Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 33: Rainy Days

We don't live in Normandy, where it rains significantly more in winter. We're just far enough south that our climate is generally very pleasant. In fact I notice that rain often comes at night and is over by the time the sun comes up. Certainly days and days of rain, or even hours and hours are quite rare. This week has been the exception. Here was our seven day forecast:

And it mostly lived up to it. The sound of rain on the skylights was a kind of background music to our days and nights this week. In our area every time it rains the farmers and gardeners are very happy. They can never have too much. It somehow makes it much easier to bear the grayness when I think of M. Villette or Garden Man enjoying the drumming on the rooftops from the shelter of their cozy cottages, contemplating the rising water table. Besides, with the rain come warmer temperatures.

Rick suggested I name my post Rainy Day Windows as I took so many photos of raindrops sliding down panes of glass. I do love the windows in our house and especially the views from each. I post only a few here.

Looking into the studio from outside

The spot on the terrace where water accumulates

Marc and Jean-François painted their shutters. I love how the bare shoots of the trees match in color


Most of the week was spent in the atelier, with no great adventures out of doors. We kept cozy by the fire. It really warms the entire space wonderfully well.

On Friday, just as we were getting a bit fed up with staying in, the sun came out and bathed the wet walls and pavement with golden light. We put on our jackets and ventured out.

Side street leading up to the Place de l'Eglise from the bar

Walking past the workmen's gardens we discovered a group of chickens in their yard enjoying the  afternoon sunshine. I imagine worms were ripe for the harvesting.


Our friend Georges came back this week to work in the atelier. We had not seen him since September. He has two new plates made by Fanny Boucher, who uses a complicated technique for transferring photographic images onto copper plates. She works for some of the most celebrated artists in Europe who wish to make prints of their images. We once visited her in her glorious studio. She is very charming.

Georges working over the hotplate. The photo was shot from outside looking in.

I enjoy it when the studio is in full use, messy and lively. We cranked the music up and had a grand time working together on our separate projects. Georges has two new images. One is of a beautiful young pygmy girl and the other a slice of apple, which looks, for all the world, like a funny gnome.

It is always informative to watch other printmakers at their craft. Everyone works differently. Georges uses a roller to put on his ink. I generally use a dauber, but I may adopt his technique, as it spreads the ink more evening and thinly. He warms his ink on the heater before spreading it around and he generally mixes up a huge amount. Of course he does only printing while here, and in the course of the two days on site, he probably made close to one hundred impressions. I tend to print just three or four at a time.

As usual Georges came prepared with his hand colored papers. He uses spray mount to glue the thin frames around his printed image. The white printing paper, the glued hand colored thin frame paper and the inked plate all go through the press at the same time.

Paper is dampened in water for an hour before printing

He also sometimes glues thin tissue over some of his images to lend broad color. Of all the prints he makes, he will, in the end, save just a few and throw all the others away. He works in large quantities so that he has many choices and can get everything exactly right.


It looks like more rainy days ahead and more days with Georges in the studio. Next week we have clients.


  1. As always,Nancy, your pictures are so evocative and wonderful, especially the first one. It reminds me of a famous french writor who used to live not far from our place and got a reward for his book :"Les champs d'honneur"
    not sure it has been tranlated !
    He makes some gorgeous description of rain and the way it determinates all the things around, also the problem for those who have to wear spectacles ! But in a poetic way.
    I like the connection we can make from your work.
    « La pluie est une compagne en Loire-Inférieure, la moitié fidèle d'une vie. La région y gagne d'avoir un style particulier(...)Les nuages chargés des vapeurs de l'Océan s'engouffrent à hauteur de Saint-Nazaire dans l'estuaire de la Loire, remontent le fleuve et, dans une noria incessante, déversent sur le pays nantais leur trop-plein d'humidité. Dans l'ensemble, des quantités qui n'ont rien de considérable si l'on se réfère à la mousson, mais savamment distillées sur toute l'année, si bien que pour les gens de passage qui ne profitent pas toujours d'une éclaircie la réputation du pays est vite établie: nuages et pluies. » p 15 puis plus loin « Les premières gouttes sont imperceptibles. On regarde là-haut, on doute qu'on ait reçu quoi que ce soit de ce ciel gris perle, lumineux, où jouent à distance les miroitements de l'Océan. Les pluies fines se contentent souvent d'accompagner la marée montante, les petites marées au coefficient de 50, 60, dans leur train-train bi-quotidien (...) Le ciel et la mer indifférenciés s'arrangent d'un camaïeu cendré, de longues veines anthracite soulignent les vagues et les nuages, l'horizon n'est plus cette ligne de partage entre les éléments, mais une sorte de fondu enchaîné. Le pays tout entier est à la pluie: elle peut sourdre des arbres et de l'herbe, du bitume gris à l'unisson du ciel ou de la tristesse des gens. » p 17 et 18

  2. What a lovely post...the great shots through your rain soaked windows...the chickens,the side streets and all those great peeks sat your wonderful studio where you create. I love it all.

    Janet xox the painted shutters