Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LOST IN TRANSLATION !! a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

Chagall must have been having "women issues".

Marc Chagall

Interesting fountain.  You figure out the meaning!
There's something to be said for "communication".

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to St. Paul de Vence, an ancient city, famous for the Belarussian-Russian-French artist,  Marc Chagall.  Did you know that his last painting was done at 97 years old and it was a premonition of his life after death?  The painting was a reunion with his first wife and his self portrait had wings.  He died 3 days later.

ANYWAY.  My new artist friend, offered to give me a ride to Vence where she dropped me off in the town center and went on to her prior engagement.  I was to meet her at the same spot at 5:30 that evening for pick up back to AIX en Provence.  Well, guess what!  It never happened.

I spent the day at the Foundation Maeght, a beautiful contemporary art museum and garden at the top of the hill.....(seriously, it was an 85 degree incline)  near the historic village of St Paul de Vence. I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest. Once I recovered, I was privileged to chat with a very friendly gallery owner, who's family owned gallery had been in existence for generations.  He had an original  Picasso and several Chagall paintings.  I was a starstruck old American lady.  (I wanted to say middle aged...but....)

Once my visit was over, I headed back to the bus stop.  Wanted to be sure I didn't miss that bus for my ride.  Oh SUE!!!!  What have you done?  I GOT ON THE RIGHT BUS.....IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!!   What is it with me and BUSES and French directions and French schedules!!!!!

After about 15 minutes on the bus, I walked up to the bus driver ..."are we going back to Vence?"  He looked at me like...."You pitiful American!"  I ended up in Nice.  Say it...with a French accent.  Does that sound the same to you?  VENCE.  NICE. VENCE.  NICE.  Anyway, Nice, that beautiful Cote d'azur city.   By the time I got there, I had decided not to panic. I had resolved that I probably wasn't going "home" that night, called my friend and said, "travel on, my friend.  I'm in Nice."  So I checked into a Meridian Hotel.

Ok...the Meredian.   I honestly thought..."what's the worse that can happen?"  I have a credit card.  So I asked the receptionist, "what is your best rate?"  She looked for a while and said, "I can offer you a $500 executive room. That's all I have."  Then, I politely said...."Would you mind pulling up the train schedule?  I need to get back to Aix...tonight!" We both laughed.  Then, I asked....and where can I get something to drink?  "Ah, Oui, Madame, over there."  I "proudly" walked on over and ordered a Tangueray and tonic (besides, I needed to plug in and recharge my phone)  and thought, "Relax, Sue.  Relax.  It's only money".   It was now about 7:00 pm.

After the T&T set in, I saw lots of "group" tourists there in the lounge.  Tons of retirees, with plans that had been made for luxury clients sipping on their "whatevers."  It reminded me of when my husband and I were on our award trips and everything was paid for.  Top of the line...everything planned and perfect.  All we had to do was show up.  Why do I always have to do things the hard way?  Here I was in my disgusting, mint green, sweaty tank top and linen skirt with no place to stay, no husband, no friends around, and, for a nano second, I sighed...."oh, how nice to be taken care of."  Then, I came to my senses!  I let go of my anxieties and pulled up my trusty "Kayak" to find some hotel quotes.  GUESS WHAT?  There was the Meredian for $200.  Ah- ha!  I quickly snagged the room online and went back over to the front desk.  What a great moment that was!  So I put on my giant black sunglasses, pointed up my nose, and pranced off to my "Nice" soft bed...with clean sheets...I couldn't wait.  Everything else could wait until morning.
The Phyllis Diller look! No brush, no clothes, no toothbrush,
just a cell phone and credit card!
Scary as it was, I headed out the next morning. Figured, if I was on this beautiful coastline, I shouldn't  head straight back to Aix.  So I got on a bus to Antibes. Where is Antibes, you say?    Who knows?  Somewhere between Nice and Cannes.  It's the only place I could go and be back in time to catch the bus to Aix that evening.  BUT, IT WAS WORTH IT!!!!!

What happened was, I got on the bus to Antibes with a few other people and got off in the town center.  Figured I could have a nice lunch, do some sketchbook drawing, then head back.  When I got off, I found myself completely lost along with two young girls from Spain.  They were adorable!  I was their mother!  They spoke Spanish.  I spoke English.  None of us spoke French very well.  So we bonded!  Both of them happened to be in Fine Arts school in Spain.  SO COOL!!!!!  They weren't even embarrassed to hang with me. We were LOST IN TRANSLATION together! We went to the Police station hoping to get a map or directions to the tourist information office.  Not a chance!  The officers took us to the back to show us a map that was taped to the wall.  We snapped a picture with our cell phones. That was somewhat helpful but..seriously, who can read a map that small on their cell phone?  Can't you just envision it!  They didn't understand a word, nor did they know where the tourist information office was. ..or if it even existed.   One of the girls, asked for directions to the historic city center...he looked confused...I said..."You know...the OLD me!"  He said, "Ah.  OLD!".  He got it.  Man!  Was that a blow for me!

Last but not least was at the end of the day when I met a beautiful woman from IRAN.  She was  working for the Canadian Consulate in Turkey.  What a beautiful woman inside and out!  I could go on about her culture but there is not enough time.  All I can't believe the media.... that...if the Iranian people are like must be a beautiful culture of people.

Today was even better than art!  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Here's my interpretation of the exhibit!
Ok....what's a girl to do?  I'm traveling solo.  I'm not a bar hopper.  I don't shop much.  I can't find a cycling what am I to do?  PAINT!  DRAW!!  STUDY ART!

This morning, my paint brain was really cooking.  I don't know just was.  Any of you artist folks, you know who you are, know what I'm talkin' about.  Something inside just starts revving up....until it just has to come out.  Look out...if I just had some big canvases.  ...but I don't.  Cherries were in my brain.  I'm not posting them yet.  They are not finished...but they are well on their way.

In the meantime, I walked to the art store and bought glue.  My sketchbook needed a bit of glue.  I needed to update my sketchbook page with the Klimt exhibit!

SOOOO, yesterday, I finally made it to Les Baux en Provence!  The reason I wanted to go there was to see the Gustav Klimt exhibit in the caves.  After a mile walk to the bus station, 3 bus changes, and a walk down into the cave, I MADE IT!!!!!  It was amazing!  I could have stayed for hours.  If you've never seen anything like this..which I hadn't...all of the artists works are projected onto these huge cave walls...simultaneously on walls, floors, all around the cave. glorious symphonic, head tripping music! I would have been an embarrassment to every single one of my kids.  BUT, my grandkids would have been trippin' with me!   Everywhere you look were continuous images of his works.  And everywhere you walked, the view looked different.

If you don't know who Gustav Klimt is.....he's was a prominent Austrian painter who used a lot of gold and bold colors and was known for his eroticism in female subjects.

I would have walked for miles to see it.  Hmmm....come to think of it....I did!

A WORK IN PROGRESS - a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

Cassis Waterfront
20x24 original oil on paper
Seriously, I'm hearing the Romanian accordion player outside my window.  SO FRENCH!
Today, I decided I'd better finish up all these unfinished paintings so they'll dry and I can roll them up to bring home.  OR....maybe they'll go in the trash.  I don't know yet.  It's been 3 weeks of daily painting and I'm just getting use to these new pallet colors.  Hmmm.  Can't decide if I'll stick with them, go back to the old pallet or try to slowly migrate them.  One thing I DO like is that the pallet is made up of only FIVE colors. Meticulously! Every color is mixed from there.  Amazing!

Trying to finish this boat painting of Cassis.  Still not finished. It's taken a long time and is painted on paper!  (I bought a large notebook of what I thought was cut canvas....guess's paper for "huiles" (oils) and really absorbs the paint!  SO, yet, another new challenge.  My muscles are getting tense.

I can think of worse things.  Play on Minelle.  (That's the accordion player.  We've become buds.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Traveling Alone - a traveling art blog by North Carolina Painter, Sue Scoggins

So, traveling alone is an art that must be learned.  I know that sounds strange in that I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Provence, France. The worst thing to do is stay home alone. Today, I spent the most wonderful day drawing sketchbook art with new friends.  One "doll babe" was 19, traveling alone.  After getting acquainted I found out that she is majoring in bio-physics.  When she continues, she will be working on her PHD and going into.....ALZHEIMER RESEARCH!

Who would have thought?  In a drawing class..meeting such a focused young woman ...traveling alone from Brazil!  Such an inspiration she is!!!  She gave me such a sweet tap on the shoulder as I told her that I lost my husband to Alzheimer's disease 3 months ago.  She lost her grandmother.  I couldn't thank her enough for taking up the charge!

Today's art venture was beyond fun as we experimented with pens, stamps, watercolor, etc.  I found out that there are a lot of us traveling singles out there.  Mostly, our fun was because we couldn't stop talking.   We began painting on the grounds of Cezanne's garden, Jas de Bouffan .  Had a picnic there.  Then moved to an art courtyard, Hotel de Gallifet, which had been a historic residence that has been turned into an artist's haven for drawing, sipping coffee, and having a salad or the likes.  The 4 of us, plus our instructor, sat around the table sipping coffee and making art all afternoon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

JOUCAS - a traveling art blog by North Carolina Painter Sue Scoggins


In this little village were so many winding streets.  So many inviting spots where the light hit the walls and blinding cobblestones flashed against the darkened shady spots.  I think I'm beginning to find my pallet again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ARLES - a traveling art blog by North Carolina Painter Sue Scoggins

I've discovered something about myself.
In order to paint, or create, I HAVE to be in the outdoors or where I can see the outdoors.  I also HAVE to have people.  I love people with all their stories, their smiles, their eyes.  They are the energy that generates creativity for me.  Too much alone time is not a good thing.  However, as a writer and painter, I need the alone time to reflect and concentrate.  It's a balancing act.

Yesterday, quite early, I hopped on a bus to the town of Arles.  It was the connecting point to where I really wanted to go, Les Baux.  In Les Baux is the Klimpt exhibit where Klimpt's art is projected on cave walls. I've heard it's spectacular. Once the bus driver dropped me off at the corner of city center in Arles, I asked, "ou est le bus pour Les Baux?"  He waved forward and said, "la ba".   Ok?  Where is la ba?  I acted as if I knew where he was pointing and just followed  the wandering people with "women carts" and dogs on leashes and travelers carrying backpacks. I found myself in the midst of hundreds of tents and thousands of people.  It was Saturday market in Arles.  OH NO, ANOTHER MARKET!!!  But, I couldn't resist.  So I threw my pack back over my mint colored tank topped shoulder and wandered from tent to tent acting as if I was local.  (I wasn't wearing my stupid hat). I swear if I lived here I'd buy herbs and linens and pottery and fix my place up all "Frenchy".   I might even buy a goat! This market had a lot of the same as in Aix, however, there were several very authentic locals who had brought their wares.  One farmer was selling roosters, guineas, and rabits.  A potter was selling his hand thrown pottery...which was no mass production...his calloused hands proved it.   There were tables and tables of antique laces and linens.  OH, if I just had the inclination to buy those things...I would have been in heaven!


Mr. Potter and his calloused hands.  Vous estes merveilleaux!
I wanted to take these home.

Now, THIS is paella!

Lady singing guantanamera with tambourines strapped to her feet.
I couldn't resist this one.

After about an hour and a half of market walk, a vendor scooped some lightly fried shrimp and zucchini fritters and I sat for a cold drink and time to sketch.  Then I'd be off Les Baux, I thought.   It was now about noonish.  One thing led to another and......well....

I never made it to Les Baux!  Never found the bus.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sketchbook Drawing - by Sue Scoggins, North Carolina Painter

la fontaine des 4 Dauphins
Aix en Provence

My oil painting has been a bit flat due to lots of reasons.
1.  My mind is filled with all these new sights that it just won't calm down.
2.  My apartment view is of walls.  Not that I am complaining, mind you.  But being an open skies kind of takes a bit of adjusting being in between yellow ochre walls and covered with beautiful trees.  (I'm just sayin')
3.  I'm use to painting large.  Large is difficult to do when traveling.  6x6 squares are cramping my fingers.
4.  I'm using a completely different pallet which is frustrating me because it's not bright and happy.  It's warm.


Today, I decided to get out and take a drawing class.  Absolutely loved it and my teacher was the warmest, kindest person ever! We are new friends.  We sat on the square of Place des 4 Dolphins and sketched as people walked by, doggies splashed in the fountain, cars came in and went out.  She showed me how to look at detail.  AND, for those of you who don't know....I AM NOT A DETAIL PERSON!  So...Catereeeene, as they say it in French...has taught me to draw in detail.  Also...she has taught me that it doesn't HAVE to be right. On peut faire des errors!

C'est difficile!  Mais amusant!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creating in the Kitchen - a traveling art blog, by North Carolina Painter, Sue Scoggins

No one said a painter has to always create using paints!  Painting isn't just slapping paint on canvas, it takes uninterruped focus which can lead to a very lonely life.  It's important for me to get out and about.  In fact, sometimes I have to make myself do it in order to get those creative juices flowing.

Today, in Aix, I was invited to participate in a cooking class with Mathilde at  It was my first class and I assure you it won't be my last.  I met wonderful people, in fact three of the women in the class, have lost their husbands this year.  Like me.  Nothing like cooking and eating together...laughing.....what a beautiful thing!

No shells in the egg yokes, please

Oh no, what have you done?!

Scrumptious!  Caramelized tomatoes.

 A little thinner, please.

Yay!  We did it!


A must have.  Rose from Provence.

Stuffed ravioli.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Leeks Anyone? - by North Carolina Artist, Sue Scoggins

Leeks Anyone?
11x14 original oil

Lest you think I'm sitting around and drinking wine all day....think not.  There's painting to be done.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Farmhouse - by Sue Scoggins, North Carolina Painter

Luberon Valley Farmhouse
13x13 original oil

Spending another day in the field.  Just can't get away from the countryside.  It's so beautiful here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

AIX en Provence - by Sue Scoggins, North Carolina Painter

Place des Trois Ormeaux

The city that closes up at night and reinvents itself the next day. 

Before the Spanish quitarist's concert tonight, I was going to this little cafe at the Fountain de la Rotonde and "voila!" It's not there. I swear I sat at a table there before.

The streets and city squares are crowded with people, darting in and out of shops, dodging the occasional car or moped. Unlike the US folks who walk on the right side of the street or sidewalk, the Aix people walk on all sides and in the do the cars drive in between the people or on the side or wherever they can get through.  They are mini cars.  That along with trying to stabilize myself on these cobblestone streets, makes me feel a bit wobbly.  The Aix en Provence rose wine doesn't help either.  Every corner and ally way has a little venue set up with their tables, chairs and umbrellas.  They stay open most of the night. Every language is buzzing. Energy is high.  The next morning they are gone.

Being an early riser, when I peek out of my apartment, there s no one. It is silent accept for the occasional street washer with his hose.  The streets are like empty ally ways with the sun lighting up the sides of buildings moving the shades as if lowering them. By 830, the farmers, fishermen, flower vendors, antique book dealers, and sellers of fine linens come in to set up at the markets. Someone new is setting up every day.  What was a square filled with restaurants last night, today is a market with juicy produce, fresh lettuce, assorted goat cheeses with the herbs of the day, and the butcher carving meats.  If the street names weren't engraved on bronze plaques, I would swear that I was in a different place.

Now.  THIS is a fish market!
(soon to be a painting)

There seems to be no racism here.  Every skin color is different. Every county is represented. Every language is spoken.  Every age walks, young and old.  

In the evening,  the sun doesn't go down until 10pm. I'm sitting at a cafe near the one that disappeared, drinking a vin rouge before the concert.  I write while the table next to me speaks French.  The children bungi jump across the way, springing up and down off of trampolines, a grunge twenty something girl, with pink dreadlocks and a beret, is tapping the street with her black puppy.  Everyone is smiling. 

Must pay up now,  My wine was 2.50 E.  Tip included.  Au revoire.  Merci.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maggie Siner Workshop - in Provence

Just in case you think everything is heavenly perfect.  THINK NOT!
I've been without luggage (4 days and counting) since the air traffic control strike in France.  That means, rerouted to Nice, training to Marseille, and busing it to the airport where I was meeting my new fellow artist friends.  New friendships have been formed and we are being tortured learning jumps in space and bride/groom ways of seeing landscape.  The learning curve is very difficult for me and I think I've discovered I'm color blind.  But, Maggie is great at teaching in a truthful way, yet, manages to keep you from feeling like a failure.  I'm trying!

With that being said, this is an absolutely beautiful place to be tortured.  With or without clothes and art supplies.  Every artist has been gracious in loaning me paints and brushes.  I carried my canvas all over Hungary to Les Bassacs. I've even managed to be the recipient of left over painting clothes from the laundry.

Paint on! I say.

Workshop Revisited - a traveling art blog by North Carolina Artist Sue Scoggins

There has been so much to absorb in the city of Aix that I haven't even finished up any paintings from the workshop.  Each day we painted out in the field.  One venue in the morning, back for lunch, then out again to paint until late evening.  Several paintings were started but not finished.

My stay at Les Bassacs, with instructor extra-ordinaire, Maggie Siner, was more than enough to keep my mind filled for years.  What a great instructor!  So much to learn.

Finishing up some paintings tonight.  (While watching the World Cup, of course.)

Road in Jauques
7x12 oil on canvas