Sunday, May 14, 2006

Paris l'Indispensable

DO NOT GO TO Paris without the l'Indispensable BLACK cardigan. Thank you Coco for le cardigan noir. Tie it around yr neck like a scarf. Mine has hot pink cuffs, see above, so I'm a little worried. This is de rigeur (improper, wrong) :(
Parisians are big on Neutrals -- note Carine here
Check out The Parisian Woman's Guide to Style
A nice neutral color like BLACK makes life easy for les New Yorkaises, since there isn't much else hanging in our closets.

I lost this little sugar cube painting, until I started packing for my Paris trip. Et voilà. I'll bring back fresher cubes and more paintings this trip. l'indespensible Paris by Arrondissements is the best pocket size map for getting around. Plus the indespensible, La Carte Orange - have a passport photo ready for your weekly Metro card. It seems you can only buy it on Mondays (lundi). 15,70 euros for 2 zones should do fine. Almost French is one of those books that get you dreaming of all the possibilities...

A digital camera will make a HUGE difference this trip. The orange tablets - Oddibil 250 are just charcoal, good for when you've had too much l'escargot. I buy them there. Of course I'm bringing my paintbox and a Molskine or two, for quickie doodles in the café.

The 2 little guides on chocolate and cafés I got from www.amazon.fr Nice and light. The rough drawing and key is a map of where I'll be staying. A friend, M. has kindly offered me her son's pied-a-terre in the 6th. YAHOO! So I'm all set to go off this afternoon for more café adventures. I may not post for a while so be patient with me while I'm having a ball!

Toute a l'heur :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

La Vie En Rose

Diana Vreeland famously said "pink is the navy blue of India." There's no need to rush off to Jaipur, the pink city. Just head over to Fauchon's on 442 Park Avenue (at 56th Street) in New York.

Their pastry counter is full of pink. And those pink pastries come packed in pink boxes.

It's best to pick your dessert from the pastry case first.

The adjoining tea salon is a bit dark but the overhead lighting casts a rosy glow on everything, yourself included. Peach-colored roses are on all the tables.

Fauchon has definitely figured out how to get that inner glow.

The tea menu has close to a hundred varieties of Assam, Ceylon, Chinese, Darjeeling, Japanese, flavored and herbal.

They even offer a Rose Petal with tea preserve.

Service is attentive and you may, if you're lucky, get a ganache-filled chocolate sitting on top your bill. The whole experience is pretty delightful.

I find it hard to do a bad painting after I've been there.


The hot chocolate is delicious too = my inspiration...

If you're still mad for pink, then do go to Jaipur,the pink city.

But wait until November when the weather is cooler...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Réflexions au Café de FLore II

Another advantage to French cafés besides the boiled egg is all the shiny stuff they set down on your little café table. Water carafes, water glasses, ashtrays (like it or not), silvery spoons, trays, milk jugs, your cup and saucer, sugar cubes, jam jars (confiture) etc.
And don't forget the baguettes and croissants add even more light and luster to this still life.

These contrasting textures play off each other. On la terrasse the sunlight has a field day.
Just look at what the Dutch painters did with shiny objects.
This is all quite seductive. I know I'm smitten.

Jonathan Miller has written an excellent book on how the eye perceives reflected light called, ON REFLECTION.

Miller says, "Another factor which influences the visibility of lustre or sheen is the curvature of the surface from which it is reflected. Highlights which are thrown off from sharply angled surfaces come and go with captivating abruptness, should either the object or observer shift. This is why diamonds glitter or scintillate..."

And he says here, "Another characteristic of lustre is the fact that it seems to hover somewhere below the surface in which it appears."

This quality of light is what all painters and photographers are seeking. The magical light that glows from within. French painter Georges De La Tour was the master of this inner glow.

My suggestion to American cafes is, please get some inner glow on that table!

And if you want to bring home some shiny café things, the Café de Flore Boutique is just around the corner at 26, rue Saint-Benoit.

Just don't try to shop before noon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Les Oeufs durs au Café de Flore

I've always loved hard boiled eggs. But I have to say here in the US, we have forsaken the hard-boiled egg. Please correct me if I'm wrong... Scrambled, fried, omlette (Fr.), poached, baked, Eggs Benedict, named after a traitor? this is not respectful, Huevos Ranchero, eggs over, eggs easy, eggs shirred or egg-in-the-moon etc.
I grew up eating what my moms' "Egg-in-the moon".
I always thought it was an Arte Déco dish.
First cut a round hole in the middle of one slice of the bread of your choice. Lightly toast it. In a small frying pan melt some butter. When bubbly add the toasted bread. Let it cook on just one side. Turn the slice over and break the egg so the yoke falls nicely into the cut-out circle. When the underside is browned turn it over again and cook the yoke just a bit.
Back to boiled eggs which I eat exclusively now.
In France things are different. The lowly boiled egg is greatly revered. It's even got 2 names: les oeufs durs or Les oeufs à la coque. And when resident at the Café de Flore, the boiled egg reaches new heights of glory. I'll be doing further research on this. Please be patient. I have yet to paint these beauties. They're also on the"to do" list.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Les Deux Magots

Le Coup De Foudre is when you fall in love instantly - a bolt of lightening. This keeps happening to me with inanimate objects.
The tea pot at Petrossian...a bistro glass at café de Flore, a small white ashtray at Café Les Deux Magots.

When I returned to Paris from Provence to the b I noticed a restaurante supply store, Eurotra nearby. If you love bistro ware this place is heaven. True, you have to buy a dozen to bring home just two. And who wants to drag back a dozen water glasses? The hotel staff was happy to take them. These are classic, quotidien French tableware. You won't find them in any department store.

At Les Deux Magot I noticed these adorable small white porcelain ashtrays. Don't ask why these become Cet obscur objet du désir (That Obscure Object of Desire) and I don't even smoke! Later, while browsing at the famous Parisian art store, Sennelier I found that Blockx watercolors uses the very same porcelain dishes for their giant 3" (godets) pans. I bought one, scraped out the paint et voilà. No plans to light.

Here is my demolished petit déjeuner complet at Les Deux Magots. More to come when I'm in Paris next week...Oh and try not to break those bistro glasses on your doorstep like I did when I got home late at night from France last May.

EUROTRA 119, Blvd Richard Lenoir 75011 Paris
Les Deux Magots 6 place Saint Germain des Prés 75006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Adieu Maison Rosé

Back in Provence. It's the last morning of the workshop. The others are packing, saying goodbye, picking a last herbs de Provence. At noon we go off to catch the TGV for PARIS!
I finally get the bug to paint those pink houses. I finally get the Provençal lumiere and atmosphere. After 6 days of hanging out in the cafés of Goult, Joucas, l'Isle sur la Sorgue, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Roussillon, St- Saturnin-Lès-Apt, I'm ready for pink (rosé).
My sketchbook is smallish, about 6" x 8 1/2" and hand-made. I can easily paint on a tray table on the train or leaning against a stucco wall. It keeps me free and loose. If a painting doesn't work out, just turn the page and next. It's not like working on a full sheet of Arches 300lb coldpress paper where consequences are dire.
At times the best materials aren't essential to say something. At noon I jump in the van with the others and off I go, back to Paris cafés, smoke and smog.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Petrossian Cafe II

Just one more diversion before returning to Provence. I fell in love with a tea pot on my first visit to the New York Petrossian Boutique.
Beautiful and silver-plated, this is the lone, real Petrossian tea pot in residence. It's got an embossed sailing ship riding the waves on it and is from Paris. Alexandre Petrossian, says the Sturgeon fishing boat logo was designed by his grandfather.

Though it's seen better days, it's hanging in there. I need this tea pot for my next still life...but there's no way I could bring it home to paint, so I took a some photos and went searching on Ebay.

Look at www.ebay.fr for théière ancienne, metal argente, métal blanc or chromée. I saw one recently with the marque "Moulin Rouges" for £9.99. Or look at www.ebay.co.uk under VINTAGE SILVER PLATED HOTELWARE. I got one from vintage-kitsch. Their delivery is super fast and they have lots of beautiful tableware. These glossy, antique beauties are sitting on Bergdorf Goodman's 7th At Home floor. Perfectly refurbished, they average 4-5" high, weight 9 + ounces and can be from the 1930's - 40's. You'll also will see more silver tea pots in Paris at Ladurée . I have yet to paint my two from Ebay. They're on my "to-do" list...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Petrossian Cafe I

I'll return to Provence and Paris cafés shortly. First a small diversion. There are just 3 days left for my exhibit of café watercolors. It began with a cookie. Last summer I dropped into the Petrossian Boutique in New York and tried a chocolate cookie. I kept returning to visit that cookie. I noticed a small salon de thé in the back with a temporary exhibit of portraits. Hmmm...what a perfect place to hang my petit déjeuner paintings.
When a French aquaintence came to town, I suggested we stop in for a snack after visiting the MOMA. Christian being Breton, ordered the Baba au rhum. He said the rum was M.I.A. but it was still quite delicious. I returned on my own several times to eat and make sketches. And this March my watercolors found a temporary home in the tea salon.The rest is history :)

Petrossian Boutique
911 Seventh Avenue NY NY 10019

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bistro De Roussillon

In the pigment store we sell a beautiful French paint brush called the l'Indispensable. I've heard of American and British brushes being called mottler, flogger, squirrel mop, liner, One-Stroke, round, wash, filbert, flat, fan, bright but never THE Indispensable. It's true that many painters can't live without this brush so we're often out of them.
The café in a Provençal village is l'Indispensable, centrally located near the town hall, the church, the boulangerie, the weekly marché. You can come as early as 7am and stay into the evening. You eat a series of small snacks (le gouter) or have a coffee. It's a lively meeting place for local gossip and news or you can just hangout.
The ochre-colored
Bistro de Roussillon has 2 terraces. One is in the back with a view of the surrounding hills. I sat in the front terrasse with an expresso, facing the main square, Place de la Mairie. I rarely drink coffee but the light bouncing off the little glass was seductive.
The sun is another l'indispensable in Provence. Essential anywhere, the particular light in Provence effects every experiences. Rich, earthy colors surround you; the olives in the marché or on your plate, the walls of your house, the fields of lavender and tournesol (sunflowers) out your window. Or the expresso on a café table...
Jean-Phillippe and Dominique Lenclos specialize in the geography of colors. Their intent is to preserve the historic traditional colors of Roussillon and other landmarked places. Discover their wonderful series of books: Colors Of The World, Windows of the World, Doors of the World, Couleurs du monde,Couleurs de la France, Couleurs de l'Europe.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Souvenirs de Ménerbes

Normally I don't drink bottled OJ or orange drinks. But the French have a way of making ordinary everyday objects beautiful. So I drank up and brought the bottle home to paint again. Ménerbes , our next village perché, is perfect for painters. Here Picasso had a house and Peter Mayle wrote 'A Year in Provence' . While the others did pleine aire painting, I went off to find the local café to paint le p'tit dej'. The Café Le Progrès was purchased recently by New Yorker, Eli Zabar, but there were no signs of renovation that I could see.
I mentioned to the proprietor how beautiful this blue glass was and she gave it to me! Derby Blue, was written in English on it ? The French have a penchant (present participle of pencher, "to incline, to bend," ) for things BLUE. You hardly ever see a car in France that's not deep blue. French artists, Yves Klein only painted in blue and Geneviève Asse lives in all blue house. Ever hear of French Ultramarine Blue...?
One quotidien object not made to last - these beat up French sugar cubes I saved from the May,2005 Paris trip. An American sugar sachet could easily make it into any time capsule...
Café Le Progès
Place Albert Roure
Mènerbes
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur / Vaucluse