Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tricks of the Watercolor Trade

In the window of the pigment store where I worked part-time there were banks of colored pigments.I've been wanting to record them. Then come home, match the colors with paint.
 Match the pigments on my palette, which is an old enamel kitchen tray found on Ebay.

Match the colors swatches on a test sheet of paper.
The next step is to make a painting...

My watercolor teacher, David Dewey used to say,
the painting is 1st of all set up on your palette.
Get your colors down there.
I used to take a ton of pictures of his palette mixings.

Then put it down on the paper.

I'd love to select a few of these bottles and make a painting from just those colors - what's known as doing a "limited palette" painting.

Another Dewey trick was to use your dirty water to put the washes down on the paper. It's easier to see where the water is on the white paper if there are bits of pigment in the wash. For most watercolor painters painting with clean water is like religion!
A watercolor paintbox I'd love to own. A client of Wendy Brandes designed this using a poison ring bezel!Claus Oldenburg of the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, said
he does most of his idea sketching at the dinner table.
Wouldn't this paintbox ring be a tremendous help?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Spoon Collector

My spoon collection I used to collect airline silverware..
Didn't everyone?
Did you?

Wayne Thiebaud illustration for the Chez Panise cookbook AirFrance still makes a very nice travel spoon. I've moved on to cafe spoons, even though I don't drink much coffee.
These ink spoon sketches by Wayne Thiebaud are so casual and easy looking.
Spoons are a natural in still life paintings.They act as vectors or arrows and they add rhythm and movement to a watercolor.

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Spoonbridge and Cherry giant sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Last week JoyfulArtist Jan wrote me about

sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
This spoon is
29 ft. 6 in. x 51 ft. 6 in. x 13 ft. 6 in.!
This spoon is my Mecca - I have to see this!
Spoons, as I mentioned before add shine and maybe a touch of whimsey. And they hold things nicely like candy or macarons.
from Chardin's The Jar of Apricots
The master spoon painter is Chardin.
The MASTER STILL LIFE painter of all time.
This cup is so inviting and everyday and yet so painterly.You would never mistake if for a photo.
There's a terrific collection of Chardins grouped together at the Louvre where Louis XV gave him a studio and living quarters. Nice.
Alison was saying that spoons are hard to paint. Not really - spoons have anatomy just like the figure.
There's the bowl or head of the spoon. Then the neck and then the tip or tail of the spoon.
Each influences the other.
But Spoons are eating utensils.  They've been around for ages - since Paleolithic times.
Shells, certainly clam shells were used as spoons, as well as containers for holding paint.
What would we do without spoons?
You can't eat ice cream with a fork?
Most still lifes would be much improved if a spoon was added in my opinion.
Feeding Desire exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Friday, July 27, 2007

I Love Supermarkets...

Sometimes I think I could spend an entire vacation inside a French supermarket / hypermarche. Or any foreign market for that matter. I used to hang out in Tokyo grocery stores. I love the packaging designs - the boxes and tins.
I brought home this Banania chocolate tin years ago.
It's now a "vintage" tin. I took it to David Dewey's watercolor class when we were doing yellow only still lifes.
An old yellow study - from my pre-macarons days

These French yogart glass jars make perfect water containers. How often do you see a Vermeer in an American supermarket?

Formerly a French plastic yogurt container. Plastic is way easier to bring home than glass.

The contents of a tin or box are irrelevant to me. I'll toss them out to lighten the load home. When I was designing shoes I bought this beautiful tin in London. Pouring thick, gooey Lyle's Golden Syrup down your hotel sink is NOT a good idea.

I love the animals on European food containers. Do we only get to see animals on "organic" foods in the US? I'd like to see more cows and goats svp.

Aren't these yogurt boxes pretty? And you don't have to read anything to know what's inside.
Here's a container I discovered in the supermarket in Paris. It makes a terrific snack after walking all day. Real gazpacho from Spain - it tastes excellent. Would you believe Tropicana is the producer. Please bring this Spanish gazpacho to New York.I'd like to buy a ton of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Macarons and Cerises...

A ParisBreakfasts reader requested a birthday-macaron watercolor.
Natch I had to throw in a cherry/cerise...
My 2 favorite things to paint = macarons + cherries!
I could paint cherries all day long...
I could eat cherries all day long...
Who couldn't?
La Fille Du Consul Cerises necklaceYesteday in the mail arrived this cherry necklace I ordered from La Fille du Consul!
Now I'll have beautiful cherry models even when the season ends.
Spoons are another good painting subject -
they add that bit of essential shine...
Pierre Herme macaron doodlesMacarons are the perfect geometric shape to draw and paint.
Some macarons are more geometrically fun to paint than others...
I counted in my Flickr pictures - They said;
We found 21 results for
your photos matching CHERRIES.
We found 32 results for
your photos matching macarons
This is my favorite macaron picture.
I never even went inside :(
But I think I remember where it is...
Next trip in October, I promise to take a good look and report back the details!
Matching macaron colors...
I could do this all day long :)

Back to painting macarons and cherries...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Street Markets

Another chapter of "MY BRILLIANT CAREER". Did you see that Australian movie or read the book? On a shoe designing trip to Spain, I went to Morocco. I fell hard for the souks and bazaars and dreamed of doing a coffee table book. Always practical, I figured I’d do a European flea market guide 1st. My shoe company sent me to London, Paris, Rome so I piggy-backed on flea market research. First day in London's Bermondsey Market, I met darling Graham, a free-lance antique dealer. He became my new flea market assistant. What did I know of antiques? The illo above was for Mademoiselle magazine. I had no typewriter so I hand-printed everything —sheer hell for my editor.

Grossett & Dunlap saw the Mademoiselle article and asked me to turn it into a book. I went off to design shoes with Graham along to explain silver marks and dealer tips in the weekend flea markets.

Here's a spread from the Paris Puce section..

Next I approached Mademoiselle on the souks and bazaars idea. They were thrilled. A book contract followed from Grosset. I'd earned my street market creds. This time I was comped by tourist offices as a guest travelwriter in their countries - all expenses paid. I was comped in Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Isreal. In Iran I joined a group of travel agents to eat my fill of pistachios and caviar. Pas mal.

I had no "research assistant" for this project. Instead I used my imagination to come up with stories on the souks of Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Yugoslavia, Iran. I did have terrific help from Abrams book designer, Robert McKee (we met in an SVA graphic design class).
The book went to "blues" (the first publishing test run used for correcting errors etc.) But
the Iran hostage crisis caused the Med book to be shelved. 
A US flea market guide was proposed next. First for Mademoiselle and then a 3rd book for Grosset. But problems surfaced. I don't drive. And it became all writing and little drawing.
Articles for Art News and others followed. Plus an illustrated column for a travel magazine. I accumulated a lot of antique junk in the process. But time to move on to another career.
To be cont.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


It's PIU PIU's bIRTHDAY It's Piu Piu's birthday today!
A year ago I found Piu Piu in PYLONES' window and couldn't resist...
Pylones Apoxy necklace I discovered PYLONES 17 years ago when I admired cookbook author Dori Greenspan's plastic necklace at a party.
Next trip I made a beeline for PYLONES' then tiny closet-size shop in Galerie Vivienne.
Now they have 6 shops in Paris, 2 in New York + Hong Kong + THE WORLD
I got the necklace, the earings, and the bracelet.
I still wear them and I still get compliments.
Pylones Grater Ladies Pylones was created 20 years ago
with the intention of making small colorful items, especially animals - useful toys for adults.
I wish I'd gotten this kitchen grater last trip...
Whether you buy something or not...
Their merchandise never fails to amuse.
It's Yellow Bird's BIRTHDAYIt's Yellow Bird's birthday too,
He's a New York bird from Elie Zabar's Kids store on Madison Avenue...
I saw this big 16" wide bag the previous Paris trip but resisted.
Naturally I was thinking about it for months...

I had to pick it up at PYLONES and it did carry home alot of treasures
It's made by
Isn't it funny how you can obsess about THE ONE THING you didn't buy...
And the next trip's sole purpose is to get that ONE THING!?
Here are PYLONES hours...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bright, Shiny Things...

Hotel Meurice Chocolate pots While Paris has grey skies and grey Baron Haussmann buildings. People wearing neutral-colored clothing. Paris also has glitz - really, I mean shine and shiny things
I'm not talking about high glossy tartes - the L'abricotage. But tons and tons of silvery, reflective tableware that make French tabletops so delightful. Here, the window of L'Argenterie at 19, rue de Turenne, 75004, le Marais
 Alexi Worth commented in the NYTimes on, Jonathan Miller's book, ON REFLECTION:
Reflective surfaces, from puddles to pewter to mirrored glass,
have always been catnip to artists. What makes these images so especially puzzling and delicious?
I can't keep away from shiny things. V. says I have Shiny object syndrome (SOS). I am always chasing one bright, shiny thing after another.

cut in half watercolor
The Vaissellerie shop in Paris has lots of silver bargains.
I found a terrific
silver-plated chocolatiere for a song 🎵 

Teapots are a delight and an ongoing challenge.I've painted this silvery teapot at the Petrossian Boutique over and over.

Last but not least a silver water flask for the watercolor artist. Surely something you can not do without. For more silver, visit the Musée de l'Argenterie 109-113,avenue Daumesnil. From the French book of silver marks, Poincons d'Or et de Platine :

"Silverware will always be the most beautiful ornament of the table" And they're a real challenge to paint.