Showing posts from 2011

Medieval French Village

This post continues my travelogue of our spring trip to France.
We took the train north to Compiegne where I’d signed up to rent a car and drive to Saint Jean. I was not confident about driving a car tinier than a Mini Cooper, with a stick shift, on skinny cobblestone roads, directed by signs in a foreign language. I was right to be nervous because it was hard. Again looking very sitcom-like, I white-knuckled the wheel and talked too fast, begging Annabelle to try and help me read the signs and not miss our turns. I arrived in Saint Jean most pleased to get out the car, and would, over the next the next few days find as many reasons and ways to stay out of the car as possible.

Saint Jean aux Boix is a very small medieval village with mostly gray stone houses with shutters, a very old and beautiful cathedral, and a couple restaurants. There were no new buildings to mar its preciousness. The town is one stop on a driving tour around that area of France, so during our stay there we witn…

RIP Helen Frankenthaler

Here is a link to some images and info about Helen Frankenthaler, who died today. Probably my favorite abstract expressionist painter, she is one of the icons of 20th century art. 
Poul Webb Blog

Annual Cookie Party

I interrupt my regularly scheduled Paris trip installment to show some images of yesterday's annual cookie decorating party at my friend, Anne LaPlante's house. 

Last Day in Paris

Continued from previous blog posts. For photos, I included some highlights from our Paris stay. When I find my misplaced images of Notre Dame gargoyles and such, I'll post them.
Our last day in Paris was wrought with indecision about which of the very many attractions we were going to miss. We’d known we couldn’t see it all, and today was the day of reckoning. Annabelle insisted we go back to Notre Dame to sketch, and to climb the tower. So we did, and got to sit in a front pew of the Cathedral, sketching for hours. The mobs of tourists didn’t get in the way because we were drawing architectural details way up in the arches. I’m not sure our drawings were first rate, but they are definitely some of the most sentimental work in our sketchbooks because of the memories attached. Afterwards we got in line (very short, thanks to Rick Steves timing suggestions) and climbed a windy, steep stone staircase to the top of Notre Dame. We looked out over the city, inches from the famous gargo…

Day at Versailles

Continued from previous Paris blog posts.
We had no intention of being tired for our next day, an excursion to Versailles, the palace of the 18th century French kings, described by most as the most spectacular in Europe. We rose early, followed Rick Steve’s detailed train and entrance instructions to the letter, and as he promised, were the first tourists in the palace, and waited in no lines. My trip to the palace 30 years before was quite an abbreviated version of what was in store for us this time. Most of the palace was closed then, so all I remember was the gardens.

Anyway, Annabelle and I scurried through room after opulent room, snapping photos, oohing and aahing, pointing out one overwhelmingly breathtaking detail after another. That crazy Louis! We kept pondering what would impel someone to make something so outrageous. He apparently spent one half of the gross national product of France to build it. How could we keep from saying anything but OMG?! In these sorts of places …

Slow Day in Paris

My story continues from previous blog posts. All photos came out bad from this day in Paris, so enjoy this image from Versailles, a preview of the blog to come.
We were duds the next day. We drug ourselves out of bed at 9:00, knowing we’d missed our golden opportunity to miss long lines at the Musee d”Orsay. We didn’t care. We’d known all along that there might be a day where we’d be too tuckered out to race around, so we decided to take this one slow. Most days we navigated the Metro with expert skill, but this day we got lost twice. Had to get off and find new circuitous routes to get us back on track. In our meanderings we passed one musician after another playing La Vie en Rose, hoping for a coin or two. Sitting and staring doesn’t take much energy, so our longer rides didn’t upset us much.
Because we didn’t arrive at opening, the lines at the Musee d’Orsay were the longest we’d encountered on the trip, but they still weren’t bad. We had our special Paris Pass which helped. The …


Anselm Kiefer
...continued from previous blog posts
Feeling sufficiently rested (or so we thought) we decided to take a walk from Place de la Bastille to the Pompidou Center through the Marais. Rick Steves’ guidebook had a nice little walking tour suggested, and we eagerly followed it to the letter. We started at a bench outside the new Opera House where a delicious looking Frenchman pointed us on our way. We’d heard that the Marais is quite hip, and it is. All Parisians are very chic, but this area is a bit trendier, rowdier, and gayer than we’d seen elsewhere. The neighborhood had skinny, cobblestone streets with a variety of architectural styles, like the postcard of France one might expect. Stores sold gourmet teas, Japanese stuff of all varieties, scarves, modern furniture. Pedestrians wore more leather, scarily high heels, and wild scarves than in other neighborhoods. I felt like a frumpy white-bread American.
We ended up at the Centre Pompidou at 5:00, hungry and tired, but in…

More Paris

Our second day in Paris was reserved for the Louvre. Annabelle’s and my life are largely devoted to art, so we shuddered with glee as we ate our patisserie breakfast in a little park near our hotel. (A note about breakfast. I am allergic to wheat and Annabelle to dairy, so we had a miserable time with the continental offerings everywhere in Paris. Annabelle had to eat plain bread to avoid the butter that is in every single tart, croissant and pastry there, and I had to order the one thing that had a non-wheat ingredient: flan pie. But I had to throw away the crust. We probably missed out on a zillion calories and should be thankful, but it was not easy in the least.)

Our first goal at the Louvre was to avoid the lines, and did we ever! Rick Steves told us secrets that got us in before anyone. Our next goal was to get to the Mona Lisa first. We didn’t want to have to stand in a crush of humanity while looking at the world’s most beloved painting. So, when the doors opened and we got t…

Paris, continued...

My second installment of my Paris trip story from spring break of this year.
After seeing tourist lines out the door and down the street, we declined a visit to Saint Chapelle Cathedral, which is right across from Notre Dame and claiming some of the most spectacular stained glass windows in Christendom. We heard on the Rick Steves website that there was scaffolding covering much of the inside view anyway, so we instead hopped next door and took a gander through the Conciergerie, the famous prison where Marie Antoinette was held captive before her Reign of Terror beheading. The main room of the interior was quite lovely and mysterious with its dramatically-lit rows of arches. Throughout the rest of the building were mostly small hallways, small cells, and very thick walls. The grand highlight was Ms. Antoinette’s small and dingy cell, complete with dusty furniture and a dusty mannequin representing the fallen dauphine herself.

On our way to the Arch de Triumph we stopped at the old O…

Spring in Paris

My daughter, Annabelle, and I went to Paris for spring break this year. I’ve had a whirlwind schedule since then, and never got to post a proper blog about our fantastic trip. So here it is, broken down into several posts over the following week. 
The last time I went to Paris I was 17. My mom sent me with a school tour, and in the spirit of mothers-giving-daughters-trips-to-Paris, I promised Annabelle when she was 5 that I would take her there someday. Now that she’s 16 I decided I better honor my words before she’s off on her own. She’d been taking French for two years, and a few serendipitous things fell into place to make it possible to get there.
I planned zealously for months before we left: researching art history and French politics, finding out what people were wearing there (in March), planning how we’d avoid lines at the attractions, and boning up on my French. The magical, miraculous, wonderful genius Rick Steves from Public Television was my European Guru before and duri…

Lorna Meaden, 2012 ALCC Featured Artist

Colorado potter, Lorna Meaden is one of the featured artists at the 2012 Alabama Clay Conference.  Here is a quick description about her career and work:
With her elegant and sensuous vessels, Lorna Meaden puts her own spin on historical ornamentation and celebrates the practical use of everyday, utilitarian objects. “Handmade pots are potent in their power to reveal the extraordinary, within the ordinary,” she says. She contrasts elements of extravagant embellishment with a rough-hewn, home-spun, sensibility. One of America’s most popular potters, Meaden exhibits in galleries and museums nationwide. She has been a resident at the most prestigious art instruction centers in the country, and currently resides in Durango, Colorado where she calls herself a studio potter.
Inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement of the nineteenth century, Meaden honors the handmade useful object as a valuable entity and a sacred tradition. She spurns the modern proclivity to assign worth based on conve…

ALCC Featured Artist: Sergei Isupov

Sergei Isupov is one of the featured artists to demonstrate and exhibit at the  2012 Alabama Clay Conference in February. 
A short description of his work and career:
Sergei Isupov, one of the world’s most famous and loved ceramic artists, has been thrilling viewers for decades with this meticulous, surreal, figurative sculpture.Born in the Ukraine, Isupov studied art at universities in Kiev and Estonia before emigrating to the United States in the early 1980s. His work is in museum collections around the globe, and he lectures and gives workshops world-wide. Isupov now resides in Massachusets, and is represented by Ferrin Gallery.
Isupov’s sculptures display an uninhibited celebration of imagination, human relationship, personal mythology, and freeform narrative. Painted images of the human form drape over, wrap around, meld with, and become a part of the surface of the sculpture, which is itself in the shape of a human form. The layered imagery is ripe with layers of meaning, conve…

Featured Artist at the ALCC: Chris Gryder

The Alabama Clay Conference, to be held in February, 2012 in Birmingham (and hosted by my husband, ceramic artist Scott Bennett) will feature three well-known ceramic artists who will give all-day demonstrations and exhibit their work. 
Here is the work of Chris Gryder, one of the featured artists. I've included an article below about his work, a piece I wrote for Ceramics Monthly magazine, November 2006. I'll blog about the other two artists in the next couple days. 
Negative Impact The Work of Chris Gryder
Chris Gryder began his exploration of art by studying architecture. A sincere and dedicated commitment to the subject led to his acquaintance with artists, methods, and concepts that later became the inspiration for his work in sculpture and clay. From the visionary designs of Antonio Gaudi and the philosophy of Louis Sullivan to experimental work in mold-making for architectural pieces, Gryder pieced together a singular aesthetic and an uncommon process of sculpture-making…

My Illustrations in Video

I did the illustrations for an informational video about my friend's company, Dialogue Resources. It was great fun to work on the project, and I love the added graphics that make it so effective.
If you have use for Dialogue Resources' services, you'll be in good hands.  The video says so.

My Illustrations in Video

My Talented Art Kids

My kids' art class worked on these oil pastel vase drawings a couple weeks ago. We learned about contrast, composition, warm vs. cool colors, and cast shadows. This is always one of the kids' favorite projects.

No More Roads in the Wilderness

Sipsey Wilderness, Alabama
This is reprinted from an email from WildSouth, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting wild areas in the Southeast.
Today is a day every friend of the wild can rejoice.  After more than a decade, 50 million acres of our most pristine wild lands are secured as the "Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001" has been reinstated.   These so-called "roadless" areas represent the core of our nation's public lands and have survived untrammeled by man.   Let this be a reminder to all who work to defend the wild and for every person who supports conservation that: 
“We need wilderness preserved -- as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds --because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it…