Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paris~ Shakespeare & Co Bookstore

“Why would I want to go to an English language bookstore in Paris?” I had thought.  After all, I had my Gibert Joseph on Boulevard Saint-Michel for blissful French book browsing (& buying).  So I didn’t visit Shakespeare & Co. until after several previous visits to Paris. Even then it was only because we had spare time before a Chopin concert at nearby Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre
I wasn’t surprised by the floor to ceiling books & books spilling out from every nook...But the courtyard (that looked like it was dressed up for a fête), & the colorful facade, they were not at all what I had expected!

At the top of the dark narrow stairs, an enchanting surprise! 
Messages posted on the wall (& on the ceiling too!) of a children's alcove, in so many languages & so many alphabets! "Never be afraid to love & be loved." I HEART books." A mishmash of incredibly positive expressions!
I watched a young teen write & post her note. “Sometimes you got to forgive & forget. Long live me & my friends.”  It sparked memories of notes & letters profusely exchanged between me, the young teen, & my friends.  And how about  those peace & Yin Yang signs? When I looked at this photo once back home, I discovered (on the right side) a Polish "Legitymacja Szkolna", a school document of a young Polish woman. I was deeply touched, but that is another story...
Piano music had been floating through the 2nd floor. I followed it to find a young person playing, so beautifully! And, in the next room there was a poetry reading in progress!! I'd read some of the history & lore around Shakespeare & Co. so I knew it had always been more than just a bookstore. Still, I hadn't expected what I'd walked into!
On my last trip in April, 2 years after the 1st visit, I ducked into Shakespeare & Co. to get warm. I headed right for the message board. "This is the best place I've been in my whole life!!" & "I feel alive every time I see Paris. I've never seen this shop but it's like stepping into another world." ...& one of my favorites: "I thought I loved nothing more than books & writing 'til I met my wife. I still love books though..." 

Voilà. A bit of magic. Stepping into "another world." And then, you get to step back out into Paris!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Walking (Fast) By the Sea

I've started walking for exercise again after many days (months) of a sedentary way of life. In France I walked everywhere, all the time, but since returning I've gone back to being a daily slug (at least with an active mind...) I began this day at beautiful Fort Williams Park. I walked fast on the shore path, I even (almost) ran up a few hills. Why have I not been doing this continually over the years??? (because... because... because... mostly because I get caught up in things like reading & art.)

The ocean waves & early morning breezes filled my being with the power to move, to live!  I give big thanks, un grand merci, to a running coach I know who shared tips with me recently for getting back into shape. She reminded me of the beautiful places we have nearby to walk & to run. Motivation, & Support, very powerful stuff for creating & maintaining health habits!
I have so much gratitude for my health!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Watercolor Class Mid-Coast Maine

In my coast of Maine watercolor class with teacher David Dewey I was the wide eyed Junior Dabblerette in the midst of accomplished master painters. I was OK with that (Yay!) & the atmosphere was welcoming. David geared his demonstrations so that I the beginner as well as the experienced painters received a lot of concepts, understanding & inspiration.

Photo of one of the painters

Gray days (the majority) were soft & calm & made certain colors POP! You got to see & paint quiet nuances of grays. David would say "medleys". Warm, cool, light, dark, so many colors can come from so few...

One misty day while the others painted elaborate harbor scenes (oh, such draftsmanship they had!), I set out to create a chart, mixing grays from 3 colors & exploring some characteristics of water COLOR that David had demonstrated. David says, sometimes you plan with your left brain, other times intuition rules. A bit of both, above. David says he still makes color charts... 
(Thanks to Carol G, Paris Breakfasts, not only for introducing me to David's class, but for showing in her blog that it's OK to mess up, or to follow your own direction, integrating what you've learned...)

We had one vivid sunny clear day, sea winds galore! So wonderful to watch kayaks, canoes & sailboats, instead of the motor traffic of my city's harbor... Above is a photo of more or less the scene that David painted as a demonstration. Oh, but his painting was gorgeous & I learned so much: anchor your painting, keep colors & shapes simple, create multi-toned luminous shadows, drop in color so it releases, saturate your brush, pay attention to pairings of tones & values, create patterns & repetition.It's less about the scene, more about the painting, though he depicts a scene beautifully.

We had Weather. One day we had to pack up & RUN because of a storm that brought buckets of rain, lightning & thunder! Plein air painters are a hearty bunch! I realized how I had started out totally disorganized, having to make multiple trips from my car, not experienced at outdoor painting. Day by day I pared down my stuff & repacked. It's OK to be a Greenhorn. 

I didn't come back with large finished paintings. But I did come back with tons of new learning. Above a thumbnail that is in a style with which I'm comfortable...Fast, Quick & Sketchy! Totally intuitive.
I did come back with a little sketchbook journal filled with notes & terrific David Expressions & Explanations & quicky line drawings. I'm using them now to practice. My new learning involves using my (weaker) left brain: conscious choices, planning based on learning principles of color & the medium.  Above, a thumbnail of a boat, but don't think about the boat as much as shapes, lines, rhythms, says David.
A value study. I have rarely done those. They are invaluable I now see. 
Partly finished painting using the thumbnail, value sketch & a photo reference... Color as structure, patience, discipline, slow, conscious selection & planning...
My finished painting, though I still call it a sketch...I had the feeling that there'd be a learning curve in this class. Yes, indeed! Lots of learning & wonderful fun!