Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paint with us at the Atelier Grande Chaumiere



As the last of the Christmas trees are cast out on the streets of Paris, the days slowly become longer.  Even more slowly the temperatures begin to rise: forty, fifty degrees,  sometimes sixty in the sun.  Compared to Chicago or New York, Paris is downright balmy in February, but it is still a little too cold to paint outdoors.   So we seek warm, well-lit venues to paint.

It is on these days, an artist might go to “l’Academie de la Grande Chaumiere”, an open atelier for painters in Paris.  Each day a model disrobes and a dozen or more painters take their brushes to canvas.

It is an historic venue, with the same chairs, easels, and wood stove that might have been present in 1902, when the studio was founded.   Montparnasse and this atelier were known by  many important artists, including Picasso and Modigliani.  After the turn of the last century, Montparnasse was the locale for “new” artists which included the surrealists and cubists, early photographers and sculptors.  The walls of Academie de la Grande Chaumiere resound with art history.

Art history, however, is not what this place is about.  Each day, contemporary painters of today stand at easels ( in the morning), or at sketch pads (in the afternoon) and work.  Known illustrators and painters create new masterpieces alongside amateurs.   At 9 AM sharp, the door closes and a hush comes over the room.  For the next hour, brushes fly;  a break, and another session ensues , and another until noon.   This is a serious atelier, and each painter is guided by his own muse.

Lessons are available at the studio, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in the evenings. Thursday morning there is a guest teacher who will help you if you want him to.   Blair and I will bring our own painting students on rainy or cold mornings.    We go there on our own to paint from the live nude model.  Most of the models are women, but from time to time, there are men.  This is listed on the program, at the atelier, along with details about costs, teachers, days, et cetera.

The Grande Chaumiere is a year-round venue, not meant just for cold, rainy days.   We try to go there once a week.   There is no excuse for not painting in Paris, this city of so wonderful art.   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Painting at Giverny with Eye Prefer Paris

August 20, 2013

Painting Class with Laurie & Blair Pessemier at Giverny

My good friends Laurie and Blair, who I have written about before, lead outdoor painting workshops in Paris and environs. During the summer they take clients to Giverny to paint and they receive a special permit that is only given to artists and photographers to go after hours when it is closed to the public.

We went on a hot mid July day during the week. Laurie and Blair rented a van and we drove to Giverny in about 90 minutes. That day the clients were two women who were grade school teachers from Hawaii. Their teaching method was quite interesting as they told us how they integrated art classes into the curriculum. They were on a special grant from their school to expand their painting abilities and skills to pass on to their students.

We arrived about 4PM and went to see the Hiramatsu, The Lily Pond, Homage to Monet at Giverny Museum of Impressionisms (yes, the “s” on the end of Impressionism is correct). The show was a reverse take on Monet, as Monet was greatly influenced by Japanese prints, and Hiramatsu, a Japanese artist, painted a series of paintings influenced by Monet after he first saw the Water Lilies at the Orangerie in Paris and after visited Giverny.

We then saw the house and the gardens, which I had not visited in over 20 years. (I came once to the museum in the winter a few years ago to see a show and the gardens were closed.).

Although it was teeming with tourists, it was till a great thrill to revisit the country house with its musty smell and antique furniture and of course the gardens. At about 5:45 we carried the easels and art supplies to the water lily area. The museum closes at 6PM so it was almost empty by the time we arrived. It was still full daylight, as it doesn’t get dark till about 10:15 in July.



I actually tagged along so I could take photographs, not paint. One talent I absolutely don’t possess is painting, although one never knows till they try but I wasn’t game enough that day, so I stuck with taking photos. The light at that time of the day had a lot of glare, so it was tricky trying to photograph the nature without it being overexposed. It was a perfect time in terms of the vegetation as all the greenery was in full bloom with the vines overhanging the pond, lily pads floating on the murky, mud colored water and splashes of fuchsia flowers and orange tiger lilies. The famous green Japanese bridge is a genius detail because the exceptional color gives the garden a focal point and a brilliant beam of color just where it’s needed.

Laurie, Blair, and their students set up their easels and painted away, while I luxuriated walking various paths of the serene, people empty garden, snapping away. I met a woman who was with a group of students who were taking a weeklong photography class just focusing on Giverny, where they would photograph it in the morning and late day.

We wrapped up at 8PM, as the permit only allowed us two hours, but what a glorious two hours it was having the special experience of being practically being one on one with Monet and his garden.