08 November 2013

Delayed gratification

It became something of a joke during the week at Bandouille, because every place we went, everything was closed. Especially in the small villages and towns, but also to a certain extent in the big ones, businesses are closed all day Sunday (presumably for religious reasons); they are often closed on Monday (just because); they close for two hours every day at lunch (whereas in many/most other countries, businesses make sure to stay open during lunch so that all the people on their lunch hours can come in!), and then there are "winter hours," which can be whatever they say, and also EVERYTHING is closed in August, when everybody goes somewhere else. (Except I wonder what happens in resort towns--they must stay open for all the city folk coming to vacation there, but maybe not?) The result of this is, it always seems like you are arriving somewhere five minutes after they closed or an hour before they are due to reopen, and it makes you nuts!

So after some of these observations on Sunday and Monday when we kept seeing "fermé" on every hand, on Tuesday we went to Bressuire to draw that hilltop ruin with the chalet in the middle, and after we walk around for awhile, Bixxy says, "We're going to go sit on the patio of a café with the perfect view of the ruins to sketch, and I KNOW they won't be closed, because they're transplanted Brits like us!"

So we arrive at the place and the owner is standing out in his driveway about to drive away in his truck, and Bixxy says hi to him, and that we've come to sketch, and he says "Oh, sorry, we're closed--winter hours!" Bixxy says "Um, WHAT?" and he says "Yeah, we're closed on Mondays AND Tuesdays--in fact, starting today!" But he must have seen our faces, because he relented and let us out onto the patio before he left, and then after we'd been there for half an hour or so, his wife brought out a tray of coffees and "biscuits" for us, so it turned out okay.

Anyway, on Thursday afternoon we went to Saint Loup Lamairé to take more photos of picturesque stuff, and we come around the corner onto the last street and there's a boulangerie. I say "Oh, look, let's go in!" And Bix says, "Nope, it's closed--in fact, in all the times I've been here, on every single day of the week, I've never seen it open!" We all laughed, and I took a picture of the "closed" sign in the window, which turned out well, so I decided I'd paint it and send it to Bix and Drew as a little thank you / joke gift. So I didn't post this one it until after it arrived in France, because I didn't want to ruin the surprise.

I wanted to try out Jane's method of doing an underwash before painting the picture, and that's what I did here, because the sign was a deep green with rust spots and streaks, and the lettering was a pale green, accentuated further by being behind glass, so it lent itself perfectly to this experiment.

I also did some "lifting out," by first painting the wood all one color, then going back in to paint the dark color on the right and lifting out to get a lighter color on the left where the light was falling. After it dried, I also went back in and put in a little more pink in the wood, to counteract the greeny-turquoise underlayer. I also lifted out that little highlight of the reflected rubber stick-on thingy that's holding up the sign.

This was a fun one!

(I signed this picture just before I took it to be matted and mailed, and immediately regretted it. The signature was too careful. The signature was too big. It sticks out like a sore thumb to me. But--people sign their work. How do they ever get past the intrusion this is into the art? Maybe I should have done it in pencil. Maybe I should have just written something on the back and let it go. Too late. Does anybody else get this feeling of inappropriateness when they put their name on their art? It's not that I don't want to own to it, it's just that art to me is visual, and the signature is written and the two don't go together. Ironic in a picture that contains a typeset sign, I guess, but . . . it just feels wrong.)


  1. Wonderful picture, story, and thanks so much for sharing your techniques. I'm taking a watercolor class and have recently learned those. You've given me more ideas for practicing them. Fantastic job all around!

  2. Melissa, can you email to me at kdarwick@yahoo.com. You had recommended Brenda Swenson's class, which I took and absolutely loved. I'd like to ask you more about this trip--looks fabulous!

  3. What a crazy adventure you had. Glad you kept your sense of humor about it. Very lovely memory you have captured in this painting.