Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pigments in Provence & Paris

When our friends Jack and Marie-Christine invited Christos and me, along with our new friends Booie and Stewart, to join them in celebrating Jack's birthday in Provence this month we could not say YES fast enough!  Our trip was filled with the most fabulous Provencal meals, wine from local vineyards, intense light and daily explorations to quaint villages, markets, abbeys and chateaus in the Luberon.

Stewart, Christos, Kim, Booie, Marie-Christine and Jack at the farmers market in Cadenet

Farmers market in Cadenet

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to Roussillon, a charming village in the region known for mining ochre pigments.  Evidence of the rich earth colors is everywhere from the architecture to the warm landscape. 

Village of Roussillon

View from Roussillon

Just outside of Roussilon center is the Conservatoire Des Ochres where visitors can see how the local ochre pigments are mined.  For an artist it's an inspiring, treasure trove of the most saturated earth colors. I could not resist and left with 9 jars of local ochre pigments.  My friends teased me that I was bringing home dirt but I've git big plans for that dirt!  

 Conservatoire Des Ochres et Pigments Appliques, Roussillon

Our trip was a delight to our gastronomical senses.  Marie-Christine, being the great foodie that she is, sought out the best restaurants the locals try to keep a secret.  Our taste buds were grateful!

Typical lunch at a bistro

A visit to a local cave des vins filled our spirit...

or perhaps the spirit filled us.    

By the end of the week we collectively decided that we could have all just stayed in Provence indefinitely, living together in out lovely villa forever.  Splitting up was only pacified by the thought that Christos and I had four days in Paris to look forward to.  

 Notre Dame in the distance, but look closer.  

We walked every day, rain and shine, all over Paris, visiting the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Île de la Cité, Latin Quarter, Pompidou, Louvre, Opera House, Montmarte and Sacre Coeur.  A fun discovery was this "installation" on the Pont de l'Archevêché where sweethearts affix a lock as a symbol of everlasting love.  

Love padlocks on the Pont de l'Archevêché

Even though I had spend a semester in Paris as a 20 year old, I saw the city with fresh eyes, trying hard to revive my rusty french language skills, most of which j'ai oublié (I forgot).

This was a real surprise...  On the Île de la Cité we chanced upon an art supply store.  

Charvin store on the Île de la Cité

With more pigments!

In retrospect, what I found most inspiring about our strolls through Paris were the window and store displays.  Whether it was pigments, cheese, produce, garments, bread or the way our dinners were so carefully presented, the Parisians really know how to create an aesthetic display par excellence.  

Lunch at a petit Creperie on the Île de la Cité

So what an I planning on doing with that dirt?!  For those of you unfamiliar with the medium of encaustic, pigment is added to a mixure of 200 degree beeswax and dammar (for hardening).  The pigment is what gives the molten wax paint it's color.  Now I have some luscious ochre pigments to mix into my encaustic wax to create work inspired by my trip to the Luberon in Provence and Paris.   

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