Saturday, June 30, 2012

Painting memories from France

We recently took a river cruise up the Seine (down the Seine?)  to Normandy.  I had no time to paint, but I took lots of photos.  So here are some of my attempts to recreate what I saw. They kind of jump around.  The photo above is one that was left over in my mind from an earlier trip to Paris.  This  row of book sellers is one of my favorite sites in Paris.

This is a scene from Rouen.  It was a place that I had never visited before.  I  have not attempted the most famous object from Rouen, the Cathedral. Rouen is the place where Monet painted many pictures of this famous cathedral.  I was a little disappointed in the Cathedral actually.  Monet's versions of it are so beautiful. The Cathedral is a virtual encyclopedia of architectural styles. I immediately came home and looked up the paintings to see what he did with them that was so wonderful out of that mixture of carvings, towers and styles. Monet painted the play of light and shadows and he cropped into the cathedral to avoid an impossible collection of dingbats, geegaws and furbelows.  I may eventually give it a try, byt above and below are some of the timbered buidings and the most beautiful clock tower.

It was the weekend of the annual celebration of the burning of Joan of Arc.  Crowded is an understatement.  I hope that I captures some of the hubbub in the painting above.  Below is the entrance to a church that captured my attention.  Like so many towns in France Grey is the dominating color.  I love shades of grey.  (I'm not referring to "50 Shades")  The interesting thing about painting a location that is monochromatic is that as you stare at it and paint it, other colors come into play.  The grey of the roof is not really grey, but green, the walls are actually yellow with streaks of rust.  The bounced light turns the doors bright red and the mosses and lichens glow green and ochre.  In my photo it was for all intents and purposes a black and white photo - but I can still remember the colors I saw as I walked by, thinking,  "I wish I had time to paint that, that's beautiful."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Giverny, Texas Style

This past week with the temperatures around 100 degrees I met a group of intrepid painters in Weatherford, Texas at the Chandlor Gardens.  The Gardens are located near downtown in Weatherford which if about 25 miles west of Fort Worth.  The gardens were created by an transplanted Englishman who met an attractive red haired Texan and agreed to move to Texas only if he could have his gardens.  Over his remaining lifetime he turned a cow pasture into a series of walkways, stairs, pools, fountains, waterfalls and nooks that are nestled in among trees and waterways.  His gardens were created at about the same time as Monet's gardens with similar influences of Chinese and oriental motifs.  Mr Chandlor was also an artist, a noted portrait painter.  

He put together various materials to  form the elements for this highly personal garden.  There are latin phrases formed with bricks and stone, fountains made with touches of glass marbles, and various sculptures combined with tiles and stone.  He must have loved turquoise and there are many touches of turquoise and the bottoms of many of the pools are an unusual color or turquoise.  Those of you that have followed my blogs know that I love to paint at the Dallas Arboretum and the Fort Worth Botanical Garden.  But these gardens are different.  There are no vast lawn or planting of 5000 tulips to make you gasp.  There are just wonderful surprises around every corner that make you want to pick up a book and curl up and read.  These garden are intimate and reflect the loving care that makes gardening what is it.  Doug Clark summed it up when he said upon arriving that he did not know whether he wanted to paint of go go home and garden!

I found TK Riddle standing in the middle of a walkway with sprinklers going like mad.  She had taken off her shoes and was enjoying the cool well water used to water the plants happily painting in bare feet.  After Mr Chandlor died in 1953 his nephews moved into the house.  They were not inoculated with the gardening bug like their uncle and the gardens fell into disrepair.  Eventually they were purchased and passed onto the City of Weatherford.  The home on the property is beautifully kept with examples of his portraits of local dignitaries and even the Queen.  (The original hangs in the British Embassy in Washington DC.).  His studio is to an artist's dream with a huge north light window overlooking a small bronze statue and fountain, below.

We were all so impressed that we promptly joined the friends of the Gardens and are planning a return trip.  Thanks to the generosity of the City of Weatherford.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Texas Summer Painting Celebration!

Painting in Waxahachie Texas is one of my rites of Summer.  The last week in May until the first week of June a paintout is held for plein air painters in conjunction with the Gingerbread House Tour in this little town.  Tina Bolhman is the driving force in this event and one of its best participants.

Sunflower faces up close and personal.  
About 40 painters, mostly from Texas
come and paint the turn of the century
buildings and elaborate "Gingerbread" houses.
You can see past year's efforts on my part on my website blog in the blog section.

This year's area was expended to include the fields of sunflowers that surround Waxahachie. They go on forever, just like France!  Their heads are taller that I am and a foot around.  Debob Jacob lead us to her patch of sunflowers that she had scouted the day before and the three of us squeezed out the cadmium yellow                  are were mesmerized for a couple of hours.

Dougs sunflower painting.  
Doug Clark painting sunflowers out of the sun!

I was planning a trip to France within this same time frame, but my friend Doug Clark convinced me to come and paint in the days before I left.  So with brushes flying I manages to get in 3 days before I left.  The first thing I do on a pain out is to survey the area.  Even a familiar area changes in a few months.  Last years paint out was plagued with wind and searing heat.  We were so lucky this year to have a fabulous cool (under 100 degrees) weather.

DeBob Jacobs painting sunflowers
 Enough of the Sunflowers the highlight of the Waxahachie pain tout is the "quick draw".  It is a 2 hour maniacal attempt to start and finish a painting which is sold in an auction at the end.  This year's  quick draw was at the Saturday market that attracts farmers, pie makers, honey collectors and arts and crafts from the area.  The residents come early to pick up fresh veggies and visit with their neighbors.

Below is my favorite farmer.  I have painted him for three years.  He even remembers me and his relatives have purchased my paintings each year.  This year, alas, he did not get painted. Instead with Cezanne ringing in my ears I chose some peaches.  They were drop 
dead beautiful!

Favorite farmer in signature red shirt!

I was practically standing on the peach display.  My goodness they were beautiful!  Next to them were some leaves of Kale, I think,  they had red veins and curly leaves.  Oh such fun!  I finished in time to look around for another subject.  There is a man that sells hats every year.  I had painted him a couple of years ago.  I made another attempt in the few minutes that were left.  Forgot to get a photo of my painting.  They both sold, both to other artists participating.  Doug got the peaches.  

During the quick draw a big BSNF train
came by and I rushed to get a photo of it.  

Trains and Waxahachie go hand and hand. There are two major lines that go through the center of town and there is constantly the rumbling sound of trains coming and going. I love the sound and it is one of the attractions at Waxahachie. Just  south of the market stand the restored train station complex.  It is a remarkable area which includes a feed store located near the tracks.  There is a lot of  room to store all sorts of stuff.  Usually it is fertilized and animal feed, but this year it a stack of train rails and rail road ties were stacked.  Wow, I just had to paint that.  See below.

All rusty and ready to be committed to canvas.  That's the neat thing about painting on plein air, there are always surprises.  

Back to the town square.  What to paint here.  I think France was already on my mind.  I wanted to paint the shapes of the most interesting architectural details around the square.  I painted the beautiful red sandstone arches of the courthouse and the similar but different arches on what was probably originally the towns prosperous bank building.  I kind of thought that they could have been found in an French city. Most of the buildings are designed to be seen from the front only.  That is where the elaborate decoration is usually confined.  

The exception to this frontal decoration thing is the courthouse which swirls upward in "Gingerbread" magnificance. It is truly a challenge - always - even after several paintings of this subject.  I had company while I  painted these towers.  I was standing in a small courtyard that had been exposed when a group of buildings burned last year.  There were several stray cats living there. Someone had left food and water for them.  This tiny yellow kitten seemed to not have acquired the fear that the older cats has.  They disappeared while this tiny thing watched from safety hidden behind the air conditioning.  I would have had another cat if it would have come out!  I managed to place second in the final "wet show" at the end of the paint out.  I was pleased that I had made the effort to pack early!