An Artist’s visit to Paris in June

What remains in my mind’s eye is the soft champagne and pearly whites of morning

Good Morning Paris  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 056

with the occasional splashes of reds.

Chez Marie by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 059

But there is much more to Paris France than this isn’t there?

Up by the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and through the trees is Paris.

A Paris morning through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 044

She is a grand city that the world loves with a passion befitting its status.

Paris June 2014 by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 049

Even if a visitor skips going to see the Eiffel Tower and prefers to remember the flights of spiral stairs as I did.

Stairs to 1st floor studio in Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 084

Paris will steel our hearts even if we are reluctant lovers.

What artist can resist plein air painting of double courtyard on Rue Rodier in Paris France

plein air painting of double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 086
The day before I promised myself that I would photograph and paint this double courtyard. After a full day at Musée d’Orsay, I had little time, light or energy left but decided to make a go of it anyway. To me, Paris is not just about the Louvre, D’Orsay, Jardin Tuileries, Eiffel Tower and street-side cafes. It is not about high fashion either. In fact, I have seen very little evidence of that. Nor is it just good food. What Paris is to me is the ability to share small amounts of private space with such regard and politeness for each other. During the 45 minutes or so I worked on this painting more than twenty people came and went in the courtyard. Some just said Bonjour Madame or Bonsoir Madame but most stopped to say a few words and they did not give me a hard time about not being able to understand everything and were more than willing to switch to English once I asked – in French of course. These courtyards are an intimate connection between neighbours… not quite friends for the most part and not as close as family but more familiar than the street, or the cafe and much more familiar than most North American neighbours are with each other. Once the outside door closes, this is home and it is treated as such even if it is shared with probably more than a hundred people. This is Paris to me. In fact, this is very much France to me. This I know I will remember – fondly.

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 080

 But we did go to Louvre too. Looking out from one of the upstairs windows we can feel its magnificence.

Louvre Paris France June 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 048
Walking the halls leaves a person with shivers running down their spine.
walking the halls of the Louvre by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 008
Morning sun rolled into Napoleon III apartments and splashed against the ceiling.
morning sun on Napoleon III Apartments ceiling Louvre France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 021
This painted wedding-cake style room in the Louvre is so outrageously over-the-top it almost made me laugh but I couldn’t pick my bottom jaw up fast enough to get out even one “ha-ha.” I just kept turning in circles saying unbelievable, look at that, unbelievable! It seemed most appropriate that we happened upon this room shortly after visiting the queen of the Louvre herself… you know, the one with the smile 😉 We hadn’t actually planned on giving her any courtly attention but the morning was reasonably quiet so we followed the entourage along and dropped in for a few minutes. In case you wanted to know, Mona Lisa is doing well for her age and is still smiling. I didn’t take her portrait as I knew the light wouldn’t do her justice.

Where the Musée d’Orsay  does not allow photographs, the Louvre does. So I took just a few photographs of paintings for my own study. These are shared with you for the same personal use study purpose.

A favourite artist of mine was Camille Corot. His landscape from Avignon called “Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel” from 1843 struck a significantcord with me as I had stood in about the same place painting 171 years later.

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch was a work I had completed just days earlier.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106
I now have a completed larger studio painting…
VILLENEUVE LEZ AVIGNON FRANCE 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas
Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_08 069
Camille Corot is mostly known as a landscape painter but it is a few of his portraits of women that are having a lasting impression. This detail of La Dame en Bleu is from the last figurative painting that Corot painting in 1874.
detail La Dame en Bleu 1874 by Camille Corot by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 118
They are so melancholy while holding a solid kind of inner-defiance that has surfaced for me only after careful observation. I wonder – how did he do this? What was his relationship to these women? Below is a detail from “Zingara au tambour de basque” that he painted between 1865 to 1870.
detail Zingara au tambour de basque 1865 to 1870 by Camille Corot photo by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 110
Corot would have been about 74 years old when this work was finished. Is the answer to my question in his biographical information? I have ordered a book this morning from Amazon called “The Secret Armoire: Corot’s Figure Paintings and the World of Reading” by Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice to help me answer this question.

But there is more the Louvre than Corot and so much more to Paris than the Louvre isn’t there?

Well, we shall have to save it for another day. It is time for this artist to get ready for an afternoon of unrelated meetings on this September afternoon back in Canada off the southwest coast of British Columbia.

What does Paris in June mean to you?

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Painting from the White Room in Aix en Provence

Sometimes two means three and this is often the case with counting the floors is to a walk-up apartment in France. The ground floor with its entrance and coffee bar is frequently not considered the first floor. So up and then up again we go to our one room plus bathroom apartment in Aix en Provence that is a soft egg-white with two large opening shutter-clad windows to the streets – busy streets even though it is single-lane and heavy with foot traffic. Oh, did I mention motorcycles – lots and lots of motorcycles. But we grew to love this simple, clean and sparsely decorated space particularly after visiting the art museums and walking through the outdoor market. The lack of stimulus in this room gave our overloaded sensory systems a chance to rest.

On our first evening, exhausted from travel, we went to bed early and fell asleep even with the street noises thumping, banging, drumming, hollering and honking in the background. At 5:45 am I awoke to the smell of fresh croissants coming out of the oven in the café below us while safety-clad men with leaf-blowers bellowed ahead of two street cleaning machines with a group of twenty-something year olds staggered past munching large hamburgers and yelling in drunken good-natured French to each other. To add to the commotion there are these funny blackbird-like birds that sound like our flickers slapping out their good-morning song against this background of foreign confusion assaulting my sleepy senses. This is Aix en Provence, the cleanest streets anywhere and a cacophony of sounds and colours.

From the vantage point of this room I often stood and observed the interactions and comings and goings of locals and tourists as they passed on the street below. It was a delicious bird-like view where few looked up and noticed my prying inquires.

window to Le Forbin by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 012

One afternoon while David was taking a long nap I set up my makeshift easel by the open window,

window of possibility by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 029

pulled out some paint

daubs of paint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 046

and gave it my best effort to capture the full richness of this city.

plein air window in Aix en Provence by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 062

I am happy with the results. The movement and vitality feels like Aix to me with its young university students mixed liberally with business people, city maintains workers and tourists.

FROM THE WHITE ROOM IN AIX EN PROVENCE

25 X 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on archival 185lb paper

From the White Room Aix en Provence 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_18 069

(Art Prints are available in my Redbubble Storefront HERE)

 If you were to sleep above a busy street on what city street corner would you like it to be?

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

 

The Riviera

From north-western Italy to Southern France it is The Riviera and stunningly beautiful.

It could be an afternoon in Manarola

Manarola Cinque Terre Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 052

with “lady of the grapes”

La Donna Dell'UVA in Manarola Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_09 186

or sipping local wine by half-bottle

afternoon lunch by sea in Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 099

next the sea in Rapallo

Castello sul Mare 1550 Rapallo Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_05_08 092

Then again, it could be a small Italian working fishing village

Italian fishing village Festival rain or shine  by Terrill Welch 2014_05_11 182

before coming to the big city host of Nice France

Roof Tops in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 076

with its amazing square

Square in Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 029

no matter which way you happen to look…

morning in square Nice France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_15 035

It is all good, fantastic and delicious! There is however, only one painting sketch and it is not of these grand views but rather a humble still life.

Basic Essentials – 25 x 35 cm acrylic on archival 185 lb paper.

Basic Essentials 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_05_12 110

Yet, it seems just right. Enough. Maybe even more than enough.

This is our last of three days in Nice France. Tomorrow we will be leaving for Aix en Provence and then Narbonne as we travel along the south of France. We will have no internet in the next places we are staying. Therefore, you may or may not hear from us again until we reach Barcelona Spain on May 23, 2014. So don’t worry. We are fine – just a little disconnected 😉

If you were to summarize the basic essentials of one of your favourite places what would be included?

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

April morning in Dijon France

We made it from London England to Dijon France yesterday but arrived a little later than planned after missing our first connection in Paris and ended up on a later train. What an adventure! I don’t think I have been so confused in a very long time. Lesson number one – Ask. Lesson number two -Ask again. Lesson number three – keep asking.

Good people to ask in the Paris metro and train stations are the people at the small snack shops. They were the most skilled at giving clear directions. Better than the information centre. Who would have thought it? My assessment of RER Transit across Paris is mixed. I believe it  is only for the brave foreign traveler or those that play video games and who are willing to keep trying to get through the doors and passages which appear to be hidden. I took us on a wrong turn someplace getting off the RER and after about half an hour of asking and searching I popped up like a gopher halfway down the loading area for the trains. This would have been fine if our two month continuous train pass had been activated but wasn’t and this is where we lost any hope of catching our first possible connection to Dijon. Since we didn’t come in the main entrance and we didn’t know the layout of the Gare de Lyon train station, we had no idea where the ticket office was located. I tried information and received some rough idea which didn’t seem to lead to anything resembling a ticket office. Then I asked someone else who worked in another part of the building but she didn’t know either.

After waving us off the same direction as the information counter David said  “You poor darling. You have no idea where to go and I can’t keep following you.”

This experience and the five minutes to catch our train later when transferring in Sens almost finished him. When I didn’t see Dijon Ville on the list of destinations after we disembarked, I went and checked with the ticket counter. The service person had little English and of course I had about the same amount of French. But I had written out the train number, time and our destination in a little black pocket note book. This enabled her read my notes and not be distracted with my feeble attempts at speaking her beautiful language. She checked the schedule and let me know that we had five minutest to get to Platform one (voice raised hands making appropriate references to be sure I understood as she spoke her English words perfectly). This required quickly zipping across to a middle platform in the underground stairs with our luggage. I gathered David up and pointed him down a steep set of stairs and grabbed the end of our bag so we could  go quickly. We then went about 20 feet and I pointed for him to go up an equally steep set of stairs.

“What!”

Yes, I do believe he shouted in dismay. But we made our way up the stairs with a whole two minutes to spare.
As we whisk across the French countryside he is deciding what in the suitcase he is going to send home. But the yellow rapeseed fields are stunning and the regional train is quiet like the ferry home from Victoria. He is recovering. I hope anyway. Looking out the window I see trees with doctor Zeus like balls on them that must be a vine growing up the tree and forming these shapes. Dusk is falling and, even if I have almost no idea what the conductor is saying, the stillness of the end of the day is comforting.

But that was yesterday. This morning we woke early in our old walk up apartment with its French balcony and many tastefully added modern touches. The task was to find the Les Halles market.

early morning Les Halles Market by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 003

Many streets in Dijon are pedestrian and bicycle only making it a pleasant city to walk both day and night. The market starts early and Tuesday is the local shopping day. As we slipped along the quiet streets with locals going to work it was easy to think we are just part of another ordinary day in Dijon.

morning in Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 013

The salt cod or morue caught my eye but only for its natural display beauty.

salt cod or morue in Les Halles market Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 007

I would have taken more photographs to show you but I found an amazing food blog post by the Food Gypsy last evening when I was searching for where we could get groceries nearby. It is worth the read and the food photographs are stunning.

Instead, we went for coffee and croissants at the small cafe next to the market. We had taken a browse and wanted to carefully consider what we would purchase. This task needed a wee bit of fortification so as not to get more than we could eat in a couple days. After, we picked up a few items and started back to our apartment. The day was starting to pick up and the local shops were getting prepared for business.

April morning in Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 019

The day tours were just arriving from Paris as strolled home and unpacked our provisions.

a few Les Halles market provision by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 042

David turned on the French radio and we served up a late breakfast of strawberries drizzled with creme fraiche, parsley ham, sweet pears, ripened goat cheese and a chunk off a wood oven baked baguette.

I then went off to paint a block away in Park Darcy while David took a nap.

plein air sketching Park Darcy in April Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

I chose the park because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my painting on the streets. However, I quickly discovered that painting is considered serious work in Dijon and many people stopped to comment, visit, ask questions and give their thumbs up of approval. My French is improving by the hour out of the pure delight and pleasure of warm conversation. The only slightly awkward moment was when a couple of oriental tourists stage-set a photograph with me. I should have seen it coming but only had enough time to look up and smile as the woman laughed and put her arm around my shoulders and her husband’s face disappeared behind his iPad to frame the shot. I am not sure if one short night’s sleep can even remotely qualify me as the local Dijon artist painting in Park Darcy.

But here we have it – APRIL MORNING PARK DARCY 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on tempered hardboard.

Park Darcy in April Dijon France 8 x 10 acrylic plein air sketch gessobord  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 063

Getting tangled in the unknown and unfamiliar yesterday was worth it for the sweet welcome of the April streets of Dijon this morning. There is something extremely humbling about being at the mercy of others to find our way. It is only equaled by the release of finding we have succeeded and all do to the kind and open hearts and minds of others.

 

As an adult, what is a time you most needed to rely on the help of others to find your way?

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com