Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July Geraniums - Sketchbook scenes and watercolor post card give away!

A big thank-you to Shannon Daley Harris, a loyal blog follower for quite a while now...was one of my post-card give-away winners last Friday! So happy to share one of the views from France with her! The above sketch-book scene is from my own garden here back at home! This has been a fun habit to renew, (just sketching for my own fun)!  As I re-acclimate myself to the medium of watercolor, I find it easier and more fun to use. It's been about 13 years since I used it regularly! At first I felt quite tentative, that I might "mess-up" a good page (oh..so what? it's only paper!).  Give yourself permission to have fun...to mess up if necessary.!  It's been fun seeing the freshness of these sketches evolve over a short while! 
Honestly, not a day goes by that I'm not thinking about some aspect of that trip to France this summer. Learning new painting techniques aside, the location was wonderful. The wonderful color of blue shutters, the ancient stone architecture, flowers climbing walls, and potted flowers on tables. I love my own garden at home, and have some of these features (well, not ancient stone buildings).  

But part of the great fun of vacations/travel, no matter where you go, is what you bring home. Whether it's in your heart or in your home....each day we spend becomes a part of what makes us..."uniquely us"!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Morning At The Vineyard and another Postcard give-away

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on panel
For more information about this painting, or to purchase, click here.

Just the other morning I had the good fortune to go paint with two friends.  The vineyard is close to where one of them lives. It's such a treat for plein air artists to get to paint in the 'favorite places' of our friends. It's a bit like "expanding our world view" or "divide and conquer".  After all, there are so many wonderful places, as a painter, I'll never run out of places to see, paint, and just enjoy that view!

It's been a busy time back in the studio. I've been finishing up a commission, and I'm still enjoying these watercolor post-cards from France & sketchbook images as well! I have two more to send out today....just to celebrate another FRIDAY!! Hope you name is in the hat (signed up for this blog) I'll announce the winners as soon as I have permission to post their names!
Have another view of Le Vieux Couvant:

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunflowers At Buttonwood Farm

8"x 10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
For more information or to purchase, click here. 

Painting with friends is such a great way to spend the day. 

Especially when the storm clouds pass by, and the sun comes out...

and you are surrounded by tall fields of SUNFLOWERS! 

What a golden day!

This wonderful place is Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT.  They run a program called, "Sunflowers for Wishes"...and this is the week when the flowers are at their peak. They are sold in bouquets to lucky folks like you - and ALL the proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for children.  There are hay rides and "Cow-Train-Rides" (which is a pretty cute ride) - so take the kids & the grammas & buy some flowers for your honey! It's a nice trip out to the 'country'!  

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Days Filled With Bouquets! and France of course!

Summer days, 
filled with bouquets - 
garden fresh, roses and sweet peas....
The fragrance of a New England Summer.

I'm really enjoying getting back into the sketchbook routine! It was one of my goals that I had hoped to reach while in France...to re-enter that comfort zone of 'playing' in my sketchbook more often. The key was to think of it as 'play' rather than work...and not be so up-tight treating it like a finished drawing...but "just a sketch". That really helped keep that fresh feeling.  After all- they are NOT botanical drawings or architectural renderings!! Yet they are whimsy for my memory and entertainment! 

 I've been asked to put together some classes soon in watercolor sketching here in the Mystic area! If you might be interested in joining us, let me know!  Details to come! 

A big thank-you to Susan Murphy of MA for being a loyal blog subscriber! She is receiving one of my watercolor postcards from France, Lherm Lavender Farm! 
 Two more names will be drawn from the 'purple beret' this Friday and next Friday, too! Hope you'll spread the news to your friends & share the love!

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Thursday - Sunny Apertifs a la Sketchbook...and Post-Card winners!!

I've had such a good time with my little watercolor travel sketchbook!! And I do appreciate it's small size for travel (yes, even just in my own neighborhood)! Each evening in France before dinner, we'd get together for 'apertifs' and discuss what we'd done during the day (and what delights might be in store for dinner!!). 

But I must admit I've been a sketchbook junkie....and have some older ones stashed away, and made a few recent purchases as well.  I recently bought a Nujabi handmade watercolor journal, which is so beautiful! I'm putting all my garden sketches from home into it. 
It must be quite the popular journal, and I'm quite glad I bought it when I did as now all the on-line sellers are back ordered until October! yowsa! So I'm savoring the texture and deckled edges of this paper!! 

******and now, drum-roll please...just for a bit of fun- I've done a random drawing of my blog-subscribers and come up with two winners for today's post cards. I've sent them each an email, and as soon as I hear confirmation from them, (and permission to publish their names) I'd like to publicly thank them here for being loyal subscribers! 

I always appreciate all the comments and remarks you all send along. It's always great encouragement and fun to hear from you! Thanks so very much for being my 'travel companion' on this artistic journey- I'll be sending out more watercolor post cards for the next two Fridays! I do hope you'll share the fun with a friend....either one of you might be the next winners!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sketchbook Journaling In France!

 I have renewed my acquaintance with watercolors (after about 13 years of leaving them for oils), and oh they are as fun as ever.  I'm really enjoying the whimsy of sketchbook journaling...just for me (though I'll share some pages with you here for fun)! I took a small 5x8" Moleskine watercolor book with me on the trip over to France...purposefully to get myself into the habit of taking it with me everywhere! It's small enough to fit into my purse! While there I had some watercolor postcards (how handy- they fit into my purse even easier!).
 Those who know me well, know that I love lavender. I got hooked on this on a visit to a California lavender farm several years ago. Started growing my own....and well, it became quite the addiction. Now I have several varieties in my own garden, and I seek out other growers to learn if there are any great varieties out there that I might be missing out on! At Lherm Lavender Farm in France I got to see some of my favorite varieties in a spectacular field of purples! At the edge of one field was a huge shade tree, with an old climbing rose growing up into it! Oh how wonderful to sit under those shady boughs.
This Friday, and two more after that I'll be giving away two  watercolor postcards each week. I really wish I could have tucked you into my suitcase, I've been wanting to tell everyone how beautiful this place is. 

Now take a deep breath, close your eyes...let the fragrance waft along the breeze....feel the stress of the day dropping off your shoulders. One lavender, two lavender, three....


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Seduced By Geraniums....famous last words

8"x6" oil on linen/panel
For more information or to purchase, please click here.

"You should come visit in January, so you won't be seduced by geraniums..." from a story told to us by our hostess Corinne at Le Vieux Couvant. 
It seemed that after dinner we would linger, enjoying each other's company. Corinne would come in from the kitchen and we would applaud another incredibly fine meal. Someone might ask a question (how did you come to Le Vieux? how did this all come about?)  Well, the interesting stories began....and we were enchanted by the telling. I must admit, I felt as though I was in a movie set...with so many interesting characters!
 Anyway, the 'geraniums' line has become a favorite of mine, which slips out of my mouth & rolls off my tongue every time I even spot a geranium out of the corner of my eye. But it's true. I wait all winter for mine to bloom - and delight in the fact that they are glorious by the time summer finally rolls in. So these are on my back porch, I couldn't resist. How could I? Now, after not painting a speck in oils for over a week, it all feels foreign to me now! So it's back to the easel, get warmed up, finish a commission that I've started before the trip.  
By Friday I'll have a couple more watercolor post-cards to share with you (since I couldn't fit you into my suitcase!).  Any of my blog subscribers are eligible to win! I'll draw 2 names each Friday, for the next three Fridays! See the box at the top that reads, "GET MY LATEST PAINTINGS EMAILED TO YOU DAILY", below is a place to type your email, and click "Subscribe Me".  Your name will be in le chapeau! 
Bonne Chance! 

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Andre's Garden...and living in the moment/thoughts on workshops!

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information or to purchase, click here.

Ah, living in the moment. How often do we truly do this?  I am back home in New England, though I'm sure I've left part of me behind in France....and I've definitely brought back part of France with me, too (in addition to a couple extra pounds).  

I got to practice the little bit of French that I remember (which is probably more like 'Franglish') and was treated so kindly. I've met a new gardening friend in the village of Frayssinet, Andre, a neighbor of our hosts - and I got to paint in his garden! So many varieties of roses, salvia, plum trees, oh the list goes on and on. He very proudly showed off a very interesting German rose, which was violet in color, and fragrant; rare for a hybrid.  

I'm determined to return to this beautiful part of France next year, and get some intense practice in the language before I go! Time to start looking into that right now!

So I've been home over a week or two now. Had a house full of company, spent time doing touristy fun things here in Mystic, CT and now that the house is empty again, am back to my paints.  Every day since I left France, the whole experience has been on my mind.

During our last dinner together in Frayssinet, I asked one of my new painter friends, "So, how will you do things differently once you get back home?" She thought I meant just painting technique-wise....but this trip was much more all-encompassing than that. Every day our senses were filled with beauty. Simple loving gestures like fresh flowers on the table at meals, a house full of art and color, literature and art books to peruse, gardens to wander, meals that delighted the eyes as well as the taste buds, and wonderful companions to share it all with! I've seriously spent a lot of time in the last two weeks thinking about how lovely it was to share all that! 

*****One of the habits I've wanted to return to was watercolor sketching, yet another reason for my interest in this workshop.  So -  yes, I will be sharing some watercolor postcards from our trip! Share this with a friend as well to help me grow my following!  If you sign up for my blog(or if you've already signed up & receiving my blog posts to your email), I'll be choosing two recipients from my blog followers each Friday for the next 3 Fridays to receive one of my watercolor postcards from France! 

So - for fellow artists that have asked about my workshop experience on this trip. I can honestly say that this was the BEST WORKSHOP I've had in the last 15 to 20 years that I've been taking workshops. Dreama Tolle Perry is so well prepared - which means YOU as the attendee will be prepared, and have what you need to learn. She's also POSITIVE, which is exactly what I needed at this point on my art journey.  Her students were 16 already pretty accomplished artists - all having their own styles. And not that any of us intend to become a "Dreama knockoff'- but her technique of transparent underpainting really provides such a glow. I've tinkered with various underpaintings (and no underpaintings) over the last several years.  So I'm excited to see how I end up integrating this into my work.  I can see why her workshops fill up a year in advance - and many of her workshop attendees are returns.

So there might not be history and religion on each of her workshops, (this on a side trip into the village church with our host)...

But you can count on having meals that are a visual and culinary feast! 

Great demos of techniques from this Parisian (Kentucky) with a great sense of humor, gentle wisdom and much encouragement.  Each day after I watched a demo, I'd tackle a new quest/focus on 'just one thing' to get around the learning curve. So each day felt like a success in taking on small learnable tasks - just one at a time. Each day I'd add one more task, so my the end of the workshop I had integrated several new techniques that I've been wanting to bring into my current work.  Now this is really getting FUN! 

Bringing some sketching back into my work habits with Loki the kitten looking on....

Loki wondering why art 'assistants' don't paint?!

Some of the "Purple Beret Society" goofing off, waiting for our official mug shot!

And a very grateful me....appreciating all that Dreama shares with her workshop classes! 

So if you are considering a workshop in your artistic future, my best advice is to "notice what you notice", paintings that really make you 'draw in a breath' and stop and be wowed over it.  That's when I really feel the need to seek out what that painter is doing and see if there's some method of that that I want to integrate into my work. (This is your clue- sign up for their workshops and find out how they do what they do!).  And then paint, paint, paint to see what gels in your working methods! Taking a class is never "one-stop-shopping" - at least not for me. It's more of an evolution. Like relationships grow, so does our relationship with our work. And that's what makes it exciting to go to work everyday! Aren't we lucky to be artists?!  

I do hope you'll continue to follow along on my blog as I share more of these new techniques and how I end up integrating them into my current work. Every thing we learn is a process. And that process is one grand journey. Bon voyage!

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