I got off the bus on the wrong side of Palais Royal. I have a terrible time with bus routes, especially when they take a different route coming than going. I am sure I am not the only one with this problem. There is always someone in the aisle studying the map, pushing the stop button and then not disembarking.
I love to walk through Palais Royal, anyway – it is where Colette lived, and the windows are always wonderful. It’s experienced a renaissance of new designer clothing stores, mixed in with the medals and the famous restaurant Grand Vefour. Maybe if Blair signs up a job this week we can celebrate with lunch. Meanwhile we eat rice.
I head for galerie Vivienne. My friend Y has been helping me find “rain sites” for my painting workshops. Although I have the best intentions, it is possible it could rain during the workshops, and I need to be prepared. There is no month without rain in Paris.
Galerie Vivienne isn’t bad. It is a “passage” between two streets, with a bend in the middle. There’s a coffee shop and some stores: very nice architectural envelope, with glass skylights and an ocular window. It is a possibility for painting people sitting in the café, passing by, or to paint some architectural element. As my painting workshop fills up, I need to make everything just right.
I’m not only looking for places for my associates to paint, but also for ME to paint. I have really enjoyed the café people and scenes. We decide not to stay in at the café here: it’s a bit too cold to sit in the passage, and the inside is too sparsely peopled. We walk by the passage Colbert – not a really a public passage, and it looks “cold”. We decide to head back through the Palais Royal. Palais Royal has wonderful mosaic sidewalks beneath generous arcades, and a green park in the center: kids play and dogs run free, even today, in February. If it were raining lightly, this could work as a painting site.
We emerge on the other side of the plaza, and find a spot under the heatlamps of a sidewalk café. It is a little crowded, and when I start to paint I feel I am seated in economy on the airplane. I adjust. The waiter gives me a hairy eyeball: tough.
I love to paint with Y. She is relaxed. We talk a little before settling in. She’s found a new store she likes, Hema from the Netherlands – it has 50centime toothpaste. We order two noisettes (espresso with a dash of cream), end up with two espressos. The waiter thinks he’s mighty handsome, flirts with Y and the other pretty girls on the terrace; forgets our waters.
I actually like le Fumoir the best of our painting sites. They always get the coffee just right and bring an entire carafe of water. It’s dark there, though, and one must get a window table to paint. We painted there the day before. I did five small “heads”. The people look good at le Fumoir, but they look good here, too – the ones in the plaza out front, anyway. Here on the terrace there are a lot of older men trying to look hip. I paint one and regret it. I stick with pretty girls and men in turtlenecks.
We spend two and a half hours over a cup of coffee. I can do this with Y or another girlfriend, but Blair will not sit in a café that long. Coffee may cost 2.30, but I look at it as table rental. And the view is unsurpassed.
A little after five I roll up my tent. I’ve painted a redheaded girl with a ponytail and flouncy white skirt smoking a cigarette; another girl with black clothing, boots and a red handbag; the old man (yech); two Japanese girls who moved just a little too fast. I am going home because I invited people for stuffed tomato dinner. I made up a new recipe: North African style lamb stuffing. My paintings of the week are lined up in the hallway. One of the diners buys two of today’s paintings, and I think, hmmm, maybe this was a good spot.
Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER
At the Cafe Fumoir (Elbows) Laurie Fox PESSEMIER Acrylic on wood 10 x 6 inches