It was cloudy a lot while I was in Paris. There were days I'd planned to go to a museum, and if the sun came out suddenly, I would change gears and paint to take advantage of it. And there were certainly days when I walked out hoping to paint something particular and ended up in a museum instead for lack of light. Overall, I found a great balance of seeing art and making my own. I'm happy with the crew of paintings I brought home. There are only a couple I really wanted to do and never quite got the chance to.
One day it was cloudy, and I was planning to go to the Musee d'Orsay, but when I got downtown, it was MISTY instead. Delicate, transporting, mysterious. I spent the morning doing three quick watercolors. I never left the apartment that trip without my art gear, and on this day I was particularly grateful.
I'm in the process of scanning in the watercolors from my French trip. The scans are much clearer and brighter than the snapshots I posted while I was traveling, so I'll repost the paintings as I get them scanned in.
I loved painting along the Seine. Walking up and down the river and across the bridges was one of my favorite parts of being in Paris. I enjoyed painting from the bridges and along the river. I wish I'd had time to do the fabulous old train station that now houses the Musee d'Orsay, but hopefully another trip will let me do that.
Below is the Grand Palais, which is a lovely birdcage of a building that rises up along the skyline.
This last one was done on the bridge between Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis. I loved that spot, which often had musicians busking. This is a quick one, done in a hurry before dinner and trying out my new waterproof ink with the paints. I treated myself to a new Lamy fountain pen to remember the trip and to house a different kind of ink than I normally use while sketching.
It's been nuts since I got home. I had a couple of nights back, and then I left again for a dance weekend with my sisters. I loved spending time with them after being gone for a month.
I hung out with awesome women (that's one of my sisters front and center):
danced to my favorite band with friends (and sisters, though no one got a shot of that):
and got dipped a few times:
Now I'm back to work. I was supposed to be in Cape May this week painting for Cape Resorts Group again, but bad weather cancelled my flight. So I have a little time to do some commissions here, catch up on my sleep, and get up there in the next few weeks more rested and ready to go at full speed. Overall a very good thing.
I've been quiet here lately as I frantically get ready for a month in France. One of my wonderful new sisters set me up to pet sit for three weeks with a friend of hers in Paris, and I'll spend one more week traveling the countryside somewhere. I leave this morning, and I've got copious sketch books packed, along with watercolor and pen and ink. I've never been to France at all, and I'm thrilled to have this chance to see the art there, see the churches and gardens, and make some of my own art as well.
In the meantime, here's a watercolor I did this week at Dixon Gardens with the Memphis Urban Sketchers.
I know artists who always have a sketchbook with them, and I've never been that organized. Thanks to the influence of the Memphis Urban Sketchers, however, I'm working on being prepared and have a tiny one in my purse now (assuming I'm carrying that...).
Recently it's paid off, and here are two quick tree studies from (moderately) recent trips. One the left is yet another stunning tree in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis. On the right is a pine from the parking lot of the dance weekend I went to in Chattanooga, TN. I probably would have finished the top part a bit more, but it was raining lightly as I worked, and I finally called it a day.
I finally got my second batch of prints photographed by David Nestor, who takes photos of all my work that is too large to fit on my scanner. It's nice to have good images to put up on the website. I know I've shared these here in progress via bad snapshots I took myself, but here's the second set of color prints as they should be seen.
Each of these is on 14x22" paper, and they are all priced at $140 each (the three color price), except the Elmwood print, which as only one block to carve and one printing, is $115.
I've got two more prints in progress, so watch this space for more, but first I'm going to go dance in Epiphany at the Chattaboogie dance weekend. I'll be back on Monday to dig in seriously and get back to work. Y'all have a great rest of the week!
All the work I've done for Cape Resorts Group in Cape May is being used by Stella Bean advertisers. They are building a new website for the group that incorporates my paintings, but Kevin Philip is also creating fun extras, like e-cards to send out for the holidays.
Below is the storyboard for the Congress Hall one, which uses three of my watercolors to make an animated card. You can flip through the document below to see the progression, and you can follow these two links to watch the full e-cards.
My very favorite thing about being in Cape May is the sycamore trees. I walk every day along streets lined with Victorian homes and dancing sycamores in the median strips. I had been quite anxious about these trees through Hurricane Sandy. I was relieved to find them all standing when I returned to Cape May in December. (Small potatoes, I know, in the context, but small things make me grateful.)
My first time I didn't have time to paint them at all, but I had a little more personal time built into the schedule this go-round, so I spent most of it drawing and walking among the trees.
These trees look a bit Seussian to me, and I decided this trip that when I get to the point where my body is adding odd folds and bumps, I'm going to try to see it as my transformation into a beautiful sycamore instead of ugly old age. (We'll see how that goes...)
Many of these trees reside on Hughes Street, my favorite street in Cape May. I'm grateful to Jessica Scott, a life-long Cape Mayer, for sending me there, knowing my love for trees. Here's a larger overview of a whole flock of trees in front of a lovely 1840's or so home.
And I think the trees love me too. I found numerous hearts on them, as if they were just waiting for me to walk by, touch them, and find those hearts.
Today I'm featuring The Virginia Hotel at Cape May, in my tour of places there I've painted recently. It is the truly lovely Victorian hotel owned by the same family as Congress Hall. I'm a total sucker for old buildings, and this is a lovely one. It also has an inviting and charming front porch, where one can procure a glass of wine and watch the world go by. Perfect.
Inside is the Ebbett Room, a truly first class restaurant. The kind that self-employed artists don't visit very often, so a real treat when I go to Cape May on this job is one utterly lovely meal in the dining room.
When I went back last week, the Virginia was all decked out for the holidays, and it was fun to paint its lighter side.
This is Congress Hall, the hotel whose owners have twice flown me up to do illustrations of this and other properties. This past trip (last week) was for me to be able to paint their many and varied Christmas activities. It was a perfect way to start the season for me. The family has created a marvelous holiday atmosphere, complete with a brilliant off-season use of the pool area as a German-feeling Christmas market. (But with hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's instead of the German gluhwine -- a vast improvement, to my mind.)
This trip I was able to stay in Congress Hall itself, which is a lovely old building with a double grand stairway upstairs that has railings that feel like silk from generations' worth of hands trailing along them. I adore old buildings, and this is a lovely and very welcoming-feeling one. The lobby, complete with its own tree, is shown below.
They are incredibly hospitable to me when I stay. At Congress Hall, I was delighted to find a New York Times outside my door every morning. And they feed me beautifully all week. They not only have wonderful restaurants on the campus (see the Blue Pig Tavern below), but the staff went out of their way to make me feel welcome, since I was there traveling alone. This is a rare sort of job for a self-employed artist to find, and I still can't believe my luck. Even better, they say they're having me back in the spring. I can't wait.