Tuesday, May 01, 2012

 Trees Blaye  Blair PESSEMIER   Acrylic on linen  16 x 20 inches 
 Vines in the rain   Blair PESSEMIER   Acrylic on canvas 13 x 16 inches 
 Vines at Bourg   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER   Acrylic on linen  11 x 18 inches 
 Trees outside the hotel  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on linen  9 x 13 inches
 Umbrella pines  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic on linen   9.5 x 14 inches 
 Trees with early leaves  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on wood  7 x 16 inches 
 Red umbrella pines Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on wood  8 x 10 inches 
Oaks  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic on wood 6.5 x 12.5

ARTNOTES:  Wine Wine Wine
“So you’re an artist?” said the woman at the desk.
 I take Blair aside, “Did you tell her?” 
Blair:  “I didn’t mean to.”
Me:  “Oh, no.   It’s starting,”

I hate staying at bed and breakfasts.  This weekend we went to Blaye, in the Bordeaux region, for Blair’s birthday.  I’d booked a mini-chateau, where we could hole up and drink wine, think, paint a few pictures.  In fact, the mini-chateau turned out to be in a large parking lot with a warehouse attached.  The house itself bore a strong resemblance to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, and the curtains looked like they were made of cobwebs.  So we beat a hasty retreat and found ourselves in downtown Blaye.

Blair had done his own reconnaissance via the internet, in case the mini-chateau was a dud.  I had to admit Villa St. Simon was beautiful –“ but Blair, it’s a bed and breakfast, my most dreaded accommodation.”  I am as much to blame, but the proprietors inevitably engage me in intimate conversation about topics that are really not any of their business.  Lonely people meeting other lonely people is how I describe it:  give me a discreet, impersonal hotel any day. I don’t want to engage – I have friends.

I cried, drank half a bottle of wine, and bucked up to the challenge.  I threw the bull with the best of them – in fact, arranging a week in November for a painting workshop, and a show at the gallery across the street.  It may not have been my first choice for a romantic weekend, but heck, maybe we’ll make enough money to take another trip.

I actually liked the owners, a pair of lively South Africans who spoke English.    She’d been an artist, he played music and they did a terrific job renovating the property (with the help of a third “hands on” partner, who also worked on vintage French cars (think 2CV, or the marvelous beetle-y DX Citroen with the hydraulic lifts)).  All of this equals an inevitable friendship. 

It poured rain on the drive all the way there, and the entire next day.  Luckily, we had the room with three floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out at chestnuts in blossom and the little ferry that chugged over to Medoc.  I sat in my chair and looked at trees.

Trees have been my penchant of late, with red and purple trunks, little jewels of the sky peeking through fresh leaves.  We took the ferry to a winery across the Gironde and painted umbrella pines and pin oaks.  We drove to lunch where we fished with a local boy trying to catch eels.    That night we ate sturgeon raised in the river.  We even visited the point where the river joins the sea, punctuated by one of those rugged French Atlantic lighthouses.

All this was to the tune of Bordeaux wines:  margaux and medoc, cote de bourg and cote de blaye – the northern Bordeaux.  The painting workshop, in fact, will be a wine and painting workshop – with the opportunity to paint or taste wine, or both.

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