Cafe Sketching MeetUps

Fall cafe sketching begins again with a new name – MeetUps. This just means that anyone is welcome any time, no commitment for a whole term. However, you must let me know that you want to join us or you won’t know where we’ll be! 10-12 on Wednesdays as usual and then an optional lunch.

The first week we met at the Cracker Barrel behind Regency, and it was a great place to draw. Can you think of any place with more stuff to look at? As it was our first meeting for this  term, we had a small but enthusiastic group.






(Dale and Sandi finished theirs at home so I waited to show them to you this week.)

Wednesday we visited Le Macaron in Avondale. We had such fun last spring at the one in the Avenues we wanted to see what Tahar had done when he opened his own. What an absolutely charming place. The weather was perfect for sketching outdoors so we occupied the tables outside as we began with coffee and pastry. I had a very good cup of green tea with pineapple made in a French press and pan chocolate. I could have been back in Vence. Since we were next door to the bicycle shop some chose to draw those. So many different interpretations of a place.






No class next week as I am out of town. We’ll resume at the Great Harvest Bread Company on November 2.


I hope all of you that were in the path of Hurricane Matthew are well with power restored and no damage. We were fine. When the power went out, we ate Krispy Kremes. No damage here, just much debris. The beach, however, is another matter. We lost the eaves on the house and 30′ off the end of our dock, but, as they said, it could have been much, much worse. There are many houses within a mile of us where the beach completely washed out under them. I don’t know how they can be repaired. IMG_1586.jpg

On a lighter note, it’s hard to believe we were in France just a few short weeks ago. When Carolyn and I left, the rest stayed another week. They took a trip to museums in Nice (where they enjoyed a meal at McDonald’s!), a winery and were invited to Mirielle’s house the last night for wine.McD.JPGwinery copy.jpg



Some sketching went on, I’m told…and they had a visit from “J. Childs” – which I could not upload onto this site.


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The very last night they were there, as they were coming back from Mirielle’s, they saw this amazing sight which Tish captured so beautifully in pastel.

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Au revoir, France!


Cafe Sketching starts Wednesday so I’ll be back.

Nice: Last day in France

As we drove into Nice, we passed the memorials still on the Promenade des Anglais. Nice, that beautiful city on the Mediterranean, was marred last July 14 when a 19-ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day resulting in the death of 86 people. We mourned for France as everyone did.

N mem2.JPGN mem.JPGAfter checking into our hotel, the Albert Premier, we set out for the marche des fleurs, the flower market. Colors, sights and smells assailed the senses.IMG_1450.jpgIMG_1284.jpgIMG_1445.jpgIMG_1456.jpgIMG_1432.jpg

IMG_1447.jpgOne of the best ways to see a city is to find the Hop On/Hop Off bus. Thankfully there was one stopped just outside our hotel. For just 16 euros we were taken to all the scenic attractions in Nice, getting off at the Chagall Museum where we saw not only his massive Biblical paintings but his mosaic over the reflecting pool. Then we hopped back on and finished the ride back to the hotel.IMG_1478.jpgHot and tired, we bought a sandwich, took it up to our room and relaxed on our spacious 6th floor balcony to watch the sun set into the Mediterranean. We painted, but it was impossible to catch the majestic beauty. These few hours watching the lights of Nice come on were a highlight of the trip. I would do this again anytime.

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IMG_1531.jpgNice.jpegIMG_1506.jpgAnd as we sat on the tarmac at JFK ready to travel home to Jacksonville, we saw this magnificent sunset out the window – and gave thanks for a wonderful trip.

Nice.jpgStay tuned: there will be one more post from those who stayed another week.


On my last full day in Vence (some of the others are staying another week), I made reservations for my very favorite restaurant in this part of France, La Colombe d’Or, a favorite for the creative set. This inn where artists gathered in the 1920s is a charming 25-room hotel filled with original works by Matisse, Picasso, Calder, Miro and countless others. All friends of the former owner, they paid for a room and a meal with their paintings. This is my third visit here, and it only gets better each time.





unspecified-1.jpegIMG_1383.jpgC d'O glass.JPGIMG_1351.jpgC d'Or.jpgJan2.JPG St-Paul-de-Vence is an artists’ town It’s all over in the form of public sculptures, shops and even on the street itself.DSC09146.jpgDSC09168.JPG

While in St. Paul, we visited the Maeght Foundation where there was a temporary  exhibition by Christo focusing on another aspect of his artwork – his work dealing with painted oil barrels. The monumental sculpture in the courtyard is 9 meters high, 17 meters long and 9 meters wide. The museum itself, inaugurated in1964, contains one of the most important collections in Europe of modern art from the 20th century forward.




After a full day our evening was spent finishing up sketches Carolyn and I will be leaving for Nice tomorrow to go home on Sunday.J,T.jpgview.JPGJan view.JPGJ view.JPGMA living rm.jpg


Today, instead of walking or taking the bus, our lovely local guide, Mirielle (below), took us in her van to Cagnes-sur-Mer, site of Renoir’s home and now a museum. Les Collettes is located in the heart of a pretty garden with olive and citrus groves and a panorama that extends to the sea. After a complete renovation in 2013, the Renoir Museum offers visitors a chance to find the site such as Renoir experienced the last 12 years of his life. Though the museum has original paintings and sculptures, most of us were entranced with the beautiful olive trees.Mireille.JPG

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IMG_1303.jpgThis is the farm house on the property where Renoir lived while Les Collettes was being built and a copy of Renoir’s painting of it.

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A Day at Home

This morning was the Vence brocante – antique (flea) market. It’s always fun to see what is sold in other countries at a place like this. There are always bargains! I got several beautiful books to make into sketchbooks for only 1 euro each. The zucchini blossoms were beautiful this time of year so I bought some. They graced the table, but alas, never got cooked. Afternoon was spent sketching while we waited for Matisse’s chapel to open.IMG_1291.jpgIMG_1292.jpg

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In the afternoon we walked to the Chapelle du Rosaire. It was a long walk and  very hot, but it was worth it. From the road all that can be seen of the chapel is its roof of blue and white tiles and its 42-foot wrough iron cross. Cool and calming inside (after the busload of students left). We could just imagine Matisse lying in his bed designing these windows, doors, ironwork, crosses, murals on the walls, even the priests’ robes – everything here was designed by him for the Dominican nuns. The colors of the glass windows – green, blue and yellow – bring the outside in as the sun shines through on the perfectly white interior. It was the last project of his life, and he said of it, “I regard it, despite all its imperfections, as my masterpiece… as an effort which is the culmination of a whole life dedicated to the search for truth.”unspecified-5.jpeg






On the way home we could see the house Matisse stayed in while he was in Vence. It’s now a retreat for resident artists, and they wouldn’t let us visit.

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Tourrettes-sur-Loup and a Concert

Tuesday, a busy, busy day. Sippers took off on the bus for a day sketching in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a few miles away. We stopped first at the cafe for that amazing violet ice cream, watched the men playing boules, then took a walk around the grand rue, finding all sorts of interesting things.bus 2.JPG


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After all that walking, we were ready for lunch, and there just happened to be a creperie right there with what else? Violet crepes! All of us enjoyed sketching there.








That night we went to a lovely concert at the cathedral at which a chamber orchestra from Germany performed the music of  Vivaldi, Mozart, and Paganini among others.

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Fountain Walk

Monday. I suggested Sunday night that everyone do a watercolor wash over a page of their sketchbook in preparation of our “fountain walk” today. Within the walls of the old city of Vence there are lots of fountains, many of them named. Drawings with ink on top of our colored pages came out beautifully. Linda’s, without the color, was amazing. I gave them about 20 minutes at each place, taking a coffee/sketching break along the way.





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The last fountain we visited was called the “Dufy Fountain.” Raoul Dufy painted here and did one of the fountain which is pictured here.

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That night we had “pizza take-away.” Even the box was a work of art.


Becoming French

Our first full day in Vence began with coffee and croisants at what was to become my favorite bakery/pastery shop, Pâtisserie Palanque, creator of the famous Craquelin almond brioche.V.jpgScan.jpegIMG_1522.jpg

Before the others arrived,Carolyn and I took the bus to a nearby town to see how easy it would be. It was. The bus stop in Vence was a few blocks away in a beautiful setting (man and musical instruments are topiary)IMG_1098.jpg. Since we were just learning to use a French bus schedule, we missed the right bus and had to wait for the next. No problem. We just sat and sketched.


Our bus took us to Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a tiny medieval village just a few miles away. We had read all about it in Mary Busse’s book, Hermitage, Olive Grove, Village. We found the cafe she went to every day just a few feet from the bus stop and enjoyed their violet ice cream. T-s-L is called the “city of violets,” and a full range of violet-based products is on sale in the village shops. The violet fields can be visited from November to March.




When we returned, the others had arrived at our door for the week. After a well-deserved nap, we all went out for our first French cafe with its charming waiter.

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Sunday. We had been told that there was a mass at 9:00 am at the Cathedral de Notre Dame, so a few of us set out. When we got there, there was a hand-written notice (in French, of course) which we finally understood to say there was no mass at 9 that day, but to come back at 11:00. There was a large mosaic by March Chagall there, so since there was no one else in the church, we said a prayer and got out our paint. It’s called “Moses Saved from the Nile.”


The rest of the day consisted of an orientation with another group who was painting in oils, a lunch with local residents and just getting acquainted. Dale finished her amazing painting of her seatmate on the plane.

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Vence, France and Home Again

Bonjour mes amies,

These are the Sippers 2 who gathered together to discuss our upcoming trip to France: Tish, Janelle, Carolyn, Linda and Dale. (I was taking the picture.)


We are recuperating from our 24-hour trip across the pond and home – 5 hours at JFK is not enough time to leave but far too much time to sit. However, we used our time wisely and – sketched!

Internet acess was sketchy, at best, in France, and I found that my trusty laptop that I drug all the way over just to send posts would not allow me to do that. I am computer-challenged, so I finally just put it away to do it at home. (A few hours after I got home, however, I fell and broke 2 ribs, so it’s been a little while since I’ve been at the computer.)

A few days before we left, Carolyn and I celebrated the National Park Service’s birthday by sketching at Ft. Caroline National Park. She was the only non-artist among us so she wanted to get a head-start on this thing we were all so pumped up about – sketching!  And she just took off. When we got to the airport in Jacksonville to leave, she did an amazing sketch, and throughout the whole trip, her enthusiasm was contagious.

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Arriving in France: Straight from JFK to Nice, and after an hour in customs, took a taxi to our tiny street in Vence. The first night was in a charming old hotel since we arrived a day early. The view across the street and the mountains beyond was beautiful. We enjoyed a leisurely dîner under the white umbrellas before we crashed.


The next day, just around the corner, we found our beautiful street inside the ancient walled city – with our resident bob-tailed cat. Two of artists, Janelle and Tish, painted it in pastels, and Dale did a quick watercolor sketch of our Rue de la Coste.

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Our apartment was enormous: huge living/dining room, kitchen and 4 bedrooms with bath in each. There was even a tiny terrace on the 4th floor. The view out our window was breathtaking – views of the mountains with Matisse’s chapel right in the middle, the only pure white building. Each morning began with a magnificent sunrise with the pigeons on the wire.




This will prove to be a bon voyage. More to come….