Saturday, June 7, 2008


The Café Thêate is across the street from the historic and charming Thêatre de L’Atelier. The restaurant often hosts the pre and post theater crowd, locals for late afternoon sunning and sipping, and sometimes the stars themselves. The inside walls are covered with posters of plays past and photos of of the famous who ate there.  I painted it from the corner of  La Place Charles Dullin. Always in the late afternoon, but never for  more than two or three hours a day. This went on for a couple of weeks. I always start out quickly, and then it’s one stroke at a time.  Neither the owner nor the manager seemed interested, but I got lots of compliments from passer-bys.

“Why do you have all the talent and I don’t have any.” I heard a man ask from behind. I stopped and looked at him.

“You probably have more than you think.” I replied feeling a little pity. He went and joined his friends at the café next door.I learned later that he was a well-known French movie actor. Gérard something-or-other. His wife was in the on going play. So he WAS joking.

I got some interesting remarks from the kids who play on the square after school. Like, “Still haven’t finished, huh?”

By the weekend of La Fête de Vindage, the crowd I had created became a reality.

I went there with Nina, the next morning for a café. I passed by my usual, where the music is loud and there’s a chalk on the black board shrill every time the barmaid slides the metal sugar bowl on the zinc. I was surprised how calm it was, with Marie, a pretty girl with long dark curly hair at the helm, and fabulous jazz on the radio. I got hooked on the tranquility and Marie’s gracious smile. Nina got hooked on the biscuit she was offered on arrival.

Marie told me that she had worked there for almost thirty years.

We’d have good “girl-chat” every day and still do. I love her dry wit and people incite. She tells me when my sweater is inside out or when I have paint on my face.

Last December; when it was too nasty to go out and paint I was looking at that September work.

“There’s something wrong with that painting.” I thought.

I took out my cadmium yellow deep and made it “Chez Marie”.


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