Thursday, October 23, 2014

Villeneuve lez Avignon. Part 2

It has suddenly turned into autumn:  27 degrees  (around 84 degrees) on tuesday and down to 14 tops (around 58) today.  And super windy!  A mistral, perhaps!! Nonetheless we bundled up and took the bus across the Rhone and back to Villeneuve lez Avignon.  I wanted to see the gardens at the Abbey that is within the walls of the Fort Saint Andre.  I confess I didn't go into the Fort, I was much more interested in the gardens.  And even though it is the end of the season, they did not disappoint.

Sorry, the order is all weird, but I'll try and walk you through it.

 The is the 17th Century Abbatial Palace.

Vaults supporting the monastery. 17th Century

This is a view of the Fort Saint Andre that I took a few weeks ago, seen from the Rocher des Domes at the Palais des Papes in Avignon.  The Abbey and gardens are to the right of the two towers.

This pic, because I am hopeless at getting the order of things correct, is the entrance/exit to the gardens seen from within the Abbey walls.

There are olives groves on either side of the pathway leading up to the 11th century chapel built above the cave where Saint Casarie lived.

This is the little 11th century chapel of Saint Casarie, that was restored by Roseline Bacou, who inherited the Abbey of Saint-Andre in 1951.  She moved there permanently in 1991 where she devoted the rest of her life, until her death in 2013, to the continuing restoration of the Abbey, a process that has in fact been going on for over 100 years.  Bacou passed the Abbey on to her two nephews who today continue with the renovations.

This is a view of the Palais des Papes seen from the walls that go around the Fort, and that also encompass the Abbey.

This is a vew of the Colline des Mourges and the Tower of Philippe the Bel, taken during today's walk up to the Abbey.  The last time we came to Villeneuve lez Avignon we walked up and around that opposite part of this lovely little town.

Tomorrow I am going to try and perform the super human task of packing way too much stuff into my suitcase.  I expect I may have to pay extra (and I didn't even buy any books) but so be it!  I will take my extra art supplies and donate them to the art supply store across the road (I know they also give classes there) and so at least I won't be throwing away a large container of gesso, matte medium and so forth.  They  didn't seem to have small containers for purchase and I did need them whilst what's a girl to do....

So, packing tomorrow,  I won't be showing you any pictures of that adventure!!  Then it's off to Paris for three nights.  I know, honestly, how lucky am I????

I'll be back....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last week in Avignon. A contemplation.

This has been such a wonderful holiday.  We sit in the morning in our favourite cafe and have our favourite croissant and coffee (after much sampling and surveying.....I have to tell you, I'm actually looking forward to a pretty stringent regime upon my return!!!).  This morning at the cafe we sat outside and I waved a 'bonjour' to two Avignon acquaintances and had a long chat with a third....people walking by that we often chat with in the bakery or at the market, not to mention the guy that makes our morning cafe au lait and really doesn't even ask now what we want. And the long and pleasant chat was with our landlady who happened to be walking into town. And so it must be when one moves to a new town and begins to settle in.  And while we are heading home soon, it has been such an interesting phenomenon to experience the beginnings of this process of settling in (I've been in my current home for nearly 30 years, totally settled!!!!).....this was a bonus that I hadn't even contemplated when we decided to stay in one place for six weeks. I am always so delighted to be given these new things to learn.  And while I appreciate that there are TONS more things out there to learn, that I'll never get to or even know about, I am just so grateful for one more opportunity.....

Moving on.  It's all good.

And at the same time I am missing my own comfortable little neighbourhood, where I know lots of people and have lots of 'good mornings'.  The lovely little coffee shop just down the road from where I live.  "Just a cafe au lait please.  No, nothing to go with that, thanks."  I shall be sure to contemplate, when I get home, the phenomenon of being 'settled' and what all THAT means,

But we have more things to do before we fly home.

Gosh, this one has been a bit of a ramble....I'll be back....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quiet days

We have had a few quiet days, walking and exploring but not doing too much else.  I have been doing some drawing and have decided to concentrate on some of the things that I have been particularly enjoying here and that I want to remember.  Not big and fancy things, just little things that I want to remember.

 I'm still trying to draw people.  I suspect it will always be a huge challenge.  These are drawings from some of the photos I took on our day to Arles....I don't normally even include people in my pictures but it's hard to ask a whole tour group to move out of the way!!
I have been enjoying the milk here (I normally don't drink milk, opting for a non-dairy alternative at home), bottled water (at home I don't use bottled water but here the water is so hard and full of calcite..I think that's what it is, that it's pretty awful), and a container from the chestnut yogurt I have been enjoying (see dairy comment above, but this yogurt, that I remembered from our visit two years ago, is delicious....oh my,... and here I am using the container to hold water  for painting), some Liquitex Matte Medium that I bought at the store across the road, and some gesso, also purchased across the road.  These are a couple of pretty heavy items and I am going to give them back to the store when I leave.  They run art classes there so I am sure they'll be able to use them....already spoken to the owner in fact. Yup, no problem.
And pigeons.  These little creatures are everywhere but are certainly not a bother.  And I've noticed that when one of them is ailing, or worse, alas, that one of his buddies is generally by his side, for company, in the end.  I find it quite touching.

I have also taken a picture of the front door of the building in which we are staying.  I showed you a painted picture the other day of the key that we use to get into our particular apartment in this building.  Just little things, but things that will bring me pleasure to remember as time goes by.

That's it for now.
I'll be back....

Friday, October 17, 2014

First we went to prison....

We went yesterday to visit the Prison Saint Anne.  This prison, within the walls of the city of Avignon, is just behind the Palais des Papes, and was built expressly to serve as a prison. It is one of France's oldest prisons and only closed in 2003.  Nothing has been done to it since that time.  At the moment, however, it houses a contemporary art collection donated to the French government by gallery owner Yvon Lambert.  This collection, the Collection Lambert,  is normally in a huge building, just down the road from where we are staying, but since that building is currently being renovated, the collection is being shown within the prison itself.  The current exhibit is called The Disappearance of the Fireflies and it is awesome, for its art, and somewhat disturbing because of its location.  (Sorry, I was mostly moved by the prison itself, overwhelmed by its possible stories, and haven't included much of the'll see what I mean by the photos...)

One of many closed doors.
 I believe there are nearly 200 cells in all, some for men and some for women.  Some of the hallways had green doors, some red, some other colours.  For this exhibit, there is a piece of art in nearly every room.
 Some of the cells had windows, but not all.
 It is housed on three floors.
 This is one of the pieces of art work.
I found this interesting.  And disturbing.

The collection is on display until the 25th of November, should you be in the area, and opens every day at 11.

The day was sunny and hot and it was good to get out and walk around.  After leaving the Collection Lambert, that is, the prison, we went to the Musee Angladon.  This collection is housed in an old private mansion pretty much in the centre of old Avignon.  There are works here by Degas, Daumier, Manet, van Gogh, Cezanne, Modigliani, and many more.  Here is a small sampling....

 Modigliani, La Blouse Rose
 Degas, some of his dancers...
 van Gogh, Wagons de chemin de fer...

An example of an 18th century parlour, although I'm not sure if it was formerly in this particular mansion or not,

It was a busy day, going to two exhibits in one afternoon, but all in all, two pretty amazing collections of art.

Oh yes, and then there is my little humble offering for the day.  A couple of sketchbook pages.  Yes, I know, I shouldn't give up my day job....oh right, I did already...retired.....

Those sweet little crabapples are still going strong!!  The bottom pic is what I see from the  kitchen table as I am working on my computer.  It'll be fun to look at this as time goes on....nice memories.

So that's it for today.  I'll be back.

I have included a couple of links showing some information about the current Collection Lambert.  I'm sure a Google search would turn up more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seen/scene at Arles

We spent a fabulous day in Arles.  We bused there early this morning (cool morning, misty fields, lovely) and started our day with a coffee in a little cafe overlooking, well, so much history.

 This is a shot of Les Arenes, the large amphitheatre built in the first century AD.  It has room for 21,000 spectators.   We passed it on the way to get a coffee.
 This is the view from where we stopped for coffee.  Let's see...on the left one can see the top of the Cloitre Saint-Trophime.  It has two Romanesque and two gothic corridors from the 12th and the 14th centuries.  Unfortunately the front of the church (in the Place de la Republique) was covered in scaffolding so the famous portal, dating from the 12th century, was totally covered.  I did get a lot of shots of it the last time we were here, however, so all was not lost!  On the right you can see a gathering of school kids, waiting to go into the College Saint Charles.  The school bell rang and they all disappeared inside the door on the right!  Magic!  And directly in front (well, not the small child, she would be a more recent addition to things) one can see the ancient Roman Theatre, built at the end of the 1st century BC. It could hold 10,000 spectators.  It is also shown in the pic below.  I had to push my camera through the bars to get this shot....the things I do for you!!!

We then walked around the city for a few hours and my guy patiently waited while I snapped pictures left and right.  There are so many beautiful sights and sites to see.
 I think that this is the Eglise Saint Julian.  I was intrigued by the early morning light offset by the dark streets.
And I think this is the back of the the Eglise des Freres-Precheurs.  I loved the grey light mixed with the beautiful blues.

I also had an opportunity to visit the new Arles Vincent van Gogh Foundation.  This exhibit shows one of van Gogh's works and his influence on contemporary artists.  The current exhibits feature Yan Pei-Ming (Night of Colours) and Bertrand Lavier (L'Affaire Tournesols).

 This is a shot taken from the gift shop in the Foundation.  I took this shot because I bought a postcard of the same shot.  These are the gates that open to allow one entrance to the Foundation.  The gate was designed by Bertrand Lavier and represents 'the considerably magnified signature of Vincent and his [Lavier's] signature at the same time' says the little pamphlet describing the current exhibits.    

This is an original picture shown in the Foundation, by Vincent van Gogh, and is called Self-Portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat.  It was painted in 1887.

And then of course, there are the random shots that one likes to take, just because.

This one is right across from the Arena.  Nice house, with a nice view.  Sigh.

I have made a list of some more spots I want to get to before we come home.  Yes, I am starting to think of the coming-home part of the trip....time seems to be passing quite quickly now.  I still feel as if there are quite a few things I want to do, but I am still trying to hold on to the relaxed feeling that has been such an enjoyable part of this trip.  A hurry-hurry-slow.  I can do this!!

More to do.  More to show you.  I'll be back.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Les Halles, October 14, 2014

This morning we walked up to Les Halles.  They are open every day except Mondays, from 6:30 a.m. until 1:30 (2 on weekends).  These three shots were taken standing in the same spot, just turning myself around slightly.  They were taken around 11:30, which admittedly is a bit more busy than when we usually get there around 9.  But tons of fun.  And so much temptation!! And as you know, I can resist anything, but temptation.  (I'm so like Oscar Wilde that way...since I believe it's his quote!) I didn't take a picture of the little organic bakery we go to, but it was busy too.

That's it for today.  But I'll be back, you know it!!!.....

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday's play

This morning we went up to a favourite cafe on Rue de la Republique, just across from the Office du Tourisme.  I sat and had a cafe au lait and sketched people walking by the tourist information office.  I am taking a class at Sketchbook Skool and this week's instructor is Melanie Reim.  She is an illustrator, no,... she is an amazing illustrator.  And this weeks assignment is to sketch in public. Well, I've never done people before and I've never sketched in public before.  So I sort of tucked myself into the cafe and sketched the people across the street.  That's about as bold as I get!!!  At this point, I am just trying to get the gestures of people's forms.  And I may never get past this point!! The idea of 'people,' and 'public' are sort of terrifying for an introvert like me.

Additionally, I did some gelli plate printing yesterday, and I did some more watercolour work inspired by the little crabapples (I think they are) from l'Ile de la Barthelasse.  I also played around a bit in my sketchbook, recording some of what we have been doing  (I have another one in the works...more on that one later).  This looks a little washed out, it's a bit more exciting in the 'flesh' but admittedly, not much!!!  

So that's about it today. Weather permitting, we may go to Arles tomorrow on the train....tomorrow or the next day.

I'll be back....

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Le Musee du Petit Palais, Avignon

Yesterday we walked up to the Musee du Petit Palais.  It is 'home to Italian paintings from the 13th to the 16th centuries' and 'provides a panorama of Italian painting with works by Botticelli and Carpaccio..... The Petit Palais museum is a UNESCO Word Heritage site and is ranked as a "Musee de France".'  (quotes taken from a guide book we picked up at the Tourist Office.)  It is the only palace of a cardinal from the 14th century that is open to the public.

I spent an enjoyable hour wandering through the 18 rooms in the Palais whilst my guy sat and read Le Monde and waited for me in the Place du Palais. The Musee is in the northwest corner of Avignon.

 I believe this piece is called "The Visitation" and has been restored here at the Palais (that is my understanding, anyway.)  It has its own book called Acquerir, Restaurer, Attribuer.  I didn't purchase it, however (I know, such restraint, right???) but once again,  I was thinking about the weight of my suitcase!!!

And this, because I am just as fascinated by the building and by staircases in particular, is one of the staircases on the way out!!  It is quite a huge building!!

We then walked up the the english bookstore Camilli Books and Tea up in the northeast corner of the city where we walked along Rue Carnot.

And then on our way home, quite close to where we are staying, we walked through the Place des Corps Saints.  It seems to me that there is always a lovely breeze as we walk through this Place.  I am thinking I might go there and do some sketching in a couple of days.  We'll see how brave I get!!!

Today I came home after our jaunt up to the market for a few groceries, and painted a few small pics of some fruit (crabapples???) that  my guy picked on his walk across l'Ile de la Barthelasse the other day.  Rich colours that I am trying to find in my palette  (I'm pretty sure they're there, of course, I just need to find them!!!)

I may do some gelli plate printing later.  Or I may snooze.  Life is just filled with these tough decisions.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Villeneuve les Avignon

This morning early we took the 10-minute bus ride across L'Ile de la Barthelasse to Villeneuve lez Avignon.  "Popes and Cardinals built their secondary residences in this town founded by King Philip the Fair to escape the bustle of Avignon.  These palaces were the centre of European diplomacy for over a century."  So says the little guide book we picked up at the Office de Tourisme, where we descended from the bus.  This first shot is taken from our walk and shows the Fort Saint Andre in the background, the Eglise collegiale Notre Dame and I believe one of the cardinal's palaces in the foreground.

We had a coffee (have to stay fortified, you understand) and set out on one of the suggested walks near the city.  We walked up the Colline des Mourgues,  It is 7 hectares of walled park with lots of lovely views of the city.  There is an open air theatre and the remains of several important religious sites such as la Petite Chartreuse, the tomb of the hermit Crouzet-Lacombe, and the chapel of Notre-Dame de Consolation.  It was a lovely morning for a walk, although it is still very hot, and it felt good to stretch our legs after nothing but city walking for a few weeks.

Walking up the hill.

 Fort Saint Andre in the distance.

 The open air theatre.

 The tower of Philip the Fair (Phillipe le Bel) on the right.  This fortress tower was built in the 13th century and played a key strategic role by controlling access to the Pont d'Avignon.  In the background you can see the Palais des Papes, within the walled city of Avignon.

This is a picture of the Rhone, taken toward the end of our walk looking in the direction of Avignon.  The walk goes around the Plaine de l'Abbeye with the Rhone alongside.  Nice.

After we got back I played around with my watercolours again and did a second version of the pears. This time I used a hot-pressed paper and it was interesting to note the way the paints reacted to this paper.  Can't decide which I like better.  More experimenting to follow!!  This is some paper I had brought with me from home (the cold pressed paper I bought here) and I felt I should use it, to justify the carrying thereof!  Today's version is the one on the top.

I have also prepared a couple of stencils to use with my gelli plate and so might play around with that tomorrow.  We'll see.  And if I do, you'll see too!

I'll be back.