Thursday, May 19, 2011

To paint the portrait of a bird or Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau

Nearly a month ago I was meant to be taking off for 9 days. It seems that every time I go to Wales, I come back only in body, and my (freshly upgraded) mind remains in Wales for a good couple of weeks afterwards.

In the mean time, I have returned to Glorious Spring. Homeschooling outside. Painting outside. Life outside. And birds, eggs and birdlings everywhere ;-) It's literally a bird watcher's paradise on our very own doorstep.

Needless to say, we have been inspired. Libellule found this poem by Jacques Prévert*** in one of her homeschooling books. We decided it would be a welcome change to the very dry content of the rest of the French program we had initially elected to try.

Paint first a cage

with the door open
next paint
something pretty
something simple
something lovely
something of use
to the bird
then put the canvas near a tree
in a garden
in the woods
or in a forest

hide behind the tree
say nothing
don’t move…

Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but it can just as well take many years
before deciding
Don’t be disheartened
wait years if need be
the pace of the bird’s arrival
bearing no relation
to the success of the painting

When the bird comes
if it comes
keep very still
wait for the bird to enter the cage
and once it has
gently close the door with the brush
paint out the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the bird’s feathers
Next paint the tree’s portrait
choosing the loveliest of its branches
for the bird
paint likewise the green leaves and fresh breeze
the sun’s scintillation
and the clamor of crickets in the heat of summer
and then wait until the bird decides to sing
If the bird does not sing
that’s a bad sign
A sign the painting is no good
but if it sings that’s a good sign
a sign you can sign

so you must softly pluck 
one of the bird's feathers

and you write your name in a corner of the painting

Libellule can't stay in one place for more than five minutes, so the rest of the poem (another painting for example) may never be completed. That however, is of  little consequence. This first part was enough fun. We will move on to other things...

Yikes!! There is a howl coming from the cherry tree. That must mean my break time is over. Sigh...

Bisous to you all …

I have been busy WORKING! Which is why you have had no news from this corner of the woods. Photos to come…

***Jacques Prévert (1900-1977) was a French poet whose poems are often about life in Paris after the Second World War. He also wrote several classic screenplays for film director Marcel Carné, the most famous of which, Les enfants du paradis (The Children of Paradise, 1945), is considered one of the greatest French films of all time. 

"His satirical attacks on rigid French education and the Catholic Church and other institutions of authority expressed France's post-war disillusionment and defiant spirit."


  1. Hi Ange,
    It seems so long since we 'chatted' !!......due to my MASSIVE computer and Blogger problems.I am hoping that I'm back on track now but, I'm not holding my breath !!!!
    Well, all I can say is that I wish you had been my teacher when I was at school.
    What an interesting project and the best part of it is that it was all stimulated by the poem that Libellule found.
    It looks as if home schooling is a great success.
    Don't work too hard Ange.....we miss your wonderful posts. Much love. XXXX

  2. Love it!
    Your homeschooling is just as it should be...full of the joy of learning and living Darling little miss peeking out from behind that tree...and I love her art work! :)
    Enjoy your family, your work and your life dear Ange!
    Take care my friend,
    Laura :)

  3. Jacques Prévert....As teens (school, Paris) we were all reading him, and giggling at his words, like: "Notre Père qui est aux cieux, restez-y," guiltily like good Catholic schoolgirls.

    Thank you for the memories!!!

  4. Ange, please find attached a blank cheque for your travel expenses so that you will fly over (first class, bien entendu) and teach my children.

  5. Great that the schooling is going so well, and for once I'm not envious of your weather - cause we've got some too xxxx

  6. Welcome back! And thanks for the nod to Prevert.I always liked him better than Sartre.

  7. lovely to have a peak into your wonderful homeschooling, I can only smile.

  8. You must be the funnest teacher, Ange! Your kids will remember these days fondly.

  9. Hi Dear Ange
    Well I think I will sign up for your home schooling!! What are the fees and when can I come!!

    sounds like the kids are enjoying being back home.. especially now summer is on it's way... Miss you all.. ciao xxx Julie

  10. I second Mise's comments!

    I still remember the Jaques Prevert poem I learnt at highschool for an Alliance Francaise poetry competition - Dejeuner du Matin. I didn't win but maybe I did, if I can still remember it. xx

  11. it always amazes me what spring can do for the spirit!!
    thats a beautiful post
    ~laura xx

  12. Oh Ange, this is a wonderful post! Look at your Libellule and her wonderful painting in the shade of a beautiful tree. I find this inspiring on so many levels that I am going to have to think about it ALL day!

    Homeschooling looks like it is paying itself off in spades for you all. Well done you!

    Thinking of you!

    Jeanne xxx

  13. Angie, this makes my heart full of joy. Your children are in perfect hands! We need to clone you and spread your clones around the world teaching children every where.
    Beautiful post, my friend! ~ sarah

  14. ahh.. what a post!! beautiful!!

  15. That's so gorgeous, and I'm pleased she's not still out waiting behind the tree! This must surely be homeschooling at it's very best.
    P.S I thought you'd never get off that darn beach. Have so missed you!

  16. please tell that girl that she needs to stop growing until I get there... what has happened...??? she is looking so much older!!!
    big hug to all three,

  17. What a great lesson, Ange, homeschooling or not! I bet your messmonsters are taking it all in! Glad you're back - I missed you!


Can't think of a famous quote that says 'communication makes the world go round' so you 'll just have to get my clumsy way of putting it instead ;-) Your comments are precious. Thanks for dropping by!