Saturday, March 04, 2006

After so much snow, I spied my first flowers behind the barn last week- pierceneige, or snowdrops. They were soon followed by daffodils, shy violets, forsythia and a minute sky blue flower. Today the market in Figeac was full of flowers- pots of pansies, cyclamen, tulips, daffodils and red and pink azaleas. I came home with the back seat of my car covered in mimosa that had been brought up from Nice. My friend, Elisabeth, who is from Saint Remy, was overcome with nostalgia as she breathed in their fresh fragrance.
This is my little barn. I have spent sixteen years fixing it up. It was a ruin when I bought it for $3000, but now it is ready to welcome painters, writers and musicians. This is where I hold watercolor workshops, Laurel and Hardy film festivals, and host yummy meals. I am looking for a cheap second hand video projector so we can have Friday night soups and movies in winter, now that I have a warm woodburning poele. Anyone know where I can get one?
My Rolls, and my fourfooted loverboy. This hangar, behind the barn, is a wonderful shady place where my students and I lunch in summer. Who would have thought that one could get so hungry painting in watercolor, but we do. This year, however, I reckon we are going to have to hold back on the pates, cheeses, and breads and follow the South Beach plan. Some of my clothes haven't seen the light of day for a good few years.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The problem with portraits

The subject of these paintings is a pretty young girl I painted five times, three times from life and finally just working from photographs. The first portrait is painted from photographs. I like the second one best, because it's fresh and lively. It was painted from life. But the mother didn't recognise her daughter. I am very influenced by the confident, competent drawing of the impressionists and don't really like tight realistic portraits, especially when the subject is a child. I like a suggested, inspired, and personal interpretation of the subject. But when I get knotted inside, the painting doesn't work.

I have found comments on Robert Genn's website,, very helpful. Robert raises topics biweekly and a vast international community of artists respond. The most recent email inspired a lengthy debate between several other artists and me, about getting bogged down artistically.