"Hercules sur le bucher", 1619
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Since October 2006 I have recorded every aspect of my artistic development on my blog. Here I invite you "behind the scenes" into my studio, where I share all of my materials, class notes, travel journals, and step-by step demonstrations of my paintings and drawings, including video demos.
How is it I have never been to Musee Carnavalet before? It's a museum about the history of Paris, and I guess I was never interested before because I'd heard it was all in French. I just thought it would have a bunch of stuffy exhibits with long explanations in French.
Turns out it's just a gorgeous gem of a museum. Starting with an incredible courtyard garden, it's an experience just to enter the beautiful scene. Even better, there was NO LINE at all, and on this particular day at least it was FREE. It felt like we'd stumbled on a secret museum!
Inside it's chock full of paintings of Paris, paintings in chronological order from throughout the history of painting. It was like a condensed tour of every era of French painting, but at a manageable scale, and all with Paris itself as the main subject.
In addition to the paintings, there are amazing exhibits and models - models of the Guillotine, the Bastille (the armory prison which was torn down during the Revolution and so no longer exists), models of Notre Dame and other churches, and tiny models of medieval Paris herself.
Because it's in two adjoining mansions and not in a huge museum building, we incorrectly assumed it was small. But after two hours we realized we had only seen the 16th century through the 18th century sections! There were still entire WINGS devoted to the Revolution, 19th century painting, and ancient, pre-Roman civilizations. We realized we'll have to come back again to really absorb it all. After three hours we were worn out, and we used our last shred of energy to buy the hardcover catalogue of the museum from the bookstore.
The best part about getting worn out in Paris is.... there's always a cafe nearby to recuperate in!
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is track down little off-the-beaten path places. l'Oisive The is a tea house I read about on a blog a few weeks ago. I had never explored this particular neighborhood called La Butte aux Cailles and I am always looking for new places to love in Paris, so we launched out in the light rain, arm in arm under Nowell's umbrella.
I was thrilled when the tea house was even better than expected - it's quiet and cozy, and the owner is a friendly American woman. I have to say, after 6 weeks in Paris it was really nice to order in English! Nowell and I sampled some of the homemade treats, I had an amazing scone hot out of the oven, and the first one was so good I ordered a second right away. We shared a big pot of Lotus Royal tea, steeped with a large sachet hand-tied around the top of the teapot. The combination of the tea, the gentle rain outside, the soft downtempo music and decor of charming flowered tablecloths put us in a happy mellow mood.
The neighborhood is a real find too. It looks like a little village with cobblestone streets, bistro restaurants, tiny markets, and dotted with people walking small dogs and parents walking their small children home from school.
More art coming soon..... my plans to paint in the Luxembourg gardens have been delayed by rain, but the sun is scheduled to shine again later this week.