Tuesday, April 28, 2009

THE SHADOW AND LA RUE DE LA BONNE

A gentleman I met while painting Le Théâtre de L'Atelier urged me to consider the view of Sacre Coeur from rue de la Bonne on the other side of Montmartre

He said that the perspective from that corner was magnifique. He added that no one would bother me there. I guess he assumed that the people interrupting my work to ask directions bothered me. I didn't tell him that what bothered me the most was ADVICE.   
He was  convincing all the same. 

I took my equipment up the hill and half way down rue Lemarck without even a pre-view. At least no one was going to ask me how to get to La Moulin Rouge, I hoped.

The view was not extraordinary.  He must have had a sentimental experience here, I thought, as I set up my easel between two motor cycles. I blocked out the composition with  some blue paint, still wondering why. 

Two male meter maids approached me. Just to spy.
Next came a woman looking for her car. She had parked it near a stairway. There are about ten that surround the great basilica on the hill. She forgot the name of the street, but remembered there were two words in it.
I looked down at her child and said.
"This is your mother?" 
"Oui." She sadly confirmed.
I returned to the famous spot the following day and the day after, still wondering what was going to set my work apart from other neighborhood paintings until the Paris haze sunk and  a shadow appeared which made all the difference.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

THE GROWING LEAVES


While painting Théâtre de l'Atelier, a passer-by stopped and stood behind me for an unusually long time. What was really unusual was that he didn't ask me for directions.
I finally turned and saw a middle-aged medium height tax inspector type eyeing my painting with some scrutiny. He was carrying a clip board, with notes already jotted down.
I wondered what was on his mind.
"Très Poetique", he finally sighed.
I was surprized.
"Oui, mais..." I winced.
"Mais, quoi?"
He seemed concerned.
"I have a problem." I confessed.  "I started the painting just as the leaves were sprouting tiny lime-green dots. Thousands of them. It was great.  Within the next couple of days the leaves opened. The shadows on the cobble stone looked like dancing butterflies."
  
"Then it rained for three days and was cloudy for three more. The leaves kept growing. It was terrible. Now they are a darker green and I can't see the theater. I would love to have those few days back." 

"They're right there." he said looking at my canvas and left making a small notation on his clipboard. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

HOME SWEET HOME


BACK IN PARIS

I'm so happy to be back home - sleeping in my own bed, in a town that understands my accent and I understand theirs - where my cats roam freely about the courtyard and every face in my neighborhood is familiar in the morning and foreign in the afternoon.

I was finally able to finish         La Boucherie de la Paix 
on rue d'Orsel - a painting that I had started last winter. 
The butcher was quite pleased as was his charming assistant. It's probably the first time someone made a painting of his sadly isolated shop.
The lady from the dress shop behind me was not so pleased. She shook her door mat a few times so the wind blew the grit in my direction. I got the picture and moved my easel out of her aim and merrily painted on.  

See La Boucherie de la Paix - click on flashing box PARIS PAINTINGS on the side panel.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

THE MOUNTAINS



 

I don't ski or alpine, but my mountain experiences have given me a bird's eye view of beauty incarnate. 

Take the Himalayas.
Every morning  during a month-long-stay in Dharmasala, I'd open my door and watch a bird-of-paradise taking off swirling his tail feathers as he glided down the valley over the rhododendron trees. 

I began painting birds and continued for three years.
Eventually, I had to count on subway excursions to the Bronx Zoo to inspire my palette.

The night voyage crossing the Andes in a rattling bus from Lima to Santipo only taught me how to pray. 

The morning decent on a muddy road into the Amazon jungle was as lush as a Gauguin painting and as floral as Henri Rousseau could imagine.


I still remember the awe from discovering the iridescent crystal blue frost in Val d'Isere - the French Alps' luxury ski resort where I au paired thirty-five years ago.

As for the Pryrenees, I had only seen them on television following Lance Armsrong peddling LaTour de France. During my sejour in Orthez, I wastold that if I went to Pau, (pronounced Po) I could see THE ENTIRE CHAIN OF MOUNTAINS. I was game.

I made a reservation at the train station and was surprized to see how near it was to Orthez which was only hilly at the most.  I imagined being taken up a ski lift type funiculair. The one for Sacre Coeur rises only about twelve stories. 

I brought along gloves and a scarf and regretted not having taken my boots down to Orthez.
I was assured that the mountains were still snow capped.  I arrived in Pau in less than a half an hour. The funicular was there and waiting. I was surprised to see it was even shorter than the one in Montmartre. I boarded it and up we went to Le boulevard des Pyrenees where I was told I could see THE ENTIRE MOUNTAIN CHAIN.

I reached the top hill in about a minute and a half, already a little suspicious.
Tout suite, I turned around on the balcony and beheld some hills.
It looked sort of like southern Pennsylvania in the winter - not alive with the sound of music.
The sun was out , but it was quite hazy.

I sadly surmised that THE ENTIRE MOUNTAIN CHAIN was  behind the hills behind the haze.
It didn't stop me from taking my grief to the Tourist Bureau in the center of town.
When the perky hostess greeted me and asked how she could help. I told her I was looking for les montagnes in the same tone someone would ask looking for le beureau de post.
She looked at me.
Yes, I told her that I had been told that if I came to Pau, I could see all of the Pyrenees.
She said, "No mountains today. Here is a guide of the town."
Perhaps I'd like to visit Le Chateau Henry IV ?
I thanked her.
So I saved the mountains for another day.
I visited the chateau and learned about the lusty life of a 16th century king.

As I climbed the grandiose spiral staircase, the view of no mountains got better.
Must have been wonderful back then - when the sun was shining. 

Leaving by the back door as probably most of his mistresses did, I walked into the middle of a demonstration by the locals seeking to preserve the very unique Bearn(Langaduc) language.
I decided to march with them clapping my hands  and trying to chant the slogans. Whatever they were saying, I did not know.
Reaching the Town Hall, we called for the mayor, who did not show his face, so we all booed.
It was great fun.
I stepped aside when they began to sing and returned to Le Boulevard des Pyrenees. The late afternoon light revealed an irregular line across the horizon. It looked like a cardiogram.
My cardiogram. My heart beat to know they were there.





Ruby

Ruby
Ruby chez la princess from paintingparis.blogspot.com