Monday, October 05, 2009


Serena in Les Capitouls, Toulouse, France
Marti At the L'Esquirol Bar, Toulouse , France

Hello Friends,

It has been a while since I posted in my journal for apologies.
The week with Serena was incredible, We did not stop for very long. One day of rest at the cottage and then off we went .
We traveled to six small medieval villages , two great towns and two exciting cities. We drank wine and cafe au lait and ate local cuisine. We had the pleasure to visit and spend time with my talented artist friends Rob and Jeanette who live in a magical 11 century French Chateau (completely renovated with the latest conveniences)...
As we made our way toward Toulouse, we gathered experiences to keep as memories to share when we are too old to travel.

Toulouse, France

The Ville Rose ("Pink City") of France - Toulouse is the capital of good life, a city of students, and a center of cutting-edge European technology, located between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast, with a rich and diverse culture, taste for celebrations and fine food to attract a growing number of new inhabitants. Population of 80,000, most of those young students.

This city is vibrant like Paris, but smaller and more compact, it is rich with history and art. Filled with lots of gardens and parks. We shopped in fantastic French boutiques ( Our favorite was a consignment store with first class designer labels) and toured City buildings with walls and ceilings painted in classical French style. And always we listened to amazing music on the streets.We visited the very busy farmers market, where everything you desired in fresh food was available, it was hard not to buy deserts and cheese and bread constantly.

We ended our stay enjoying an intimate evening with my friend Silvie at her authentic French apartment in downtown Toulouse. Enjoying lessons in French history and language and drinking Champagne.

There are about 100 photos to share and choosing one for this blog was difficult but you can see some of them posted on my face book France 2009 Album if you care to have a look.
Just copy and paste the link below.

I have added a few notes on some of the places we visited enjoy please contact me if you have any questions.

Bordeaux, France
We took the hour and a half train ride to Bordeaux, through the wine country and into the city.
With white stone arches and parks and amazing statues and fountains this city was too big to see in one day. So another visit is on the agenda for next year.I have attached a link for a photographic tour for your pleasure.

Penne d'Agenais,France
Penne is almost a one-street town - start at the bottom of the town and keep walking upwards and you won't go far wrong, although there are some interesting small alleys and passages to investigate en-route. There are many attractive houses and buildings in Penne d'Agenais, most carefully renovated in recent years. There are also a couple of 'arty' type shops and nicely located cafes to stop and enjoy the atmosphere.

At the top of the hill (and village) is the substantial basilica of Notre-Dame du Peyragude, surrounded by plenty of open areas suitable for your picnic. Unexpectedly, there are also some caves containing shrines at the top of the hill.

Lauzerte is an historic bastide or fortified village and can trace its origins back to the signing of the village charter in 1241 by the Count of Toulouse. As a stronghold, Lauzerte governed the surrounding area up until the 18th century. It was an established stopping off point on the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela, with many modern travellers following the same route to this day.

Thanks for your interest and support.
See you all soon,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

UN JOUR PLUVIEUX AVEC LES TOURNESOLS (a rainy day with the sunflowers)

Cher mes amis,
Today Serena and I took off for our first adventure. Rain did not deter us from our road trip around the Lot et Garonne area of the Midi-Pyrenees in the L' Aquitaine region of France. Our first stop was the beautiful village of Penne-d' Agenais , set high above the river Lot. Among the Artists studios and Galleries ,we found some of the finest renovated medieval homes one could find around this area. This is one of my favorite villages, and we enjoyed spending some time choosing our favorite one.
Next we visited Villeneuve-Sur-Lot a town which is situated along the river Lot. Dotted with riverboats and barges and down to earth people made this a real French provincial experience.
As we drove back through the country side we are captivated by the palette of colors that surrounded us .White stone farmhouses and chapels , green valleys and forests among the the plowed fields of ochre and gold and red...and again over and over the yellow, chartreuse green and aubergine shades of the sunflower fields. We were compelled to stop and walk among the Sunflowers, all with their heads turned downward now but still beautiful in a sad kind of way. We kissed them goodbye and continued on our quest to find and follow another little road that will lead us to somewhere.
Au revoir,
Marti and Serena

Friday, September 18, 2009

Au Revoir Castelnau de Montmiral

This the view from across the valley looking at the medieval village of Castelnau de Montmiral, France where mon école des beaux-arts(art school) resides.
On Thursday,after 10 incredible days of study, my teachers Bunny and Mick Newth, their Jack Russell terrier Eddie, my classmate Jenny from Australia and I took off across the valley into the countryside of this region of Tarn in Southern France. As our little band of trekkers climbed higher and higher, I looked down on the valley and across the fields to the village, so peaceful and beautiful I felt as if I was dreaming. We passed heavy laden fig and plum trees, Eddie ate so many his belly bulged, but it did not slow him down. There were walnut and cherry, apple and pear trees also along the path, no longer bearing their fruit but lovely green leaves covering the limbs and fields upon fields of sunflowers that had passed away.
The fragrance of french earth wafted passed and landed on my clothes. Yummy.
Our evening was spent eating an exquisite meal in the town square, drinking great French wine and talking into the night. So thankful to be here. I bid farewell to my friends and I realized that I have made some new and long lasting friendships this time around.

But alas, I had to pack my bags and head to Toulouse to meet my buddy Serena for a week of exploration of the Midi-Pyrénées where my cottage lives. There will be more country side to enjoy and wine to drink so off to bed .

Stay tune for more l'amusement en France( fun in France)

bonne nuit,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UN COUP D'OEIL RAPIDE DANS L' AVENIR (a quick peek into the future)

Bonjour Mon Amis,
I have been working hard for the last 10 days to achieve the goals I set prior to arriving here at my French art school. The process of printmaking continues to fascinate me and as I learn new techniques they push my abilities to the next level.
What I have learned this time is how to create more then one etching plate at a time and how they relate to one another . Also what is needed to print these plates in a sequence and in registration to produce layers of color and texture. Each plate must be exactly etched to fit together and the outcome is wonderful. The photo is a peek at the piece I completed while here.
Soon you will see the entire suite of prints.
I have been inspired once again and the future holds the promise of new ideas and directions and looks brighter and brighter each day.

Thanks for your support and interest.

Love to all

Sunday, September 13, 2009

LA GRAVURE COMMENCE!!(the engraving begins)

After five days of preparations I have finally begun the arduous process of etching the image onto the steel plate. This is the part of the process where expectation and patience come together. As the plate soaks in the bath of a formula of water and nitric acid ,the acid bites into the metal to reveal the lines and markings I have placed there. I block out areas that I do not want to etch and must always plan ahead and decide where the lines will go and how deep I want them. As the deeper the line the more ink is held and therefore the darker the line.

After I have determined the level of etching required to achieve my desired image I will begin to take quick test prints to see how the etching is progressing. Then continue the process until I feel that the elements are completed.

Once I have achieved a satisfactory print, I will then begin on plate#2 the color plate. This the area that I know the least about and why I have returned once more to study. Registering the plates so that the color falls into specific areas and enhances the over all print.
If other textures and background is needed then another plate is created. and on and on....

When I completed the entire suite of plates then the printing begins.
Oh what fun!!!
So check back and I will post a picture of the completed print.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nous permettre d'essayer encore(let's start again)

Bonjour Mes Amis,
Not sure why, but my last entry was published early and was cut short, so here is the rest of the story....
School is wonderful, My class mates who are all from England are diverse in the are world. All are friendly and we share a lot of laughs. Bunny and Mick, my teachers , are so creative and supportive.They have added a new mascot Eddie.He is a Jack Russel Terrier so I feel right at home with him running around.
Now about the photo.
The interior of the Catholic Church of England in Puyscli, France, a medieval village not far from Montmiral was built in the 11th century . I took a day trip here on September 11th and lit a candle in this beautiful church in memory of the lives lost in 2001. Visit this link to learn more about this interesting village (be sure to click on english flag to translate)
on a lighter note...
I have begun a new series of etchings inspired by images and colors found in the hand painted stained glass of these medieval English Churches in France. Not necessarily reproduced in a religious context and so my creative journey has begun.
First 3 days were spent recovering from jet lag and doing my research on the subject of this years lesson. I chose this idea because of the nature of the images and layering of color to create deep rich tones. I have found that the techniques of intaglio etching is rich in information and constantly challenges my artistic abilities. WHEW!
It is all very exciting and as always I find it hard to explain how this country and it's history somehow rings deep in my soul.
More to come....
Love to all

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"L'Art d'emballer ma valise pour France" (The Art of packing my suitcase for France)

Oh my goodness!! Where are the days when I could throw in a pair of  jeans, paintbrushes , passport and a French guide book  into a backpack with my beret and take off...
 Sure, oh yes that's my alter ego,The sensible traveler,
the devil-may-care Marti.
 The" I don't care what people think" Marti.
NOT! I must admit  ( and this will come to no  surprise  to those of you who know me well)   I am a clothes horse, Love to put my LOOK together and dress to the nines.
I have packed 3 times now, putting in and taking out... and the suitcase is 
 I even convinced Brooke, my beautiful, sensible dresser ,talented packer and experienced traveling daughter,into helping me decide what to take and what to leave. 
" I refuse to carry around a heavy suitcase for 3 weeks ~ my back won't take it"
We spent an entire afternoon, her sitting on the bed and me modeling the various options. It was a lot of fun, and we made all the right decisions. Putting the combinations together just like a painting.
Our color palette will be, black, grey, eggplant and indigo as our base colors, with mustard, orange ,magenta and cream as accents. What! no chartreuse  green ,you may ask,  well yes one t-shirt in that amazing color.
Beautiful, sensible and doable.
Nice but not over the top,
We did an excellent job.   First and most important,  several old painting clothes for art school, things I can just throw away when done , then 4 site-seeing outfits ( interchangeable of course) and last, simple black evening clothes with pearls. Oh yes, and 10 pairs of sensible shoes. 
Just kidding, only 3 pairs, one for each category.
 I forgot to mention the 2 zinc plates, for the etching class that weight about  5 lbs each, the brushes, the paper, the extra art supplies and smock needed for the 2 weeks of class. Oh my, this will be a challenge.
anyway... I cannot lift the case, so I go back in (4th time) to cut more out... maybe just this pair of jeans and  the green t-shirt? Or maybe the velvet coat?
Ok, enough of this compulsive behavior...
  the  beautiful eggplant velvet coat must go. BOO HOO!
I will take my art school supplies and not the coat. And perhaps buy some new thing in France to quench my velvet desire. 
au revoir mon ami 
(Bye my friends)
jusqu'à ce que nous rencontrons encore
( till we meet again)



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ma maison loin de maison (my home away from home)

As the time grows near when I will once again visit France and my sweet cottage
" Petite Romarin" in Roquecor, the butterflies build in my stomach with anticipation, and excitment , as if getting ready to meet my lover there.

I become nostalgic remembering passed times there and the influence this region of France has had on me and my art.
Ahh yes, the muse waits for me there !!

I am truly blessed, as my lover David has sent me here once again to study and paint.
How fortunate I am to have found this perfect little corner of the world.
Although this year will be a short stay, it will be a new adventure.
Each visit adds a new layer to the comfortable feeling of familiar land,
and sparks new directions in art.

This year I bring along my buddy of 30 years Serena, we have travel many places together and I know that she will also fall in love with this magical place. I can hardly wait to show her my favorite medieval towns, smell the fields of sunflowers, meet the friendly farmers at the market taste the fresh goat cheese and drink some of the best wines of France .

I get to experience it once more through the eyes of another.

It is most definitely "ma maison loin de maison" my home away from home.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

On My Way Once Again (Sur ma voie une fois de plus)

It has been 2 years since I have travel to beautiful France, 2008 was a year of weddings, mine and my daughter Brooke married our true loves .
So it is with great excitement and much anticipation that I plan this years Art Sabbatical.
I will attend once again my school, Atelier Montmiral, for advanced printmaking and then travel on to the cottage "Petite Romain" in Roquecor with my buddy Serena. We will visit new and wonderous places and I hope to journal this adventure with Pictures and insights.
Stay tune as we set out in exploration of new art ideas , meet new friends and have the time of our lives.