So much has happened since I started writing this blog. I had naively thought that I would have the time to sit down at the end of everyday and write about my day. Well it's impossible. So I will try to inform you of what I have been up to over the last two months. I had a vague idea of where the art shops were from previous visits so Tim and myself walked to the Dorsoduro area which is where the art college is. We found a very old fashioned shop and entered into conversation with the man who had no english at all. Nor any french. I wanted to buy an easel and I managed to make myself understood but he only had one in stock. Luckily it was a good size, a bit bigger than I wanted bu it took it, bought a load of oil paint and lugged the whole lot back on a crowed vaporetto. I forgot to mention that the shop did not take cards so we walked for half an hour in order to find a cash dispenser so that I could withdraw enough to pay for all of this. Which of course was not possible so after trying three machines and being refused at each one my husband twigged that there must be a limit to how much we could take out. It was something like 250 euros and I had a bill of three hundred or so. When we got back I rummaged through my bag and found a bit more and he gave me a small discount so we just made it.
I was impatient to start so I move all the furniture out of the hallway and covered everything in plastic sheeting. Where to start? It was a dreary day and I wanted to get cracking straight away so I made Tim sit and pose for me. I have been wanting to try my hand at portrait painting for years but never had to possibility. Going back thirty years when I was living in London and applying to art colleges, I had put together a portfolio of work to take along to my interviews. I was pleased with what I had done but the night before, sitting in my lounge in Mortlake road, Kew, I couldn't relax so I took a small piece of water colour paper and picked up some pastels and started doing a portrait of Tim. It only took me an hour or so, was very expressive and not at all carefully painted as were the works I did before art school. I almost didn't put it into my portfolio the next morning as I went off to my interview at Kingston Polytechnic I was full of misplaced confidence and as I laid out my work the only piece which interested them was this portrait. It was because of that that I was accepted as a mature student and started seriously my career as a painter. Tim is a hopeless model, he fidgets, scratches his head, won't keep still. During the summer I had been reading "The man with the blue scarf", which a friend had sent to me. It is the story of an art critic who sat for the painter Lucien Freud. It's a fabulous book full of interesting anecdotes and I recommend it to anyone interested in art. Lucien Freud is probably for me the greatest painter Britain has produced for very many years and after his death I came to London to see his exhibition at the National portrait gallery. To say I was impressed is not good enough. I was bowled over. I had never seen such fantastic painting. I spent hours looking at compositions that did not interest me at all, such as really fat middle aged women and ugly homosexuals in lewd positions. But through all that the painting itself was a revelation. I would have loved to have gone back but we had no time. This enthusiasm for his work led to my friend sending me the book. So here I am, inspired to see what I can do only to be frustrated by a useless model. Then I had problems with the light coming through the window and getting my position right. I have done four, some of which I am sort of happy with but there is still a lot of work needing to be done before they can be called finished.
At that time there was a lot of running around trying to find an art supplier nearer me which I eventually found but it's not as easy as in Lyon where a transporter delivers direct to my studio; On sunday the 11th of november we caught the plane back to Lyon. I was planning on getting a good few days painting in my studio but it was not to be. The next day I was struck down with flu and spent two days on the sofa, in front of the fire feeling dreadful. I had come back to attend my private view in Clermont Ferrand. It was in two parts, firstly a dinner given by the Galerie Gastaud which was very convivial but I felt so ill. Then the actual private view which as on the friday. This was great but I was still feeling dreadful and was dosed up with painkiller and anti flu medicines. I did my best but so many people wanted to talk to me that in the end my voice gave out and I could utter a word and had the most awful sore throat. I just wanted to go home so at ten o'clock at night we set out to drive the two hours it takes to return. However the weather was bad, lots of fog and bad visibility so it took a lot longer. We flew back to Venice on the sunday and it was several days later before I began to feel normal again.
One of the places which has always fascinated me from my art school days is the roman remains of Pompei. We finally made it there a week later by taking a plane from Venice to Naples. It was a fantastic experience, so much so that I hope to repeat it before our return to Lyon. Naples is a fantastic town, so lively, so old so much beauty.
And now to bring things up to date, here I am back in my studio. We came back on sunday and I am planning on spending all day everyday here while Tim cooks cleans and does all the things I used to do while he went off to work everyday. Now that he has stopped working to look after me I can totally concentrate on my painting so that even one week it a lot when I start at dawn and continue untill around 8 when my meal is put in front of me. It's not always up to my standard but he is doing his best. Today I have finished early to write this blog and hopefully will continue it on a more or less regular basis.
One of the things I must write about is my return to the mountains series which came about because of a documentary film maker who is making a film about mountain painter, including me. Most of the filming has been done but there is some left to do in my studio as he wanted to film me both in front of Mont Blanc and working in my studio. I will try and give more details in another blog.