Friday, January 17, 2014

Start the day in kindness

January view from our walled garden


2014 has begun with a burst of energy. Days have flown by, leaving the holidays a pleasant but receding memory. I have been working very hard in the atelier and have only just come up for a little air and a tardy visit to my blog.

I did think of you when I heard a wonderful poem on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac podcast:


Why I Wake Early

by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety—

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light—
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. 

The entryway in morning light

 Winter light is magical at the Maison Conti. Sitting high above the countryside, I look out our front windows to glorious sunrises every morning and from the back to magnificent sunsets at the end of these shorter days. In between, the low angle of the sun bathes the house in golden light, reflecting off mirrors, illuminating objects and casting wonderful shadows.

Main staircase to the ground floor

Of course, winter time is much quieter in our business, though it must be said, not completely dead. Still, we do have days of long lazy mornings, languid afternoons and cozy nights by the fireplace.

Rick at breakfast in a sunny window / mirror collection

So far, this winter has been extremely mild. No polar vortex here. We anticipate a bit more cold to come (last year it was colder at Easter than at Christmas), but even so, when the sun comes out, which it does surprisingly often, the house stays comfortable.

Stairway to our apartment

We have spent more than two solid weeks, working from morning to evening, repainting and reorganizing the atelier. It took much longer than I could have anticipated, but I am very pleased with the results and it is certainly clean from top to bottom. It is a very pleasant place to work.

Old yellow walls are now white. Much better!

We actually have lots more to accomplished before the job is entirely done, as we have not yet started work in the press room or the acid room, and Rick still intends to build me some shelves for the studio. I thought this would be just one of several redecorating jobs for the season, but it may turn out to be the only one.

Organized and ready for a happy new year

These mild days beg for walks to the garden and around the town. Winters like this one offer many delights. 

The road to our garden


I wanted to let you know that Michael and Victoria Copeland will be offering two watercolor workshops at the Maison Conti in September/October 2014. The first session is already full, but there is still space for the second one.

Detailed information can be found on their website

Be sure to visit their website for more information or to sign up for this course. We are really looking forward to hosting the Copeland's and their students! Visit: sketchbook tours

Michael is a talented semi-abstract painter, represented in the U.S. by several galleries, but the course will focus on more realistic landscape watercolor painting. As you can see from his work, he has lots of color-singing techniques to teach you!

Images by Michael Copeland


I hope the new year is looking promising to you. Please come visit again. Next time I will report on our extended visit to wintery Paris.

Berries on the wrought iron fence of the Chateau

1 comment:

  1. Very nice sun mood indeed and as always wondrful pictures which seem painted by a master. I agree the studio is better like that ! clear, large and ready for new adventures ... I admire your energy Nancy !