I hope you all have had a great summer, with plenty of down time, and maybe travels to favorite places. For moi, I hopped over to hang out in Paris for a couple of weeks, see great art, do a little drawing, and generally just soak up some very rich culture and fill up with inspiration for my studio practice. Also, to be frank, I was super-ready to just live fully and enjoy the opportunity to move freely “sans souci” (without a care). It’s been a little hectic of late, n’est-ce pas?

I love being the flâneur-observer of the quiet moments of Paris.

At the top of my bucket list was the wonderful Manet/Degas show at the D’Orsay.

Interestingly, what really stood out for me in this show was the remarkable craftsmanship and feeling I sensed in the works by Degas that I had not noticed on previous viewings– including several pencil portraits of his friend and fellow artist Edouard Manet:

and fantastic oil paintings, with supreme gestural quality and sometimes quite unusual compositions.

In this one, the woman seems to be squeezed out to the side by the nature, which is taking centre stage; the lace in her cap echoes the textures of the chrysanthemums, seemingly to merge with the bouquet.

The woman’s diamond earring is like a mini-flower, and the flowers themselves have a similar form to the tutus of ballerinas which Degas is so famed for depicting. Check out the subtley of his representation of a glass pitcher–there’s almost nothing there, but a few value changes and blurred grey brushstrokes.

One thing that surprised me was how taken I was by a couple of small interior studies by Vuillard. His efficiency and warmth I found quite delightful:

To mix things up a little, I took a croissant baking workshop. There is nothing like the incredible flavour of true French patisserie straight out of the oven.

It’s so fantastique and très fun to learn to make something new. And to be honest, it’s kind of freaky to discover how much butter it really takes to make them!

Here’s a short video of our class:

If you want to learn something new, you have to be okay to allow the feeling of vulnerability, that you don’t know something, but are open to try. It was discussed that cooking is an art, and baking is a science. Art-making is a combination of both.

I’m offering several art classes this Fall in my Courtenay studio. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw, or “finally figure out this painting thing”, there is no time better than now!

Check out my One-Day Drawing Crash Course, Painting for Beginners, and the new Painting Skill-Builder. See above under my Classes menu for more info.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your summer!