Thursday, April 24, 2014

Escape and narrow escape

Some grumbles have been coming in about lack of posts.

I escaped winter by fleeing south to Cape Town and my sister's farm in Zimbabwe, where I had a thrilling encounter with a leopard while walking home after running out of fuel one evening.

No one believed my tale of passing through a dry riverine bed and suddenly hearing close by a snarl/growl/grunt from a thicket that could ONLY be a leopard. Probably an ostrich offered one. Or a baboon snickered another.

Until returning with the fuel, Fred spotted the huge cat on a boulder above us. She was a female, and Fred said that she probably was protecting her litter...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rain and mud settling in

Crisp cold and sunny days seem to be over. Mud everywhere. Time to fill the studio with flowers.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Glorious weather continues...

Sunny warm weather enticed a large group of randonneurs for Friday's walk.

It was about twelve kilometers and took three hours, partly because there were so many interesting sites en route: an old village abandoned over three hundred years ago, three dolmen (ancient burial tombs comprised of three immense stones, two supporting a third on top),  and Les Fieux, an important archeological site.

Of course there were also the usual stunning views, old wash houses, and friendly horses who cantered across fields to have their noses rubbed.

Yves Leymarie led the group, took these photographs, and revived us with hot tea and madeleines after the walk.

Les Caminols de Gramat- my walking group
Tremendous views in all directions from the top of a hill
Old washing house near Miers

A dolmen, still partly covered by a tumulus.
There are hundreds of these prehistoric tombs scattered around the Lot.
No one knows how these huge stones were moved and put in place.

Here we are scrambling onto the dolmen like a bunch of kids.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Balmy spring arrival?!

In spite of disastrous floods in the UK and blistering cold in North America, we are having beautiful sunny, nay balmy weather here in southwest France. Bird song filled the woods and by the end of the Monday afternoon randonnĂ©e, many of us had stripped down to our tee shirts.

Wonderful way to start the new year. That's Paddy the naughty border collie right in the front at the top of the hill, and me a tiny dark blob right at the back at the bottom of the hill. I had had a sleepless night because Paddy went walkabout yesterday, only returning at 4am, but he was more than ready for more adventures.

I was revived at the end of the walk however by a fĂȘte of Blanquette de Limoux (poor man's champagne but just as good to those of us who don't know better) and galette, frangipane king cake, a French tradition.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A bittersweet success story

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a former client in Connecticut and asked to paint her cats, one of whom had recently died. I had painted portraits of her three daughters years ago when I lived and worked in New York.

I have painted people's pets before. Why not: I have three dogs and five cats myself and love them to bits. The trouble is capturing the spirit of an animal that means something really special to someone... from a photograph.

The most difficult portrait I ever was commissioned to paint was of a friend's brother. The trouble was that I would never meet the sitter because he had died, and even worse, the reason that my friend wanted a portrait of him was that he didn't have any good photographs of him. He had two Polaroids to give me to work from. One was blurred and completely useless. The other was in focus, but an awkward, cropped shot. I promised to try.

A week later, my friend stared at my painting for a long time, before nodding and saying quietly, "You got him."

The following Saturday, he drove the painting up to Massachusetts to present it to his parents for their wedding anniversary.