Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Sights Around Albi, France

During Dayle’s workshop, one of the field trips we take is to Albi. Albi is in southern France in the Tarn department. Its history can be traced all the way back to Bronze Age (3000-600 BC.) I didn’t see any remnants from that time period. We typically visit Albi to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the St. Cecile Cathedral.

This was my second visit to Albi. Instead of taking many pictures of the Cathedral, as I did last time, I tried to focus my attention on the textures and colors. I hope you enjoy these images of Albi.

Can you believe the color of the blue sky?

And a few images from St. Cecile Cathedral

To learn more about St. Cecilia, click here

To learn more about the St. Cecile Cathedral in Albi, click here

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Sketches from France

Before I left for France, I bought a small sketchbook. My intent was to draw in the sketchbook each day during my trip. I covered the sketchbook with a photo of a modern look French woman, packed my micron pens, and packed the sketchbook in my back pack.

We arrived in France, I move my sketchbook from the backpack to my purse, and there it remained, untouched, for 3 days. (I recall an art teacher telling me that she didn’t encourage students to take a bunch of drawing supplies on vacation because you put pressure on yourself to draw, which usually doesn’t happen, and then you feel guilty.)

As the end of our field trip to Albi drew to a close, we met Dayle at the appointed location. Dayle was sketching in her sketchbook. I promptly announced that I had also brought my sketchbook. Dayle asked, “Have you sketched anything?”

“Um, no. I haven’t used it.” I said.

Half jokingly, Dayle tasked me with sketching the facade of the St. Cecile Cathedral that stood a short distance from us.

Settling into my chair while we waited for the rest of our group to gather, I deferred Dayle’s challenge and opted instead for a set of shutters on a building directly across from us.

Shutters in Albi

And thus began my journey to sketch on an almost daily basis. Doing the first sketch reminded me, once again, that I do like to draw. In my senior year of high school, I was told during a critique with my art teacher that I couldn’t draw. Once I graduated high school, I avoided doing anything artistic.

Eventually, I came back to the arts and I’ve since forgiven that teacher for her cruel, nonconstructive words. I’ve tried the daily sketch task in the past, but it never stuck. After all, how many sketches can one make of their teacup, their breakfast, or the cats that never hold a pose.

But in France, it worked. And I’ve continued this practice now that I’m home. Though now that I’m home, I told myself that I’d like to do a sketch at least three times a week. That keeps my intention from feeling like a burden. I also received a little bit of advice from Dayle (paraphrased) that makes sketching a bit more fun: “Don’t worry about your sketch looking like reality.”

Below are more sketches that I did during our time in France. I’ll also share some of my sketches from home in future posts.

La Cascade Dinner Bell

Dining Room Chair

This sketch taught me that I’d completely forgotten how to draw perspective. An a-ha moment. Be a better observer.

Wicker Basket on Stool

This one is my favorite. Maybe I should sketch at night instead of first thing in the morning?

La Cascade Door Knocker

Hotel Night Table Lamp

Buddha Head

Until my next post,

A bientot


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The Magic of Soreze, France

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of my favorite pictures taken during our trip to France. Today, we start with images of Soreze.

Soreze

Soreze is a magical village located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, in the Tarn department. The village forms part of a triangle that extends from Albi to Toulouse to Carcassone. Soreze can trace its origins and development all the way back to 754 when Pepin of Aquitaine founded the Benedictine Abby Notre-Dame of Sagne in the fortified town of Verdinius.

Today, Soreze remains a source of history and culture. It has a long history of being home to artists and craftsmen.

The Images

On this trip I was focused on capturing images that would inspire my new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. Soreze is an excellent source of inspiration for this new series. Lots of colors, textures, doors, shutters, and statuary.

Festival Greeters

Soreze Side Street

Flower Pots

French Tabbys

Textures

Doors, Windows & Door Knockers

Statuary

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Soreze and its magical surroundings.

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Snapshots and Memories: An Adventure in Artist Trading Cards

After I return from France, I am embarking on a new art project: Snapshots and Memories from Langeudoc – Rousillon. This art project will focus on the creation of artist trading cards (ATCs) using encaustic medium and polymer clay. The theme for this art project is capturing the essence of the Langeudoc – Rousillon region in France.

ATCs are the size of trading cards and can be created from just about any medium, including felt, polymer clay, paper, fiber, or some combination of mixed mediums. You can read about the history of ATCs here.

This past week I delved into this project by creating two prototype ATCs. This was my time to practice my approach to creating the ATCs, practicing with the encaustic medium, and generating ideas of what types of images I’ll be looking for in France.

Below are pictures of the prototypes.

Le Tournesol "Sunflower" ATC

Le Tournesol ATC Detail

Le Tournesol was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: Napkin, encaustic medium, polymer clay, oil paint, alcohol inks, mica powder, metal stamp letters.

Le Chat Noir ATC

Le Chat Noir ATC Detail

Le Chat Noir was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: French dictionary page, found images, encaustic medium, polymer clay, alcohol inks, oil paint, metallic rub-on, texture plate.

The ATCs will be mounted on wood in single, double, and triple layout.


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Au Revoir Tour de France; Now Back to Work

Every July I lose myself to the Tour de France.  I know it will happen and I accept it.  It is like losing yourself in a good book.  For 21 days I follow the race as it travels through France and the surrounding countries.  Each morning I watch the live coverage and in the evening I listen to the recap which usually includes interviews and historical information on the tour. 

The Tour de France is a stunning athletic event in beautiful surroundings.  It is about teamwork and sacrifice.  It is artistry on wheels.  I know of no other sport where nine players truly work together as a team to support the team leader.  Each team member has a specific role; to go back to the team car to get provisions; to set the pace for the team leader as they ride up the mountains; to protect the team leader in the peleton.  And these roles may change during the race depending on the stage.  And then there is the individual time trial, the “race of truth,” where the rider tests his skills against the clock riding as fast as possible to the finish.

The support the team members give each other is not unlike the support artists give each other.  We cheer each other during our successes and support each other when we’re down.  We share our experiences and mentor those who are new in the field.  We push each other up the mountains that challenge us and help each other through the slumps when we “hit the wall.”  We may work independently but we wouldn’t survive without our team, our network of artist friends.

The 2007 Tour has finished.  For the eighth time Discovery Channel (formerly Postal Service) put a winner on the podium in the yellow jersey.  For the ninth time an American stood on the podium, also from the Discovery Channel team, in third place.  In fact, Discovery had three team members in the top ten finishers and won the team compeitition  Now that is team work.

The Tour is a diversion and diversions can be good. Diversions allow us down time; time to re-group and refresh.  But now it is time to get back to work.  So au revoir, Tour de France, until next July when I will lose myself for 21 days in the whirring of bicycles against a backdrop of sunflowers.

 TdF Sculpture

A Tour de France Sculpture in Pau, France (from the TdF blog).

To see some of the best pictures of the Tour de France, other bike races, and cyclists, visit Graham Watson’s site.

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