One of Bix and Drew's sources of income is their lake, which is apparently a paradise for fishermen. I never have gotten the concept of catch-and-release (as a vegetarian, I appreciate that the fish are allowed to live, but it still seems kinda mean), but apparently it's wildly desirable for someone to catch a great big fish, pose with it for a picture to prove you did so, and then throw it back. To that end, the lake is stocked with carp and pike, and Bandouille has a steady stream of fishermen who pitch tents at the far end of the lake and use a small mobile home for showers and food storage while they pursue their dream. Here is one of them with the VERY large catfish he caught:
You can understand why no one is wild to go swimming in the lake, given a possible encounter with one of these! You can see them leaping for mosquitoes near dusk--it's quite a sight.
Drew, who was the source of much amusement throughout the week with his clever stories, was gently mocking the fishermen's methods of attracting the fish to them--I believe he compared them to Robin Hood in a musical, as the protocol was to stand at the edge of the lake and fling or actually shoot the "bait" with a bow-and-arrow-like contraption into the water, which resulted in much posturing and arm-swinging. With this in mind, I risked the wrath of a Paris museum guard to take this photo of the fishermen's prototype at the Musée d'Orsay for Drew; this one is younger and less pink, of course! (and the fishermen were wearing pants)
We had some lovely walks along the country road outside Bandouille's gate, where we gathered materials from the hedgerows to paint...
met these lovely fellows...
and saw sights such as this field...
We laughed a LOT, and, as I said before, had absolutely lovely meals. Some highlights:
- The discovery of celeriac, which can be used like a potato but which has a completely different flavor (good as "frites," also mashed together with potatoes, and then formed into patties for potato/celeriac pancakes!);
- The tinned but nonetheless divine green olives;
- Pickled cabbage and beetroot;
- Chocolate cake, also with beetroot! (made it moist);
- Yogurt--it said "Yoplait" on the container but was nothing like ours--smoother, creamier, without that jello-like stiffness;
- Croissants, of course, and bread!
- French coffee--strong and milky;
- Bix's vegetable tart, which was so delectable that I must try to reproduce it soon;
We were definitely well-fed.
Here we are, lined up in front of our artwork hung on a line, and behind the table with our waiting dinner (including the aforementioned celeriac pancakes):
Giovanna, Jane, Cristina, me, and our host, Drew.
And here is a summary of some of the techniques Jane (and Bixxy!) taught us:
- Washes: smooth, graduated, wet on dry, wet in wet, dropping in color;
- Additions: Salt or bleach (to create blooms in the paint); grating watercolor pencil onto a wash using sandpaper to introduce other colors and blooms;
- Flecks: spattering using a paintbrush or a toothbrush, into wet or onto dry;
- Highlights: Reserving whites, scratching out, lifting;
- Textures: using "cling film" (Saran wrap) or foil to create patterns;
- Painting only with water and then flowing color in;
- Underpainting and layering of washes to create glazes
Here is Giovanna, using the cling film.
But the most important thing of all that I came away with: FRIENDSHIPS. I so loved getting to know Drew and Bixxy, the lovely Jane, the lively Cristina, the charming Giovanna. We didn't let language be a barrier, and I hope distance won't be one either, as we continue to share our art and our thoughts with one another at a geographical remove but no less sincerely. The place couldn't have been a lovelier setting for a holiday, but it is the people that make it memorable, and all my memories are good ones! Thanks to all of you.
And now, for me, on to Paris!