Saturday, August 16, 2014

DECOR!!! ONWARD AND UPWARD - a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

Bye bye salmon, onion, goat cheese bagel and little red motorcycle!

The long awaited day has come.  For weeks I've shoved to the back of my brain how I was going to get everything back to the good old USA.  As a former airline employee, it was shunned if we checked a bag.  We were so proud to say, "I can go  10 days to Europe with just one little rollie!"

WELL! Three suitcases, a backpack filled with 11 French hats, and a tube of rolled up paintings later...I'm here to say that I definitely looked like the tourist on John Candy's European Vacation. By the way, the bus drivers do NOT help load your bags. When the taxi driver dropped me off at the station, it was quite entertaining for all to watch as this elderly woman (ME) meticulously strapped these pieces together,  attempt to walk two steps, only to have them  tumble down again over the crowded cobblestone walkway.  I could see, out of the corner of my eye, an indifferent little Frenchman in his Persol sunglasses, leaning against the railing as he watched me struggle. Frustrated,  I whispered under my breath..."you could help, ya know" ...  after which he reluctantly stepped toward me.  "Oh no...don't bother." I thought as I raised my seething head, made the sign of the cross as if to scare away the demons, then smiled and said, "That's ok. I'm fine.  No thanks."  (ooo.  That didn't sound nice.)  I MUST PRACTICE MY DAMSEL IN DISTRESS ACT!

AND for the second act:  getting the bags into the belly of the bus.  It was a true grand finale when I pulled back, grasped the handle and slung my body with all it's might to get that 50 pound bag onto the bus; throwing my delicate frame into a flaming arabesque twirl off the curb and back on again.  The people cheered an ovation with their hidden grins.  BUT,  I was once told by a well respected co-worker..."never let 'em see you sweat!" So, with head held high and a laugh at myself, I stepped onto lyne 40 for the last time to the Marseille airport.

Not for one minute have I regretted this trip; traveling solo, learning curves, new cultures, conquering fears, silent nights and overcoming anxiety..finding out that I could do it. Friendly people, not so friendly people, goose legs and black pudding (blood sausage), goat cheese and olives, ancient fountains and foreign films, eating alone but drawing the scene, lovers and tourists, bus ventures and caves full of art, ochre  cliffs and lavender fields....those are a few of my favorite things.....
when the dog bites...when the bees stings....when I'm feeling sad......OH....THAT'S A SONG!!!!  (sorry)  Well....I simply remember my favorite things..and then I don't feeeeeel   so bad.

Thank you all for joining me on this trip.  It was great having the company.  Keep singing.  Onward and upward.

Next!  Maybe a little red motorcycle?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

ALORS! - a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

Tree Line
6x12 original oil on canvas

These I left out the top of the buildings

I've noticed something through drawing. I never connect the lines. The lines are left  unfinished and n-e-v-e-r quite touch their next point.  I wonder what a psychologist would say about that.  Hmm. Where's the sofa?  It's not a conscious thing where I intentionally leave them unfinished.  It's definitely subconscious.  Does that mean I have unfinished business?  Or that my life is incomplete?  Or that I'm waiting for something or that there's more to do with my life?  Or am I lazy and undisciplined? How about could just be my my astigmatism!   I's not just an occasional line or's all of the lines!  So, I've tried to make sure now that I "connect" the dots now, finish my lines and I've gone back and tried to complete them all.  

 ALORS! (well..)

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go.  (A little bit of Peter, Paul and Mary)
In the last 6 weeks, my vocabulary has consisted of primarily one to three word sentences. Bonjour!  Merci!  Ca va bien? Très bien. Au revoir. Oui.  Non. Je suis en peintre. Je ne comprend pas. Vous ne comprenez anglais?  Un peu. C'est bon. C'est beau! Très jolie! Voila! Pardon. No problem.  Reservation. L'addition. Un billet. Expresso noisette, s'il vous plait. aperitif, pour manger, quelque chose a boire, vin blanc, vin rouge, vin rose, mojito! 

Oh yes!  Don't forget  "Ou est le bus pour Les Baux?" and "il est chaud."

My diet has consisted of (In order of importance)
Bread, loaves of ...(which includes pastries and pizza)
Wine, bottles of...
Cheese - goat, ewe (brocciu), parmesan
Tomatoes - heirloom and grape
Olives - tons
an occasional zuccini
white fish

I've had no meat in 8 weeks accept
one goose leg (that was in Hungary)
one lamb (not the whole thing)
one filleted chicken breast
very little refined sugar  (that was a "creme glacee".  I had to do it.)
nothing processed or fried  (not that I don't crave a french fry right now!)

My jar of Nutella is empty now. (It was a small European jar.)  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

MUSEE GRANET, the Pearlman Exhibit - a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

The right half of
La Montagne Sainte Victoire
My friend Catherine and I said our last goodbye yesterday.(That's Caterrreeeeene, with a rolled r).  She was such a highlight of this trip.  She'll be off in the country to teach next week.  I'll be heading back to the USA.  My easel now has a new home with her.  It's too heavy and takes up too much room for me to carry back and maybe this will encourage her to pick up the oils again.  Thank you, Catherine, I'll remember our heartfelt conversations.

Did you know that Cezanne painted his beloved Monte Sainte-Victoire mountain 87 times?  He died of pneumonia at 67 years old after being caught in a rain storm while painting it for the 88th time.  Now, I'd say that was a magnificent obsession.

After beginning to sort, toss, cut and finish up things, I decided to take one last visit to the Musee Granet to see the Pearlman Collection of Cezanne.  I don't usually rent those little recorded tour headsets, but I finally talked to myself and said, "Self.  How are you going to learn if you don't listen?"   I found myself mesmerized as it was told as a dialogue between Henry Pearlman and a questioning little girl.  Cezanne's first exhibition was after being "rejected" in the Paris salon show and his  first solo exhibit wasn't until he was 56 years old.  Pretty interesting.  He pretty much became a recluse and no one knew where he was...even thought he was dead.  I guess that's a common thing about artists....they get lost in their painting, become isolated, sometimes forget to even eat.  (Of course, that's not the case with me.  Eating, that is.)

In one room, I found myself completely spellbound by his most famous painting, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire.  I examined every brush stoke and every color against color.  I'd move from one side of the room to the other.  Other's did the same.  In fact, waves of people would come in and just stand as if in some sort of a dance trance, shuffling around as if hypnotized by it's movement.  Sketching them had to be quick. How could a painting of a mountain be so captivating?  Aix en Provence is very proud of their Cezanne.

Bye, bye Musee Granet.  Bye, bye Cezanne.  Bye bye La Montagne Sainte-Victoire.

Monday, August 4, 2014

ALL IN A DAY - a traveling art blog by North Carolina Painter, Sue Scoggins

Around the Corner
14x14 original oil on canvas

This morning was spent trimming up paintings and organizing the next few days for the "grand" departure. Yes, soon this little bit of "shangrila" must end. It began like in a movie, but I never did find my little farmhouse to remodel as in Under The Tuscan Sun.  Maybe it's because I was in France and not Italy.  Hmmmm....  No.  I shouldn't! Should I?  It has been wonderful  but maybe I should go back home.  I dunno.

The afternoon was kind of exciting. I found myself in the middle of a political demonstration. Here I was, taking a break from painting, wandering my normal path of shops to see if there were any that I had missed. I could hear shouting in the streets and before I knew it, I was surrounded by flags waving, carrying the letters PCF, Parti Communiste Français. It was a peaceful demonstration. My favorite Romanian accordion player, Minelle, and I sat on the curb to wait it out. He was ready for it to be over so he could get back to playing La Vie en Rose. I eventually got up and ordered a glass of Rose. When the demonstration was over....the protesters ordered Rose too. (kind of funny)

I'm trying to be as "normal" as possible.  (Whatever that is.)  Work on my art, eat, exercise, eat, go to art class, eat, walk, walk,'s not much different than home, accept I'm in France.  There's a lot of alone time in the studio, which is the second bedroom of my apartment but I've met very friendly people. Almost every shop owner is smiling, helpful, and welcoming. In fact, one shop owner invited me out to a picnic tomorrow night to meet her friends and watch an outdoor film of the opera.  Today, I spent a few hours in the eyeglass shop picking out new glasses. I've found out that I'm more blind than I wonder I kept stumbling across those cobblestones....I couldn't see them! He prescribed the latest and greatest HD lenses (with cheap frames) and told me I was to never drive without glasses again. (My bad!)  I'm sorry, but I'll be sporting the most "French" glasses when I get home.  My kids will be so embarrassed!  I might be too. (Maybe I was blind when  picked them out.) Whatever, I won't be stumbling over cobblestones anymore.  That's a good thing.

My favorite people, above all, ( besides my art friends) have been the waiters and the Romanian accordion player. I will miss them.  I see them all everyday...or maybe I should say, "I am their regular tourist"  (accept other tourists go home and I'm still here.)  There's Nelson, who brings cafe noisette in the afternoon (noisette - which means, the coffee is the color of almonds), along with a "Sue!" and a kiss on both cheeks. The waiter at Le Gaulois, where I experienced authentic, truly French, blood sausage (must be an acquired taste), says I need to practice my French. Then, there are Ornella and Abdu, my wonderful friends at the Italian restaurant around the corner. They bring me a lemoncello, that wickedly wonderful Italian liquor, to finish off my salmone fiorentino and wonder why I am alone.  Should I tell them?  Maybe not.

I'll be waving goodbye to them next week.  Makes me kind of sad.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

CHERRIES! THOSE CHERRIES! - a traveling art blog by Sue Scoggins

Did you know that the city of Aix was formed in 120 BC.  Seriously?????  The new part of the city is 400 years old.  That's the NEW part.  Mind boggling!!!

Like I said in an early post, this city is like a in the morning, cafes in the afternoons.  Every day the farmers come in at dawn, set up under their umbrellas, sell their produce then close up at 12:30. I've loved the markets so much that I just had to paint those cherries. Fresh vegetables and fruits, goat cheese, lavender, tapenades, mounds of garlic cloves, olives....and fish....oh those fish!  After an organized  "Taste of Provence" market tour with two young couples, one from Poland and one from Switzerland, market paintings were popping out of my head.  There is something freeing about being old.....I don't care about what people I ask questions and make comments.  I taste and I ooh and ahhh.  And I buy, not one....but three...something for each of my kids.  I'm not shy anymore. These couples probably thought I was a loony tunes....I thought they were adorable!

The tour guide was absolutely MORE than expected, giving us the perfect "tastes" with the quality vendors in the markets.  We began with the Patisserie Bechard tasting pastries, then moved to a chocolaterie, a spice vendor with tastes of  spices, chutneys, olives, then watched as coffee beans roasted and finished with a macaroon shop.  Everything is from local farmers.  Such a privilege! I've been back to the coffee roasting cafe many times since then for my expresso noisette.  It's the perfect spot to people watch in the afternoons.

It's almost too much to take in.   BUT I'LL TRY!