Thursday, July 10, 2014

Matisse in Nice

On Saturday we had big plans of making another museum marathon, three in one day, this time in the South of France. We headed by train to Nice, to visit the Museé Matisse.
Like many of the other museums this too was in a beautiful building set high on a hill. 
Matisse is one of our favorite artists and this museum had a wonderful collection of his drawings, 
paintings, sculpture, collages as well as some of his personal collection of furniture and accessories from his home and studio. Many items displayed you could find in his drawings and paintings. There were three floors to discover and view and we took all morning and into the afternoon enjoying Matisse's beautiful works. 
We decided to head to the city center and check out Matisse's old stomping ground and explore the southern light that Nice is known for. As we waited for the bus to take us back down the hill, we enjoyed this view.
As we walked through the city, we were greeted by brightly colored beautiful old buildings and a bustling city. There was an electric energy between the bright sun, patterns on the pavements and boldly colored architecture. 

We made our way to the coast and could understand the draw of this city for Matisse. The sky and water were the bluest of blues and the sun glistened off of the stones on the shore. As we walked along the shore and took in the sites we decided the other two museums would just have to wait another day, we were spending the afternoon in this beautiful city by sea. We stopped and enjoyed the view by the shore and then made our way to Old Town Nice, where ate a delicious dinner as a jazz band played. I think we may have some seascapes to paint this year.

French phrase of the day:
City by the sea.  /  Ville par la mer.  / vil pah la mair

stay tuned...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Following Cezanne in Aix en Provence

The city of Aix in the Provence region of France is known as the city of fountains and for it's most famous son, Paul Cezanne.

We were able to follow in the footsteps of Cezanne and get a feel for the city where he was born, raised, worked and eventually died. We traveled down the main boulevard in Aix and came across the house he was born.

We took a bus up a hill to this street...

...where we found Cezanne's studio.

We were not able to take any pictures inside, so check out the link above to see what it looks like. Everything was left as it was when he had last used it, we could just imagine him there painting at his easel. It was so peaceful and the building and gardens were beautiful. We decided it would be a great spot for a quick watercolor painting.

French phrase of the day:
What a nice place.  /  Quell endroit sympa.  /  kehl ahn-dwah sahn-pah

stay tuned...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Committing Ourselves to the VanGogh Experience

Today we moved our home base to the south. We are staying the next few nights in a little town, St. Remy de Provence. Where Van Gogh was treated in a hospital for a year and created 142 paintings during his time here. Saint-Paul-de-Mausole was the monastery where Vincent van Gogh stayed from May 1889 to May 1890. We visited here and toured the building where there was a reconstruction of the artist’s room and the Van Gogh Field, where we saw 20 large-scale reproductions of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings on the site where they were created. We visited late in the day and there were not many visitors so it was very peaceful. We found it interesting that it still functions as a psychiatric hospital today, although this building has been turned into a museum.

Our hotel, Villa Glanum is right across the street from St. Paul on Avenue Vincent Van Gogh.

If you look out of our window you can see the olive trees that Van Gogh painted in his painting
  The Olive Trees

Going to sleep that first night, we thought about how we were sleeping under the stars that Van Gogh has made so famous in his painting Starry Night.

French phrase of the day:
This is the good life!  /  Que la vie est belle!  /  kuh lah vee ay behl

stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bienvenue a Auvers sur Oise

Today we took a train to Auvers sur Oise, where Vincent Van Gogh spent his final weeks and made over 70 paintings in his short time there. We were greeted at the train station by this mural as we passed under the tracks.

Our first stop was Auberge Ravoux, which is where Vincent rented a rom while in Auvers.

Across the street we saw the the Auvers Town Hall which you an see has not changed much since Vincent painted it in 1890.

Throughout the town their were reproductions of Van Gogh's paintings on signs next to where he painted. We were following in his footsteps throughout the town of Auvers. At times it felt like we were standing in one of his paintings. As we made our way through the town, we came across Le Parc Van Gogh where there is a statue of Van Gogh. You may notice there is a group of children in the park who were there on a field trip, school is still in session here in France!

Further down the road, we passed the Notre Dame D'Auvers, the Gothic church that he painted.

Just up the hill from the church is the cemetery where Vincent and his brother Theo are buried. Both graves are together at the back of the cemetery.

On our path we came across the spot where Van Gogh painted what many people believe was his last painting, Wheat Field with Crows.

Standing here in the middle of the wheat fields with the clouds swirling in the sky, we decided this would be the perfect spot to set up our easels.


We had such a wonderful time painting there on the same spot that Van Gogh had painted so long ago. Although not a Van Gogh masterpiece, our paintings will be a reminder of the day we followed in the great master's footsteps through the town of Auvers.

French phrase of the day:
we walk  /   nous marchons   /   noo mar-shohn

stay tuned...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Monet's Gardens at Giverny

Today we took a train to Vernon where we rented bikes and rode to Monet's home and gardens at Giverny. The beautiful views as we rode our bikes through the little towns of Vernon and Giverny were enchanting.

As we rode through the small village of Giverny we could understand why Monet choose this as his home and artists' commune, beauty and inspiration were around every turn as we made our way
to his home.


Our first stop was the Musée des Impressionissmes.

Here, we viewed paintings by several American artists who had gone to live and paint at Monet's home in Giverny. By this time Monet was a very famous artist and he taught many younger artists how to paint in the Impressionist style, using short, quick brushstrokes that show the essence of their 
subject, rather that details; often these artists painted en plein air (outdoors) showing the effects of light and shadows. 

After visiting the museum we made our way over to Monet's gardens where it takes 8 gardeners to 
maintain the 5 acre garden. 

Next, we made our way to the waterlily pond where we walked across the Japanese style footbridges and lingered while taking in the sites, imagining Monet in his later years painting those very large waterlily paintings that we saw a few days earlier at L'Orangerie.

Next, we toured Monet's home where they have stet up his studio to look like it did when he would 
have  been working there. There were sixty replicas of his paintings hanging on the walls.

As the rain clouds rolled in, we hopped back on our bikes for the ride back to the train station. Riding our bikes across the Sienne taking in the beautiful views in the rain is something we will never forget.

French phrase of the day:
We'd like to rent two bikes. / Nous voudrions louer deux vélos. /noo voo-dree-ohn loo-ay duh vay-loh

Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Painting the Siene

The Siene river flows right through the epicenter of Paris. For centuries, poets, painters, philosophers, and novelists have been inspired by the river.

There are 32 bridges that connect the Left and Right Banks of Paris and together they constitute one
of the major themes of Impressionist art. Renoir and Monet, often sharing canvasses, painted side by
side along the river. Today we followed in their footsteps and spent the morning painting side by side along the river Seine.

We took a workshop through Studio Pessemier and painted with Blair and Laurie Pessemier who helped us understand how to set up our supplies and the correct technique for plein air painting, which is painting outdoors. Plein air painting was started by the Impressionist artists and is a popular style of painting for many artists still today.

After our paintings were finished we walked over the Pont de Arts, which is a very popular bridge in Paris because couples come here to put a lock with their names on it from all over the world. The bridge sections get so heavy from all the locks that they break. They take down the panels when that happens and replace them. So, what happens to all those locks, well, Paris is known as the city of love and they couldn't possibly get rid of those couples' locks, so they store them in a warehouse forever. 
Next we took a boat tour along the Siene and can understand the artistic draw of this river. It was a beautiful day and the Parisians were out sitting along the river, eating their lunches, going for strolls along the river and sunning on the banks. We took many photos of the bridges so get ready, there just may be a "bridge" project of some sort in your future.

French phrase of the day:
Excuse me.          Pardon.         par-dohn

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Museum Marathon

I am writing this after a whirlwind day of touring three art museums. Needless to say, we are very tired and have to get up early tomorrow for a painting workshop, so this blog will be quick, but check out the links to the museum sites for more information.

We started our day at the most famous art museum in the world...The LOUVRE to compare the Classical painters of the 19th century with the precursors to Impressionism then we walked through the Tuileries Garden to Musée de l'Orangerîe where a collection of Impressionists paintings are housed. Next, we crossed the river to the Musée d'Orsay; here, the world’s finest collection of Impressionism as well as important precursors such as Courbet and Millet are displayed. 

After a very wonderful but tiring day, we ended in the perfect, peaceful spot, sitting on the lawn in a park, eating a baguette, under the Eiffel Tower.

We have been greeted with warmth and hospitality from the people here at every stop we make, so today's words are all about manners and we have heard them everywhere we go.

Hello, Good Morning, Good Afternoon.           Bonjour.                 bohn-zhoor
Please.                                                            S'il vous plait.            see voo play
Thank You.                                                          Merci.                    Mehr-see

Now, time to get some sleep, so we will be ready to paint tomorrow. Stay tuned...