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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Painting the Neighbor's Vineyard

The leaves on the grapevines are starting to change to their fall color....different grape varieties change differently and at their own pace. Beautiful.

Love this painting and the golden light surrounding....
I painted in watercolor up on this old stone wall as Frank was below, painting the same view in oil paint. This may be the last painting before the leaf change....
a great spot from which to paint!
And speaking of vineyards, a few Sundays ago I observed the annual mass to bless the grapes.  With so many farmers and workers tied to the vineyards for their income and so many of us who need the grapes to keep providing, this is serious stuff!  Afterwards, all unpacked their picnic baskets and ate lunch along with the wine and grapes that were available. It was a charming event...
You can see the clergy and the altar boys in their robes, facing the vineyard and sending prayers towards the vines!

During the blessing, from within the old altar of St. Marcellin, Rognes, Provence, France..
Notice the various shades of grapes on the table for sale by a group of old ladies.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Calanque-ing and Canyon-ing on Weekends

We were invited to join a family at Jorgie's school to their "cabanon" aka, a rustic cabin down on the Sormiou calanque. If you don't know what a calanque is, then you will need to do a l'il research to an earlier blog post of last month....ok, the states, I always laugh when someone says they have a "cabin" or a "cottage" and when you arrive you realize it is much better equipped than your full time home and you are probably underdressed.  Well, had I known we were going to a "cabanon" I would have worn footwear for rock climbing and packed our contribution to brunch in Tupperware, not a glass pie pan to be heaved up and over rocks for the 2 miles from the gate where security mandated we park and walk. Though not at all prepared, IT WAS GORGEOUS! And, our host was unreachable (no wifi, no electricity, running water) and late. We had no idea where to go beyond down to the sea. 

ahhhhhh, this view was startling.....on one side the center of the rocky cliffs open up to reveal the dense civilization of Marseille, the other side revealed the Mediterranean off of the Sormiou Calanque. I audibly gasped when the scene spread out before me...cant prove that, no one heard me, you'll just have to believe….

Heading down to Sormiou, outside of Marseille

Found their weekend cabanon, just beyond this tiny port, it was the LAST house before the sauvage coast! Thrilling!
The cabanon, surrounded with this is crumbly limestone and ancient sandy soil with tons of prickly pear cactus, loaded with their thorny magenta fruit,  scrubby indigenous thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage and others. All of these scents, including the air, sea, trees, and other wafting smells are known as the smell of the "garrigue". It is why the south of France smells the way it does, and it is a thing that will always stay with me.

Inside Frederic, Claudia and Lilly's cabanon, built in 1906 by his great grandfather. they would travel by donkey with building supplies, water, etc. Now a very rudimentary pump from the cistern brings up water.

Prepared to take in the view in his own way, Frank opened his pochade box and painted this gem.
(Margi Rosenthal, is this one for you???) There is a pic of me taking in the view my way....eyes shut, mouth open drooling, with a gorgeous turquoise sea backdrop.

Day Trip...The Grand Canyon of France

Eye-scrubbingly adorable mountain town, "Moustiers-Ste-Marie" which is the gateway to the  Gorges du Verdon...there were waterfalls and mossy slopes and mountain goats and a 16th century cathedral, small streets of endless outdoor cafes, pottery tradition of Faience.... and on the OTHER end of the charm, the first public WC toilettes I've seen this trip which was a hole in the floor with squatting footpads....

Pedal boating on the Lac de Ste. Croix through the gorges. BTW, if you have the chance to pedal boat, one hour is quads were screaming!
Blown away by the scene from above....endless canyon and rocky limestone walls.

This week, we had a special guest chef in our home! Our friend Salam Al-Rawi (from Westville's Rawa) dropped by in his jaw dropping 1964 Caddy that he had restored in Lebanon!.....He has spent the last month driving it through Turkey, Italy, Greece, and into France. After having some minor mechanical stuff mended in Avignon, he piloted that beauty up our dead end street and stayed overnight, but not until we got busy in the kitchen....we fused Chinese rice noodles with provencal grilled zukes, lots of turmeric and other ingredients (that stained my "new" old damask linens from the Acco Decco in Aix-en-Provence, c'est dommage).

 Au revoir Salam, it was great seeing you here, even though you think my romantic notion of  "Garrigue" is bullshit!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rognes: The "Hometown" Village Series

Rognes has so much variety for a small village, perfect for Frank:  ruins, farmhouses, miles of vineyards, churches, cobbled streets, dense village center, charming shuttered windows, doors and is just a taste of some of those things...

For those of you who are Patrons* text me if you fall in love with a sweet 5x7" (notice dimensions of all paintings in captions below) and I will ship it off once it is dry! But no need to rush, there will be many more to come...
Traspigut Vines. 10x20"oil painting by Frank Bruckmann®
Chemin in Rognes. 5x7"oil painting by Frank Bruckmann®
Traspigut Bastide. 9x12"oil painting by Frank Bruckmann®
Vineyard.Mas.Mountains 5x7"oil painting by Frank Bruckmann®
Eglise in Rognes 5x7"oil painting by Frank Bruckmann®

*Patrons have funded Frank's trip by buying a painting ahead of time. The $1000 down payment comes with a fantastic extra bonus, a gem of a 5x7" oil painting that I will send to you during our sabbatical in Provence! If you want to know more about becoming a Patron of Frank, get in touch. 

Week 5: Balades to Ansouis...Lourmarin...The Camargue

New French word to share: Balade (noun)-a ramble, wander, amble, jaunt.  You get it.... Later I'll come up with a word that expands balade as it is coupled with easels and a picnic (ideally).  We have been doing a lot of this in discovered or recommended beautiful villages and/ports all over Provence. And yet, we have BARELY scratched the surface and feel the weeks sifting by too quickly. Okay, right, live in the moment.

Ansouis came recommended by Jean-Luigi who sold us our FIAT Panda, as a lovely old village, barely 20 mins NE of Rognes. So while the teens slept in last Saturday am, Frank air lifted me to the summit of this village and then returned to his spot below, to paint, looking up at the village. I was quickly smitten with alleyways, stone paths, ceramic signs, pergolas covered over in grapes, hops, wisteria, cafes, dogs, plants, views, ancient cathedrals, all that charm in reach.
Frank and the FIAT...Look up to Ansouis above...Can you see me waving from the tippity top, next to the  cathedral???

From the top of Ansouis where the 360 view was more of this!

When he is finished with the Ansouis painting, I will post. Equally as charming, and even more of a destination for visitors/tourists is Lourmarin, with a castle and tons of shops/galleries/markets and a massive cafe culture.  We ambled, jaunted and browsed the Saturday "brocante" some antiques, some junk. Frank and I painted together but Frank returned a bunch of times to catch the light just the way he wanted it....

Lourmarin, Provence. 10x20" oil painting by Frank Bruckmann

We took a balade to the Camargue region of Provence, to the seaside town of Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer, including a visit to St. Gilles, a canal port where we'd been 18 years ago (me: preggers with Arlo who btw turned 18 this week!) to pick up our bateau de plaisance (barge). I was flooded with memories as we walked along the port... 
....and pretty sure that this little barge hadn't budged since then....
(no, we didn't rent THAT barge)

The Camargue is mostly known for it's cream colored roaming wild horses and the pink flamingos that visit on their migratory path...we visited at the Parc Ornithologique where I admit at times I have felt like this ruffled up lady with her head down in the muck....

We found a "great" place 
(because Jorgie liked the 70s-80s disco music) for lunch in Stes Maries, where in years past my bro and nephews and I had clambered up onto a cathedral roof/terrace and gazed over the Mediterranean.  This trip we witnessed the Camargue cowboys herd bulls down Main Street and into the bull ring...
The day ended with a visit to the fortified walled city of Aigues-Mortes... saw the massive tons of salt piles lining the flats, looked up to the fort's ramparts (closed), got scolded for not paying enough attention to Hazel who was sniffing and planning to lick licorice in a barrel ( was placed right at the height of her mouth!!!)  then hit the road to catch the sunset on a beach near a town called Grau- du-Roi. Lots of sunset seekers were parked and also sneaking dogs onto the beach to catch the last glimpse of the day....

what is that thing about owners resembling their pets????