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.





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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.




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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….




Sippers 2

Hello, all you followers of the Sippers – Sketchers in Provence! I hope you’ve had a good summer. Just a heads-up: the Sippers are back. This time it’s the Sippers 2, another group, another place in Provence, with only 3 of the original crowd. We’re flying on Sept. 1 straight from JFK to Nice and going a few miles north into the hills to the little town of Vence. (You may remember it’s where Matisse’s chapel is.) We plan to go to Renoir’s home/studio in Cagnes-sur-Mer, and we have reservations for lunch at Columbe d’Or on Friday. I’ll take my laptop and send pictures. I hope you will enjoy traveling with us.SB title.jpeg

Cummer Museum and Gardens: last class until Fall

Another beautiful day for sketching en plain air. I planned for all April classes to be outside, and the weather has cooperated. The gardens were lovely – unlike today’s news that Cummer would have to tear down the historical Women’s Club building due to termites. Everyone chose a different spot, and the results were amazing. After 2 hours the group had lunch under the red umbrellas on the outdoor deck.





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This was the last class until September or October as everyone will be traveling this summer. I’m off this weekend to teach a Sketchbook-Binding workshop in Austill, GA, at the Red Cockerill Gallery. I’ll keep posting when I travel – maybe you’ll see us in Provence in September! Au revoir.

Sketching the Farmers Market

It’s Earth Day today, so it was fitting that the Sketchers visited the Jacksonville Farmers Market with it’s beautiful displays of fruits and vegetables.







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Some elected to draw the veggies and their vendors, and others went to the Green Spot to paint the chickens. This was new to me and a welcome addition to the Farmers Market. They sell all kinds of plants and herbs and even an egg or two when the chickens are laying. Carmel was delightful and educated us city folks on the care and habits of chickens.

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At noon we all went over to Andy’s Farmers Market Grill where there are all sorts of delicious salads and sandwiches. The special for the day was pastrami and swiss on rye. Some had that, and others had a wonderful chicken-cranberry-walnut salad. We shared our sketches, ate, and shopped for produce to take home.


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I went home with fresh, plump blueberries and some green tomatoes. Mary gave me a new recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes which I hope to use in my new book. Next week: final sketching class until Fall at the Cummer Museum and Gardens.

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