Friday, April 30, 2010

Take the weather with you: 6th photo post

Before I start this post I have to thank both the lovely Amanda at Small Acorns and the gorgeous Jeanne at A Collage of Life for tagging me in their game. I have been so flat out trying to organise the coming months of my life (Exciting news for me to tell you when it's all sorted out properly. SHHHHH. All will be revealed), that I had almost... 
I said

forgotten to blog

They brought me back with this really fun idea:

Amanda got me first with 'Post your 6th photo.' 
Remember right back when we started our blogs? 
My 6th post was written on a day much like today -
A little grey and drizzly... 
And I have a few opinions about the weather
This is what I posted...

To introduce our guest star, is what I'm here to do. So it really makes me happy, to introduce to you... introduce to you ...(anyone hearing the Muppet Show in their head???Sorry - got a bit carried away there ;-)

A big welcome to DORIS my positive pig. Her flying highness in flesh and feather! 

Hovering up there, she looks like she's snubbing you but infact she's warming herself after her flight in the last rays of sunshine before the rains of this weekend (funny how our own disposition at a given moment affects our interpretation of how others see us - but that's another topic). And I say 'rains' on purpose of course, for there were many. There was one rain that was great for watering the parched plants that I had shamefully forgotten to shower this summer. Then there was a second, slightly more insistant rain that drenched the kids when they took advantage of a break in the weather to pick some figs and quinces. Then there was the last rain that battered insistently at the windows and nearly drowned our border collie to the extent that he howled until we let him inside.

Now, while I firmly believe that every cloud does have a silver lining (plants watered, kids giggling, dog washed are just minor examples), for tonight Doris and I leave you with these wise words from Crowded House:

'Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you...'

It pops into my head whenever it rains and people complain about the weather, which I find most intriguing given that the weather is something that we can do absolutely nothing about! Complaining about the weather appears to me about as futile as trying to take it with you! But that's just my simplistic view of things.

Guess therefore that I shall let the weather do whatever it pleases tomorrow while Doris and I adapt ourselves accordingly. Painting inside it shall be then piggers!

My 10th photo has no flying pigs but it is about food!
And speaking of, my eldest messmonster 
has her Jeannettes (Brownies) 
dinner tonight for which we were asked to 
cook according to the theme of JP II
Hmm - I've comme up with
Jeune pousses de roquette avec Jacket Potatoes and duo de Patates douces et Panais rotis
(young rocket with Jacket Potatoes hehe, and duo of sweet potato and parsnip)

Do drop by on Sunday so we can dally over a 10th photo of
 carrot cake that even pigeons wouldn't eat ;-)

Have a lovely, weather filled weekend 

PS - have to rush out so will add the mystery tagged ones later tonight...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To me you will be unique in all the world...

... To you I shall be unique in all the world.

an extract from,

by French aviator Antoine de St-Exupéry

This piece is for Sarah, who recently missed out on a long awaited and well deserved holiday to France, and who has a beautiful blog called Hyacinths for the Soul. It has taken me months (since she won my contest back in January!) to finally come up with an artwork to portray her chosen quote and until today I couldn't figure out why every attempt I've made to date has gone promptly back onto the recycling pile. 

I have read Saint-Exupéry's book 'Le Petit Prince,' in both French and English, and for various reasons, it is special to me. Everytime I read a quote from that book, those very well known illustrations of the Little Prince and his lonely world, that are dotted throughout the story, come flooding back  into my mind. 

Yet the artwork for Sarah could be nothing like the original images. Over and above the obvious reasons of plagiarism if I could even draw that well of course, Sarah wanted blues of Lapis and Indigo (Yay! my favourites). Le Petit Prince comprises sketches of golden yellow and earth green, and one beautiful pink, pink rose. OK, I'll concede there is a little blue in the sky too here and there... but there was still something holidng me back. 
(Insert image of therapist's couch and me agonising over what obscure inner memory could possibly be blocking the successfull completion of Sarah's artwork)


Break through!!
The light bulb appears!!!

Today I set myself up in the sun, determined not to be thwarted. I whipped out my brushes and dusted all thoughts of a little boy, a fox and a flower from of my mind. This is what I finally came up with.

La Marquise de Sévigné and a blue 'plume.'

Sacré bleu! Now I can breathe easier...

If you haven't ever read Le Petit Prince
It's a lovely story
Below are some of my favourite quotes from the book
in French and in English


On Friendship:

"Tu n'es pas encore pour moi qu'un petit garçon tout semblable à cent mille petits garçons. Et je n'ai pas besoin de toi. Et tu n'as pas besoin de moi non plus. Je ne suis pour toi qu'un renard semblable à cent mille renards. Mais, si tu m'apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l'un de l'autre. Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde..."

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

“If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life.”

“You have hair like the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

On Grown Ups:

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.  (Is this why my Messmonsters keep rolling their eyes at me in a very impatient manner?)

I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.

Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get an idea of that house at all. You have have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $20,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”

On Wisdom:

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur; l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux"
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Train strikes and red wine: fighting tradition with tradition (and a good dose of laughter thrown in for good measure)

"Houston Ange, we have a problem!" 
on the other end of the line... 
from the Avignon TGV station...
...3.5 hour's drive East of Toulouse 

"All trains to Toulouse have been cancelled, she said"
- Cancelled? What about one to Beziers, Narbonne, Montpellier, Perpignan or BORDEAUX? I suggested. 
- Cancelled. I don't understand. I only bought my ticket last night and they never warned me.
- Pass me the SNCF agent - I'll sort this out!! (15 years in France and still my optimism obstinately refuses to be crushed)
- Oui Madame, I confirm. No trains going West! We can send her to Marseille if you like. There may be a train to Toulouse from there...
- Merci, please pass my friend back over.
- Hello (insert an, 'Oh GOD! What do we do now?' voice.)
- Hold tight, I said, I'll be there in three and a half hours. 

What can I say? 
Even with Ladurée, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Provence...

...You don't really know the nitty gritty reality of life in France
until you've been a victim of 
one of its numerous strikes ;-)

Then the panic set in for me. I had been counting on the last few hours before she arrived by train at Matabiau station, close by in TOULOUSE, to get my house unrealistically completely clean and tidy. You know, like out of one of those fabulous home decorating magazines that I don't buy any more because they waste too much paper...

But my biggest goal, and the one I was saving for the last minute, was WASHING MY CAR!!!

We live in the country surrounded by fields and 150 horses... and a little bit of mud. Mud that the messmonsters walk through after getting off the horses and before climbing into the car. Mud that I have to drive through to pick them up from horseriding ...

(Notice that I put a nice photo of the trees above my house here, instead of a photo of that mud... 'Always aim high/Onward and upward!' is my motto;-)

Mud that sticks defiantly to my car

I hurredly kicked a few stray pieces of lego under the couch to keep the the dust bunnies company for another week, rapidly hung the washing outside and screeched out of the driveway in the direction of the high-pressure car wash... frantically calling Beaker all the while to see if we could change cars momentarily. I knew he wasn't going to like that of course - the father of my children is always impeccably dressed and his car is always impeccably clean (which was why I wanted it desperately to make a great first impression). 

No immediate response from Beaker.

Fumbling around in my purse I found only a 2 Euro coin for the car wash and no other spare change. 2 short minutes to blast two months weeks' worth of mud off my car. I  pulled up my sleeves, slipped in the coin, and attacked.  What I ended up with after the two minutes was a sort of 3D dalmation effect. Slightly more oddball visually - but not likely to compromise the cleanliness of her clothes as she climbed into my car.  Anyway - I sort of figured that the remaining lumps of mud wouldn't be able to cope for too long with the wind resistance against my speeding vehicle... THAT GIRL was stranded and waiting for me!!

This... Is a prime example of how my life works. It is a constant source of laughter for me, landing me straight back into the present moment when I get carried away with fantasies of perfection. NO matter how much I try to have every. single. thing straight, down to the last detail, real life has a tendency to catch up with me very quickly, firmly reminding me exactly who I am.  From that moment on, I gave up all pretense of perfection! I could only hope then ... that like 'real life,' she would like me for moi-même - dirty car warts and all! 

(Notice that I put a nice photo of a flower here instead of a photo of my dirty car???
It still hasn't been washed...
But I preferred to photograph the flowers... the eternal quest for beauty  ;-)

What do two people, who have never physically met, who have based all on intuition and some scant written material posted on the internet over a few months, say to each other when they finally meet under slightly stressful circumstances???

They LaUgH!

And that is how you know... or at least I found out ... that the person we sense behind each blog, is just what we can expect in real life. 

It's a bit like having your favourite movie character materialise off the screen, reach out to share your pop corn and chat about your impressions of the movie with you, then go back to her/his role in the film with a nod and a wink. Magical!

I had never intended my blog to be personal. It was always meant to be an extension of my work, things that inspire me, and a bit of inspiration for others hopefully... I've sort of come around to the fact that a blog can't NOT be personal...

In fact, to me, that's the inherent interest and beauty behind each and every blog I read. That very real, very special person behind each one, who is gradually revealed through their choice and expression of subject matter,  is the quintessential element that provides all the specific flavour and charm. It's become my main reason for allowing myself the time away from the busy-ness of 'real life' to visit bloglandia.
This last week of laughs, exchanges of ideas, and crazy tourism has allowed me to both see my own, local world with new eyes (thanks for the expression Angie), and enjoy the pleasure of cementing an 'imaginary' friendship with a flesh and blood person.

Real life just looks better and better every day...

Thanks Kim for the wonderful time you blessed me with, here in my little adopted part of France. 

You are missed already by one and all (Messmonsters currently dropping HUGE hints about not having been in a plane for a while!) The door at La Rivière is always open...

PS - After all those wonderful tips Kim gave me on taking photos (results above), I am feeling slightly guilty about my 'practical joke' concerning which parts of the duck the French actually do put into preserving jars. I'm hoping the Roquefort sauce and kiss from my cheese man were sufficient to make up for this ;-)

PPS - In case you all were wondering, this is not going to become a photo blog... I just needed to learn a few tricks and have had fun playing around with aperture and perspective. Back to my brushes quick smart tomorrow so I can reopen my currently closed ETSY shop again soon.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sunny side up!

While my gorgeous visitor is under running water somewhere upstairs I'm sneaking in a blog post and catching up with C&C Photography's photo assignements. Thought it was time to improve my photographic skills.

"Ange, this will help when you want to take pictures of your own work!" I said to myself.

1st assignment: photograph A WHITE EGG
Try and find a white egg in France!
Camilla suggested I paint it ;-)
In the end Skippy's parents came to the rescue.
One of their chickens had laid an original egg
It was cream!
That'd do the trick

Until I realised that, no matter how many times I took a photograph of that egg, I could never again reproduce the same shot as I had no idea what buttons I was fiddling with on my camera.  Oh well ...looking on the bright side, I never knew a cream coloured egg could be so interesting...

Then there was composition - I'll post that later in the week.

For now, I'm still onto the colour. 
Guess which one I chose. 
Humour me! 
If you can guess, it means I got my assignment right!

In the mean time, there's more of that gorgeous colour in the sky outside and I feel the pull of reality tearing me away from the virtual. That's my round about way of saying I'm sorry I haven't been popping over much in the last couple of days but tourism takes up time!

Now, after a run through the green pastures that surround our house this morning I have to get Kim into the colourful world that is the kids' candy section at the local supermarket before getting dirty and dusty in a couple of Gimont brocantes... 

In return, Kim has just explained to me how APERTURE works... I may be able to complete these photography assignments yet ;-)

Have a 'sunny side up' kind of day !!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Food for thought: Qu'en penses-tu?

Cette façon de voir les choses me semble très juste...
C'est exactement le genre de réflexion qui me passe par la tête
pendant que je peins dehors par ce dimanche ensoleillé.
La vie au bureau ne me manque pas finalement,
même si je prends des risques...

I think I found this photo at FIT TO BE SEEN
Very, talented photographer, Andrea always provides
a unique perspective on life
through her lens and a few well selected words.*

In the mean time - pop over there for more food for thought

Tomorrow I'm going to be posting some photos
that are horribly late for
C&C Photography's assignments.
I have 3 to catch up on and the fourth assignment
will be posted soon!
Hopefully Kim will be able to give me some pointers
with the next assignment.
I'd really like to know how to use my camera!
She'll be here tomorrow

Have a lovely Sunday, I'm off outside armed with brushes and ink
while the messmonsters cavort in the daisies.

* Remember, I am blonde, so if I didn't find this at Fit to be Seen like I thought ... 
please let me know so I can humbly apologise 
and make amends.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting a bit rusty

Now that's what I call FUNCTIONAL ART! 

I have recently fallen in love with the works of Cal Lane,
a woman who has quite a way with a blowtorch!

I can't imagine how much time it must take her
to achieve such intricate precision in her work

This is how she describes her approach:

"I have always been interested in embracing the very thing that repels me in order to understand it: I prefer to make sense of things or in order to suspend (or pass) judgment."

I like the way she sees the world...

... and admire such technique, such patience ... 

I also admire how she accomplishes exactly what she sets out to do:

"I like to work as a visual devil’s advocate, using contradiction as a vehicle for finding my way to an empathetic image, an image of opposition that creates a balance - as well as a clash - by comparing and contrasting ideas and materials. This is manifested in a series of “Industrial Doilies”, pulling together industrial and domestic life as well as relationships of strong and delicate, masculine and feminine, practical and frivolity, ornament and function. There is also a secondary relationship being explored here, of lace used in religious ceremonies as in weddings, christenings and funerals."

I am humbly inspired

Thank you so much for all your support and kind words on my new website
I'm a bit new to the 'publicity' thing
I'm much better at sticking up for
and promoting others...
It's rather strange to do it for myself
So I'm trying to pretend it's not me I'm doing it for
Then that jolly photo keeps popping back out at me ;-)

For now, I shall go to bed and dream of 
lacy wheelbarrows
and reconciling 
the frivolous with the practical, 
ornament with function 
and the industrial with my domestic life...


PS - There is a list of upcoming events on Cal Lane's Website 
Here in France!! In the Auvergne region.
That's not TOO far from TOulouse ;-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Testing, testing ... going live!

Lots of late nights, learning and laughing ...
A few glasses of good red wine...
Some ummings and aaahings...

Thanks so much to Nathalie @ Coaching and Web 
for the hours and hours 
and hours 
and hours (ad infinitum)
she has spent
writing the code,
generally putting it all together.
I think she's done a great job!

Thanks to Mlle Julie@ Being Ruby 
for the great work she did 
on transforming my blue shutter
for the front page.
Can ANYONE help me convince this girl 
to put her photo works/writing into book form?

Thanks to the exceptionally witty 
and verbally gifted Lulu Labonne 
who helped me define 'who I am' 
then put it into some sort of intelligible 
and I like to think interesting perspective. 
DITTO FOR THE BOOK idea above!!
The unintelligible bits are still written by... moi

Mille mercis to Anne Sacramento for her invaluable advice 
and the work she is still helping me do on my logo 
(soon to be replacing the 'Signed by Ange' you see now)

And mille mercis also to my lovely friend
who is on her way to Toulouse
armed with a camera and
enough talent to make a photo of moi
look unfrightening
(if you get the picture ;-)

Thanks for all your patience as I have been very remiss 
and sporadic in my visits recently.
I know :(

Guess I'd better get on to translating this all into Français now!
And maybe get a bit of painting done too
N'est ce pas?

If you get the time to visit my site, 
would you be a sweetie and let me know 
if any of the links don't work, 
something seems wildly out of place 
or if I've made some huge embarrassing 
spSPelling mistakes? 
Otherwise, it's a bit like having a poppy seed 
stuck between your front teeth all day, 
or your skirt tucked into your knickers ...
 by the time you realise yourself, 
it's too late!! 
Lovely spring day to you all.

My brushes are calling...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Believe the Impossible!

I know I've gone MIA again.
It's just that I'm trying to:
 finish my new website,
organise some exhibitions
grow an extra pair of hands,
clean the house
get some sleep
fit in some sport
and play Easter Bunny all at the same time.
The good news is we will have lots of Easter Eggs and
 a real, grown up Website ready for Monday.
Am recovering after telling my imaginative Libellule
the horrible truth about the Easter Bunny
(at her insistence)
Not sure who was saddest, her or I.
I promised her that Angels were still real ...
So between the Angels and the chocolate eggs
things are looking up!

See you on Tuesday when the rush is over
Thanks for being patient with my absences ...

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Please Sir: The Art of being an entrepreneur

Before I get into today's rather short post (thought I'd give you a break after the last tome), I just wanted to thank you all for your inspiring and uplifting comments regarding my 'education' dilemma. They have given me lots of food for thought and a good deal of encouragement. I will show you all a picture of that hand painted manifesto as soon as it is finished - and keep you posted about the unique solutions I might find to overcome this situation, all inspired by you!

In the mean time, I read this post (and found the beautiful image) over at Please Sir and thought it may pique the interest of a good many of you artists, crafters and creators out there. It's all about 'The Art of Business.' 

 Below are some key points shared by William Mangum, an acclaimed watercolorist and gallery owner,  on the art of business and what it means to be an entrepreneurPlease Sir would really like some additional input from any of you (us)  who have set out on our own, or are thinking of doing so, particularly in an art related field. Is there anything any of you would add to this list? If so, pop over to Please Sir's blog and let her know. 

What is the "Art of Business?"

A - Alliance: seeing what is possible with other people, corporations and causes
R - Resourcefulness: connecting the dots to make a vision into reality
T - Tenacity: having the fire to get started and stay motivated 

Mangum also said an entrepreneur:

1. Dreams big
2. Takes risks
3. Never rests on their laurels
4. Constantly raises the bar
5. Creates value and carves out a niche
6. Exploits and identifies market opportunities

In any case, it seems that this is another great list to paint up big and stick to a wall for those times when pulling it all together seems a bit much!  I guess the kitchen's where I spend the most time, so I shall put it there. I have been known to paint and cook at the same time, which is why the messmonsters will flinch before no food, even bottle green spirulina ;-) Hmm - it's not a bad English lesson for them either!

Off to grab those brushes again then.

PS... I have been requested to write a few more posts en Français, so every now and again don't be surprised to see a bit of 'Sacré Bleu!!'

PPS. Thanks again for all the encouragement.... There are lots of little windows of opportunity opening up again!