Watercolor Sketch at the Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens in Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

I haven’t posted a watercolor travel sketch for a while so today I’m sharing one I did when I lived in Paris.  One nice thing about living in a city that one normally just visits is that once you have gone to all the museums and sites that are the most popular and that you would see as a tourist,  you start to discover and explore places that are off the beaten path.  The Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens in one of those places.

Albert Kahn was a 20th century philanthropist who made it his mission to document the planet.  He financed many discovery missions all of the world.  The museum houses his archive of autochrome Lumière photography (color photos on glass plates) collections from 60 countries.

The thing that is the most spectacular about the museum is it’s gardens.  Comprising 10 acres it’s organized in sections modeled on gardens from around the world: a contemporary and village style Japanese garden, a rocky Vosgienne forest and English and French Gardens.  There is also a Japanese tea pavilion where on certain days you can participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony led by a tea master from Kyoto.

I went to the gardens a few times in the spring because it was so such a relaxing place and was hardly ever crowded which made it the perfect place to sketch.  This sketch was done overlooking the Japanese bridge.

If you are interested in going, the museum and gardens are located in Boulogne-Billancourt at 10-14 rue du Port.  One can easily get there by metro or bus.

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Work in Progress of Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

I’ve completed the details on the gate’s ironwork.  Next I’ll be adding details on the background, and then finally adjusting values overall until they are where I want them.  I’m happy with the gate so far!  I’ll be taking a break from this one to work on another small painting.  Stay tuned!

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The Telfair Museums in Savannah Georgia

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Entrance to the Jepson Center of Contemporary Art

Just had another wonderful weekend in Savannah!  A few months ago  I wrote a post about the SCAD Museum of Art, which I didn’t get to this trip because the SCAD Senior Fashion Show took place at the museum last weekend and it was closed for that event.  I saw SCAD’s production of Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Lucas Theatre which was excellent!  And, I had a second visit to another set of museums that are definitely worth seeing if you are in Savannah.

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The Jepson Center designed by Moshe Safdie

The Telfair Museums comprise three buildings which are three completely different museum experiences.  You can buy a pass for all three for $20 which is good for the entire week if you want to spread your visits out beyond a day.

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Entrance to the Telfair Academy

A good place to start is at the Telfair Academy,  it is one of the oldest museums in the country opening to the public in 1886 after the Metropolitan in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,  and the Chicago Art Institute.  It is a former mansion built in 1819 for Alexander Telfair, son of a Revolutionary War patriot.  It houses their permanent collection of twentieth and nineteenth century art from American Impressionists who studied and painted with French Impressionists in Europe and  also works by artists from the Ashcan school.  One will see paintings by: Alfred Smith, Gari Melchers, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Childe Hassam, and William Merritt Chase to name just a few.  They also have traveling exhibitions and featured a show recently on artist Robert Henri, Spanish Sojourn: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain which is now at the San Diego Museum of Art.

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Main Lobby of the Jepson Center

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Just to the right on Telfair Square is the Jepson Center of Contemporary Art.  This amazing building was designed by architect Moshe Safdie, and opened in 2006, after some controversy over whether the contemporary design fit in with the historic district of Savannah.  This museum features a collection of twentieth century contemporary artists, including Jasper John, Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Avedon and others.  Among it’s 7500 square feet of gallery space are traveling contemporary exhibitions.  Currently on display are five different exhibitions including Marilyn: Celebrating and American Icon presented in a variety of media celebrating Marilyn Monroe, Helen Levitt: In the Street, photos and a video of Manhattan neighborhoods in the 1940s.  In conjunction with this, is a video installation called Street by UK artist James Nares, who shot high def video out of and SUV  of current streets scenes in Manhattan, slowing the source material down to view at more than a slow motion speed which would last 61 minutes if you watched the whole thing.  At normal speed it would last all but three minutes.  It is a mesmerizing time capsule of daily life on the streets of Manhattan.

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By this time you may be hungry, but not to fret, the Jepson has a wonderful cafe on the second floor that features dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients.  You can also lunch there without paying the museums admission.

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The Jespon Cafe

The last building on the Telfair Museums excursion would be the Owens Thomas House.  Just a few blocks walk from the other two.  This can be visited via guided tours which take place every 15 minutes.  Just show your day pass to get tickets for the tour.  This former mansion was designed by William Jay, an architect from Bath England, who also designed the Telfair Mansion mentioned above. Competed in 1819 it is considered to be the finest example of English Regency architecture in the United States. It is a national historic landmark due to the fact the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolutionary war stayed here with his son.

 

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The Back Entrance to the Owens Thomas House

There have only been three families live in the Owens Thomas house, aside from the brief stint it served as a boarding house before the Owens purchased the home.  The original owner who commissioned Jay to design and build the home had amenities that no other house in the US could boast at that time. It had three cisterns that collected thousands of gallons of rain water, to provide water for all the indoor plumbing features, sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets.  This was unheard of for that time period, 1819, and it wouldn’t be until a few decades later that other homes in the US had these luxuries.

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The Garden and the Carriage House, Former Stables and Slave Quarters of the Owens Thomas House

 

A good plan of action for a weekend visit is to take your time at the Jepson Center and the Telfair Academy and save the Owens Thomas house for the next day.  There are also tours on Sunday.

 

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Also, don’t forget to see what might be happening at the Lucas Theatre!

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Work in Progress, Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

More work in progress of this painting, Gate of Reverence.  This is still in the block in phase.  I’m not concerned about being super tight and getting things exactly how I want them at this point.  All of that will come later after the initial color block in is complete.

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New Orleans and the Louisiana Watercolor Society 44th International Exhibition

Me and Anne

Me and judge Anne Abgott

I just had a wonderful weekend in New Orleans!  Saturday was the reception for the Louisiana Watercolor Society’s 44th International Exhibition at the Garden District Gallery.  It was a such a treat meeting some of the other artists in the show.  I had a chance to meet David Poxon via Skype, since he is in the UK, and a fellow Facebook friend Vicki Monette, whom I got to know through Carrie Waller. So nice to finally meet her in person.   All had fabulous work in the show.  Sorry I didn’t get to meet Facebook friends, Carrie, Iain Stewart, and Arena Shawn, who couldn’t make the reception but got to see their lovely paintings.   Thanks to judge Anne Abgott for including my painting in the show and for jurying such a well balanced beautiful body of work for this exhibition!  And a special thank you to all the LWS members who organized the show.  Without all of their hard work these events wouldn’t happen!

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One of the rooms in the Garden District Gallery

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The Garden District Gallery is catty-corner from the famous Commander’s Palace Restaurant in the Garden District

I didn’t know the long weekend was going to start off with such an adventure.  I had dinner with friends Friday evening when I  arrived only to come out of the restaurant in a torrential downpour, and my phone piercing my ear drums to tell us there were flash flood warnings.  Luckily we were  in and SUV and my friend had experience driving through flood water. Looking down the side streets off of St. Charles Ave.,  on the way back to the inn, I was getting a bit nervous seeing water up to the middle of doors on the parked cars!  With my friends expert driving, we made it to the street where my car was parked and luckily the water hadn’t passed the bottom of my car door.  If I had been parked on the South side of St. Charles, I would have been in trouble!  I moved my car to higher ground and waded back to my room with water almost up to my knees! (You will just have to trust me, it was dark and I was a bit scattered to take pictures!) By morning the water was gone and all had gone back to normal.

After the reception Saturday afternoon and dinner,  I was lucky to stumble upon the annual Champagne Stroll on Magazine Street!  Sunday, I spent the day wondering around the French Quarter and the Garden District, getting inspired by all the beautiful iron work and architecture and taking lots of photos.  I’ve already got some potential painting ideas swimming in my head!

 

Impromptu Jazz

Nothing better than this! Jazz in the French Quarter!

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Nothing better than this either, a paté sandwich and a glass of iced tea  at Le Croissant d’Or Bakery

Tenessee Williams

A pilgrimage to the Avart- Peretti House where Tennessee Williams wrote Streetcar Named Desire, one of the best plays and movies ever!

Fleurty Girl

Ironically the house is currently a shop named “Fleurty Girl”

On a side note, speaking of Streetcar Named Desire, in the movie actress Kim Hunter,  won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1951 for her role as Stella.  Iv’e always had an affinity for this actress, because we had the same name until I got married! 🙂

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Work in Progress, Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

More progress on this new painting.  I’m approaching this one similar to the last painting, Paris Passy Gate, and also to how I would do an oil painting.  I’m doing a block in of all the color first, and then will go back and add details and value changes.  This is what I call the teenager phase of the painting!  I hope it grows up and turns out.

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Work in Progress, “Gate of Reverence”, Watercolor

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Work in Progress, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 15″ x 22″ , 38 cm x 56 cm

Last week I designed and started a new painting also inspired like Paris Passy Gate, by the area where I lived in Paris.  This is the third in a “Gate” series.  I’m very intrigued by the design of gates and metal work, and like focusing on a detail that lends itself to the composition having abstract qualities and the mystery of what lies beyond.

 

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Watercolor Sketch Chartres Cathedral

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Spring is my favorite time of year in France.  I thought I would share a sketch I did in the Spring of my last year living in Paris, on a visit to Chartres.  We had just finished the day site seeing at the Cathedral and sat in the little park just behind it during the magic hour time of the day when the light is golden.  This is the back side of the Cathedral, done with ink pen and watercolor.  A wonderful moment frozen in time.

Chartres Cathedral is on the Unesco World Heritage List.  It is a perfect example of French Gothic Architecture.  Construction started in 1145 and continued  over a 26 year period after the fire of 1194.  It is in an unbelievable state of preservation with the majority of the original stained glass windows intact and only a few minor changes architecturally since the early 13th century.

 

 

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New Work Paris Passy Gate

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Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 22″ x 19″ , 56 cm x 48 cm

I’m happy to post that Paris Passy Gate, c’est fini!  If you have been following my blog or Facebook pages I have been documenting the work in progress on this painting.  The last post I had all the block in completed and needed to analyze the painting for value and add details.  I hope you can see what a difference value makes!  There is a saying among artists and no one I’ve talked to seems to know the origination of the quote.  “Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work.”  This is so true.  You can paint something in a completely different color scheme than what the original subject is, and it will work if the values are correct.

My goal for this painting was to experiment with getting a lot of texture from the pigments and work with a grayed palette.  I’m very happy with the outcome.  I’m always nostalgic for Paris especially in the spring time, and wanted to capture a place in the area where I lived which is also down the street from the apartment of a very dear friend I met while living there.  When we met she was 90 years old but seemed like she was in her 70’s.  We met by chance in a cafe and she started speaking with me in English because she had been married to an American man whom she met in Paris on V-day after WW II.  From the day we met we got together almost every week for lunch and we are still friends and speak on the phone often.  I thought of our special friendship a lot while working on this painting.

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Watercolor Sketching in the Parc de Bagatelle, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

A little gem in the Bois de Boulogne is Parc de Bagatelle.  I was determined to go on a lovely spring day with my sketchbook right after we moved to Paris and thought I would brave the bus system for the first time.  For those who have never visited the Bois (forest), it is HUGE and some areas can be a bit dodgy, which I won’t get into in this post!  Needles to say because it is so big there are many lovely areas to explore and families flock there on the weekends to commune with nature.  One of the most popular ares in the Bois  is the Parc de Bagatelle. It was created in 1775 and is one of four botanical gardens in Paris.

One of the most popular features of the Parc is the rose garden, boasting over 10,000 bushes from 1,200 different species.  In the spring the peonies and the iris garden are just as spectacular.

I got off the bus at what I thought was the closest stop only to realize after I’d walked more than a mile, I still had a long way to go!  My option at that point was to turn back and try to get back on the bus and hope to get closer or keep on walking, which I did.

I finally made it to the entrance near the Chateau and parked my self on a bench near a gorgeous row of peonies and did this sketch.  The Chateau was built by the  brother in law of Marie Antoinette.  She wagered that he couldn’t built it in three months and he won the bet! From start to finish it took 64 days.

When  I sketch architecture I like to combine watercolor with a permanent ink pen.  I had gotten a set of sepia color Pitt pens which I tried out on this one.  I like the brown tone to the pen which doesn’t seem as harsh as the black.

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