Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oregon State Fair

The empty horse arena.  It's an amazing building.

A beautiful sheep who is going to be in a painting soon.  I'll have to find out what kind she is.
A llama with attitude!

We took a break from everything yesterday and went to the Oregon State Fair, in Salem.  It's been something we've done since we moved here to Portland 20 years ago last month, so it has become quite an established tradition.  It was the first time we've gone on the opening day, so there wasn't much going on.  The upside, though, is that all the exhibitors were fresh, not jaded; the animals were clean and not bored out of their minds yet (though a bit frightened at being in a new place), and the entire place was nice and clean.  The big downside was the horse arena, where we go every year to see the same horses, the same wagons, the same everything -- and nothing was happening!  We saw a few miniature horse competitions, some with only one entrant - who always got "first place" - and that was about it.  We ate the same treat as we do every year, a caramel apple, but this year my little granddaughter shook things up a bit:  she bought some cotton candy, which everyone tasted and everyone except her, of course, complained that it just didn't taste the way it used to.  We all got way, way too much sun, walked -- no, ambled -- way, way too much -- and had a great, great day!  I've attached a few photos I took, some of which will become paintings.              

A brown Swiss Cow that I think will become a painting!

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Cow Painting Started

I started a new cow painting yesterday.  I haven't been doing much painting lately, and I was starting to feel withdrawal symptoms; so with all I have to do now related to my trip, I started a beautiful Jersey cow painting.  She's a Jersey cow that I photographed a few months ago at a very small dairy farm about 60 miles south of Portland.  I don't know if I'll finish her before I leave, but I'll do my best.  However, she probably won't go up for sale until I return a little after mid-October.

The painting is so far done with acrylic paints on a 16x20x3/4" stretched canvas.  If I feel I have time, I might finish the painting off with oil paints.  I love the simplicity, speed, and ease of clean-up with acrylic paints, but to "top off" a painting with oil paints really gives it an extra punch of color and vivacity.  This is not to say I can't achieve the same results with acrylic paints, but the oils make it a little easier -- and they go on oh so smoothly.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Paris Art Supply Store

Adam Montmartre Art Supply Shop
Amazingly, I have found a well-stocked (and reasonably priced) art supply store within a short walking distance from my apartment in Paris.  I was concerned about what art supplies to take with me because I'm not checking any bags, and I wasn't sure I would be able to take anything at all in my carry-on -- plus, obviously, I'm going to be short on space, too!  So I'll just be buying everything at this shop:  canvases, unstretched, of course, but I'm quite adept at stretching my own canvases when I return, paints, brushes, everything!  It'll be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Speaking French

I've been noticing something recently that bothers me:  I have many friends who want to go to France, as I'm doing, but who are afraid.  They don't know the language, they might get lost, lonely, have their pockets picked, etc., etc.  Well, I share the fears above, all except for one:  I have worked on learning the language for years -- and for the most part, I've done it with no formal instruction.  And I'm not bragging here; I'm telling you that it can be done!  (Well, I guess I'm bragging a bit because, by golly, I've worked very hard at learning this language!)

I do admit that over twenty years ago, I lived in Toulouse, France, for nearly two years while I did some graduate studies in neuroscience.  However, when I went there, I had had no French language education at all -- well, except for about three weeks right before I left, which only made matters worse, not better, because those pitiful three little weeks gave me a false confidence that I knew at least something.  But here was the problem when I arrived there all those years ago:  I could ask where is something or other --- BUT when the other person responded, I had absolutely no clue about what they were saying!!  I bought a French language textbook before I went; and after I got there, I studied it every day, every chance I got.  And I got by.  That's all I did for at least the first year; I got by.  And I might add, too, that almost no one that I knew spoke more than just a few words in English, too, so I didn't have that "out."  I found out, too, that hand signals were powerful and that I could live with making a fool of myself, very often!  I got by.

After having been back in the USA for nearly twenty years, except for occasional European visits, I didn't study French at all until just two or three years ago.  Then I decided I was getting old and that I wanted to complete what I had started all those years ago.  But still being stubborn and wanting to do everything my own way, I decided, once again, to go it alone.  So I started reading everything I could in the French language.  That meant, of course, that I had to have a dictionary beside me at all times and that I spent more time studying the dictionary than figuring out what the heck I was reading.  And I'm not talking simple books, either:  To this day, one of my favorite French authors is Emile Zola.  I struggled with his novels, one after another, for many, many months at a time, each one.  Not only did I not know the words, but I couldn't even understand the sentence constructions.  But slowly, v e r y    s l o w l y, things started to fall into place.  Progress was very difficult even to measure for many months at a time.  But then it really began to pick up speed.  Today, I read without a dictionary present -- except for the occasional word I need to know.  I found out, too, that I didn't have to look up every single word, even back when I wasn't understanding much at all, because I could get the gist of the story -- and I could learn many high-use words by context after a while.

More recently, (in the past year), I upped the demands on myself.  I got a TV5Monde, French language, subscription so that I can watch French (nearly) TV every day.  I say "nearly" because much of it is subtitled, and I find that subtitles are counter-productive.  Even before the TV5Monde, I had discovered France Inter radio station online, and I listen to it anytime I'm painting, for instance.  (I especially like the channel "France Culture.")

I'll continue this discussion over the next couple of weeks and hope some of you chime in.  Are you studying French?   How do you study?  Do you have any tricks you can share?  Is not knowing the language of a country you love preventing you from doing something you want to do but are too afraid to do?   (I love the French culture, the food, the language, the people, the land, everything!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

A sweet Irish setter painting I finished a few days ago

This is a painting I did of a dog I knew many, many years ago.  Her name was Sean, and she belonged to a dear friend of mine.  I've always thought she was a beautiful dog, and I have intended to paint her for years -- and finally got around to it.  She was a real sweetie.

A custom painting I finished recently -- a Weimaraner puppy in his "SpiderMax" suit

This is Max in his "SpiderMax" costume.  He's a weimaraner pup who likes to dress up!  It's a custom painting I finished very recently and hadn't had time to upload until now.  Obviously, he's sold already!  He's a beautiful puppy, I must say.