Sunday, June 13, 2010

Its Sunday, lovely quite day in the village of Soreze, France

As I write at the Cafe Claudie where I can connect with the Internet a group of village men are beginning a game of patanque.   It involves rolling little round steel balls and I gather trying to get close or knock away.  Oh they just let Kris roll one and she did good!  They play it all over France, also in Italy where it is called Bocce.

Today began with rain so I painted from photos on my computer in the lovely studio.  Then the rain stopped and the sun came out and Sherry and I went for a walk.  I toured the wonderful old military school and Abby here, 16th century to 1991 it had students.  Many of Napoleon's general’s were schooled here.   It is a beautiful warm evening, but there are thunderheads around so that could change.  Last night we had a huge thunder storm after dinner complete with hail and lightening.  We watched from the bedroom on the third floor, very exciting.  The locals say this is the wettest year they remember, even had a foot of snow in May on the mountain above town which is not very high, at least compared to our Sierras.  This is Southwest France so it is not suppose to snow in May.

I am staying in a home owned by California artist Carole Watanaby.  It is so “artsy” everywhere you look is a painting, either on canvas or directly on the walls, or a still life or pretty fabrics etc.  Here are some photos of the home:

my bedroom

mural in my bedroom painted by Carole

One of Carole’s paintings with a friend (on the stairs).

Kris reflected in an old mirror in the studio.

still life in the studio

our large well lit studio on the third floor

A still life in the studio, ready for rainy days..

I forgot to photograph the paintings I did today, so I will send them in my next posting. Tomorrow we have no internet connection as it is Claudie’s one day off and he is closed.  So next posting will be on Tuesday.  I leave that day, so who knows where I will find the Internet.

Ah my cafe crème arrived.  The cafe owner insists I order it as “Cafe Claudie” (his name).  Kris joined me and is having a beer, Sherry is home painting, such is this fast paced life here in Soreze.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Market day and fishing derby

Saturday is Market Day in Revel, the larger town near here.  We took the very nice local bus for 2 euro and went to the market.  It was very large, the food section overflowed the centuries old market square cover in the center of the town.  Then there was a whole other section where vendors sold clothes, hats, etc.  I wondered and took photos for awhile, then shopped, bought yogurt made of goat milk, strawberries and asparagus, very very fresh.  I then found a cafe right on market square and sat down with a cafe crème to sketch.  Trying to capture people as they shopped is really hard!  Here are a few of my photos of the market:

The bus took us back to Soreze in time for lunch.  Then I headed for the children’s fishing derby that Remi (friend of the owner of our house who does the handy work on the house) told us about.  A fishing club sponsors the event.  They stock a pond with farm grown trout and then teach the kids how to catch them.  Lionus, Remi’s son, caught several while I was there.  I think they starve the fish before planting them as the kids seemed to catch one with every cast.   Two things they were doing that was new to me, holding the fish with a rag wrapped around them, and using a plastic thing with a slot in it to remove the hook.  OK Burke, check out these fish:

The weather was lovely today, so took some more photos this afternoon before painting.  Many of the homes here (including the one I am staying in) are 16th and 17th century.   Rest assured it is more modern inside. 

ooops I hear thunder.  Last night we heard a few rumbles and ignored it, I walked down to the internet bar when it was just rumbling a bit.   Warm, so did not take my jacket or umbrella.  By the time I finished emailing it was pouring as hard as I have ever seen a rain storm rain.  Lucky for me, Kris arrived with a big umbrella from the house.   So I am dashing to the bar with my umbrella to upload this before the evening deluge begins.  Today was sunny and about 70 degrees so can’t complain, hope your weather at home is nice too.  Is it still raining or has it become summer finally?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunny day in Soreze France

I walked miles today on every one of the old streets in this small town taking photographs because the sun came out.  My theory on photography is you can never take too many photos, especially in the digital age.  You just never know which one might become a painting later on.  So to give you an idea of how lovely this little town is, here is a tiny fraction of the photos I took.

An American lives here, she gets the French look.

This afternoon a thunderstorm moved in but it has not amounted to much so far.  I am working on a painting of a cute house on Aquabord, not sure if I like the surface yet for painting this subject matter.  The good thing about not teaching a workshop is I am free to experiment like this, as no one expects a masterpiece out of me.

More tomorrow…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Its a small world after all

First I learned that the home of my friends Gregory and Monnie Kondos is near here, next I met our next door neighbor, a painter from California named Leo who knows Gregory.  Then a lady saw me painting, and came up to me and asked if I am the watercolor artist staying at Carole’s house.  Word gets around fast in a tiny village, just like my hometown!  Anyway she is also an American, and lives here part of the year.  She asked me if I new Barbara Roth because she is taking a workshop from Barbara in the next town.  I was amazed!  I have known Barbara for a few years now.  She used to live in Auburn, we have both taught at the Sacramento Fine Art Center and for Toscana Americana in Cortona.  Glenda, the lady I met offered to give Kris and I a ride to the next town to stop in on Barbara’s workshop, and we could walk back.  So we popped in on Barbara and her students, checked out that cute town and then walked home through the woods.  Great day, and fun to see Barbara.

Today the sun came out, yeah!

Night at the movies…my roomies Sherry and Kris watching JULIE AND JULIA thanks to Burke loading movies on my computer.


Sherry on her way to paint a very old rock wall.

I ran all over town with my camera once the sun came out.  There are paintings everywhere, this is the cross the street neighbor house. 

This is what is left of an historic old church, they now use it for concerts.

This little village has medieval houses like this all over the place.  Soreze is about the size of Mendocino, and like Mendocino has been discovered by artists from the USA, France and other countries.  Like Mendocino before it became commercialized, the artists have bought old homes or half destroyed falling down buildings and renovated them creating homes and studios.  So far it is not over run with tourists and art galleries so it is still affordable for us artists.


Here is a little painting I did in my watercolor journal today.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arrived safely in France

On the road again…..

A nice lady from New York City took this photo as we waited at the gate in the Madrid airport for our flight to Toulouse, France.  Students please take note, it is possible to fly to Europe with all your watercolor painting supplies, clothes, everything in a 22” roller carry-on bag and small backpack as you see here.  

And yes, the experiment worked.  I cleared security in San Francisco, Miami and Madrid with a regular watercolor palette filled with watercolor paints in each well of the palette, lid on it and  packed in a plastic bag between my clothes IN MY CARRY-ON BAG!  They either recognized it in the x-ray machine as a paint palette and did not care, or they did not consider the paint (which I had allowed to harden) to be a liquid or gel.  To make sure I did not have to throw away the palette and expensive paint I arrived very early at each security, so if it was disallowed I had time to go back to the baggage check in area and check the bag.

The shuttle bus from the airport in Toulouse to the train station was easy to find and the Tourist Information was extremely efficient at determining which local train would get me closet to this tiny village of Soreze.  The man advised me to look helpless and asked the ticket seller lady at that station to call a taxi for me rather than try to figure out the French pay phone.  The train was coming too soon for me to stand in line to buy a ticket and I did not have correct change to use the machine.  No problem, the man in the tourist office wrote a note in French to the ticket agent on the train, stating the reason I did not have a ticket and assuring him that I would buy one from him with my paper money Euros.  The ticket agent never came on my car in the train so my trip was free!

I arrived by taxi and was greeted by Sherry leaning out the third story window and waving at me.  I was unpacking when we heard some strange music and dashed out in the street to investigate.  Here is what we found in the town square in front of the local bar.

A Renaissance play, and in the end the villagers joined in a kind of a Congo line singing at the top of their lungs to the tune played by the lady on the pipes.  Only in France!


Sherry and Chris our great and the house is to die for artsy French.  Cold, windy, drizzled rain today so had a quite day painting in the studio.  Miss you Burke and Mark and all my friends back home but France is great as always.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Catching Up

Obviously I an not a disciplined blogger, but hey how many things can one person be disciplined about?   I try to be a disciplined painter, a disciplined exerciser, and keep up with the office work that goes with being an artist, and oh yeah there is housework and all those new weeds that have sprung up in the garden with all the rain .  So where does blogging come in?  It falls in that category called “When I Have Time”!

I have plenty of time on my hands at the moment as I am on the first of three flights that will eventually take me to France where I plan to do some painting, some exploring and just soak up some French culture.

Here is a new painting you will find on my easel if you visit my studio at Elliott Fouts Gallery, 4749 J Street in Sacramento.

It is not  a good photo as light from the skylight was bouncing off the left side of the painting washing the color out.  The painting is 30” x 22” watercolor on Aquabord.

Here is another one I just completed and shipped to the Mendocino Art Center where it will hang as an example of what I will be teaching in my workshop at the center July 26 – 30. 

The title of the workshop is PAINTING LUMINOUS FLORAL WATERCOLORS ON AQUABORD and the painting is a 12” x 12” watercolor on Aquabord.  To learn more about the workshop go to

I am writing my posts off-line using Live Writer and then they will post to my blog on the web whenever I can find a WIFI connection, so you can read my “postcards” from this trip.  This post is being sent in Miami, the next one should come from France.