Friday, July 31, 2015

July 31st, Friday: Je suis aller á Paris!

I have changed trains twice this morning and am now sitting in the station in Rennes. I need to use the toilet, so, having a second breakfast just to get some change.

I knew there was a reason to keep a little change. But it's so heavy with one and two Euro coins. Martin always spends the change. Today, I feel I am becoming Martin.

I don't really care about much today since making my 5 minute connection between trains at Dol-de-Bretagna, down and up the stairs with my suitcase and backpack. Now, all my worries have disappeared.

The train arrived at 8:45 and the TGV to Paris leaves at 10:05. Expected arrival time 13h11. If I get bored, I may venture into Paris, but I need the repack my luggage, putting the tubes of paint from my backpack into the suitcase. I sound like someone who thinks they will be in Paris again. I think that I am just plain tired and don't feel like fighting the transpiration any longer today.

I have un upgraded room, with a king sized bed, a tub and a shower, and plenty of room here at the Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle. All thanks to Martin.

It's just coming to 4pm here. The day is still young, but I will relax here. I'm sure that you're all shaking your heads saying, "Is she crazy?"

July 30, Thursday: street musicians

They were everywhere!

In addition to the zither man, and Dame Béatrice, all dressed in white with an elbow length orange cape, there was an Irish fiddler.

But, the big jazz band of 12 musicians was the prize of the day. I try to attach a video, but it didn't post.

Thursday, July 30: A potter!

After I painted, I went back to La Belle Assise. Not sense carrying a backpack when all the panels held paintings.

I decided to revisit my favorite spots and do some drawing, or painting if it was possible in the crowds.

I came across a potter working with a clay called rose-gris??? Not sure. She said it kept a lovely color of red after firing. I really liked the bowl of water with holding her tools.

July 30, Thursday: a fun time painting!

The latest edition to my "27 Dresses Series".

Thursday, July 30: painting and pastis

Here's Billy with his first oil painting. I told his Dad that I'd done my first when I was 11 years old.

Dad offered me a coffee, or a Pastis. I chose the latter. Et, voila! It arrived at my easel.

Thursday, July 30: two artists

I met two artists on the street as I set up to paint in front of a dress shop that I'd admired for a long time. Yesterday, the light was perfect when I arrived, but visiting with these folks was important as well.

The first artist was Sean, from Wicklow, Ireland. He was from Wicklow. Not sure I spelled that correctly.

The second was Billy, from Sheffield, the 10 year old with the sketcbook who I'd met a few days ago. He walked up to me and said, "Hi, Debra." I told Sean about Billy's sketchbook. Then suddenly, I said to Billy, "Would you like to paint?" With a big smile and no hesitation, he said, "Yes!"

His younger brother wanted to paint, too. But sadly, that didn't happen. As as they walked off, he was crying his eyes out. I yelled down the street to his Mum, "He hates me now." "No he doesn't," was her kind reply.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday, July 30: a fun morning!

Madame at La Belle Assise made crème this morning in addition to quite an assortment du pain.

I dug out my easel, put out fresh paint. I have very little paper towels, but they are Viva. Thank you, Peg Vasil!

The best thing I saw at the marché this morning, and believe me, everything looks superb, was this baby. At first I took a photo because of the light. So I took three, because of people walking by. This last one saws what is about to happen. By the time I walked the 10 steps and was opposite the baby, he had grabbed a leaf from a lettuce plant and stuffed it in his mouth. He was just going for a second leaf when his mother turned and noticed! So funny, and I hope a studio painting when I return home.

I also had fun drawing the crabs and fish, and asking le vendeur about the araignèe crab. There were also small brown crabs that I'd never seen before. They color reminded me of mud crabs that we'd catch when I was a kid. These were 4 times the size of the mud carbs, but only about a 3" shell. What you do with them. The sign said they were called élutte  at 10,80€ kg. The araignèe were 7,80€ kg. And the large fish, St. Pierre, 22,80€ kg. I hope you enjoy my little drawing of the seafood.

Thursday, July 30: a beautiful day

I just broke out the painting gear, which means I'll be repacking later. I want just one or two more small paintings here.

Not sure what they will be.

Here's a photo of my brochette St. Jacques from last night's dinner. Spectacular presentation and food full of flavor at Atypic!!!!

Wednesday, July 29: La Belle Assise

At 6pm, I made the big climb up to the museum above to speak with the ladies about my taxi. They were very helpful. Long story short,the taxi had been ordered for the following day, the 30th.

The young woman took me to my chambre d'hôte. She helped me to figure out how to get inside the house with lots of security. I gave her the 10€ that I would have paid the taxi. She had been so very kind.

Once inside, the young man began showing me the security codes, keys, etc., explaining everything I needed to know. He was just showing me my room, huge, luxurious, when his Mum arrived and said I was booked for tomorrow.

She showed me the reservation book in her hand, and we discussed the date, and it was then that I realized my mistake. All I could do was shake my head and laugh. Over and over again.

Luckily, I could have my room for two nights. I love this place. So comfortable, and I have to use my French with Madame. People here ask me where I learned my French, that it's very good. Again, I shake my head and laugh, because my French is so very bad.

But I must thank my wonderful teacher, Françoise. Spending time with her has been one of the greatest pleasures in my life. Merci, Madame.

July 29, Wednesday: the big mistake!!!

Yep, I screwed up.

Not the first time in my life, but I felt very foolish. Just couldn't stop laughing at myself. Literally!

I got my dates wrong, even Martin didn't catch the mistake when we talked about my leaving the little house of the residency.

I painted in the morning at my favorite garden in the port area of Dinan. In the back of my mind was leaving enough time to pack. So, I did an 8x6". I loved my subject, the subject. I could own that garden with the moss covered stone planters!

I was able to sit on the stone wall, with my back against a stone pillar in the sun, with easel sitting on the wall in front of me, and the backpack beside me. Everything was perfect.

The weather did go cloudy, few drops of rain, but it was just perfect. I felt content,  happy.

Just look at my backpack! I had sunflowers in there once, but never a baguette!

Later, I packed my backpack and suitcase, did my little writing assignment for the residency, drew a pen and ink of the house that I'd stayed in for the Livre d'Or, took my bags onto the street to wait for my 17h30 taxi.

It never showed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28, Tuesday: Rain

I cooked potatoes and onions in olive oil and butter with Herbs de Provence for breakfast. I added three pieces of Camenbert cheese at the end to heat it up. Wow! It was fantastic.

Then, I packed up my sac-a-dos and walked across the street to paint the little house that's been my humble home since July 2nd. Why I never noticed it before I'm not sure. It is very cute, and I saw it for the first time at a distance last night coming home from the gite.

Halfway into my painting, it started to rain. It became a steady rain. I had the umbrella, but not my coat. I held it up with my left hand and carried on with my right. It was cold and damp, but I wanted to finish that painting.

Packing up was difficult, trying to hold a windy umbrella and take the painting off the easel and get it into a PanelPak. I managed to get white paint on the hand holding the umbrella, then all over the umbrella. Later, I noticed yellow all down the left thigh of my trousers! Hum?

The rain poured down, and then stopped by the end of lunch. I started up the hill with drawing materials and half way into a drawing, with no cover, I packed that in.

It turned into a lovely evening, but I had a small amount of online work to do. Still, I overheard an Englishman say that tomorrow it's to be sunny.

Here's a photo of me drawing, taken by a young man - about age 10 - who'd been snapping away at me for about 20 minutes. I think I know where his future lies.

July 27, Monday: In and out rain, castle and the best part of my day!

I started out early. Why not? I hardly slept a wink. Was it caffeine or a mind that just wouldn't turn off?

Whatever it was, at 6:30am, I decided to get up. I spent two hours having breakfast, doing a little packing, and working on my journal.

At 9:00, I walked up cardiac hill. Hardly anyone was up and about except for a few early tourists with cameras. By 9:30, I was installed at Cafe???? Where they serve the hottest, the biggest and the best café crème in Dinan. I also had a pain au chocolat.

It was amazing what a difference just 10 minutes made in terms of foot traffic. I was writing, only partly aware, but at some point, all of a sudden, the noise level increased in decibels and by 10am, everything was animated, and it stayed that way all day. Haute saison.

I headed for the tourist board to ask if they would book me a taxi for the 30th at 5:30pm. I will be leaving my little house, the maid - who stopped by this evening - will come in and clean, and I expect the next artist comes in the day after.

I had already made up my mind that today was the day that I would tour the castle. Dinan has a very long history, founded in the year 1000! The castle started 200 - 300 years later.

I took the tour in French as it was starting in 15 minutes. Only about 8 or 10 of us. The young woman spoke very fast French, very fast, and her voice didn't carry in the wind and showers, but she was very nice. I missed a lot, but saw things that I wouldn't have had access to without the tour, like the dungeon and the crypt.

Then, I walked to find my B&B for the night of the 30th. I think I'll only get one B. My train leaves for Dol-de-Bretagne at 7:30am. I am 380 meters from the Gare SNCF and closer to the old city than where I am now.

To go by car, 3km; to go on foot, 2km; but, it would be up cardiac hill's cobbles with wheels. Shades of St. Jean Pied-de-Port. No thanks!

Yesterday, I had a very bad food day: cream tea, and a crépe au chocolat! When I realized that, I said to myself, "You need to get some real food." So I splurged on lunch and had Risotto with Saint Jacques, salad and a little white wine. Ooh la la!!!

I never found a drawing spot today. It was so crowded. So I walked down to the old port and straight to the Mercure to contact Martin. It was only 9:30am in Columbus.

I was falling asleep. It was very hot in the bar. Once we texted and I sent my blogs, I took a walk down that side of the Rance, in the direction of St. Malo. When I decided to walk back to my little house, I discovered that I had walked over 8 miles total today!!!

Of course, now there was sun, and a new crop of boats in the harbor including a big one from Jersey, C.I. I wondered how long that trip would take by motorized yacht.

I worked out some packing stuff, put out fresh paint on my easel for tomorrow, and went out to draw. Of course it was spitting rain. I went back for my rain coat and said, "Hey just go across the street to the gite." I ordered a pint of cider, a small glass of water and a serviette. I got out my paper, pen, brush and Bistre ink from Sennelier and started drawing. On the second drawing, a man brought his son over to see what I was doing. The 10 year old had a sketchbook, too! I asked to see it. We had a great time talking. They live in Sheffield, and the father said they had a place in Cornwall that he thought I'd enjoy painting. I gave them my website address, and he said he'd email me. Me and the kid could go out painting. Sounds great to me. That was a lovely ending to my day.

I thought I'd share this large fireplace from the castle because I think the stones interestingly interlocked in a  beautiful design and color. I also loved the pillars and carvings on both sides. And then, of course, my lunch!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sunday, July 26: Maison Bleu Lin #2

The tea room is three years old. Before that, for 15 years, she ran this small old place as an antique haberdashery shop.

As I looked more closely at what she sold, I seemed to be more fascinated by what she collected. I expect that the bobbins of silk and jars of buttons were from the former haberdashery/antique shop? I asked if the bobbins were for sale. No was the answer, but she had trays of cotton ones that were for sale. 1€ per bobbin. Well, I had to have some. The emerald green was my favorite, but I bought ten bobbins of different colors. She gave me five of the old silk ones.

The bobbins were from Germany, and there are five threads of silk wound together. They came in gradations of colors for use in making button holes!

Maybe it's the fact that my Great-grandmother was a seamstress of men's shirts, maybe it was the delicious colors coupled with the sheen of the silk, I don't know. I just knew I needed those bobbins. And as she said, "They are good enough to eat!"

I am going back this morning to have a bowl of Madame Claude's coffee.

July 26, Sunday around 1:30pm: Maison Blue Lin

There was a light rain still falling as I left for the day. I started the climb up Rue du Petit Fort, and decided to stop in the tea shop whose windows and door I'd looked into so often.

What a delightful time I had! The owner of the shop, Madame Claude Le Guen, is so very welcoming, and the little tea room with carefully selected antiques for sale is charming.

I ordered the cream tea with raisin scone, raspberry confiture and Earl Grey tea. It comes with the real clotted cream imported from Cornwall, England. She says she is one of only two tea rooms in Bretagne that sells it. She can only have access to buying it in bulk. Arriving frozen, she "must have freezers."  Madame said it thaws out perfectly, and I can attest to the truth of her statement.

Several people stopped in to look, and I had the pleasure of listening and watching her at work. Then when we were alone, I had the greater pleasure of really talking with her. Turns out we are both married to British engineers.

She was funny, talking about people that come in and how strange they can be. For instance, a French man poked his head in the door and asked if she was English. "No, French," she replied, and so he left. "As if a French person couldn't sell a cream tea!"

July 26, Sunday: Rain

Today it's raining pretty hard, so I think I'll start to consider my packing a bit. If the rain stays all day, I will walk up top, have a grand créme and do some drawing. I found the largest grand créme in town the other day. Wow!

For my presentation, I set up a little table of snacks for my visitors. I had purchased this towel with sardines two weeks ago while searching for a sticker for my easel. The man wrapped it as a gift in a nice rose, orange and green plaid patterned bag, sealed with his shop's sticker. How delightful it was to see the towel again!

Without making a connection, the day I returned the car, I stopped to buy five chocolate and praline 'sardines'. I put them out together and had to take a photo. The start of a great still life, or "nature morte" as the French call it.

I wanted those sardines two years ago when I saw them in St-Jean-de-Luz. They were only sold in boxes of twenty! Too much to carry. These cost me 1€ a piece.

I have heard more than a few American accents in the past few days. Jarring! Made me think how shocked Ray and I were in South India when we saw a blonde, white woman walking down the street in a red sari. We couldn't see our whiteness. But hers glared out at us.

As I walked home from using the wifi across the river, I was greeted by the sight of a waxing half moon exposing the clouds contre jour. So beautiful. It's the third time I've seen the moon here and each time I am in awe of it.

Sunday, July 26: Lazy day

I'm having a lazy day, sleeping soundly for a long time. I feel calm, and well rested.

Yesterday, I bought two bottles of bubbly for the guests, they chose the pear. Everyone remarked how delicious it was.  Now I must return and tell my consultant how highly praised the drink was by my guests.

And I thought I'd share this photo of a chicken all dressed up to go somewhere for dinner.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25, Saturday: my presentation

This evening, I was visited by the residency committee and three reporters. Whew! Lots of questions and conversation in French. Photo session and a little pear cider all around.

Here's a photo of me, the committee and the painting that they chose. "La Chaise Verte", 10x8", oil on canvas. "Plein de bonheur!" said the President.

So basically, I have 5 days left here. I can do what I like, everyone is going on vacation. I leave July 31st by train for Pris, and return home August 1st.

Martin will be in Canada watching Natalie's acting performance, and after that, they have dinner and see one more play.

I plan on making more paintings, and doing some pen and ink drawings over the next 5 days.

Dinan, Friday, July 24: coffee

The first thing I did this morning was walk past all the cafes along the port. I stopped at La Maison de Tatie Jeanne, the patisserie just at the crossroads of Rue du Port and Rue du Petit Fort. If I turn left off the port road, I traverse the old stone bridge over the Rance River, and, voila, I'm in another village; if I turn right off the port road, it's straight up cardiac hill. Road of the Little Fort, becomes Rue Jerzual. This is one of the oldest streets in Dinan. In the middle ages, it was home to many tanneries, and now, it's filled with ateliers of painters, potters, jewelery makers, etc.

But, I diverted to the little park just past this side of the bridge, with a small grassy lawn and two benches, to sit and watch the river and eat my pain au chocolat and drink my grand crème.

My first sip, hot coffee all down the from of freshly laundered lime green t-shirt and stripped blouse. Tatie Jeanne hadn't put the lid on tight. Eh, alors!

July 23: Dol cathedral

The nave soars to 385 feet! The glass is old and splendid, like at Chartres. And there was evidence of damage from the French Revolution

I left the cathedral, and went to the cathedral museum. The museum teaches you all aspects of the cathedral, how it's contructed, why you build one, the different trades involved, and the different aspects of symbolism involved.

There were three short films of stone carvers that were mesmerizing. Wow! Mind boggling. The years of training and time and effort involved. The sound of the chink, chink, chink took me back to Malabarpurim (spelling?), in India.

Thursday, July 23: Dol-en-Betagne

A bird had built her nest being to rosette that makes the joins of the vaulting. When the mother flew in, the voices of the babies echoed around the small porch. And on the floor, the body of one overly zealous baby.

I looked at the large porch covered in panels of sculpture, then walked around the inside.

Thursday, July 23 - Dinan to Dol-en-Betagne: Cathédral Saint Samson

Why? It all started with a conversation with Martin the night before. Long story short, I have 5 minutes between trains at the station in "Dol-en-B". This worries me since I booked that train from America. So yesterday, I stopped at the Gare SNCF here in Dinan, and in French, I had a little conversation with a nice young man about short time between trains, the weight of my suitcase and the stairs involved. He assured me that this would be plenty of time, and so I have accepted his reply.

So, this was my last day with the car, and with the thought that I might visit the Gare SNCF in Dol, Martin though I might drive over and ask about the trains. But the Green Guide took over, only 30 minutes away. Very easy to make one last trip in the Skoda.

The cathedral speaks of the Golden Age of Brittany, commerce booming and no war - sounds great to me. Here in Dol, the money for the cathedral was funded by the riches of the tanneries. These must have been incredibly busy and smelly places in those days. The Green Guide gave the 12th and 13th century Cathédral de Saint Samson ☆☆. It was different. The west face was rather flat, devoid of sculpture with wooden shingles forming the appearance of arches. Around the side are two porches. The small one my favorite. The two salmon colored doors, locked, but carved with panels depicting pieces of leather. These are similar to the carved images of linen, but not the same.

July 22, Abbaye de Léhon.

I already wrote about my horrible drive home from St-Pol de Léhon. I was totally worn out when I got home.

The next day, I stayed home in the morning and drove to Léhon to paint. Unfortunately, the weather was grey. But I did a painting of the apple trees in front of some of the buildings. It was peaceful there. A pink rose was in bloom, and a second patch of wildflowers, and they served as some color relief.

Evening July 21: Roscoff to St-Pol de Léon

I suddenly remembered that I wanted to visit the town of St-Pol de Léon. The Green Guide said that the Cathédral and Chapelle of St. Catherine were the two most interesting buildings in Brittany! I knew that I would never see the chapel, which closed at 6:30pm. The Guide didn't say when the cathedral closed, so I went.

As I approached the town, I saw three spires. They were impressive, and I was happy I decided to stop. I followed the scent of the cathedral and signs for the center of town.

There she stands, pretty impressive. The front porch, okay. Posted out of order here, drats. I love my chronological order.

St-Pol #3: how to get inside?

A sign had an arrow pointing to the right. When I got there, the caretaker was just turning the key in the lock of the gates to the side porch! I begged my way in, if only to see the richness of that porch.

"Dix minutes," he said. I think he could tell how badly I wanted to see this place. He had a good heart. Once inside he repeated, "seulement dix minutes," 10 minutes only. He was going to lock the main entrance with me inside, all alone! Suddenly, he thought to show me how to get out. We walked quickly to a side door with huge heavy hardware. He showed me how to open it, and left saying he'd be back to lock this door in 10 minutes.

We turned around together and parted ways. I stopped when I saw a statue of who I think was St-Pol, himself, and don't you know, his attribute is my favorite animal, a pig!!!! This felt like a "meant to be" moment.

It was a pretty impressive place. I whizzed around the entire place scanning for anything I had to photograph. The glass was beautiful, but my camera doesn't do it justice. There were interesting tombs of the bishops, and the light was simply amazing in this space. I had the place to myself, why didn't I think to sing to hear the sound?

July 21: St-Pol continued

I did like the hardware on the front porch doors, and in case you have leprosy, the blue door is where you enter.

Friday, July 24, 2015

July 21, Roscoff: full sun!

It was a fantastic day to paint. The tide was in so I tried painting this in the AM. I worked too long, and finally packed it in and had some lunch.

I attached a photo of my second painting, 10x8" on linen,  at low tide.

Artists were on the quai that afternoon. One at the bench next to me came over to ask if I was a painter, too. He wanted to know if I was watercolor, and seemed relieved when I said no. He made his living selling right there and then, and was good at engaging the people walking up and down the quai.

I took lots of photos and took time to make pen and ink drawings. Then had to say goodbye to this lovely place.

July 20 and 21st: Roscoff revisited

It was raining when I arrived, and continued all evening. But around 10pm, it had stopped, and I was hopeful for good weather the next day. The photos are low tide and rain. And some of the seaweed that makes low tide here so very interesting.

July 20, Calvary circuit #7: great concept and bones

The Green Guide alerted me to the fact that there was something in this church that I just couldn't miss. Two devils writing in Holy water!!!! I wanted to put some water from my bottle in there to see what it looked like, but of course, I didn't. I did smile at the concept. The devil is in the details, right?

And outside was a large osuari, and the only bones I saw. I was happy, and made drawings of both of these things.

Rain and fog, lost my road, evening coming on, so I headed for Roscoff.

July 20, Calvary circuit #6: 3rd church

Moss makes everything better.