Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dans Un Verre D'eau

Last year in Paris my hair was wrecked instantly by Paris tap water. This year I got a French "bed head" haircut the 1st day = problem solved.
But painting was another matter. I noticed my paint was behaving strangely. When I'd try lay down a color wash, the paint would race all over.
On top of that, the moist air made it take forever to dry.
"Accidents" are an integral part of painting watercolors:
blossoms; bleeding; spatters; but this was getting out of hand.
There's calcium carbonate in Paris tap water (l'eau du robinet). This is the same chalky limestone in the champange caves of not so far away ReimsMore than 200 kinds of bottled water are available in France. Walk into any French kitchen (cuisine) and you'll see stacks of Volvic, Vitel, Evian
But when the French go out to eat, they do not order bottled water.  Why not? Because bottled water in a restaurant can cost more than wine and une carafe d'eau is free.
Every traveling watercolor artist is on the lookout for water jars.
Usually you need 2 -
1 for dirty brushes
The other for dipping into fresh paint + laying down clean washes.
My teacher,
David Dewey, likes to paint with dirty water.
He can see the wet washes better on the white paper from the pigment residue in the water.
Some of us are constantly getting up to fetch clean water from the tap -- an excuse to run away from problematic paintings? Plus you get to complain at the sink with the other shirkers in class.
Or if you're at home, you can grab a snack.
The sink is near the Fridge. I've heard Paul Bocuse imports French water for his overseas baguettes. I grew to love the way Paris tap water made my paints jump around and I considered bringing home a liter bottle.
But chocolate boxes and tea pots got top priority in my bag.
I did bring back the yogurt water jars though..
My French haircut is rebelling against NYC tap water I'm sorry to report.


  1. Good to know you're back. The image of the glass of water is very good. It looked so fresh...specially right now that I feel hot. The tea pot in the painting is just perfect.


  2. Thank you Luis. It's the LIGHT over there. Special low contrast light that makes for an inner luminosity to objects. I'm still trying to figure out how to paint it.

  3. Hey, I left a comment here yesterday Carol Darling!! Drooling over the keyboard as I typed! Darn!
    Like always you capture the light, the stillness of it. I admire that most in your water colors; The realness as magical, does that make sense?
    Your eye for detail, the sprinkles on the chocolate covered cherries, the sprinkles are always there, but few notice!
    Ah again my mouth is watering!

  4. Anonymous12:01 PM

    So THAT'S how the French women manage to have such nice hair all the time! I had a similar experience when I went to Paris. The information on the paints is fascinating, I'll be sure to share it with my sister who paints!

  5. Anita - a lot of work goes into those casual Paris dos. You've just got to join in. I wanted to get another cut before leaving but had no time.
    The importance of the water chemistry was news to me. Now I'm experimenting at home with a pinch of Champange chalk (used for preparing the ground on canvas) in my paint water. So far it works. Paint is jumping :) Thanks for your comments


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