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

How do you pack for three months travel to London, Paris, Dijon, Basel, Venice, Florence, Nice and Barcelona?

The short answer never changes when packing for a trip does it? Let’s say it all together…

TAKE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!

But what does as little as possible look like?

Here are three clues:

1. If you need to sit on a suitcase that is as up to your waist and wider than the bathroom door in order to close it, you are not there yet.

2. If you don’t think you can carry your luggage and pull out your passport from your safety wallet at the same time, you still have some work to do.

3. If you are wondering if you are going to be able to hire someone to carry your belongings or you can’t imagine carrying it up four flights of stairs all by yourself, it is time to reassess.

When David and I traveled in Peru for a month we only had one small backpack of carry-on luggage each. When we came home we had one extra small bag to check that contained a few gifts. At the time I wasn’t painting and only had my much smaller film 35 mm film camera. There were no iPads and we didn’t even consider taking a laptop because Peru had lots of internet cafe locations. This time we have much more gear to pack and we are going for a longer stretch of time. Because of this and because we will be in such diverse climates we decided that one piece of carry-on each wasn’t going to work. We purchased one narrow medium-sized, hard-shell bottomed suitcase that expands into two separate pieces if we need it. We will have one carry-on each containing mostly camera equipment, laptop, ipads and toothbrushes… and this one suitcase will be checked.

For clothes think comfortable, versatile, happy being crumpled, easy to wash and layers. Bring only the clothes for what you are going to be doing and half as many as you think you need.

Take as little as possible by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 070

We are not night club people. We have no wedding to attend. So dress clothes and dress shoes are just not needed. If we change our mind later, then it looks like I get to buy a new pair of shoes 😉 But I won’t pack these things with me. I do have a simple skirt and top that can go anywhere for a nice dinner. That is it. But the skirt and top is also equally suitable for a day traveling on the train or a morning walking along the beach or strolling an art gallery. I don’t wear make up, use face or hand cream and I don’t take any medications or supplements so this helps keep things simple.

However, there are a few don’t-leave-home-without items that I do include in my packing:

Travel things by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 074

1. a small bottle of liquid hand cleanser. This was so handy on our trip to Peru that I seldom have been without it since.

2. safety money belt with RFID blocker which means only a small amount of cash for daily purchases is ever readily accessible. Extra tip – when choosing your clothes make sure you do not have to strip or risk getting charged with indecent exposure to get at your passport, train pass and credit card and bank cards in the money belt. Hence, I packed a skirt and top not a dress.

3. since we will be checking one suitcase I have included a sewing kit with scissor and fingernail clippers. If you are traveling with only carry-on leave these restricted items at home and purchase them when you get where you are going. Note: dental floss is crazy useful as a thread if you remember to bring a needle big enough to use it this way.

4. electrical adapters if they are needed. This didn’t used to be such a big deal but we have too many electronic toys to leave home without them anymore.

5. your sense of humour! Never, ever go on a trip without it. Ever. There will be times when you will be so tired you want to cry. There will be times that everything will seemingly go wrong no matter what you do. This is when you pull out your rather squished, rumpled sense of humour – give it a good shake, dust it off and put it work – and always remember where you packed it where it is easily accessible.

Now for my nice-to-have items:

Travel essentials by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 068

1. one quick-dry compact towel shown on the right in the photograph above. This item went with us to Peru and was mostly used to dry my long mop of hair but also can be used to lay food out on and as a blanket when cold or to cover your head when you don’t want to see anyone… particularly the person you are traveling with – I am teasing but you get the idea.

2. a pocket raincoat that is tough and durable. I like my hands free and holding an umbrella is just a pain. Besides I am short so an umbrella is actually a dangerous weapon to be welding on a busy street.

3. a pocket day-pack for maps, hairbrush and food – NOT for money, credit cards, bank cards, passport, camera or iPad or anything else valuable. If the pack is lifted you want to be able to shout after the person…. have a nice lunch!… then be on able to move on with the rest of your day.

4. an inflatable head and chin support. This is something new we are trying but we have one overnight flight and some long day trips on the train. I will report back after the trip to let you know how well it works.

5. maps… if you like maps that is. I will spend a good amount of time looking at maps before and during a trip to familiarize myself with the lay of the land so to speak. I like to be able to imagine how various places relate to other places even before I arrive. This keeps the anxiety down once I am on the ground. It is not a necessity because tourist centers have maps and if you are taking a smart phone then paper maps might even be easy to skip. But physically looking at maps is just something I deeply enjoy and it will keep me occupied for hours of traveling time.

6. one hard copy book for when the iPad or kindle is packed away or the battery has run down.

Then, there are just a few things that MUST be left behind:

1. your travel plan and essential information with your emergency contact person.

2. any sense of entitlement or ethnocentric righteousness. Different doesn’t mean wrong. It only means different.

Now we are all packed and ready to have fun! Yippee! Eight more sleeps 🙂 Oh! Did we forget anything?

 

What is one little-thought-about item on your essential packing list for three months or more travel?

 

© 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

A Brush with Europe – an artist’s rendering coming soon

Merci, grazie, gracias, Thank you! A Brush with Europe blogging category begins for this artist who has planned a three month trip by not planning much at all. Right now the best indicator of what is going on inside my head looks something like this…

A Brush with Europe by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 108

There is a poem in Leonard Cohen Book of Longing p. 46 that adequatly captures my misgivings and doubts.

The Moon

The moon is outside

I saw the great uncomplicated thing

when I went to take a like just now.

I should have looked at it longer.

I am a poor lover of the moon.

I see it all at once and that’s it

for me and the moon.

My fear is that I don’t want to be a poor lover of Paris, Venice, Florence and Barcelona. But right now three months in Europe seems too short to accomplish anything more. I am reading, watching videos, talking to people and learning as much as I can in advance. However, this just seems to increase my doubts rather than relieve them. What to do?

Well, anytime I feel like I am in over my head, which I am confident is a reasonable description of my current situation, I slow down and eat some greens.

Winter Salad by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 054

Winter in a northern climate is not the easiest time to create a summer like salad but it can be done. Then with the addition of a good handful of pecans and a couple of warm hard-boiled eggs I a ready to go to work.

Salad with pecans and eggs by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 081

First things first – revise the travel planning list. Ah yes – return tickets from Vancouver to London and medical insurance, suitcase, RFID blocker money belt, and plugin adapters are purchased. Next, sign up for AirBnB and arrange for a caretaker house sitter. See? Not so hard. Non capisco? Mi dispiace…

What is your first response when you are in over your head?

Note: I will be starting a new blogging category for this trip called “A Brush with Europe.” I thought about setting up a separate blog but that just seemed more trouble than it was worth. Since I will be doing painting sketches, photography and writing as we travel by train from London to Venice then on to Florence, the Cote D’ Azur and Barcelona (beginning in April until near the end of June) this in-progress blog should work just fine. Besides you all know how to find me here and this way I won’t be lonely 🙂

 

© 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

Randomness – a blogger’s truth

Feeling an unbending resistance through every joint in my body I slowly wake. What time is it? Hum, just before 7:00 am. I did sleep in. The slate tiles are warm in the middle of our kitchen. Routine sees me through the making of stovetop coffee with a couple of homemade cookies that I promise to follow with fruit, yogurt and hemp seeds in awhile.

I’ve been randomly thinking about Kathy’s post “The Secret Lives of Bloggers” since she put it out on April 9th. I haven’t responded. I just keep thinking. I am thinking as I check to make sure the heat is on in the studio building as I am coaching this afternoon. I am thinking as I watch a beautiful Varied Thrush in the garden, and as I hear the rooster crow and the sheep asking for breakfast at the farm in the valley. I am still thinking as I curl into our very old Morrison chair and snag the travel section of Saturday’s Globe and Mail from the coffee table.

Bonny Reichert is telling me how to be “at home in Paris.”  I read about dark French coffee as I sip a medium roast, single origin, organic, fair trade, artisan, Ethiopia Sidamo Co-Op Shanta Golba, from our local Salt Spring Coffee (we take our coffee seriously on the west coast of Canada). At that moment it tastes very dark – and very French. My two cookies made with half whole wheat flour, half the sugar (all brown) and a quarter of the chocolate chips with an added cup of chopped walnuts and pecans transform into Laduree Bonaparter macaroons and elegant tiny cakes that I have ordered decisively (because sweets are serious business in Paris – and I had already heard this before reading Bonny Reichert’s article). I am no longer sitting quietly in our strawbale, timberframe home cradled by various shades of spring verte and grande fir trees. Saint-Germain is bustling. Raspail farmers market smells soak past my nose into my sensitive taste buds.

I wonder again about Kathy’s post and how much we need to know about each other to share an experience. In fact, how much do we really know about someone even if we live with them daily? How well do we really know ourselves? Take for instance Laurie’s recent “University of Lifeposts. Attempting to know ourselves seems to me to be one of the greatest adventures of living…

So my dear friend and blogging colleague Kathy, at “Lake Superior Spirit,” what you share is just right and it is enough. I believe we only ever know fragments of others and a few more fragments about ourselves – even if it is our sole intention for each day we live. Yet those moments that slice our energy in pure connection to self, to another, or to a place; in this we know all we need to know. And Kathy, your blog does this with the expertise of a French chef choosing the day’s cuisine needs from local markets.

Sprout Question: How well do you know your creative self?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada