About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Painting France

(Our host for this week's Fun Monday, Alison , would like us to share some vacation memories and photos since we're getting into vacation season with this Memorial Day weekend. All of us have enjoyed many different kinds of vacations. For me, they range from holing up in my own home over a holiday break from work with a stack of books, new music, and the telephone ringer on mute in order to adjust my mental and spiritual course. Or, vacation might be a weekend shopping trip with gal pals to a big city. Or, it might be a roadtrip south with my sister in the spring. Or, vacation might be a more ambitious experience abroad where I try to learn or do something new in a different country like gardening or country walking.

Today I'll tell you about one of my more adventurous vacations--a watercolor workshop while barging through the Alsace Lorraine region of France. And, please excuse me for getting on the road a little late on this Fun Monday. Happens all the time, doesn't it!)



Two of my best friends and I flew to Paris in May 2002 to join up with a group of would be painters for a week of landscape painting in the Alsace Lorraine region of France. My friends wanted to travel through this loveliest part of France at a leisurely pace. I wanted to learn to paint better by practicing in the daily watercolor workshops led by Joseph Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of art at the University of Kentucky. We spent just a couple of days in Paris, trying to see and do as much as possible
in the time we had. One place this wannabe artist should have checked out before leaving Paris was Magasin Sennelier on Quai Voltaire. This French family business, established in 1887, still offers the same Impressionist paints that were originally created for the likes of Cezanne, Monet, and Pissarro. Hum-mm, perhaps my paintings would have been a lot better if I had used their superior paints?

After just two days in Paris, our group of about 20 people from the U.S., England, France, and Canada boarded the train for Strasbourg. The group was a mix of "painters" and their traveling companions who were along for the barge travel, sight seeing and luxury relaxation. By the time we'd had three hours on the train together we began to bond. I almost missed the train in Paris because I hung back to buy a good supply of French chocolates to share with the group. What better way to make a good first impression and guarantee that I'd always have a dinner partner when my friends got sick of me!

When we arrived in Strasbourg we were whisked off to the barge Lorraine which would be our home base for the trip from Strasbourg to Nancy on the Marne and Rhine canals. The Lorraine was a perfect accommodation for the trip--young lively crew and tour guide, great commons areas inside and out for enjoying--or painting--the passing landscape, gourmet meals, and cabins that were small but adequate for the time we spent in them.

Joe, our workshop leader, was on the barge to welcome us. Of the group, about ten were interested in painting. He soon calmed our fears about whether we were "good" enough to sign on to such a tour. You know the spiel--everyone can paint (ha!), no right or wrong ways, just get down what you see, offer positive criticism of each others' work, be flexible. These paintings that Joe did in Saverne is an example of his being flexible. He ran out of color for these pen and ink drawings so he just used espresso! We all wanted these drawings. . .

The Painting Day--after a leisurely breakfast buffet, the barge let us off in different locations. The painters went with Joe and set up shop in areas that were particularly picturesque. The remainder of the group toured or just relaxed on the barge. Our first painting location was in the Petit France riverside district of Strasbourg. We purchased coffee and pastries at this outdoor cafe and settled in for a few hours of painting. Joe circulated among us, offering suggestions or just listening to our concerns. I tried to capture the row of timbered houses along the river. Save your critique for the evening. . .


At the end of the day we all met back in the barge lounge for drinks and Joe's critique--with comments from others as well. Luckily the wine was always excellent and his suggestions were very helpful. Notice all the painters clutching their day's work and waiting for their time at the easel! My work presented quite a challenge for Joe at first and then he started comparing my "style"(lol) to that of Raoul Dufy. I was quite puffed up with that comparison and inspired to do a pen and ink copy of his Interiors with an Open Window! Can you not see what Joe was saying??


As the sun set and the critiques and wine flowed, the barge kept tooling down the canal to our moorings for the night. This particularly lovely evening we were moored in the village of Hochfelden. The windows of the dining room were open and a giant grey schnauzer waited on the dock for a taste of the chef's excellent veal marsala. Mr. Schnauzer, however, didn't care for the chef's garnish, leaving it on the dock for a less handsome panhandler. . .

Enough painting and barging for today. I'll continue this vacation tale later in the week, if you want more. For now, be sure to check out other Fun Monday vacation spots at Alison's Place .

15 comments:

laurie said...

i do want more! what a great adventure.

no rick steves for you, girl.

(and some day i will explain to you how i meant to be ironic in those references....)

i like your painting.

ellen b. said...

Wonderful Faye! It's so good for us to step on out and experience the world...
Your leisurely trip sounds Magnificant!

Alison said...

what a wonderful adventure Faye, it sounds like you had a wonderful time, and your painting was wonderful!!, much better than anything I could have done!!

Thanks for playing this week!!

Mariposa said...

Painting France...how wonderful!!!

God I so love this week's theme...it's always fun to see the world through someone's eyes...and travels!

Have a nice week!

KittyHawk said...

Very cool trip. Good memories.

Peter said...

A fine post about your fine adventure Faye.

Olive said...

I enjoyed taking the barge and painting trip with you through France. There was so much for you to see there and to paint.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Sayre said...

THAT is a cool vacation! Do you still do watercolors?

kitten said...

What a wonderful experience! That's for sharing it with us and I would love to hear more also~

Molly said...

That does sound like a very unique vacation. I am not sure that I would want to spend my vacation in France painting. But, I do understand how others would enjoy this opportunity to paint in the land of the famous impressionists. I have considered spending a week in North Carolina learning to play the dulcimer.

Melanie said...

I'd love to be able to visit France someday. It would be a dream come true!!

What an amazing trip!!

Our Happy Happenings

Sauntering Soul said...

I'm drooling over a painting/collage workshop coming up this fall in Italy. Besides the fact that I can't afford it, I keep telling myself I'd be laughed at for thinking I was able to hang with the other "artists".

I work with acrylics. I tried watercolors once. That was hard! I am impressed with your painting skills.

I'll have to ask my younger brother if he knows the art professor from your trip. My brother has his Masters in Fine Art from UK and teaches some art classes there as an adjunct professor.

Lane said...

he just used espresso! What a man! And he's right you know, there is a Dufy quality in your painting. It's all light and spontaneous.

The barge, the cafes, the views, the food, the painting (and not forgetting Mr Schnauzer of course) it sounds like one hell of a holiday. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Debs said...

What a fantastic holiday. I love visiting France and even though it's only about 14 miles away from us and we can see it from our windows upstairs everything is so different over there.

I've never seen a giant grey schnauzer before only a black one. My miniature one is also very clever when it comes to food.

Lovely pictures by the way.

KAREN said...

What wonderful pictures. I feel quite sad that I've only been outside England once in my life! I hate travelling so much, yet I'd love to see other places. Maybe someone will invent a time machine one day :o)