Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hooray!!!

Got some very amazing news yesterday, and I can only keep thanking God over and over for a miracle--my Dad suddenly responded to his treatment, I mean, DRAMATICALLY responded.  His blood counts dropped like a stone, which means the chemo is starting to work for him.  Doesn't look like salvage will be necessary, and hopefully, God willing, he is back on the road to remission.  I'm so happy, it's the best Christmas present ever!

On another good note, I will be exhibiting in New York City in mid-January, so I hope to see some of my old and new friends there.  I will be exhibiting with other women artists in the National Association of Women Artists 2010 exhibition.  The exhibit begins January 15th, and the opening reception is on January 20th, from 5 pm to 7 pm.  The gallery is located at 80 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1405, New York, New York.  You can email me for more details and I'll post them as they become more known to me as well ;-)

Anyhow, I wish the happiest of all happiness to you all for this upcoming holiday, May God Smile On Us All!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow and the blues

Feeling rather sad today.  I was looking through old photos, and wondering where time has gone...the kids were little, we were young and carefree...now, I feel time has caught us. 

Dad's treatment seems to have failed at this point, it seems he has become refractory to his protocol.  Refractory.  The one word no patient wants to ever hear.  His numbers have come back up, and his Dr. will look to try a clinical trial for salvage.  Salvage.  A sinking ship.  A dying patient.  My Dad.  I'm numb now.

Will this be our last Christmas together?  Will we lose him?  Will the new year take him away from us?  Who else will not make it through 2010??  We have so many who are sick in our family now...I can't think about it, since it makes my heart just sink in my chest.

I hope my brother is having a happy birthday...he has many cares on his shoulders, so I hope today will be good to him. 

I don't know if I can drag myself outside to work...I may never stop.  I'll just lose myself in my painting...another world, where there is no sickness and no death.  Just happy, smiling faces of the people you love...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New painting--"Siene in December" Day 2



Here is the start of day 2, and below, is where I had to end off, due to some sudden business outside the studio that cropped up--but I will get back to it early tomorrow morning.

New painting--"Siene in December" Day 1


Here is the first stage of this painting--I had put together several sketches, and did a final composition, as the basic reference.  I'm never too hard or fast with making an exact replica, so I kind of just remember what my impression of that day was, and blend it with my initial on site sketches...so I am intimate with the scene in my mind, I have no doubt of what struck me as beautiful that day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to work!!


Out all day in studio--feeling much better...still don't have an appetite, but who would complain about that LOL

Started a new painting based on sketches and references I did in Paris...will do a series of 5 paintings only until I return to France in the summer for a more immersive study.

I'll post the progress as I go, because I have had a few people indicate this would be interesting to them, rather than just seeing the very end finished painting.

It's pretty warm today, but my studio is still a bit damp, so I can't wait for our friend to come and insulate it at the end of the month...or it's gonna continue being mighty chilly out there! I'll have to lose myself in Bocelli and that will thaw me out...his incredibly beautiful voice will keep me warm ;-)

Anyway, here I'll leave you with a photo I took from the first level (Floor 1) of the Eiffel Tower...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Clearing out the cobwebs

This flu really knocked the wind out of me, but I feel about 90% better today--certainly not 100%, but at least able to eat a bowl of oatmeal.

I am trying to get beyond the lazy urge to still remain curled up on the couch, and get out to my studio, but I don't think I have the constitution yet, so I can do both--I'm curled up doing some preliminary sketches and rough layouts for some new paintings, and making notes, etc. This way I don't feel like this flu has still gotten the better of me ;-)

I'll see how I feel in a few hours from now, but I am still very drowsy and achy, so I don't know if it's even good to push it at this point, after all, as Scarlett O'Hara famously said, "Tomorrow is another day!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flu Season has arrived!

Ugh. I've been K.O.'ed by norovirus...AKA--the Stomach Flu, the Winter Vomiting Sickness, The BUG. I wanted to get out into my studio today, since I was really looking forward to starting a new piece, and last night turned into a nightmare of...well, you know the drill.

So, now I feel like Santa's elves did the chicken dance on me, and I can barely move from my bed...how I hate being sick...but so does everyone, and it's just part of life, because, in all fairness, I was overdue--hadn't had a stomach flu in about 10 years.

Anyway, stomach permitting, I will be out in my studio tomorrow morning, and greatly looking forward to getting a warm fire cranking, and getting a new series started. I hope you all are feeling well, and if you do get sick, ginger ale and sipping water seemed to keep me alive, so I'll pass that little tidbit along!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home sweet home!

Well, it was an arduous trip, but after crossing all time zones and being up for close to 36 hours, we arrived back home from Paris last night. We walked through the door like two zombies, carrying our luggage and two bags of Chinese from the local takeout for everyone.

The family was delighted to see us as we were to see them, and we ate and talked a while, and then I headed off to sleep, disregarding the 16 new messages on the home line, and the messiness of the house, or the fact I had to unpack...it would all wait till today.

Around 4 a.m., Noelle came down crying to tell me she got sick and didn't make it to the bathroom, so I comforted her about it, and after that was cleaned, I slept till about 8 a.m., and over coffee, Anthony came down stairs looking for ginger ale since he was up all night vomiting also...apparently the stomach flu has reared its ugly head here, as all the kids are/were vomiting and laid up.

After getting things settled, we got news this morning of Mark's sister being very ill with cancer. It shocked us and saddened us, since she took ill on her drive back to Florida from our home, we thought it was only a "stomach thing" and it turned out to be something unimaginably worse...they operated over the weekend, and we hope after her treatment, she will have a full recovery.

So that's it. Paris was wonderful, and now back to mainstream life for the time being. I have several new paintings I need to work on, and will be pulling new prints this week, so I'll keep you all posted!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Parting is sweet sorrow...

Well, our time has come to kiss our new friend Paris goodbye, for now. We leave in the very early a.m. back home, and as I walked Monmarte one last time tonight, I was surprised at how much I fell in love with Paris in such as short time--it was, in true form to this Romance capital, "love at first sight."

As for our last day here--it was fun, and relaxed, and more leisurely. We headed out to the Musee de Orsay at around lunch time, after sleeping in and having some eggs, croissant and juice. We had an easy journey there, and, Murphy's Law, it was closed Mondays. Go figure...

Although I was disappointed, I was determined, and we realized that the Grand Palais had a Renoir exhibition going on, so off we went. After waiting online for about an hour, we got and were not disappointed. The show was lovely, with many of Renoir's lesser known paintings on exhibition, as well as a few compatriot Post-Impressionists such as Bonnard, Matisse, Gaugin, and even a Picasso. Nice.

After we finished up, we strolled along Champ Elysees, and hit up the Christmas festival...they had wonderful stands, and we were amazed by the different foods for sale, and we couldn't resist--they had a salmon stand--open fire with long, fresh fillets of salmon, rubbed with sea salt and spices, and they would just cut it off the roasting fillet, and put it into a baguette, with a nice white sauce on it. It was amazing! We also tried a fresh duck sandwich--incredible, and had tastes of a REAL hot dog from the German stand--delicious, and a sample of a chocolate crepe. We were stuffed to bursting at this point, and still the food stands were unending--caviar and vodka tastings, dry goods, huge varieties of wines and cheeses, Spanish sausage...we were in complete amazement. No popcorn or anything you'd expect at an American fair, and this both delighted and intrigued us.

We also explored the Basilica Sacre Coer, which was so beautiful, it actually topped Notre Dame, IMHO. The architecture, sculptures, and complete ceiling murals were incredible, not to mention you walk out and have the entire of Paris below you..

We loved the L'Eglise de Madeleine, which from the outside, looks like a massive courthouse, but is a Church...when you get inside, it is breathtaking in it's Rococco decor and lavish statues. The alterpiece statue of Christ's ascension and angel escorts is absolutely regal.

We got back to the flat, and after our gastronomic insanity of the afternoon, were both feeling it, so we decided the best thing to do is to sip a little sparkling water and then walk it off...worked like a charm!

We got in rather early, and spent the night making calls, packing, arranging our taxi departure, etc., and catching up on business--code: getting ready to head back to reality...I was feeling rather forlorn about it, but I noticed that I sold a painting online today, while here in Paris--so I take that as a good omen! Paris is asking me to come back and work and expand here...and so, we will! We've started laying tracks for Parisienne representation, Parisienne weblinks, etc...so, we'll see this beautiful lady of a city again very soon. Au revoir!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blue lights, blue hair and the Eiffel Tower


I'm sitting here sipping a glass of wine, the wide window of our flat open, letting in the cool evening air...whew, what a day!

We woke up a little late, and had a breakfast of juice, fruit and croissant, and headed off to the Musee de Orsay. We're now pretty savvy with getting around on the Metro, so we got there with ease.

It had started to rain, but no problem, we have our umbrellas...as we get to the Musee, we see the lines--I mean, it's like nothing you've ever seen in the States--only if you were waiting to get into a pro football game or top billed concert--there were literally hundreds of people, with the lines wrapping city blocks...I was completely aghast looking at what would be a several hour wait to get in--and we are not working with alot of time on this little holiday, so as the rain began to rain on us in buckets, we began to wander along the Siene, with no idea of what to do now that our plans were thwarted--even the Eiffel Tower had disappeared into a shroud of fog...As the rain pelted us harder and harder, we began to bicker and wander, growing more frustrated by the minute--just as the rain began to hit us full force, and our arguing grew a little more heated, a cab rounded the corner and literally threw a waterfall of water onto Mark--I laughed so hard, I almost wet my pants--even after his initial shock and rage, he had a good belly laugh at it...and then, the rain stopped as quickly as it started.

We found we had wandered, quite unintentionally, within a few blocks of the Eiffel Tower--much to our delight and surprise. We just followed the direction of the tower, and just kept moving, every few blocks seeing it would loom larger...as we got very near to it, it seemed to disappear--we were dismayed, and as we contemplated stopping to check our map, we turned the corner, and there it was...I mean, THERE IT WAS. Magnificent and beautiful, it stunned me with it's size and grace...it was quite a moment for me.

We entered the park around it, and it was somewhat empty due to the earlier weather. We had a little language barrier trying to buy our tickets in...and Mark and I, in our American naivete, thought the line for "escalators" meant that--as if there would be an escalator in the Eiffel Tower! Well, the Eiffel tower has two levels, and then the "summit"--we began our ascent, and it was SCARY, since the steps are metal and wet, but the French ran up like it was nothing, so we tried also. We were literally ready to drop dead by the time we reached the first level, which is about 300 feet. The observation deck was a welcome reprieve, and we tried to catch our wind and with much trepidation, would scale the next 200 or so feet to the second deck...if we survived, and there, take the elevator, or "terror" to the top. Mark looked at me anxiously and asked, "Are you quite sure you want to do this?" I laughed and said, "Sure...I guess.." I mean, how could we say we chickened out of going to the top? But, the weather decided our trip for us--much to our secret relief, the "summit" was closed due to high winds, so we smiled, took some pictures, and moved on from there.


After leaving the Eiffel Tower, we wandered the local streets, a beautiful, wealthy quarter, and we were pretty hungry after all the walking and climbing, so stopped in for authentic "Chinois"--after all, we had to try French Chinese. It was surprisingly good, and after a pot of hot tea to reheat our soggy forms, we were off and running to find the Arch of Triumph and Champ Elysees--we figured out the route with our metromaps, and went looking for the nearest metro station. After hopping on and realizing we were heading in the wrong station, we jumped off and reboarded, and got off at Charles DeGaulle Square, right in front of the Arch of Triumph. The square was insane with people and cars, and Champ Elysees was lit up like a blue Christmas tree--it reminded me of Times Square with the thousands of lovely blue lights, bustle and stores. Pretty neat, but very congested. We spotted the second McDonald's we saw in ALL of Paris, that's right, only two in all of our travels, and decided we had to taste a burger just to see what a french Micky D's tasted like. Guess what--exactly the same as America. It's like they fly their hamburgers over here...not an appetizing thought, lol. The array of characters was enormous, from street performers to boys walking around in blue dresses, with blue hair. What that is supposed to mean, I don't know, but at least it doesn't have much chance of catching on with any of our sons in America LOL.

We made our way through a huge Christmas fair on Champ Elysees in full swing--we smiled at the different food stands--chestnuts and wine, duck "sandwiches", foie gras, crepes, and of course, more wine. We extracted ourselves from the crush of people, and made our way to the Palais, and the famous Pont Alexandre III bridge, and then headed to the Metro, since we were now pretty exhausted. After a grueling last set of stairs, and a stop in the local supermarket for some eggs and groceries for tomorrow's breakfast, we were barely able to crawl up the two flights of stairs to our flat.

Moral of the story--if you come to Paris, you'll see why the Parisiennes are all so thin--you're going to walk and climb about 30 miles a day if you go it the "Parisienne" way...wow...lots of footwork, but well worth it.

So, now time to soak my poor feet ;-)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ah, Paree

I awoke fitfully this morning...I took a sleep enhancer, and finally drifted off around 6 am Paris time...I got some sleep, thank goodness, and woke up with bells on my toes!

After buying a baguette and some juice, Mark couldn't live without his morning coffee, so we found the only fastfood joint in the entire quarter--a very empty Starbucks...and he was reprieved.

My cat socks...they're still smiling...in amazing shape after the journey today...walking, running, hiking, laughing, meditating...

We started this morning rather late, but we more than made up for our slow start.

We headed out immediately, with the Louevre being the destination...after a confusing bus ride since we really didn't know if we were reading the bus routes right, we made it to the Louvre, and the building itself was unbelievable, with or without the art. It's massive, and every inch of it is ornate and lavish--we were pretty amazed by it. Inside, they have an extensive collection of classical art--we tried to get a picture of the Mona Lisa, but the without flash photography, and the fact the artwork is somewhat hidden away by plexiglass, it was a fruitless task. Mark got a little upset about not being able to get a good shot of it, but I told him not to worry, in all honesty, I never saw anything very amazing about that painting--it's just pure hype IMHO, and there were many other paintings in the Louvre, by Ingres, David, Gericault, Botticelli, that I thought completely blow the Mona Lisa off the map.

The only sad thing about the Louvre is that it still has no Impressionist collection...I guess they still think like old Paris Salon in thinking that the Impressionists were heretics and not artists, and since many of Paris museums are on strike right now, we don't know if Musee D'Orsay is open, and that is where the Impressionist paintings are--it would be sad to think I'd get here and not be able to see the Impressionist collection they have, but that only means one thing--I'll have to come back!!

After leaving the Louvre, we set out to see Notre Dame, and that was another amazing landmark. It was so beautiful, decorated for Christmas, with the mammoth tree in front. The interior is so lovely and gothic, with the dramatic, soaring arches and buttresses, symmetrical columns and intricate stained glass...built for God, out of love and respect. Unbelievably mind blowing. I lit a candle for my Grandmother, since I know she would have loved this place.

We went on a wild underground Metro ride after, but somehow found our way back to Monmarte just as dark was falling and the rain came...didn't matter though, since we esconced ourselves at a bistro and had a nice warm meal, then headed in.

It was quite an enjoyable day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Paris

I am sitting here in our little flat in Monmarte, munching on fig newtons, and listening to the rain hit the little ceiling window, so peaceful. Monmarte is beautiful, and Paris, well, it most certainly is Paris.

Our journey began stateside at noon, when we set out to Newark. Nothing unusual to note except I set off the metal detectors as usual...when the female officer came out with the gloves though, I began to think "cavity search" and got a little nervous, lol.

Our flight was an arduous one--I was worse behaved than the children on board. I was in the middle of the row, which always makes me a bit claustrophobic, but God had mercy on me, and the gentleman I was sandwiched in between got up and sat with a friend a few rows down, so Mark and I had some breathing room.

I was very impressed with Scandinavian Airlines, to say the least! Service on board was impeccable, with nice, smiling Flight attendants, *2* full onboard meals that were actually good, complimentary wine and liquor with your meals, free beverages and snacks through the flight, pillow and blankets, and private movies, games and music for each seat, not to mention what I liked best of all--an overhead TV showing us the route and all particulars of our transAtlantic course--I found it fascinating and comforting, knowing exactly where we were, as we went up over Canada, the Labrador coast, and finally, to Copenhagen. Although I got squirmy and had to pace the cabin every two hours or so, it was as good as a flight as we could experience.

When we landed in Denmark, I have to say, I was floored. The people are ALL drop dead beautiful, and the airport was very new and modern, and ECOCONSCIOUS-- these people seem to be light years ahead of us in terms of their eco awareness...I was very impressed, but then as I looked around, I began to become uneasy...here we were, these two disheveled and dumpy Americans in the midst of a race of mannequins, and I justed wanted to get on board and go LOL

Charles DeGaulle airport was more my speed with the grime and variety you get accustomed to for an international airport. The variety of people was very interesting, from the French, to Spaniards, Arabs, Swedes, Germans...a real melting pot...put me right at ease!

Our flat in Monmarte was about a half hour away, so we got a taxi ride through the outskirts...lots of graffiti, and litter...made me feel like I was in Brooklyn!! "Newer" Paris in nothing to speak of. I was happy to see the French drive on the proper side of the road as we do LOL (now, now, don't get offended my dear English friends!).

Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, our flat wouldn't be ready until 3 pm, instead of 11 am, so we had to go across town and drop off our luggage at the rental office, since we weren't go to be dragging our suitcases everywhere with us until we could get settled in...at this point, I was completely undone...exhausted, and irritated. Mark saw me turning cagey and we decided to go get a nice meal at a local restaurant recommended by our "host" so off we went, and found ourselves in the middle of a very jolly and somewhat boisterous group of Parisians at lunch time. Our language barrier didn't seem to bother them in the least, and they were quite friendly and cordial to us, contrary to many myths I heard in the past of the French treating Americans abroad like dirt...not true as far as we can tell.

After eating a very nice and large lunch of steak, chicken, baguette, fries, salad, and chocolate tart with expresso, we were off to the Sienne to walk it off and see everyday Paris...we stopped in some beautiful little markets, and tucked off into a wonderful park with a statue of Louis the IV...or the V?? I don't know, it was one of the Louis'!

As 3 pm approached I was completely feeling the 28 hours we had been awake and traveling, and I could tell Mark was also by the way he nodded off in the cab while sitting straight up--quite a remarkable feat!! Aside from our taxi driver trying to rip us off for a double fare because we didn't understand French, everything was smooth, and we met our "hostess" Jen at the flat smack in the middle of Monmarte. She showed us how to operate the various appliances in it, handed us the keys, and off she went. I was looking forward to nothing more than a nice hot shower, change of clothes, and maybe a nap, when we discovered we had no hot water...this really pushed me over the edge, and hot or cold water, I was going to get CLEAN here. I felt like a complete dirtbag walking around Paris in what now felt like dirty pajamas, and I wasn't having any of that, LOL. So, I took a shower that was so cold, it could have rivaled the Antartic, and if I was about 20 years older, had the potential to kill me by putting me into cardiac arrest...but, hell, at least I felt awake after it!

We began to explore Monmarte, and I have to say it is just as quaint and beautiful as I had pictured it to be...now, don't get me wrong, there is an element of tourism going on, but thankfully, it has been ruined with any "Ripley's Believe it Or Not" shops or cheesy wax museums.

Artist circle was in full swing, and all the gang was there, hawking their paintings, portraits on the spot, and caricatures...The Church across the way was hosting a Christmas Bazaar, and all of the local children there were dressed in Victorian Garb and went through the streets singing french Christmas carols...until they stopped in the square, and after a long prayer, all of the trees in the square lit up to symbolize the start of the Christmas season...it was absolutely stunning and Mark and I sat at the cafe across the narrow cobbled street and wined, dined, and enjoyed the whole event. The cafes all had overhead heating installed so that their patrons could continue to dine outside no matter the weather, and this seems to be all of the demand, since Paris is now nonsmoking indoors, and still is home to literally LOADS of smokers...I was secretly impressed by their old fashioned ways, for such a cosmopolitan city...fashionable thin people, who love their old fashioned foods, wine, and cigarettes or "tabac" as it's put everywhere...I was definitely digging them. No political correctness here!

As we sat eating saumon aspic (salmon), beef, and noodles, a local artist named Alan struck up an interesting conversation with us, telling us about his life here, his younger years traveling the world, his lost love in Cambodia, and his eventual return home to France, and his life in Monmarte...he finished our conversation with doing a pencil portrait of me, which I felt was far more flattering than what I really look like...he insisted it was the exact likeness, and I laughingly thanked him for such a kind interpretation of me, as probably I had been, 20 years previous!! He snootily informed me I have no wrinkles and "very lovely skin" so the portrait was quite accurate. God love that man!

At some of the local artists and resident's advice, we headed down to Rue Abbeuse, where the tourists don't go to, and all of the locals hang out at. It was a party in full swing, and we hit several local bars/cafes, and chatted it up with them. They were surprisingly open about what the loved and hated about their beloved city, and I was again, impressed they would share this with traveling Americans. Yet, they did.

After all the food and wine, and lack of sleep, I felt it hit me sharply like a drug, and I could barely keep my eyes open by around 9 pm...Mark literally had to drag me back uphill to our flat, where I instantly fell asleep, and then promplty awoke at 3 am...not knowing where the hell I was, and completely dazed...so here I sit now, 6 am, happy, but still tired. I'll try to get a little more rest soon, since we will be armed with our Metrocards...and ready to start doing some more exploring of this fascinating old city...

That's it for now!

End of Summer

"Mountain sunset" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" End of Summer, and it's going out with lots of heat!...