This past week has been a blissful blur of activities. Everyone in my workshop arrived at the Toulouse airport safe and sound. Lovely women and one lovely man ranging in age from 21- 70! It was a seamless transition into a one big happy family.
Days were spent in the art studio (the gals) while Carl went off to photograph on his own. He found for us the most amazing sunflower field I have ever seen. We all were able to walk right into the 8-ft tall Tournesols (translates as Turn to the Sun) and take pics of each other.
The regional market on Saturday in Revel was brimming with seasonal fruit and veggies and other delights like big pans of paella, moules (fresh mussels)and bouillabaisse.This spectacular market just celebrated 670 years of a continuous Saturday Market for this region. Local farmers offering their produce, many cheesmakers coming up from the Pyrenees (Brebis is the BEST!). Crafts, Linens, baskets, clothes- everything one might need for their life.
Sunday we went to one of the biggest flea markets in the area. These gals really had the eye for wonderful treasures to add to their artwork the rest of the week.
Our chef Nese cooked marvelous meals and many dinners included joyous singing of tunes from every Broadway show we could think of! This was definitely my most musical group and what a pleasure!
Many thanks to Carl, Neala, Carol, Bobbie, Rebecca, Jeanette, Cindy, Amanda, and Johanna. I so miss you all and look forward to a reunion one day- Bissous!
Departure day is always kind of sad. The workshop house is full of energy, laughter, creativity and then Boom! completely silent after we take everyone to the airport. The sound of the river running behind the house as I clean the studio is soothing tho as I recall wonderful moments of the week workshop.
We had a great week. The most perfect weather ever. Sunny days but still a cool breeze. And lovely cool nights. The vide grenier (flea market) was in a small village high in the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain). We drove thru beautiful fields of rolled hay with huge cows lounging in pastures, past a 12C castle in Saissac on our way to Cuxac Cabardes.
At first glance the flea market looked small- set under trees along a pathway just below the old village. But boy! did we find some wonderful treasures. I found a set of brass ice cream forks with beautiful carved handles. Other treasures included a set of huge old French dictionaries, beautiful white table linens and linen night dresses, old French postcards and books for collage and the “find of the day”- a collapsible Top Hat from the 1800’s for 5 Euros!
Many thanks to my wonderful adventuresome and inspiring ladies- Barbara, Johanna, Pat, Jeanne, Susan, Kaye, Suzanne and Mary. I had a lovely week with you all. Thanks for all the great stories, laughter and the joy of watching you create! Miss you all!
I just had the most wonderful workshop week sharing the beauty of our village and surrounding area in France. Everyday was a new adventure and and I have to say I have never laughed so hard around the dinner table. We had many budding standup comedians in this group (Steph, Susi and Margaret!). We learned so much from our ladies from South Africa and Australia about their countries (Merci to Kathy, Chris, Colleen and Teresa). Thank to Suzanne for her lovely painting demo and to Terry, her husband for putting up with this harem for the week.
Wonderfully imaginative art was made in studio time- books, jewelry, assemblage components and a whole village of art dolls- each one completely different from the next. You all were so talented and inspiring and really let your personal voice shine in your art work.
We visited several villages, shopped the Revel Saturday market, a fabulous vide grenier (flea market), shopped our village copper and leather shops, visited Albi and the Toulouse Lautrec Museum, took a silk painting class, and enjoyed White Port at our village cafe- I have several converts to this aperitif now!
I had a MOST WONDERFUL week- big Hugs, Bissous and Merci’s to you all!
PS Several have asked for the Cherry Ginger Scone recipe I spoke of in a previous post. So here it is!
Cherry Ginger Scones
Preheat to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment. Mix 2C flour, 1 1/2 cups rye flour (I used a hazelnut flour I had here in France), 3/4C sugar, 1T baking powder, 1T salt.
Add 3/4 cup coarsely chopped cherries and 1 C coarsely chopped crystallized ginger and toss to coat.
Combine 1C cream, 3/4 C buttermilk and 2T lemon zest in a bowl. Pour this into dry mixture and stir til partially combined.
Scrape mixture onto floured surface and knead til dough forms- it will be slightly sticky. Form into a 10x5x1″ rectangle.
Cut in half, cut each half into 4 squares, Cut each square diagonally into triangle- you will have 16.
Transfer to baking sheets, brush tops with 2T cream and sprinkle with 1t sugar.
Bake til golden brown30-35 min.
I have been waiting for this day for weeks! My first workshop in France begins today. I’ll be leaving shortly(after my cafe au lait!) to go to the Toulouse airport to rendezvous with everyone. It will truly be an international group. There will be 2 ladies from South Africa, 2 from Australia, 1 from Scotland and 3 from the US. I am excited to introduce them to and share with them this wonderful area.
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Cheryl Frasca’s bead adventurers! There were many beautiful shiny things created during the week and they were intrepid explorers of our charming area. Thanks to Cheryl and the group for being such a joy to host!
Tomorrow I’ll take my group into Revel for us to shop at Madame Lopez’s fabric store. Our first project will be a handmade Journal that I call an Idea Collector. There will be places to stash, postcards, ephemera, fabric samples, color palettes and places to jot down ideas and to take studio notes. I expect these books will be bulging with art inspiration and ideas to go home with by the time our week is over.
Madame Lopez has the most beautiful fabrics I have ever seen along with gorgeous tablecloths, aprons, dish towels, cloth napkins and lots of unique trims. She is always willing to cut what we would call a “fat quarter” and we can use these fabrics for our handmade journal. Check back here next week to hear more about our adventures!
I thought I’d tell you a little bit about our lovely area called Le Lauragais. It’s also referred to as Pays de Pastel because producing the blue pastel dye was the main industry in this area in the 15th and 16th C. This lovely shade of blue was considered a magical color as the process of getting to the blue (by boiling the woad plant) changed before your eyes from green to yellow to blue. Pastel only fell out of fashion with the arrival of Indigo. In Albi I take my workshop participants to a small store that sells not only products dyed with blue pastel, but also the pigment itself and as ink, dye, watercolor, pastel and paint!
We are very similar in “feel” and “light” to Tuscany. Rolling hills of wheat and endless fields of sunflowers are patch-worked along with the beautiful forests of La Montagne Noire (the Black Mountain). We have a rich gastronomic history because of the fertile soil and farmlands. Cassoulet, goat cheese, foie gras, duck confit, are all specialties of the area.
Did I mention the rich artistic heritage in the area- more about that next post. A collage I did from images of the area.