Friday, December 26, 2014


"Nativity" water color 2005

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014


cafe Le Proges

 It was painted in 2009 and bought on the spot by a Frenchman Claude, for the love of his life. A woman saw me painting on Place des Abbesses in September and said she had one of my paintings, "Le Progress". I said you're the one Claude loved so much. She looked very surprised then told me that said she thinks of him everyday but hasn't seen him in years.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Friday September 26, 2014
Crossing the Place des Abbesses has always been an event. 
When I first arrived  in the Montmartre neighborhood, twenty years ago,  the boundaries were clear. The ivrognes or winos took the helm directly across the street from the tall brick church Saint Jean and a small grocery with a good variety of cheep red wine . The young voyous not yet graduated to being gang members, but old enough to leave their neighborhoods hung out near the entry to rue de la Veuxville. The beautiful art deco Guimard Metro in the center,  constantly streamed visitors to Montmartre's Sacre Coeur. Scattered around were always musicians  with varying degrees of talent. Some really exceptional.

A classic carousel was a great solution to ameliorate the first flash image coming up from the Metro. And I guess the little ones think they can tolerate school if they have a chance at the merry-go-round later on. 
It was late September bright and sunny. I decided to paint it again. I set up
on Friday late in the afternoon. The sun was behind me. Luck not on side.Gigi, the frustrated hard rock local musician set up his three amplifiers next to me. He was watching me as he began  playing and finally asked if he was disturbing me.I nodded. He pulled up shop. I thanked him.I looked to the sky.
"Thank you God. "

He was replaced by an young street talent  playing "La Vie En Rose" on an electric ukulel.
There is a nice garden on the far side of La Place. Behind the garden, a city retirement home.Francois, an 82 year old resident from the home began chatting me up. I realized that he  could be a captain concierge. He knew all the local gossip. He also introduced me to the best chausson de pomme I had ever eaten. A remarkable melt in your mouth treat for this afternoon. Francois knew all that was the best. Including himself.

Saturday afternoon
 Within minutes of setting my easel up, Francois was at my side recounting his adventures of La Fête des Vins the evening before. Some Asiatic tourists asked  Francois a question. He began spouting off directions in Japanese. Francois speaks six or seven languages. "Idiots" he said returning to my side, "They were looking for that stupid wall ... when you've got Le Louvre in Paris.  The "mur des je t'aime" is a large ceramic tiled structure in the garden with "I love you" written in 280 languages. A hot spot for honeymooners.
Another gentleman came up. He told me that he was an artist also. He built ukuleles. Another one. That's interesting. I introduced Ludwig to Francois and asked them to step aside so that I could work.
It took me three tries but it finally worked when I tried the grade-school-teacher-you've -been -bad- boys-intonation.
I  really was feeling the amazing energy. A group of very tall loud Latin Americans approached me.
We're looking for Notre Dame. I laughed. No. You're looking for Sacre Coeur. The leader turned to his companions. We're looking for Sacre Coeur.
"That will do." The leader responded. I began to get weary and turned my brushes over to Carmela.

Monday, November 10, 2014

CAFE KAKOO at the foot of Sacre Coeur

 September 17, 2014
Manuel, a friend and owner of the Café Kakoo asked me to make a painting of his bistro. I told him that I didn't paint in the street anymore. He had sold his part of the restaurant and would be leaving Paris at the end of the year.
"Please." he begged me with his sparkling eyes and gorgeous smile. I want one more Mary Blake painting to remember you by.

 I agreed. The next day I set up my easel for the attack on about the most crowded spot on earth -the entrance gate going up to Sacre Coeur.
Camera city.

THE  PHOTO TAKERS as opposed to photographers.

If I looked up and saw a camera aimed at me and the person made a gesture as if to say is it okay?
I would nod and return to my work.
The best was when I looked up and the photo taker pretended to be aiming at the sky or the building behind me. 
Unacceptable - Putting the camera in front of my face to take a photo of my painting in progress.
or the grinning housewife posing with her head next to my painting  with a victory sign. 
"Scat lady."

It was a real lesson in concentration, especially the way I paint. Always by trial and error. I arrange the colors first. When I find harmony approaching, I gradually weave in the subject.
A week later I presented the painting to Manuel

"It's wonderful!" he smiled. "That how I'll remember my café with the world steaming by."

Monday, May 12, 2014


"all that jazz"

le 3 au15 juin 2014


"the stable"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


La Place Blanche
   I first met Arbi about twenty years ago at the Montmartre café Chez Camille on the rue Ravignon two doors up from the apartment that I had recently sublet.  Arbi was wild about my Paris paintings and flattered me to no end. I asked him what he did for a living. He told me that he sold peanuts, more precisely, praline or sugar coated nuts in The Flea Market in Saint Ouen. Not a potential client I thought.

Out of courtesy, I visited his stand, and sure enough, he had a great following.  He was constantly stirring the boiling sugar onto the fresh peanuts with one hand while collecting money for the packed sweeties with the other. Still, he was able to chat with me at the same and was smitten by my visit. 

The next time that I saw Arbi, was a couple of years later. He had a little tent-like stand on the Place 
Blanche in front of the Moulin Rouge with assorted colored bon-bons, a coton candy maker, soft drinks and the freshly made praline which  perfumed the boulevard. I made the above painting at that time. 

Now, he has once again upgraded.  He has a genuine kiosque. He makes crêpes and toujours the sugar-coated peanuts. They sell like hotcakes. He is the ultimate candyman.

Friday, February 7, 2014


 I panic for unreasonable reasons. I stay calm with life threatening crisis. One has to in order to escape. One relief method for my panic attacks is to go to the worse case scenario
and consider if it's really tragic or not. A doctor suggested "Meditation". Painting is a form of meditation, but I will give the real thing a try although I'm not really confident that I can handle it. 
Miracles do happen.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


water color and colored pencil 30x40cm.

Imagine being at La Musée d'Orsay late at night. All alone, surrounded by the grand sculpture collection. As the above work developed, that's what it reminded me of. Perhaps I should have added a mummy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


"What We Carry"
water color and colored pencil on papier Arches (30x40cm)
Yesterday I read an article about the oldest human being on the planet. A Japanese man 115.
Asked about his secret of longevity.  He had a lot to say. One curious comment was. "I never think about the past." Not so easy, I thought.


water color and colored pencil (30x40cm)

I wake before my eyes open in my atelier-apt. on the rue Tardieu. Opening my eyes, I close them again.
"Oh, It was just a dream." I muse, then try to reconstruct what I can remember of it.
Eyes open, I think about my agenda for the day. Projects.
I really have to go to Casto and get a new plug for my bathtub... doctor's for my blog-longtime neglected, and more. Much of which I will put off.
Then there are sounds. The click of the exit door next to my window.
Robert  4th floor is going out for his baguette. Then, there's Guy 5th floor off to the Synagog.
High heeled boots. Children and strollers on the cobble stone gabbing or sometimes crying.
Time to get up!


Ruby chez la princess from