About Sadie Valeri

Sadie Valeri is an award-winning classical realist painter. She offers art instruction in traditional realistic painting and drawing techniques, both online and at her beautiful San Francisco studio.
Read more about Sadie

Blog Highlights

Quick links to popular categories:

Materials and Techniques

Class Notes

Step-by-step painting demos

Hudson River Fellowship 2009

Women Painting Women Expedition

Travel

Art Classes and Workshops

New Workshops and Intensives for 2015!
Choose from One to Eight weeks of full time Intensive study.
>>Click here to see all Classes, Workshops, and Intensives


Sadie Valeri Atelier is a beautiful, friendly environment for focused study of Classical Realism Painting and Drawing.
> See All Classes

Sadie has produced a complete set of instructional vidoes sharing all her drawing and painting lessons. Videos can be purchased for download, or they can be watched streaming in her online class. For more information about videos and online instruction please visit the Videos page.

Mailing List
Enter your email address to be notified when new artwork, blog posts, and classes are posted.

Follow Sadie on Facebook
Search this Site

Blog

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, welcome!

Entries in travel (32)

Thursday
Aug112011

40 in France

This year I turned 40, and to celebrate I planned a month of landscape painting in France, something I have wanted to do since I first visited France at age 16. I chose the Dordogne region in the south-west of France because of it’s reputation for beautiful, varied landscape: rolling green hills, cliff towns, winding rivers, forests, and most important…… castles!!

Chateau Feyrac, 9x12, oil on paper

We rented a house in the gorgeous little town of Beynac-et-Cazenac, which is a network of steep cobblestoned streets and adorable stone houses crowned with a 12th century castle at the top.

Veiw of Chateau Beynac from the Dordogne, 9x12, oil in paper

I decided to paint on paper for a portable, lightweight material perfect for plein air sketches. Before the trip I cut sheets of Rives BFK printing paper in various tones into standard sizes, mostly 5x7 and 9x12. Then I primed the paper with 2 coats of Golden Acrylic Medium. Each day I just taped a piece of paper to a foamcore backing and mounted it on my Open Box M setup. It was a wonderful surface to paint on!

See my previous blog post post describing my plein air setup

As it turned out, it ended up raining for 2 of the 4 weeks we were in Beynac, so I did not get to paint nearly as much as I’d planned. But instead we hung out with visiting friends and family who shared our rental house and rented other houses in the same village.

Chateau Castelnaud, 9x12, oil on paperAt the very end of the trip the rain cleared and I got one last painting day in. I found a beautiful quiet spot next to a field of corn with a view of neighboring Chateau Castelnaud. The day was warm and lazy, and the #1 BEST thing about painting in France is….. NO MOSQUITOS!!!!

To see all of my paintings from France this summer:

Picasa Google+ Album: France Plein Air 2011

Facebook Album: France Plein Air 2011

See my photos of Paris, Beynac, and the Dirdgne region of France:

Facebook Album: Artsy Shots of France 2011

Wednesday
Apr202011

From the Hudson to the Dordogne

A view of the Dordogne River in France

In Summer of 2009 I was accepted into the Hudson River Fellowship started by Jacob Collins. I blogged during the month-long trip, posting all of my plein air sketches and paintings as we learned to study the landscape as the pre-Impressionist painters of the 19th century did: With careful, detailed contour drawings of foreground elements, and precise color analysis of the landscape.

This summer I’ll be spending the month of July with my husband in the Dordogne region of south west rural France,where we have rented a house and plan to set up a home base. I’ll be doing landscape study using the same Hudson River School methods and techniques to draw and paint the medieval villages, castles, and rolling countryside of this historic region.

I’ll be posting everything to my blog, and hope you’ll follow along with my plein air adventure! If you’d like to be notified the moment I post new artwork during my trip you can sign up for my mailing list by entering your email address in the column to the right of this post.

Wednesday
Nov172010

Plein Air Setup

 

 

 

Painting outdoors is inspiring, beautiful, centering, and so adrenaline-rushing as to be addictive!
However, it is also uncomfortable, frustrating, full of distractions, and when your umbrella topples your easel over in a breeze, exceptionally maddening.
I have finally assembled a setup I find to be ideal - a good balance of lightweight, sturdy, and flexible:

 

This is how I pack it:
Instead of carrying around tubes of oil paint, I load up my Open M pallete with fresh nuggets of paint before I leave for the day. Sometimes I pack a small tube of white, if it’s going to be a long day out.

 

I can fit my Open M pochade box, brushes, and solvent can in a backpack or shoulder bag, along with paper towels, lunch, etc.

The tripod, cane, Manfrotto arm, and umbrella I lash together with 2 short bungee cords. All those things combined are not very heavy, and I can carry it by the cane handle, or under my arm easily. For a long hike I might get a strap for it so I can carry it on my back.
Travelling with oil paints
I have traveled now many times with oil paint, and despite the horror stories we have all heard about having oil paints confiscated, I have never had a problem with this procedure:

 

Here is what I do:

 

  • Download and print a couple “material safety data sheets” (MSDS) which describe the contents of the paint - there’s a different sheet for every color, but I just choose 2 or 3 and print those. Each manfacturer writes up and makes data sheets available online as PDF for all their colors, just google search one your paint brands and a color name with the phrase “material safety data sheets” and you’ll find it.
    Here is a list of links to of many of the of MSDS paint brands
  • Print out a sign with big font that says:
    These are vegetable oil based artists materials.
    They are not flammable.
    Data sheets enclosed.
    DO NOT USE THE WORD “PAINT”. The word paint is a big problem.
  • Fold the MSDS sheets and the sign together so the big message shows up on top.
  • Put all the tubes of oil paint in a gallon-sized heavy duty ziplock, and put in the folded packet of sheets so the sign is visible through the plastic bag. Make sure every tube is tightly-capped and there are not any holes in any of the tubes, the pressure changes during the flight will make a mess of any leaky tubes.
  • Place the bag near the top of your suitcase with the sign-side up so it’s immediately accessible if security searches my bag. (I always get that little note saying they searched my bag, but my paint has never been confiscated.)
  • Check the bag. I wouldn’t try to bring paints on board.
  • I also packed a tiny tin of the “natural turpenoid” (in the GREEN can) along with my painting supplies in my checked bag, to use as my medium. It says non-flammable very clearly right on the tin. I wouldn’t use it as a medium in major paintings, but for sketches and all prima work while travelling it’s probably fine.
  • I wouldn’t bring any solvents, oils, mediums, or any kind of mysterious liquids in bottles. I usually buy those or borrow them when I arrive
  • Finally: Don’t forget your palette knife! :)


Hope that helps! It would be terrible if the paints got confiscated and that’s always a risk, so I can’t guarantee it will be fine, but it’s worked for me.

 

Sunday
Nov142010

WPW on Expedition: Final Recap

Sitting at the airport gate, I realize that out of our group of 12 artists, I am the last to leave Charleston, SC, if only by a mere 30 minutes. Starting on Thursday, members of our little group started to reluctantly peel away, each of us returning to our studios, family, and the demands of daily life. Enormous duffels of painting equipment were trundled down the porch steps and loaded into cars, the furniture was returned to its original positions, and as the last of us closed the door on the beach-front house, there was no sign of the easels, tripods, drop cloths and rows of drying paintings that had made their temporary invasion.

The impact of the week on each of the 12 artists, however, will be more permanent.


In the beginning, we were all a bit apprehensive. A dozen women in a house for a week? But after the first couple days, a sense of relief seemed to fall over the group as we realized it was actually working: We were painting for most the hours of every day, talking art every minute we were not painting, and quickly becoming attached to one another.

Many of us were sleeping 2 to a bed, the rest on inflatable mattresses and couches, all 12 of us negotiating just 3 1/2 bathrooms. But despite the tight quarters, the trip was nothing if not organized, mainly through the efforts of Alia, and with help from Diane, who between the two of them had anticipated every conceivable need over the months leading up to the trip. Cooking and cleaning duties had been assigned in advance, massive grocery runs were organized the first days, an improvised but elegant method for reimbursing shared expenses was soon devised by tacking envelopes to the bulletin board. Locations for plein air painting had been scouted, models had been scheduled. Everything was set up for us to work!

Before the trip, most of us only knew 1 or 2 of the others. The idea had started among the three of us who founded the WPW blog, Alia, Diane and myself, and the two artist bloggers Cindy and Lisa of ArtStudioSecrets.com. The five of us then each nominated other artists we knew and admired, and the group quickly took shape. However at the last minute we were all disappointed when life events conspired to prevent Lisa’s attendance. (In the end, we were an even dozen, and next year we are determined that Lisa will make us a baker’s dozen!)

Despite the daunting prospects of travelling with plein air gear, navigating a high-profile opening at Robert Lange, and then embarking on a “Real World” -style living situation, we set a single goal: To make painting the number one priority of the week, putting aside all distractions. And as soon as we started working with a model at 9am our first morning at the house, the collective energy began to carry us all.

Mia was the first one out painting on the beach, and banged out an oil sketch that set the bar high for the rest of us. For the rest of the week, day trips to surrounding marshes, parks, historic cemeteries, botanical gardens, Charleston’s French Quarter, and the lovely home of artist Shannon Runquist, kept us more than busy during the day. We then hired models in most the evenings, so we were often painting until 10pm. Several of us tried our hand at cooking for 12, and we did a good job of feasting in addition to painting.

But the most amazing part of all was how our conversations penetrated to deeper issues during the week. Discussions that began with the best way to prepare a plein air canvas, or about what colors to use in a sky, began to evolve into interviewing each other about how we each address our personal struggles with studio life: Managing time, finances, commissions, galleries, and family; combating isolation and depression; sacrificing other goals and interests for the undivided pursuit of painting. Over and over were heard exclamations of “me too!” when these struggles were confessed. I know for myself, and I am sure for each of us, issues I thought were only my problem turned out to be shared by every artist in the house.


As artists, we work alone most the day, and our solitude is necessary and closely guarded. But peaceful, fortifying solitude can easily slip into lonely isolation. As women, there are both evolutionary and spiritual reasons it is necessary to our survival to connect with other women, to find common ground and form deep bonds of understanding, to navigate conflicts and find abundance where we thought there was only scarcity. To cheer for our competition and feel true joy in their successes.

I do know that this week for me was so deeply satisfying, so soul-nourishing, that I am sure in my bones that this kind of connection with sister artists is essential.

To Alia, Diane, Cindy, Mia, Alex, Cathy, Linda, Kate, Stephanie, Terry, and Rachel (and to Lisa who could not come but whom we thought of often):

Thank you!!!

Thank you all, for catching the spirit of the trip and bringing your energy and enthusiasm, for being flexible with your needs and generous with your help and advice, and most of all for being so willing to trust us and to reveal yourselves.

UPDATE:
Several of the WPW Expedition group have now blogged about the trip, you can read their posts here

Friday
Nov052010

Women Painting Women On Expedition

Twelve of the brightest rising female painters from across the country will be convening  November 4-12 2010 for a week of painting the figure, the city and the beautiful marshes and beaches surrounding Charleston, South Carolina.

We have arrived in Charleston!  Amazingly I woke up at 7am here this morning just in time to see the dawn, despite still being on West Coast time after a day of flying yesterday. I arrived into a small cyclone of artists, it feels like a reunion even though many of us had never met in person before last night.

9am the first day and we are already all set up and painting and drawing a live model Alia hired for us:


The living room of the Sullivan's Island house

This morning we are already set up to paint and draw with a live model in the living room of our beach house.

The following are the On Expedition 2010 participating artists (click the name for links):

Alexandra Tyng – Narberth, PA

Alia El-Bermani – Cary, NC

Catherine Prescott – Harrisburg, PA

Cindy Procious – Chattanooga, TN

Diane Feissel – Philadelphia, PA

Katherine Stone – Toronto, ON, Canada

Linda Tracey Brandon – Phoenix, AZ

Mia Bergeron – Chattanooga, TN

Rachel Constantine – Philadelphia, PA

Sadie Valeri – San Francisco, CA

Terry Strickland – Pelham, Alabama

Stefani Tewes –Laguna Beach, CA

This inaugural painting retreat and exhibition represents the first effort by Women Painting Women to encourage women artists, advance art education, and showcase some of the best painting happening today. Women Painting Women founder Sadie Valeri states the following:

“The quality, professionalism, and high level of training and vision being expressed by women artists have the potential to alter all of our ideas about who is making art and what they are saying. The paintings we have displayed on the Women Painting Women website express the wide-ranging and constantly shifting issues of identity and self-expression women face as they navigate their lives – including choices about how, whether and when to raise families. We have noticed that many women feel they are struggling with these issues alone, but seeing all the artwork together is developing a sense of community among us.”

Follow Women Painting Women on Facebook

Friday
Oct012010

Hispanic Society Sarollas, NYC


Last week I flew to New York for a very fast trip to attend the opening of the Small Works show at Arcadia Gallery. My dear friends Diane Feissel and Alia El-Bermani made a daytrip of it by trekking all the way from Philadelphia and Raleigh, NC, respectively, to enjoy the day with me in Manhattan. We decided to take a quick subway trip up to the Hispanic Society to see the Sarolla murals, and what a treat!



The museum is a gem, built expressly to showcase the collection, and best of all it's completely free! Walking into the enormous room of Sarolla murals was jaw-dropping: A panorama of luscious brush strokes expertly capturing the blazing sunlight and dappled shade of the Spanish countryside and traditional festivals. Sarolla was commissioned by the Society to create these murals expressly for this location.

Diane and Alia have both written wonderful blog posts about our day together, they both have more photos of the paintings, check them out here:
Diane's Blog
Alia's Blog



Tuesday
Nov172009

Montreal from a Musical Perspective

My Brooklyn-based friend Kyra kindly accompanied me on my jaunt to Montreal to see Waterhouse last week, and on her blog she has written up our trip from a musical perspective.

I think you'll find it amusing to compare her writeup to mine - you'll read she bought black pointy-toed boots, whereas at the same store I bought round-toe eyelet-patterned pale pumps, which may sum up our complimentary contrasts (as well the different shoe requirements of our respective cities). But we agree on issues such as good wine at dinner, raw oysters at brunch, and speaking bad French to cab drivers - not to mention the need to consume croissants and coffee immediately upon waking - so we're fantastic travel partners.


Check out her fabulous music blog SWICK: Smartest Women I Know to read about our Montreal trip from an audiophile's perspective.

Friday
Nov132009

Waterhouse and Vermeer

I've just returned from a very fast trip to see the Waterhouse retrospective in Montreal and the Vermeer exhibit at the Met in New York - a whirlwind jaunt scheduled between Thursdays when I must be in San Francisco to teach my class.


Photos were not allowed in the exhibit but I've found a few repros of my favorites from the exhibition. The painting above just glowers at you, such a strange composition with the dark face surrounded by blinding light. In person the rough brushstrokes are surprising - the painter's drawing ability is so precise that he can throw down a swatch of golden drape with just a scumbled a stroke or two.

What impressed me most about seeing the Waterhouse paintings in person is the incredibly precise control of hue and value the painter employs to create his striking compositions. I realized every reproduction I've even seen is grossly inadequate in both color and value - including these here. Waterhouse paintings in person have enormous ability to control how you look at them, even inch of composition is worked out and every shift of hue and value is set to create a precise experience of the spaces he creates.

And yes, I got to see 'my' mermaid painting, the same one I loved and copied at age 12.


Back in New York I had just a few hours to run through the Met - saw some old favorites, tried not to get distracted, and made it to the Vermeer collection even though I mistakenly wore new shoes and had aching feet.

I did sneak a quick photo of Milkmaid and was swiftly reprimanded by a watchful guard. But it's only the second time the painting has been exhibited in the US and I couldn't resist a quick snap. A girl's head got in the way, but it gives you a sense of scale - the painting is tiny, and glows like a jewel. I never knew it before, but one of the tiny decorations on the baseboard behind the milkmaid is a cupid - indicating she is thinking of her love.

While in New York I also visited Janus Collaborative and Grand Central Academy, to see my teachers and friends and to get my annual fix of dreaming what it would be like to study full time in a classical-tradition atelier. Take a look at GCA's gorgeous cast studio -- the room is arranged so each and every sculpture cast in the room is mounted against a neutral background and lit with a single light source -

As a final stop I made a pilgrimage to Arcadia Gallery just before closing time on my last day, and got to drink in some Hicks brushstrokes and Liberace linework. I even got to see a recent Sprick still life where he plays with the perception of foreground and background. Looking at a Sprick painting is like watching a master chess player - one with a sense of humor.

Overall a very productive and art-full trip.

Saturday
Aug222009

Exhibit - Corot in California


My husband and I drove down to Santa Barbara for the weekend to see the current exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on the French 19th century landscape painter, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

Park of M. Wallet at Voincinlieau 1866

The exhibit was two small rooms, only about a dozen works, but it showed a good variety from early and late periods in Corot's career, both sketches and highly finished works. It was exactly what I came to see, because I wanted to get a close look at how the paint is layered.

The styles of his early and late work are distinct - flat planes of brightly lit daytime scenes earlier on in his career, to his signature style of dark, silvery blurred forest scenes he came to be famous for. But the basic technique seems to be fairly consistent throughout.

"Large Sharecropping Farm" - 1865
(this painting was not in the exhibit, just similar to the one below I looked at)

The biggest disappointment of the exhibit was that photography was strictly prohibited and there was no catalogue or even a postcard published for the exhibit. The images here are ones I found online.

I took a lot of notes:


This is my thumbnail sketch of a painting called "The Water Trough at St. Omer" from the 1860's, but unfortunately I can't find a photo of it online. Most my notes were based on this painting because although it's a finished work done in the studio, it had patches where the underpainting was visible in some areas.

These are my notes for how I believe Corot built a painting:

Stage 1: Block in main light and dark of composition
1. Start with middle-value toned canvas in warm umber, not too light nor too dark
(may have mapped out composition with a contour drawing using a small round brush, but those lines are not visible.)

2. Shadow values: Mass in thin, colored underpainting ebauche of the large dark masses, mainly greens and browns (brightly lit mid-day scenes seem to have a lavender-grey underpainting).
  • Underpainting darker value than middle-value canvas ground.
  • Ground plane and foliage of trees laid in with careful drawing, using small bristle brush.
  • NO tree trunks, branches, individual leaves, or details.
  • Allow to dry (thin paint probably dried quickly, within the first session).

3. Light values - Mass in light areas, eg water and sky: Thin paint, soft at edges.
  • Sky background: ultramarine at top, cobalt or cerulean next, down to white, painted in gradation down to horizon, pinks at horizon if a sunrise.
  • Use light areas to refine shapes of dark areas. Careful painting around architecture and other firm lines. Still, no hard edges, very small value differences to create edges.
4. Cloud shadows painted in exact same value as sky underneath, slightly warmer neutral hue than sky. No light clouds yet.

5. Allow to dry

Stage 2: Middle values and color
6. Add color: thin paint, glazes maybe, slightly lighter values to mass in lighter values of greens in trees, areas where light hits foliage. Allow ebauche underpainting to show through in shadows, esp ground plane.

7. Tree trunks and branches: indicate with thin, transparent paint, harder edges.

8. Sky: paint clouds by building up lights to whitest whites, use thicker brushstrokes.

9. Allow to dry

Stage 3: Details and finishing glazes
10. Paint transparent umbers and blues over sky to unify color variations, but use individual brushstrokes, not completely smooth. Glaze very thin umber over thick whites strokes, wipe away, to give volume to brushstrokes.

11. Final pass of details in both dark and light
  • Paint darkest accents, small areas of deep shadow in black
  • Thin, transparent tree trunks, very thin branches and dabs of leaves in transparent paint
  • Tree trunks are different values from each other, and different values from top to bottom. Some tree trunks have white added to bring forward, some are transparent and sky shows through, some are opaque.
  • Small dabs of leaves and flowers in green, yellow, brown, white, both lighter and darker than background
  • A couple tiny red dabs
  • Final pass of glaze on sky, neutral grey-blue to unify
Notes:
  • Sky is always lighter than reflecting water
  • Tree trunks are darkest where most branches cluster

View of Rome, Bridge and Castle of St Angelo w/ Cupola of St. Peter's 1826-28

1. Middle value canvas, warm hue
2. Shadows: Main masses blocked in with a wash of cool neutral (lavender?) shadow hue, careful contours
3 Lights: Sky, water blocked in, careful contours
4 Middle values laid over dry underpainting (e.g. light half of cupola laid over shadow)
5 Darkest accents
6 Lightest lights, small touches

Note: Area of highest contrast is focal point of composition: more refined detail, lights and darks laid down next to one another

This is all my best guess... if you know of how Corot worked, please tell me!

Wednesday
Jun172009

Plein Air in Utah

I just spent 5 days in Utah visiting my good friend and fellow painter Janell for a plein air painting trip in her hometown of Park City. The weather was unusually rainy/cloudy/windy for Utah in in June, but we managed to paint between raindrops.

Utah is just incredibly gorgeous and I spent most the 5 days with my mouth agape while admiring the dramatic displays of alternating mist and sunlight rolling off the mountains.



It was very, very cold. I actually had a single HAILSTONE land in my pochade box. Do I get some sort of plein air badge for that?

This pretty little streak of sunlight disappeared as soon as it was too late to change my painting, and only made intermittent appearances for the duration of the session. I spent the time between episodes of sunshine practicing painting the purple sage.


My amazing dad knit me these fingerless painting mittens from the softest green wool. From this angle you can't see, but they even have an intricate cable braid down he back of the hand. Far too nice to use for painting, but he insisted it's ok if I get paint on them.

It was all good practice to get ready for my upcoming month of outdoor painting in upstate NY.

Saturday
May162009

Hudson River Fellowship

I've been accepted to this year's Hudson River Fellowship, 4 weeks studying landscape painting with Jacob Collins! So I'll be spending this July in upstate New York, trekking my pochade box around the Catskills. 

Wednesday
May282008

Paris: Louvre Sketch: Reni Hercules II

Sketchbook:
After Guido Reni's
"Hercules sur le bucher", 1619
Louvre, Paris

I went back to the Louvre and worked on my drawing some more based on some helpful comments from my teacher Tim Stotz, you can see my earlier version here.

Tuesday
May272008

Paris: Amelie Beaury-Saurel

Portrait of Caroline Remy Severine by Amelie Beaury-Saurel
Musee Carnavalet in Paris


I found this gorgeous portrait of a woman writer by a woman painter at the Musee Carnavalet. Turns out the painter AmelieBeaury-Saurel was a famous portrait painter in the late 19th century and ran a woman's art school. She was married to Rodolphe Julien, who established Academie Julien, a French art school women were allowed to attend.

Tuesday
May272008

Paris: Musee Carnavalet

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!

Tuesday
May272008

Paris: l'Oisive Tea

l'Oisive The

Yes, I am on vacation, so no new art. But I can share some recent small Paris treasures we have found!

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.

Monday
May192008

Paris: Fois Gras

Nowell and I found a restaurant the specializes in fois gras dishes - heaven! This is me under the sign after we ate there (sporting my stylish new Parisian parapluie/umbrella).

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.

Friday
May162008

Paris: Louvre sketch: Reni Hercules

Sketchbook:
After Guido Reni's
"Hercules sur le bucher", 1619
Louvre, Paris

Luckily my husband loves museums too, so he was content to wander alone while I worked on this sketch.

I love this painting, how the ribcage feels like a heavy living mass of bone and connective tissues, sagging and stretching within a flexible network of skin and muscle barely holding everything together. The pelvis and ribcage are resenting their connection by the spine, each urging towards their own expression. The belly is only an afterthought, no intention of its own, merely subject to other forces. The limbs are all secondary, the gesture is complete in the torso.

Thursday
May152008

Paris: Louvre Sketch after Pajou

Sketchbook:
After Augustin Pajou's "Pluto Chaining Cerberus", 1760

I brought Nowell to the 18th century French sculpture wing of the Louvre today. It was fun to watch his jaw drop as we rounded the corner into the Puget Courtyard, full of the examples of the pinnacle of figurative sculpture. He was content to roam around filming for a while I worked on this sketch.

Wednesday
May142008

Paris: Musee Rodin

Sketchbook
After Rodin's "The Three Shades"


Nowell and I spent the afternoon at the Rodin Museum in Paris. It currently has an excellent exhibit on Camille Claudelle, Rodin's mistress who was an accomplished a sculptor as Rodin. This life-size figure group is outdoors in the gorgeous garden of the museum.

Nowell recreated a picture we took six months ago at Philadelphia's Rodin Museum:

Tuesday
May132008

Paris: Medici Fountain

Sketchbook:
Medici Fountain, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Every time I come to Paris I visit Marie de Medici's Fountain, tucked away in a corner of the Luxembourg Gardens. The first time I drew this fountain was exactly 20 years ago, when I was 16 and in Paris for the first time. Maybe I can track down that old sketchbook and post my first drawing of the sculpture.