Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life drawing - life lessons

Vasile Dohotaru
Vasile Dohotaru - pastel of Villa Fontaine
After life drawing
Cafè terrace at night - apres Van Gogh
Cafè terrace at night - Van Gogh
Life drawing

After the complete tragedy of losing everything in the villa, I naturally was / am in a bit of a state of shock ... I still don't know the complete damage that these thieves have done to me ... but then ... an amazing thing happened ... I saw an artist doing a pastel painting of the Villa Fontaine.

Meet: Vasile Dohotaru

Vasile is this fascinating bohemian artist who hails from a section of old Russia. He's a brilliant artist and just happened to be at the side of the lane with his chalk and his paper and his stool. So ... I walked over to him and in his Russian turned French and my English - French combo, we managed to communicate quite well ... and become friends.

The artists in Antibes have heard of my misfortune and organized a bit of a rally for me. Last night I was invited to a life drawing session in an ancient part of the ramparts. I arrived at 9:00 pm and Vasile was kind to give me some of his paper. The model, of course, is lovely and accomlished very difficult and beautiful poses. It was freeing and exciting for me too draw with these artists - by the way, aside from the model, I was the only girl.

Imagine this: you're in a building erected by the Greeks or Romans - medieval - and there is a lovely model before you ... the room is quiet but you can hear the scratches of pencils and chalk ... the model takes another pose and you hear comments of admiration ... in french, of course ... and russian ... it brought joy back into my heart ... and afterwards, Vasile, Viktor and I shared a beer in the nearby cafe. It was great for me ... to be in this glorious place ... like Vincent Van Gogh's 'cafè terrace at night'.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Wolf's dinner - Beginning again

Dinner with Wolf
Painting afterward
The wonderful chef Wolf Berg
Fantastic dinner
Le dessert
Dinner by candlelight

ok. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Last Wednesday, early in the morning, I was working preparing a photo file for the Cultural Mayor of Antibes. The photos were for an interview of me that would be appearing in the Nice-Matin newspaper. So .... getting all of these ready ... and then being very tired, I finally hit the sack around 1:00 am. Well, cruel people are very clever ... and one, possibly more, thieves climbed over the locked gate, slipped into the villa, and, while I was sleeping, proceeded to rob me of everything that I brought with me to Antibes (except for one pocket camera and my docking station).
So ... that would be my beautiful purse, contents of purse including wallet and credit cards and passport, ipod, incredible computer ... and my fabulous OLYMPUS E620 digital camera with over 2000 photos of Antibes on it. Also, my computer had these photos all organized and labeled.
I guess if you're going to be a theif, the greatest place to be a thief is in the French Riviera - right Mr. Cary Grant? Sad for me, these horrible sub-human beings stole my life. Now, there's no beautiful French music playing on my computer and ipod. There's no photographing with the incredible Olympus E620. But there is searching in the streets for my lavender colored purse and my camera. I hate these people who steal. Who ruin other people's lives ... but ... when it is times like these, the caring and good people come through to help.
Thank you Mr. Rambaud for helping me - you are a kind and caring and generous man. Thank you Olympus - the E620 is an incredible camera - the photos were beautiful and will be again ...
However, this computer loan is not letting me upload photos .... SO frustrating ... so you will have to stay tuned and see if I can manage to rise above and restore my life ... I still am in the beautiful French Riviera ... so, like Cindy Lou Who and George Baily, there must be hope. Nes Pas?
p.s. does the film 'French Kiss' come to mind?

update: after not being able to upload photos, I decided to risk downloading the Firefox browser .. it's not my computer but the city's, I don't comprehend french instructions very well, the european keyboard is configured differently, I had to redownload the wifi software - still not comprehending french ... but, now all seems ok. I totally need a massage ... or a double whiskey ! God I hate criminals!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Orchid Shop

After a wonderful (!!!) day, I painted this painting

' The Orchid Shop '
30" x 30" acrylic on stretched canvas

A farewell get-together for our Schwaebisch Gmuend friends

lovely 'Vesna' (german) and 'Julianna' (french)

Nadine receiving bouquet from friends of Schwaebisch Gmuend

Freidemann Gramm - director of the Musikschule
Monika Buccheit - head of town-twinning
both hail from Schwaebisch Gmuend

farewell my friends - see you in August when I visit you in Schwaebisch Gmuend

taking my walk ... and marveling at the beauty ...

dinner on my terrace - the reddest tomatoes I've ever seen - and delicious !

even Sarko cannot believe his eyes !!

a dove came by and perched and cooed 'hello'

incoming storm - wonderful and dramatic painting weather !

inspiration has set in ...

The one sad thing about seeing your friends, is the moment when you must say good-bye. Or ... at least 'fare-well'. So this morning I walked to the beautiful 'Le Brasserie' restaurant in the center of Antibes. There is a going away party beginning at 9:45 - I arrived at 10:00. I really love my Schwaebisch Gmuend friends and the time spent together was SO fleeting !! The concert at Eilenroc, the dejeuner on the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean, dinner at 'Le Village' .... it was all spectacular to say the least. The nice thing however, is that I'm flying up to Schwaebisch Gmund for five days in August -- so, something else to look forward to.

The food at the party was wonderful - as always. Finger foods with pate (I still haven't figured out how to apply the accent on the 'e' on my laptop), sandwiches with pita bread, juice, water ... oh ... and a keg of Heineken !! Well, a small keg, but still a keg. Too bad they didn't serve 'Schlegel' bier ...

What a nice time, though ... and then my walk. I bought a beautiful lavender plant and another rosemary. I love to have a little garden and potted plants add 'life' to my life. After getting back to the villa, I prepared my baguette with brie, mustard, mache ... AND ... the reddest cherry tomatoes I have ever seen in my life. I don't even know if I can get that brilliant of a red in my paints !! ... and sparkling wine. Of course in France champagne comes ONLY from Champagne, France ... so, this is sparkling wine. Still fabulous. I shared the bottle with a friend ...

A storm was brewing ... and the mistral was getting so strong that I brought my plants into the villa to protect them. It was great painting weather - a storm, wind, rain, music ... champagne ... and inspiration. I rifled through my over 2000 photos and found the photograph of 'Amaryllis' -the quaint and lovely flower shop around the corner from Antibea Theatre. I knew when I photographed the orchids that they would be great subject matter for a painting.

It's late ... off to bed ...
Bon nuit mon ami


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

The incredible and intimate Antibea Theatre

The fantastic young musicians of Schwaebisch Gmuend and Antibes

The elegant conductor (also a pilot)

The chorus and small band at Safranier

The man at the bar ... didn't I photograph him before ?

Yes .. playing 'boules' ...

I love this photograph of him ... and I never thought to ask his name ...

Cathedral ... concert tonight ...

Incredible Choir

Can life be more beautiful than listening to these voices in this ancient church. ...

I woke up this morning and readied myself for the concert featuring the young musicians from Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany and Antibes, France. Although I just met these girls last week, it seems like I have known them for much longer. I've become friends with 'Vesna' a beautiful girl who is also brilliant on the viola. So, arriving at the ancient and tiny Antibea Theatre, I see Audouin. He escorts me up to the balcony and I am lucky to sit front row center. The concert features one musician from Schwaebisch Gmuend and one musician from Antibes for each selection. They are all very skilled -- remarkable -- it makes me wish that I have applied myself more in life ... these young girls ... swimming in the Mediterranean and splashing about and laughing and playing ... who would have thought the next day you would see them in beautiful formal attire playing difficult beautiful pieces in Antibea Theatre.

So ... afterward Audouin told me he had to hurry off because it was the festival for Fathers. So, France also celebrates Father's Day. Of course that hit the trigger because I could feel the 'here come the tears' missing my own Father. It's not quite a year since we lost him ... and then only a year since we lost Mom. It's been a crazy two years ... very high highs ... and very tragic lows. The happiest and the saddest. The French Riviera ... and the passing of my Parents ... and very little inbetweens. I decided not to join the Schwaebisch Gmuend gang at the incredible restaurant on the beach today ... instead, I would go back to the villa and be by myself ...

So ... it's a culture day in Antibes ... and there is music in many, many places. Rock bands, heavy metal (?), Reggae ... but I only wanted to stop by the Safranier and see the local music for a while and then head to the ancient Cathedral to sit and listen to the fabulous choir.

After the Safranier, I walked a bit through the market and decided to stop in the pub for a Leffe beer. There was an old man sitting on the stool next to me and although I tried not to stare, I knew I had seen him before. I ALWAYS have my camera with me ... and with this incredible OLYMPUS E620 Camera, I can store all of my photos on it and then retrieve them when I need to. So ... having not deleted the photos, I rifled through them until I came to the portrait photos that I had shot of a man watching 'boules'. I studied it to make sure it was him ... and then I said, 'excuser moi monsieur, mais, je crois que cette photo est de vous
'. (excuse me sir, but I believe this photo is of you'). And, sure enough it was !!! So ... I bought him a beer and he allowed me to take some more photos of him ... and, what a goof, I forgot to ask him his name ... BUT ... I do know where he watches 'boules'. I'm going to make a copy of the photo of him sitting on the bench -- and, of course, one for me, too.

After finishing my beer, I headed for the Cathedral. The church is very, very old and built of stone. Beautiful and accoustically incredible. Those voices filled the air and your mind and your heart. It was overwhelming. Many of the selections I knew from years of Catholic church ... but some seletions were in French and ... honestly ... heaven. Then, two soloists were featured with the choir singing behind them. The one woman had a voice just like Edith Piaf. Fantastic. It was so moving ... and it was exactly where I wanted to be.

All of a sudden it was pouring outside. So, I walked about the chuch and viewed the statues. The one was of St. Teresa - my Mom's name ... so I put some coins in the coin box and said some words to my Parents. For as sad as the day could have been, it actually turned out to be quite incredible and moving.

Bien sur

Saturday, June 20th

This is the beautiful lane that I live on ...

And the way to the Marche Provencal ...

Marche Provencal

The entrance way to the market

Everything that you can imagine ...

'Lapin' is French for 'Rabbit'

'Miel de Lavandes' ... honey of lavender

The Egg Vender

Dejeuner at the Plage Oasis

1st course: Salade avec Fruits de la Mer
Coquille Saint Jacques


Just to give you a look at our table RIGHT NEXT to La Mer !!

My new (and very young) girlfriends !!

The beautiful estate of Eilenroc

Saint-Saëns and Chopin

Perfect Evening ...

And .. dinner at Midnight at Eilenroc ... avec vin et champagne ...

How do you begin to tell the story of one day that could fill the pages of a book? I always get up early ... too early perhaps, but the sounds and sights of Antibes come streaming in my large window facing the sea in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes I'm out of bed at 4:30. Is that crazy or what. I'm in a permanent state of sleep deprivation ... but, why sleep? I only have three months ... and the time is fleeting by.

So, up early ... I always like to walk in the morning. There's a wonderful little take-away upscale bakery and specialty shop. Very teeny. So ... espresso for one euro and I'm off. I like to walk around the harbour and see the glistening boats ... or do my 'power' walk to Cap d'Antibes to Juan-les-Pins and back to the old village of Antibes. I also photograph everything. I've charged my battery I can't tell you how many times ... and have taken well over 1,000 photos. Boats, villas, concerts, yachts ... but as you may have suspected, I love to photograph the Marche Provencal. It's hustling and bustling by 9:00 a.m. - late by my standards ... but there is a plethora of goodies in bright, rich colours.

After my walk, I readied myself to join the group of musicians from Schwaebisch Gmuend. We are dining at Plage Oasis. It's a gorgeous restaurant RIGHT on the sandy beach of Juan-les-Pins and decked out in Ultra-marine blue and white. Well, dejeuner - or any meal you have in France - is always 'incroyable'. Shrimp with their heads attached, fish you must filet yourself - a true joy for the culinary and visual senses !!! I wish Americans ate more like the French. Less cheeseburgers and more natural foods from the earth.

So ... First course: 'salade avec fruits de la mer' ... salad with seafood. Second course: Coquille St. Jacques - delicious - and then it's a must : dessert buffet (although I'm not normally a sweets eater) ... and EVERY single dessert is mouth watering delicious. Americans take heed: no more store bought cookies !!!

So afterwards, a swim in the sea (perfect temperature by the way) with my wonderful new young musician friends from the music schools in Antibes and Schwaebisch Gmund, Germany. I've been included on these wonderful outings because of the connection with sister cities -- and I guess it helps that I presented a painting from my Music Series to each school.

After a swim, and at my beautiful villa, my friend Audouin and I walked to a small bar for a drink of beer ... and then off to Eilenroc for a fabulous concert featuring the glorious works by Saint-Saëns and Chopin. The Saint-Saëns concert featured an incredible cellist from Germany ... and the Chopin concert (Chopin is my favorite composer) was brilliant as well. Imagine ... sitting high up in the bleachers (very comfortable seats) under the parasol pine trees ... the swallows circling overhead, the breeze, the stars ... the sound of the Mediterranean just beyond ... and this breath taking building before you in muted lights of lavendar and gold ... and you're listening to Saint-Saëns and then Chopin.

Did I forget to mention Champagne (and this is real champagne) before the concert, at intermission ... and then ... after the concert, a special dinner just for the guests of Schwaebisch Gmuend and the musicians, the Adjoint Mayors of Antibes ... et moi.

One question: How do I go back to S. Hall St. and my life after this?

Oh ... another question: Who called me at 3:31 this morning ????

Bon nuit mon ami ...
Nighty Night after another day in paradise ...

... Happy Father's Day Dad ... I love you and I miss you very much ...