Friday, June 27, 2014

Have you taken an online class?  How about an online art class?  Think that is impossible?

I’ve been taking a wonderful watercolor class from Sondra Holtzman who has brought me back to basics by first painting color wheels.

 I thought I knew all I needed to know about color wheels, but magically, I found a better way to paint after filling several pages with various versions.

The simple drills that all art students used to labor over (before computers) have opened up new ways of working with this challenging medium. Instead of mixing color on a palette, Sondra has taught me to add color to color on the paper  with delightful, and unexpected results.

Sondra uses watercolor paintings by Winslow Homer as an instruction tool. Just like artists of old, we students copy his paintings, learn how he handled a sometimes-difficult medium, understand his color choices and how he adds shadows and highlights.  

Homer's original
My attempt at Homer

     The amazing part of this exercise is that I am at home, Sondra is at her home, and I send her my finished exercises by email to her. She can then blow them up to full-screen size and see what I have really produced. Besides, she is a lot of fun to work with – we have even skyped during this class – old hat to many of you, but new to me.

Have you tried something out of the ordinary lately?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Yesterday I was sitting sipping a latte in the plaza at Union Square in San Francisco.  It was a beautiful, blue-sky day, people bustled about from one end of the square to the other.  A young couple sat down at a table near me.  I couldn’t see the young woman well, but the young man was fresh-faced, with a yellow rose pinned to his suit. That he was wearing a suit was unusual.

I was waiting for Bill to arrive from his appointment and spent the time doodling on a small card, one of many Zentangle doodles that I make when I need to pass time. They need concentration so I only intermittently looked up and glanced around me, looking for Bill’s figure to appear.

The couple was drinking coffee and chatting quietly with each other.  I couldn’t overhear what they said, but he was smiling. He reminded me of Bill when we were young.

When they we done with their coffees, they gathered themselves up. The young woman turned and I saw the lace scarf around her shoulders and the small bouquet of yellow roses in her hand. They came over to my table and she handed me a rose. She said, “We wanted to share this rose with you.  We just got married today.”

What a lovely, tender moment!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Do you like to wander through old shops and antique fairs?

With summer here, I caught myself in a reverie about some of the unusual places we found when we lived in Paris:  a clock restorer in Passy (the 16th arroundissement), with antique clocks lining the walls – fantastic pieces that had been in families’ homes (should I say chateaux?) for hundreds of years.  

We were looking for someone to repair three, non-working clocks that we purchased at Clignancourt, the huge flea market in Paris. We wandered into the clock restorer's shop in Passy. We were awestruck by the clocks on display – far grander and more finely made than any we had seen in French museums. After viewing the antiques in this shop, we knew that our poor pieces would not be worth the owner's time. But the shop owner was proud of his collection and he willingly showed us the pieces that he was restoring!

Another favorite adventure:  Counting the green Wallace fountains that provide free drinking water all over Paris.  These fountains are different from the natural mineral springs that you will find in some neighborhoods. The Wallace fountains were a gift from Lord Wallace and they are a great respite after a thirsty walk.

In March or October, we learned to frequent the antique and art fairs. What a treat just to walk up and down the aisles of these brocantes. 

La Foire Nationale a la Brocante et aux Jambon  was our welcome back to Paris after a quick home stay in the summer.  Located on the island of Chatou, just outside Paris, la foire de chatou is a fantastic antiques market and tribute to ham, yes, ham.  Wonderful antique pieces to look at while munching away on a baguette with ham stuffed inside.  Watch this video for just a taste: 

In May or November, don’t miss either of these:  La Grande Marche d’Art Contemporain or Antiquities Brocante a la Bastille. The Bastille art fair was my favorite place to find new, small works of art – watercolors and prints that now hang in our home. The antiques fair offered anything you could fancy from small watercolor sketches produced for gift card producers to leather couches from the Art Deco era.  Here’s a video at SortirParis to give you a hint of the fair:  

Walking through these fairs makes me think about the history of each item. I once picked up a pair of thin metal eyeglasses on sale at a Tokyo shrine sale (their version of flea markets). I was tempted for a moment, but I felt those glasses had too much of their owner still attached to them and put them down. Then I think of all the stuff I’ve collected over the years – all of it headed for a flea market someday? I know I become too attached to my own possessions because of the memories associated with them. One of these days, those pieces will be sitting on a table at a flea market waiting for someone else to pick them up and wonder about the person who once owned them.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I'll be back with my blog next Friday.  We took a quick trip to Pacific Grove.  No time to post.
See you next Friday!