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.   

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