Reflections

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Pots and Pans, 20×24 Stebner oil on stretched linen

Mild as it was, January is over. Some of its goals have been accomplished. Others remain. Working in my new studio, I did revisit a number of subjects, from places to paintings. With new techniques, I reworked some old paintings.

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Kitchen Bits, 6×8 Stebner oil on linen panel

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Corner of Giverny, 8×10 Stebner oil on linen panel

After two years, I revisited the self-portrait, this time using the limited palette of Anders Zorn.

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January 2016 Self-portrait, 12×16 oil on linen

Now it’s the beginning of February, and as I have begun planning for my teaching stint in France in June(several spaces remain…), my mind was drawn back to January of 2013, when I was solo-treking through central France, including the bogs(marais) of Bourges, where the townsfolk have private garden plots, naturally irrigated by the canals. Although I was immediately smitten with this mysterious place, at last I’ve begun see the paintings they offer. I guess I had to mature through three cancer treatments(and a lot of paint, c’est clair!) in order to finally know how to paint them. Gray is sublimely colorful and shadows are as beautiful as sunlight.

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Marais at Sunset, January 6×8 Stebner oil on linen panel.

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Punting the Marais, January. Stebner 6×8 oil on linen panel.

Olympic Winters

IMG_0685This has not only been the winter of the 2014 Olympics, but also a winter of olympic snowfall. Since our wedding weekend January 9th, the snow has been relentless until this week. The March-like mud, revealed by its recent melting, will be covered  again before too long; we know it’s not over yet. So how does one keep sane, much less redeem such wintertime? Build a new web site, for starters.

Luckily for me, it’s not quite as complicated as learning French. But, all the same, a painfully frustrating learning curve. To augment my bumbling through the process alone, along with an all-to-brief forty five minute session with a trainer,and in order to avoid brutally mutilating the monitor and keyboard in my fits, I called favors to web-savy Laurent, across the ocean in Alsace. Thank God for such friends and Skype!

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But wait, it’s not just a new web site, there’s a new blog for helping my painting students, too. This has competed with my painting time, to say the least. And painting is a jealous mistress.

The past week’s painting time  has been both a creative oasis and a mini-vacation back to winter in Bourges last January. Dramatic late afternoon light falling on a house at the foot of the remarkable cathedral captured on film there has finally transformed itself into a painting. Recalling winter in that lovely town a year ago ties a romantic thread around these last weeks of February-and winter, itself.

Every passing day draws us one day closer to balmy breezes and our first meal in the garden. And painting en plein air again! Oh, the web site? A few pages remain to be built but you can see it by clicking here!

Watch Your Step

Returning to Bourges gave me opportunity to revisit the cathedral in time to see the crypt, then climb 400 steps to the top of the tower, which spills out a tiny door onto the rooftop. How incredible to look down on a city which is so tightly assembled that you can’t see to the next street, when on ground. It’s like watching a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle magically click together, a la Harry Potter.

With that mission accomplished,it’s now that twilight moment when everyone is walking the streets shopping after work or sitting in the café relaxing before their eight o’clock dinner, yet two hours away. So, as I was taught as a young boy, when in Rome…

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Pan de Bois

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Two days in Bourges have delivered a winter’s feast of gothic splendor. Palaces of Bourbon kings, museums of medieval and modern art as well as streets on former Roman ramparts, now lined with pan de bois houses from centuries later. My feet and ankles ache from walking miles on granite cobbles.

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In less than an hour, I’ll don my shoes and saddle my bags to head to the Europcar office to pick up my little steed which I’ll ride to my next destination in the Auvergne countryside, where no trains approach.

Still no idea what my facelift story could be?

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