? Well, close. I think I see how I can touch that up a little and lighten up the upper "lip."

The buoys are from a photo from Martha's  Vineyard. I think it is a little busy. But I love the color.

And this is a Martha's Vineyard cottage from Oak Bluffs. Now, this is the beginning of it. And it's also the spot where it could have gone all wrong with the upper story and the gingerbread on the roof.

But I think I got it, all those tiny shingles -- at least more or less. I still have trouble converting the shadows in photos to the paint.

I thought I'd get started on some Christmas card designs. Here's one, a holiday wreath. (The snowman? Not so good!)

And here is Lizzie. The first photo, below, is before she was completed.

See what adding the catch-light in the eyes and whiskers can do? And a bit more depth of color.

A birthday card...

...and the toughest one.

I think I nailed him pretty well, although in real life, the skin tones are a little light, but I'm a bit dicey on trying to lay on another layer of color.  And his chin is a little bit too long. But getting there!

I leave you with a note of thanks...

...for checking out the progress!

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