Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 20: Indian Summer in Montmirail

It's summer again in Montmirail...or at least it seems like it. We served our clients breakfast on the terrace this weekend. The sun was brilliant and the temperatures high. Last week it was jackets and rain coats, this week shirt sleeves and sun glasses.

I had a certain amount of time in the studio this week and I enjoyed trying out a monoprint technique I'd read about on one of my European Etsy companion's blogs way back in April. Basically you press leaves or other flat organic material onto wet watercolor paper which has been brushed with areas of color. You put weight over the leaves and allow the paint and paper to dry for several hours. Once you remove the weights and leaves, your print is revealed. It's not easy to control and you won't really know what you have until the end.

I found the result interesting but not as delicate I was hoping for. I then began painting the leaves, instead and placing them onto the wet paper. I was much happier with the images I was able to create in that way. I became enamored of the whole process and couldn't stop myself from searching the entire village for interesting shaped leaves. I had a lot of fun. I also thought I might be able to use the prints in the book project we will be doing here next week with Gail Rieke.

Water color is very gratifying as long as the colors don't blend together to create mud. I tried putting on the painted leaves and then spritzing them with water to create a soft halo of color.

I also tried splattering paint over the leaves once they had been placed on the paper.


This week brought Quinn and his family to the Maison Conti. Jos was performing his one-man show, The Art of Laughter near Le Mans, and it gave everyone a good excuse to come stay with us for a few days.

Quinn is at that wonderful age when everything is a discovery. I get a thrill out of his interest in drawing. He can be very concentrated. He hasn't really learned yet to make deliberate marks (after all, he won't be two until the end of January), but he does enjoy making random squiggles with different colors. Of course I have dreams of long days in the studio with him in a not too distant future!

He is interested in just about everything, and his ability to manipulate objects and focus on activities has developed each time I see him again. He calls the Brio train (which I've saved in a plastic tub since James stopped playing with it about twenty years ago) "toot-toot." Cars on the other hand are referred to as "beep-beep." It's wonderful and amazing at what an early age children start imagining and creating stories. Quinn "feeds" his little animals, animates and talks to his toys and clearly is creating
his own imaginary worlds.

Quinn enjoyed tasting some of the last produce of the season. The delicious purple grapes which hang invitingly from walls throughout the village,

and cherry tomatoes from our garden.

Emily, who is a much more adventurous cook than I am, managed to make us a fabulous dish with some beets and carrots. And I don't even like beets.

The morning after Jos' show dawned gloriously warm. It was so idyllic that we all decided it was absolutely necessary to take a family outing. None of us had a care in the world for all the live-long day. Emily and Jos had never been to the gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire, so we decided to make that our destination. It was a day full of lazy pleasures. Rick and I enjoyed seeing how much the gardens had changed in a just few short weeks.

Quinn enjoyed swinging around the poles in a wonderful structure located in the experimental garden.

On the way home we chanced upon an open air market in the small town of Onzain, so we snagged three dozen fresh oysters, a loaf of pain de campagne (rustic, crusty bread), and directions to the local vintner where we tasted several excellent Loire sauvignons, chenins and gamays. We were particularly taken by his sparkling red aperitif. The trunk of the car was fully loaded for the trip back.


We have been cleaning, ironing, menu planning and shopping in preparation for our workshop next week. And now Gail and her husband Zack have arrived! Be sure to come back next Monday for the full report.


  1. Love the leaf watercolors!!!! I have to try that soon. Your grandson is such a cutie, I love seeing photos of him. Our leaves are beginning to turn red and gold and the evenings are getting much cooler. Enjoy your visit with your friends.
    Janet xox

  2. I will have to try the leaves and watercolor, they are about gone. It's time for my morning walk so I have something to look for. Thanks for sharing another week with us.