Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Picture this

I am writing this from behind a wall of boxes, wifi is still working and I am over two months away from moving house. One of the most tricky parts of this move is protecting and transporting my artwork. I have collected pictures for many years and rarely a month goes by without finding Something. This may sound grand as if I am some big collector but my finds are quite modest and very diverse. I also buy frames whenever I find them, sometimes with Something NOT nice in them and quite a few were found abandonned in the street. One night in Paris when walking the dogs I found a large stash of frames outside a small museum ! 

Below is my recent purchase and one of my most expensive ones I admit ! It is an original exibition poster from 1960 by Jean Carzou a famous French artist. Posters are still art and a good way of acquiring an artists work. I paid 140 euros for this one but the large heavy frame was found in the street by a friend who gave it to me recently. I love the colour, so vibrant.

This must be one of my favorite watercolours, a VERY difficult medium to paint in. It is by someone well known and I purchased it at SULIS gallery via the net. They always have very well priced art from known artists. I have purchased a few from them over the years but I admit to have almost stolen this one as since then their prices for comparable watercolours has risen. This reminds me of John Singer Sargeant but without the auction house price tag. I am still out on the mount colour as I find blue a difficult colour to assess.

This is just a bit of fun, two pages from an old child's comic book in a gilded wood frame usually reserved for Something more precious. Art is what you make it. 

Another oddly coloured picture, this is an original lithography from the 50's / 60's, one of my favorite periods as accessible financially ! The colour is more intense in real life, the frame is not great but I wanted to get it Under glass quickly. I think I paid 20 euros for this one and the frame was charity shop.

Another signed lithography from the same period. Again in greenish tones as I love red and pink in decoration and green goes so well against it. I had begun this time with the frame which is wonderful quality in gold leaf wood by a good framer, found behind a wardrobe at our local Junk shop.
I then sought an appropriate picture and found this one for about 30 euros on eBay. 
Lithographes from this period are very accessible.

Now these next two charcoal drawings are a mystery, I must have been on drugs when I bought them but I assume my purchase ! I found them at our local Junk shop, our dealer friend had just bought the contents of an artists house from the 19th century and these two quite large drawings were amongst all the rest. I paid 50 euros each of memory serves me. They are wonderful quality, the frames are not so wonderful but at least they are protected. 

I began collecting charcoal drawings and studio academic studies years ago in the hopes of making a whole wall of them side by side as one large group art installation. I of course never had the wall! In my present house the walls are such that any picture hanging has to be done with a drill and plug!

This next one, again in a questionable blue mount was 'rescued' from a crappy Junk shop near Aix en Provence some years ago. It was very badly framed and sat in a dark corner but it had 'something' so I paid 30 euros much to the astonishment of my friend. It turns out it is by a famous artist and the same engraving sells for many hundreds on auction sites. I found the frame in a charity shop.

I love etchings, they have an ethereal quality about them. I studied etching at college and found it very satisfying although very labor intensive. This one is a veiw of a window out of the window. It is signed and numbered and cost me 25 euros on eBay.

This is another charcoal academic study, it has the studio seal in the corner. I had seen this one en eBay many months ago and put it aside. I bought it for my xmas as part of my future installation of charcoal drawings. The way I usually frame these is by cutting thin mdf board , 3 to 5 mm, whatever is on hand, to the size then the same with glass. I have a great glass cutter that is so easy to use and useful. I then strengthen the edges of the board with 10x10 mm battens glued on plus one more ten cms lower from the top. I then sandwich the drawing and weighing it down I finish the edges with kraft framers tape. The kind you wet , not the kind that is like sticky tape as it doesn't seem to stick as well. I put two layers of tape to finish the edges. I will at one point put a hook system on the lower batten to hang them. It is quick and cheap and keeps the picture simple, not detracting from the image.

Another drawing from the same stash as the two darker ones above. I paid 10 euros.

This one was a birthday gift from me to me, 25 euros, eBay. Same framing system.

This next one is a bit of fun. I bought this paperback and loved the cover to I sacrificed the book to frame the cover in an old 50's frame. It will be part of a fun wall of odd things one day. 

Another one for the 'odd wall', this was the ad in the local paper for my brother's clock repair business. He was really talented but he gave up as people never came back to collect their clocks and pay ! He then took up goldsmithing and made celtic jewellery to order. I miss him.

Next is another odd picture, badly photographed sorry ! These tickets I kept since I was a child. The pink one was my entrance to a gaelic choir where I sang and the blue one was to a France vs Scotland rugby match when I was 16, I hitchhiked to the big town to see it with my cousin. I put them into an ornate Florentine frame which looks fab but is in fact plastic tourist Junk! 

And last but not not least, the proof that anything can be 'art' and it sometimes costs Nothing. I often dry leaves, the thing is I forget in which books I put them so from time to time some fall out. The frame was 50 cents, backed in a piece of red folder, it makes a 'statement' . 

There are of course hundreds more pictures and when I move and set up home I will photograph them in situ which is surely more interesting. I warn you it sometimes takes me years to hang a picture! 

I hope that you are all busy being busy and not thinking of what is going on. There is not much we can do except look after ourselved and care for those we love. 

Huggssssssss to all. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020


The other day I received a lovely mail from the very talented Anna Scott from Anna Scott Embroidery enquiring if I was alright. It made my day really. I replied that I was fine, just being badgered by life and an imminent move that seems to have been imminent for months now.
As you will have read in past posts I was supposed to move to a nearby village having found a beautiful old house with an English type box hedge garden. It was perfect, high ceilings, black and white tiled floors and most of the details from it's original build. I had found out who owned it via the local chateau owner, it was his son. I managed to write them and asked to rent it and they so liked my enthousiasm for the house that they said yes. During an onsite visite they showed me plans for the renovation and it was amazing. The thing is I didn't want to live in someone elses version of a boutique hotel, I wanted the slightly faded old house that I had seen on my first visit. I wrote to decline as nice as I could without citing their taste in decor. 

During all this period I had packed boxes, taken down artwork, put my miniature work on hold and generally froze my life. Then came the period when I felt lost, trying to decide not only when to move but where. I decided that nothing comes to those who hesitate to I got back onto internet and began searching further South in the Dordogne region of France. Better climate and more dog walks. In my village four local dogs were killed by a wild boar so walking dogs has been out of the question further than the football field. 
I found a wonderful 18th century townhouse that had been used as offices for over 25 years but still had it's original features and also a large kitchen giving onto a South facing garden. It was also minutes from stores despite being on a quiet little square that had as it's neighbour a medieval abbey and a tiny theatre. PERFECT! The girl who dealt with the house on bahalf of the owners was delightful and we chatted for ages on the phone. The owners then decided to sell rather than rent so once more my plans were shelved. I again searched and found only horribly renovated houses or houses that were too small. My current house is a potentially 7 bedroom house with dining room, back kitchen plus kitchen, two bathrooms, a garage and a large outbuilding that used to be a cottage. The dining room was my workroom, the back kitchen was the store and laundry, three top floor bedrooms became storage for paintings, fabrics and winter clothes. It was going to be tough to downsize.
I did find one beautiful old mansion house, built by the owners great grandfather. It had many rooms and lots of land but was isolated from town and once more I would be in the middle of nowhere dependant on taxis as I still do not drive.
Then the lovely girl from the townhouse agency phoned and told me about a house she was going to take on and that it was perfect for me. She was giving me first option, it was not far from the first house in a small town. She described it's size and layout, 5 bedrooms, two bathrooms, laundry room, dining room, Library, internal courtyard and a garden across the small road. PEFECT ! She had no photos and didn't give me the adress as yet so I got onto the innevitable Google Maps and virtually walked around the town looking at streets and shops and dogwalking parks. I then came across a beautiful old house and thought, wow love that! I checked the adress and wrote to the agent and asked if by any chance the house in question was this house. She was amazed and of course chance would have it, it was! She then went to the house and took photos to quench my desire for a peek and the photos were amazing, I felt at home immediately. 

THEN came this horrible health scare that I will not name and everything is on hold and once more my life, as is the life of everyone, is frozen. I am using this confinement to pack up and prepare without any paperwork being done, it's a risk but in life you have sometimes to just leap and expect a soft landing.

I am posting two photos, the living room giving onto the courtyard and the upstairs Library with lovely shelving. I had always wanted bookshelf ladders ! I will be able to have a large upstairs workroom with lots of light and quiet and I can open the windows wide. I will finally have to right walls for my artwork and a gorgeous kitchen giving also onto the courtyard. 

Perhaps I shouldn't be so enthousiastic as things are not yet signed but I wanted to explain my absence and share my plans with my dear followers. 
I hope that you are all coping well and using this time to do things that you usually cannot. 

Wishing you all good health and better times.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Random Harvest

It has been a while since my last little post which was not a mini post in the way I wished to do so regularly. Real life got in the way with my intended move to a new house but this is now no longer on the books. I had packed a LOT of boxes, emptied cupboards and even bought some needed stuff for the new house including an enormous sofa! I met the owners of the new house and we went through the work they intended to do on the house and it will be wonderful when finished but it will mean that all the charm I found in it's original condition will be lost to modernity. Now some people are happy living in hotel type accomodation but I'm a bohemian messy person who needs to live in a house where I can put my own stamp. I am not sad, it wasn't meant to be and I don't think back but forwards in life. This coincided with the need to do what we all need to do as we get old and do tests and more tests and for this I went to Paris and made a short holiday of it. My mum is also being an old lady which I find strange as for me she was always sprite and young and full of energy. RL!

The house is such a huge mess with boxes half packed all over and piles of stuff to be gone through so mini work is off the books for the moment. 

I thought that I would fill the gap with some images from RL. 

On Sunday before all my tests I went to two flea markets to pass the time with no intention as usual to buy anything especially in the present context of semi moving! 

I came across this little marble statue of Saint Cecilia. For those who do not know of her she was a 3rd century Roman noblewoman who had vowed her virginity to god from a very young age. She was married by force to a man who would later become in turn Saint Valerian but at the time was a pagan. He agreed to respect her womanhood if she showed him the angel she spoke off to which she agreed on the condition of his baptism. On his return from baptism he found her speaking with the angel. She then had her brother in law Tiburtius baptised and he also saw the angel. After both these men were martyred she gave all her wordly possesions away to the poor which enraged Almachius who order her to be burnt. As the flames had no effect on her he ordered her to be beheaded after which she was buried near Rome. In the 9th century when her tomb was opened it was found that her body was still intact, un corrupted by death so she was made a saint. 
Saint Cecilia is the patron Saint of music and musiciens.

I paid 10 euros for this little treasure and added her to the three others I have found over the years.

Some little treasures in my bedroom. The porcelain 'Fennec' to the left was my first conscious antique purchase found in a sale room when I was 8 years old and cost me my pocket money. It has miraculously survived all these years of moving and losing stuff. 
I recently realised that a very valuable painting along with two others was stolen from my storage place. I also lost the silver tea set from my mother and six rows of pearls given to me as a 40th birthday gift from my best friend along with many other things, Rather upsetting.

I found this little sea scape for 10 euros, it looks better without it's frame.

I bought this repro 'painting' of this little boy for 5 euros and the gorgeous ( in my opinion ) riverscape I found in a local Junk shop for 10 euros because the frame had come apart! It is a very good painting although unsigned.

This golden lady is by a Belgian artist called Georges Van der Straeten who was born in 1856 in Gent. She is said to be 'La Goulue' who was a dancer at the Moulin Rouge and was a friend of Toulouse Lautrec. I paid the huge amount of 75 euros for her more than 25 years ago and she has followed me since.

Georges Van der Straeten in his atelier. 

This sad but lovely little mask is a death mask taken from a drowned girl found in the Seine River in Paris. She was probably a suicide victim in the 19th century  at a time when young girls were slaves to propriety. I pais 5 euros for her in the rain.

Some of my Delft tiles from the 18th century, now too expensive to add to.

My first attempt at oil painting, a copy of a work by Landseer next to an 18th century punch bowl and two terra cotta Art Nouveau busts. The taller one sat in the corner of a friends garage until I took pity on her and took her home ! 

A drawing found in a Junk shop waiting patiently to be framed.

This is one of a pair of photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld. This was before he became a photographer, when he was still trying things out. They date from 1992 and Karl dedicated them to me at the time.

On my way home from the flea market I saw a pile of household things on the sidewalk and on inspection found these two signed lithographs of old Paris in nice oak frames. I coudn't resist saving them from the rain. 

I found this little boy in a dark corner of the market, he lit up the day ! He is plaster and is the same one as painted by Paul Cézanne in some of his still lives. I paid 10 euros for him, cheap but heavy! The little naive sea port oil painting is very old and rather lovely. It was 20 euros, quite a lot for that corner of the market but I wasn't going to argue when I liked it so much. The little hand made rug was also 10 euros as was the middle oil painting found locally. 

When in Paris I had some surgery done on my jaw and after 20 and more injections was feeling really good when I came across a large bag of gorgeous Canson paper, about 100 sheets of mixed colours including some card, very useful ! On opening the bag when I got home I found this oil painting at the bottom ! It had split in two but is easy to fix.
When the injections wore off I admit to feeling slightly less 'good' !! 

I am not a big fan of Art Nouveau in general, having just shown you several Art Nouveau pieces in my home ! I came across this wonderful building walking through an area of Paris I usually avoid. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated, the detail is amazing. It is a listed building totally covered in ceramic.

One of the quietest and prettiest garden squares in Paris is the Palais Royal gardens. It is in the center and dogs are allowed inside which for Paris is unusual. 

It is being restored and the work is amazing. 

These panels of wire  'fencing' are in front of the Paris school of Haute Joaillerie, a lovely original idea.

Amazingly this used to be the main Post Office in Paris, rue du Louvre not far from the museum of the same name. It was built in 1888 and has recently been the subect of a huge restoration, meaning they stripped out all the innards and built something new inside. I shudder to imagine all the details that have been lost!

I love this little passage called Vero Dadot. It is near the Palais Royal and is not really well known. It was built in 1826 by two 'charcutiers' !! Galleries like this were very popular as places to go that were sheltered and probably somewhere you could accidentally 'bump' into members of the opposite sex!

The little courtyard below in in rue de Seine and always intrigued me as very romantique. One day many years ago a man saw me looking in and invited me to visit the apartment on the first floor so up I went. I cannot convey the amount of museum quality antiques and furnishings that were there. The apartment had huge ceilings and an 'enfilade' of endless rooms all full of Louis this and that mixed with gigantic ceramic vases and coats of Japanese Armour. Damask curtains draped on the floor held back by huge silk tastles and the floors were all Versailles parquet. I had never and has never since seen anything like it. The place was also full of dust as the man told me that the owners never used it! 

Well my dear followers I do apologise for the lack of mini things to show you but I hope that I have perhaps taught you something of Paris today. I have by no means given up on Ramsay House and will endeavour to get things sorted out and back to priorities soon.
I have decided to stay in my present house until life settles down a bit, meaning mum is better and winter is over as I feel it will be severe this year. I have just put all my geraniums under cover in the summer house for winter and bought in more bird food than human food ! 

Have a nice day wherever you are. Hugs xoxoxo