Friday, July 30, 2010

Forgery or fortune?

There is a superb piece in the July 12 and 19th issue of The New Yorker, by David Grann, on authenticating works of art.

Is one painting acquired at a garage sale for five dollars a real Jackson Pollock worth millions, and another exquisitely rendered young girl painted by the master Leonardo himself? Peter Paul Biro believes they are, and he takes on the establishment in the form of people such as the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of art Thomas Hoving in what reads like a gripping gumshoe detective pot boiler.

Daniel and Julia

Last night I had another sleepless night after watching The Most Dangerous Man in America- Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. I was living in South Africa in the early 70's and so didn't really understand the significant role Ellsberg played in ending the war in Viet Nam, but he has been referred to fairly frequently of late since the Wikileaks revelations about the war in Afghanistan.

So this morning I indulged myself and stayed in bed with Julia Child's My Life in France. Julia and I both lived in Paris in the mid fifties. Here are pictures of us both with our respective families.

Both tales are riveting as well as true. I recommend starting with Ellsberg and recovering with Child.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer skies

Twice a week I have AquaTonique at the Gramat pool. The rest of the week I swim laps between 12 and 2pm, when the entrance fee is half price and the pool empty. The French take their lunches very seriously, especially on Sundays.

This is partly because my favourite stroke is the backstroke and I don't have to worry about colliding with anyone. I love looking up at the changing sky and just getting into a good breathing rhythm as I reach backwards with my arms and pull myself through the water with long strokes. La vie peut être pire...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cycling the Canal du Midi

Spent three days cycling the Canal du Midi. We started in Carcassonne and spent nights en route in chambres d'hôte in Marseillette and Argeliers. It was an incredibly beautiful bike ride, with views south over vineyards, wheat fields, and provençal villages to the distant purply Pyrènees. Loud incessant cicada trilling accompanied us most of the way.

I confess I found it quite tough going, especially the second day which took eight and a half hours to cover 45 kilometers, admittedly with a leisurely lunch break and several stops to imbibe reviving cups of tea, icy citron pressé and tall frosty pints of beer. The route although flat was often quite bumpy over rocks, paving stone, trees roots and dried clay ruts, which mercilessly pummeled one's derrière, and the weather was in the 90's with quite high humidity. But most of the trip was shaded by plane trees with a lavender scented easterly breeze. Now that I have recovered, I am ready to start planning another trip, perhaps covering shorter distances to enable more sketching.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Over ripe fried tomato

That's how I feel after five hours paddling down the Dordogne on a hot summer afternoon, despite numerous dips in the water. We covered almost twenty kilometers.

Got home in time to cheer the Spanish goal and the end of the World Cup. Yeay!

Tomorrow four of us head south to cycle the Canal du Midi which connects the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It was constructed in the 17th century, amazingly enough.

Friday, July 02, 2010


I have discovered something wonderful- white paint! Now instead of drawing with a soft lead or charcoal pencil and using a watercolour wash to add colour and form, I am sketching directly with paint and it's quite liberating. I am still using watercolours but have a big tub of white gouache that I mix with watercolour and am very pleased with the result. It's so rich and painterly, and exciting things happen to the texture of the paint. Here are some 15 minute sketches from last Monday evening.