Thursday, June 30, 2016

Neither a mad dog nor an Englishman ...

... I do not go out in the midday sun.

 ["Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" - Noel Coward song lyric]

My hat awaits me, just in case.

Beth, one of our two leaders here in Provence, and I are home alone today, everyone else off on their own next thing. I read stuff online all morning, then finally get up to take a shower and hand wash a few clothes -- not enough of them to wait for the one or two hours the slow moving washer takes to do them.

Beth is looking for someplace to Gesso a canvas. My dad, who was an artist, used the term, so it is familiar, but, really, I have no idea what it means. Beth has been looking for days for a piece of cardboard to use as a backing to Gesso her canvas. It's sort of a primer coat to put on it to keep the oil paints from soaking into the fabric. She asks me if I think putting the canvas on the patio pavement would work. I ask whether she can use the picnic table, which is much cleaner and smoother than the pavement. Yes.

"Can I watch?" She agrees. (That means I'll take pictures, of course.)

I fetch my waiting hat.

I take my laundry out to hang on the line. I've given it an impressionistic twist (I am in Provence, after all), because you don't need to know what color my jammies and underwear are.

See how not flat the pavement is?

She is part way through the first section of the canvas by the time I get my camera turned in her direction. She uses a palette knife to spread the gloppy Gesso.

I ask her what these plants, lined in the planter beds, are. Acanthes.  Same as acanthus? I ask, not that I know what they are either.

They are the basis for many of the formal garlands seen in French statuary. They are gorgeous when we arrive at the villa at the start of the trip, they remain gorgeous.

Beth has finished with the Gesso. No one has played pétanque since we arrived at the villa. The tidy little zip up bag has remained on the front step undisturbed until now. The boules make handy canvas-weights.

All that needs to happen is for the Gesso to dry --quickly in this sun, no doubt -- and Beth will be able to paint.

I retreat from the midday sun for lunch and more reading. Beth is scouting subjects for her painting.


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