Painting in Saint Girons

My last entry in this diary was about “painting in Saint-Bertrand de Comminges”. Unfortunately, we had been obliged to leave the town faster than planned, as it was raining all the time. So we drove a little bit farther on our way towards Andorra, entering the department of the Ariège, and decided not to stop again before the rain itself would stop. Well, this happened quite soon, in the beautiful town of Saint Girons. Based on photos I had seen on the net, I thought it might be a good painting motif, with the coloured houses, the river attractively meandering through the town and the old bridges.

We spent the rest of the day wandering through the town. My first impression was very positive, exactly corresponding to the beautiful motifs I had seen on the net.

But gradually I started feeling less and less comfortable there. Perhaps because it was quite chilly and I had a big coat on and and felt trapped in my clothes. Or perhaps because the sky was still quite menacing and I was expecting some new rain all the time. But for whichever reason, something was wrong, with the consequence that I was not in the best painting mood. Unfortunately my painting moods are quite sensitive to outer parameters, the tiniest inconvenience being able to make me want to never paint again! But I still managed to do some rough pencils sketches in my watercolour travels carnets, to which I added the colours later on in the Boomobile. Some became quite coloured, like the one above.

Others do reflect my sad mood, almost monochrome, very unlike me

This painting is certainly very unlike me, apart probably from the dancing houses!

But the grey sky, the cold and the coat were not the only reason for my awkwardness. Despite the beauty of the scenery and townscape, there was something else in the air there, which made feel uncomfortable. A feeling of imminent danger. Difficult to explain, and also I don’t want to offend anybody, but there were so many groups of “weird” people with big dogs hanging around, drinking and smoking and being loud. Homeless people, but others too, probably jobless people. I am certainly not judging them, perhaps they really had no other choice in their life, but I don’t like the way they were looking at us, unfriendly, with obvious signs of provocation and defiance. As if WE were the “abnormals”. And these looks, yes, they were the result of a personal choice…

And me who was expecting peaceful people walking or jogging along the shores of the river, as so often happens in such a beautiful setting! Never mind, I invented and painted an old guy walking along the river!

In the evening Kevin was wandering around trying to find an unsecured internet connection hanging in the air, and did find one next to our parking, by the Peugeot Garage. Next morning we were speaking about the differences of finding unsecured net connections from country to country, (France being apparently quite at the top of the ungenerous places in that sense!) as he suddenly mentioned a bike shop nearby. The bike I had with me on this tour looked wonderful, a bold red fancy mountain bike with loads of extras. But to be honest, a crap bike, heavy and not willing to roll. As much as I loved its appearance, I hated its disfunctionality in equal measure! Unfortunately I often shop that way, going by the appearances, very sensitive to aesthetics and colours…

Anyway, I am a woman of fast decisions. After the traditional morning café au lait, we went to the bike shop and I said to the seller:

“I want a new bike. It should not cost more than 400 euros, should be very pretty and have mud guards.”

The guy looked at Kevin with a weird expression on his face. I would have loved to know exactly what he was thinking at that instant, probably something along the lines

“Good luck with that bird, mate!”

I guess he was not used to clients approaching the subject in such a straight, short and untechnical way! The whole shop and the guy himself looked like a place for pro bikers, somehow. Consequently he had not many bikes fitting my description, only 2 in fact. One minute later I said

“I take this one!”

It was not exactly very pretty, not purple or pink or yellow (I had seen such a pretty yellow one in the Tour de France online shop and was dreaming of it since then!) as I would have wished, but I had no choice. It had to be now, I did not want to wait to come across another shop. But it did have a nice shape, was white and red, beautifully matching Kevin’s bike.

Then I decided, with an heavy heart, to get rid of the red beauty and leaved it by the shop. I got a free bike basket for it: it was not worth more in the professional eyes of the shop owner who looked at it with such a disdain as I brought it, and spoke such bad words about it… did break my heart!

One hour later I would try it, on a little trip to the neighbouring town of Saint Lizier. But this is stuff for my next journal entry!

So people, see you next time on my way to Saint Lizier on my new bike and… under the sun!

These land- and townscapes, as well as many others from France, are currently available as Giclee prints in different dimensions, on paper, canvas and metal, as well as greeting cards. Just click on the painting above to access my shop online.

The Giclee prints from the above mentioned Online shop are manufactured in the USA and sent directly to the client from there. For personal or financial reasons it might not be appropriate for everybody to order their prints in the USA. Also, you might prefer to purchase my Giclee prints hand-signed. If so, you can alternatively order directly from me. Simply contact me indicating in which size. Go to Goodaboom Boutique to see a guideline of pricing for different dimensions.

I also sell A3 posters (297mm x 420mm) as high quality digital prints on a Heavyweight White 350gsm paper, each packed in cello with card stiffener.

Poster Price: 50 euros.

They are a great alternative to the Giclee prints, to a more affordable price.

(the price does not include packing&shipping)

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The Fantascapes: Alternate Treeality

Fantascape “Celebration of Life” – by Miki

I have regularly been asked to make more of my Fantascapes artworks available as prints, but in the last few weeks the interest has become so great that it has seen me forced to take some steps in this direction. I am such a Diva, you know, I need to be begged…  But it is not only the Diva factor in play. The process of redoing the Fantascapes is complicated and the success is not always guaranteed. The Fantascapes were the result of some spontaneous experiments mixing classical and digital art, but initially I had not the intention to sell them and worked on very small files, which is why they were not available at the outset.

But well, I cannot resist the demand any more now, and I have decided to try to redo some, in a format and size that make them available as prints.

But first, let me go back to the story of the Fantascapes.

I have a wonderful sister-in-law called Isabelle, She is herself a painter, she lives in Paris and adores to come to Spain to paint our mountains and trees here. We spent many of her holidays in the Spanish fields together, painting among the Olive and almond trees in front of these weird Spanish mountains which seem to stand on old elephant legs…

Last time we painted together it was  in January 2008, on the Costa Blanca, The almond trees were just blossoming, a real feast for the eyes! Day after day we went to the same place at the entrance of a charming village called “Altea La Vieja”, installed our tables and paints and brushes and pads, and started painting trees and mountains. Now, those who know me, know that I can paint trees and mountains with deep pleasure for a while, but not again and again and again! In this point Isabelle and me are totally different characters, she can paint the same subject day after day, and with increasing pleasure and dedication.. It always amazes me, and I often wondered  what that says about our souls… I guess what it says about me is that I am a restless character! And perhaps that Isabelle needs roots?

Now Isabelle had arrived specifically from Paris to paint the blossoming almond trees, and I couldn’t let her down. I had to find a way to curb my restlessness. One evening I spoke with an artist friend in the USA about that problem, and she advised me to try to see it differently and make something else out of the scenery. Next morning as I sat in front of the trees, I searched for an alternative reality switch in my brain… and I found it! Suddenly the trees started to look different, on the way to humanisation…

Yes, suddenly the trees started to look like people… most of the time though like people in despair, or at least in a dramatic situation…

and I was so confused and also excited by all these weird people inhabiting the fields that I even forgot to paint their blossoms! I guess they would look less dramatic without them!

Anyway, these days were the start of an immense artistic adventure. For a while my brain was totally switched, I couldn’t look at a tree in nature without seeing people, and soon even all other nature elements started to look human, the rocks, the flowers… well, I started at some point that series called “The Fantascapes”, technical variations of the initial watercolour and pastel sketches of people-trees which was the start of many new series, which, I must say, brought me a lot of success and good money, not to be sniffed at! I often think how that adventure began, through boredom in fact, and I am so glad that my restless character, always in search of “the new”, does not allow me to stop too long… in fact, I was never one to take roots somewhere, this might be the deeper reason!

So here I am 4 years later, ready to go into that “Alternate Treeality” again.. Last week I already started to rework the Fantascapes. Some will be a kind of remake of the old ones, some others will be rather new.

Fantascape “Expulsion” – by Miki

Also, inspired by the price that the painting “The Scream” has reached lately, I have done a modern version of it. Well, to be honest, it was not really my intention, that tree suddenly appeared on the painting screaming like hell! But let’s see now if I can get 100 million  for it  before I die!

Fantascape “The Scream 02” – by Miki

If you are interested in following me through this new Treeality, just check from time to time my FAA Fantascapes FAA Gallery

“Celebration of Life” and the new Fantascapes “Expulsion” and “The Scream” – and some others too – are already available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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Art and Sports 06 – More Wintersports

Skiing 02 - by MIki

The other day I made a first post about winter sports in my art, saying also I would do some more works these days and present them here. So here they are. Not much to tell about them though, except that I had fun, and felt the urgent need of going skiing again!

Skijumping 02 - by MIki

Skijumping 01 - by MIki

Snowboarding 02 - by Miki

All these paintings are available directly online as Giclee prints in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Juts click on the widgets below to access my FAA store

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And more generally you can see all this stuff I paint by going to my gallery “Miki’s Enchanted World”

Catching Crocodile Tears

Catching Crocodile Tears - by Miki

Acrylics painting

_lease don’t think about the deep significance of the title. Or perhaps do, and suddenly this random painting will get some deep hidden sense? Well, I don’t care, you can see in my work whatever you need to. I simply played with colours and shapes. That girl  appeared graciously dancing from behind  the rocks, and in the very last moment, what I thought was a tooth growing out of a rock revealed itself as a crocodile.  An understandable mistake I guess, as I just came back from the dentist, having one tooth pulled out, and I saw that nightmare thing everywhere then, except within my mouth of course!

But it was definitely a crocodile!

And why was the crocodile crying? Love ache probably.. about the girl… or his animal condition… or the missing tooth…

But to tell the entire truth, I just loved the combination of these words

“Catching Crocodile Tears”

sounds really sexy, doesn’t?

By the way: you know what are crocodile tears, don’t you?

This painting is available as Giclee prints in many sizes and as Greeting Cards. If you are interested to purchase some,  visit my Fine Art America Gallery.

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Impressions de Provence

Impression de Provence 27 - by Miki

The “Impressions de Provence” is a series of paintings mostly created in the “dirty atelier”, that room where my wild games with colours and materials take place. But not like the other ones which I do there, and are normally totally random, these are created with the intention to do something which looks like the Provence., but of course letting much free room the spontaneity and natural interaction of all the elements involved in the creation process, mostly different types of colours, water and other liquids, weird papers and all kind of instruments.

I have been in the Provence many times, but unfortunately never had the occasion to paint on the sites. One day soon I will, there will be a Provence painting trip with plenty of travel sketches, but for now, my Provence is only the fruit of my fantasy, memories and impressions I had. I did the one above in my session yesterday.

Here are some more examples

Impression de Provence 01 – by Miki

Impression de Provence 02 - by Miki

You can see the whole collection in my FFA Gallery clicking on this link.

If you are interested, You can buy there directly on line prints of these paintings in many different sizes, on different kind of papers or canvas, or as greeting card. Just click on the widget below

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The Art of Cycling 01

Cycling 01 "Yime Lines" - By Miki

Acrylics on Canvas – 80 x 60 cm

Today I want to present to you my last painting on commission. I am not a big fan of paintings on commission, as there is always quite a risk, some kind of stress and above all, it is always connected to some restriction of freedom, which is my worst enemy. But a commission is also a challenge, and when the client is happy, the emotional reward for me is much bigger than by any other sales.

Anyway, just before Christmas, I was contacted by a professional in the Spanish Cycling World, asking me to make some cycling and other sports paintings on commission. Here is the first one, which I just finished.

In this special case I am very happy about the commission, for 2 very important reasons:

Firstly, I love sport, and I love to paint sport. I have always wanted to make some sports paintings, did some in the past but in watercolour and gouache on paper. But I wanted to do some work on canvas, just could not find the time so far, or at least it was not always on top of my priorities.  This commission is a wonderful occasion to start.

Secondly, concerning cycling, I have a special emotional relationship to this sport. As I was a child and we were still living in the French Pyrenees where I was born, we used to go and see the Tour de France when they were passing in the Tourmalet and other mountain passes. And it was always a big party. Painting that guy racing through the canvas really put took me back to that time, and in fact, I felt like going there again…

one more dream on my long list of dreams of places to visit and events to attend!

Unravelling…

Unravelling - by Miki

Some words about the creation process of this piece.

It was originally a gouache painting of Nightfall, one from my watercolour/gouache series “Times of The Day” which have never been exhibited, neither in the real world nor on the net. I liked it a lot as it was, but somehow I had worked on so many similar ones these last few weeks, that I wanted to do something more out of it.

Who knows what inspired me to add the silhouette of the black cat behind the foreground field line!

It was certainly the result of an association in my brain, which is, according to my experience, the way how my creativity works. I won’t enter into deep considerations about how the brain works, but I think I have found out that my own is very quick at creating association chains, and going from the first link of the chain to the last with lightning speed. Personally, I think that the basis of creativity is the ability to build these chains and to consciously use them.

Anyway, after the cat had arrived, I missed something in the foreground. Considering the expression of the cat’s eyes, I thought it needed to be something which teases him, and stops him going across the landscape. I thought of course of a mouse, Too simple. Then of a bird. Too simple. And anyway, both too cruel.  Kev Moore had the idea of the wool ball, and I loved it at once! This is the great thing when you live with another creative person, it always helps when you are stuck somewhere. Kevin inspired me on so many occasions already…

The title of the painting, “Unravelling”, is from Kevin too!

I posted that painting 2 days ago in my different galleries online. Here are, so far, my favourite comments about this painting:

“Miki I do always see a story within your art works, labyrinth, looking for string to go back to safety, curious eyes wanting to see behind the obvious…

Nice story telling art.”

“Looks 3 D. Love the ball of yarn!”

“A really nice painting. I like the light effects and all the subtle things going on in the purples”

And if you want to buy a reproduction of this painting, it is available as greeting card, poster and Giclee print canvas in my FAA Gallery

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Sketching Trip to The Sierra Nevada – 03

27th of July 2010

Capileira

We drove from Trevelez to Capileira, on the other side of the valley, on a road hardly safer than the one on which we had arrived. But when the sun is shining and no black clouds are hanging over the gorges, it looks less dangerous.. But still, at many points,  great chunks of the mountains had fallen down onto our side of the road, while the other side of the road had collapsed into the gorges. That day I took it with a laugh but only as long as there was  enough road left to allow us to pass!  The laughing stopped when we suddenly saw a lot of cars and lorries stopped by the roadside, including the Guardia Civil, and all the people somehow looking down into the gorge… I guess a car had gone off the edge as it collapsed…  scary stuff, really!

The town Capileira. is certainly less impressive than Trevelez, much smaller and without the ambition to reach the sky! Quite cute though, full of cool shops along the main road, good sketching motifs everywhere. But here again I faced some unexpected problems. In fact it is the problem which many artists face when they start painting  Andalusian villages: white houses, red flowers in pots hanging from balconies, green leaves, blue sky… very attractive and refreshing for the eye, but , in my humble opinion, a trap for the artist: kitsch is never far away! Sincerely, I think these villages are not really adequate for good oil or acrylics paintings, except if one can find some kind of abstraction where one is able to artistically reconcile all the basic elements involved. Total realism doesn’t do it for me, not even by the hand of skilled painters.

Here in Capileira I tried myself to ‘fight the kitsch’ using pastel chalks, but pastel is a dangerous tool in itself, easy to fall into triviality., and again, as in Trevelez, I failed!!! In my defence I must add that in my travel set the chalk pieces are all mixed and it is almost impossible to recognise which colour they are.

Eventually I came back to my usual sketching ink and watercolour technique, which at least normally renders the lightness and freshness of the subject quite well.

But still: although it was better than in Trevelez, I didn’t feel comfortable sketching. I felt tense, nervous… perhaps there were again too many people around, and a “snobbish” atmosphere pervading the town. Somehow the feeling that the people here, above all the foreigners, thought they were something better for being here, all wandering around in their expensive climbing outfits with a walking stick in hand! Do they feel so superior because they climb some mountain in the Sierra Nevada? Or is it me, who feels so inferior, just sitting down on the road , in my dusty trousers, my sketch book and my little magic wand in my hand? The times are long gone when being an artist brought you some consideration…

And if somebody does take some notice of you and stops by, it is just to tell you that he paints too, or somebody in the family does. Or a friend. The distance between an artist and a normal person is minimal nowadays.

Like the woman who saw me drawing and stopped by for a while. No interest whatsoever in what I was doing. She simply started telling me that there was a wonderful exhibition in one of the local restaurants..A Japanese painter had arrived once in Capileira  and started painting the villages around, just for bread and bed.

Later on I went and had a look. I was extremely curious to see how a Japanese artist dealt with the Andalusian kitsch… well, he didn’t really, the kitsch is there, omnipresent, but at least sometimes he had managed to rescue it, adding some Japanese traditional elements to the paintings like a naked black branch with a bird on it….

But you know, some people love that Andalusian kitsch, Like that woman who sent me to the exhibition.  Commenting on my paintings, from which she saw some on the gallery leaflet I gave her, she just said,

“They are very romantic…”

No idea if this was meant as a compliment. But judging from the expression on her face, I guess not. No wonder actually: Spaniards seem to live on the other side of romanticism, as eager as possible to avoid it!

By Miki

Not measuring Biarritz

We loved the first day in Biarritz and there was so much stuff for me to sketch there, that we decided to stay longer. The next day was a Sunday, and the sun was shining brighter than ever… needless to say, the town was full of people! Not the ideal environment for me to work, as you will see…

This time I decided to stay in the little harbour, an amazing architecture of stone walls, boats, houses, castles and even cathedrals, so intertwined  that everything seems to be everywhere at the same time. A great painting subject, complicated though…

By the following sketch, while I was drawing, I was imagining a whole story in which boats took on a life of their own and were marching into the town to take control of the humans… what a silly story!  🙂

After some sketches there, I decided to go somewhere else. On my way I was accosted by two guys, who were sitting there all the time, not very far away, watching  me.

“I love people who draw!, the younger one said!

My normal way of reacting to people when I am out sketching is to say thanks, to give a big smile and to run away: the last thing I want is to get involved in a conversation, not about art and even less about myself. But this guy was somehow so cute in the choice of his words, that I decided to stop by, not sure though if it was not the beginning of a refined flirting process. French guys  are good at that, at least they think they are…

He then wanted to see my sketches. I hesitated -I hate to show my work in the street- but again, he knew how to ask and I showed him the above sketches. In their raw state though, that is only as a pen drawing, without the water colours which I always add later on.

“Don’t tell me that you do all that directly on the paper with an ink pen?”

Well, yes I do  sketch directly with an ink pen. I never did it differently, and never really thought about it, I guess sketching is such a spontaneous thing to me, that I don’t even envisage the possibility of erasing… in fact, I would hate it!

The guy was really amazed, and he looked at me as if I was the seventh wonder of the world. But again, this belongs to the French mens flirting tactic! Then he started asking me a lot of personal questions, and I knew the time had come to leave. To keep him happy, though, I gave him a leaflet from my gallery, and went away.

I found another great place, far from curious looks, but really close to where the two guys sat, only that they couldn’t see me. I heard them discussing the leaflet

:Oh look, these are trees… but somehow they look like womens bodies… woah!”

They were obviously looking at one of my Fantascapes,, I smiled within myself.

But the peace didn’t last long. I suddenly heard a voice behind me saying

“You should take your measurements!”

Well, yes perhaps I should, above all when what I am trying to draw is so huge and complicated, but I don’t, and I even hate it! With a smile I told the guy that it was not my style, that I love freedom, that taking measurements kills the spontaneity of my art, etc. In fact I was quite angry with myself for having reacted and again interrupted my work, above all as he kept repeating:

“Yes, I understand.. but still, you should take your measurements!”

I started feeling  incredibly upset. The fact is too that I had just started a new sketch, that there was hardly any line on my paper, that it was the worst moment to interrupt me, and certainly not in telling me about the necessity of taking measurements. The first lines I put on the paper always decide what follows, if the sketch will be good or not.

I tried to keep patient, but after a while I couldn’t take it anymore, and my smile vanished. The guy then said:

“Ok then… you draw very well though… have a nice day!”

And he left. If I am not wrong, he was one of the painters who were selling their stuff outside in the harbour. Well, I don’t want to sound harsh, but I prefer not to take my measurements and paint how I do than to paint as he does…

A question of taste…

and of measurement I guess!

Here is the famous unmeasured piece… I saved what I could!

Bia Bia Biarritz, Biarritz!

Don’t ask why exactly that silly title! Somehow it came to my mind, it is a reference to a song which my father and English tourists sang in the middle of the night when they were partying together, about 50 years ago, in Benidorm?-Spain. The song was

Pia Pia Piano, Piano….

They were standing on cars singing at their top of their voices… and when they got too hot, they ran naked into the Mediterranean sea, having a bath under the well-known Benidorm moon… Ah, my father could be much fun at that time! Spain also was a much better place, where one dreamed to spend the rest of one’s life..  but this is another story for another time, perhaps!

I had been in Biarritz before, but a long time ago and just for a short visit, I hardly remember anything. As we we went with the bikes into the town, I was so glad to see that there were many subjects for me to sketch. Not easy, though, complicated natural and artificial constructions, castles, rock formations, walls… complicated but so charming that I had to draw them. I am not pretending to go for any architectural accuracy here, as always, my sketches are just an impression, driven by my fantasy and my inability to stay long by the subject. My nightmare is often that somebody comes up in the net and shouts at me with some comments like:

There were 10 windows and not 8!

The roof was red and not blue!

The flowers were tulips and not roses!

and so on…

Even the number of towers in this little castle could be wrong, but sincerely, I don’t care!

It was not easy to sketch this day, it was a sunny Saturday, the first one after a long period of rain, and the town was  chock-a-block with tourists. They were everywhere, and I really felt uncomfortable. People are funny, they always think they use clever tricks to try to see you sketching without you noticing, or to take a photo of you sketching in the beautiful environment, an interesting subject I suppose. In fact these secret observers are much more disturbing than the direct ones, because you always have to activate all of your inner eyes and ears to try to locate the spies… Not easy to draw French castles under these conditions!

As you can imagine, that special one inspired me again to a Biblescape… but I won’t show you this time! And as you see, the little castle is standing there again… in each drawing with different proportions and numbers of windows, but in fact, quite recognisable I would say… meaning: what the hell with all these numbers!  🙂

In my next post I’ll show you some boats and houses from the delicious little harbour from Biarritz…

As always, if you want to see some photos from the trip in Biarritz and read the clever travel stories written y Kev Moore, go to Cafe Crem.