Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Basics…

Yesterday I was motivated to work on mixing my own watercolors. The stars were aligned and I finally had all the supplies I needed. What had delayed me was not having watercolor half-pans to store the finished mixes in, but the last time I ordered a book from Amazon I remembered to order the little, white pans.

On our travels I had collected dry pigments as souvenirs. The first time was when we visited Roussillon in Provence back in 2013. (This may have been what spurred me on, also: we are taking an OLLI class through CAL—six weeks of talking and reading about Provence. It is bringing back lots and lots of memories.) In the Fall of 2015 when we were in Venice I visited a store that, among other things, carried pigments.

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Roussillon

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The red cliffs around Roussillon

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Venice

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My paint! The larger bottles are the pigment from Venice. (No, I did not have to carry those jars in my suitcase. They came in plastics bags and I put them in the jars from The Container Store after I got home.) The small vials are from Roussillon. The pigments are mixed with gum arabic and a bit of honey on a sheet of glass. Always wear a mask because the pigment in powder form is bad for your lungs. My only trouble now is I have already used up all the available half-pans so have to get more. Did not even get to experiment with my yellows and reds, yet…


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Happy New Year…

I was looking through a year’s worth of photos to create a review of my year and try to use the split screen capabilities of iMovie. This time of year is such a natural demarcation for me because practically all celebration in my life occur between the last week in November and January 1st. TM’s birthday and Thanksgiving (usually the same day or very close), Christmas, my birthday, New Year’s Eve all in one week. New Year’s Eve is also the anniversary of when I met TM and the night he asked me to marry him. Only two kids birthdays and our wedding anniversary happen in other parts of the year. This movie helped to wrap up the year. It felt good to look again at all the parts of the year. The garden flourished and the seasons changed indicated by the farmer’s market produce coming in on schedule. We saw many exciting sites in the world and close to home. I didn’t realize how the California coast figured so prominently in our journeys and, of course, San Francisco. Visually entrancing places. I started to use Photoshop Elements again at the end of the year. 2013 was a very happy year for us…I wish a beautiful 2014 for you!


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The last day…a goodbye to Provence…

On our trips we have usually spent the last day before leaving our apartments organizing ourselves, packing (stuffing) our suitcases, and mentally preparing for our early morning departure the next day. This time, however, we decided to “go for the gold” and catch one last missed site before we took off. Except for seeing it from the airplane as we flew into France, we had not seen the Pont du Gard, but our lovely landlady had mentioned earlier in our stay that it was best in early morning or twilight because of the light. We knew that we would never make it in the early light but twilight was a definite maybe if we combined it with other sites. In the morning of the last day we packed suitcases and organized for departure and then set off…whipering goodbye to our locality. First I buried my shoes in the trash near Le Beaucet, then we picked up some candy nougat souvenir gifts in Saint Didier and went on to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for one last lunch. We had serendipitously discovered The Table on our very first day in Provence and had returned many times when we were near the town for more meals. We had our “goodbye” meal and then jumped in the car for the hour and  half drive to Uzés, a medieval town with garden. Cars are confined to an exterior road so walking and exploring was quite pleasant. There we ate a light dinner in the plaza and then made the ten minute trip to Pont du Gard. We had excellent timing for the light, only had to pay half price for parking because of the time of day, and we were almost the only tourists around. This is all captured here in my last movie for this trip. I fear I added a few too many pictures of the aqueduct but that is symbolic of how awe-stricken I was by its magnificence. Despite its incredible size and domination of its valley, you cannot see it from the road and only when you get quite close do you catch a view. Wham…visual awe. (The Romans left the rocks protruding out of the pillars because that is how the scaffolding was attached and they anticipated in the future after building it in 19 BC they might have to do maintenance. Ahh, the greatness that was Rome!)

By making it to the Pont du Gard, it meant that on our trip we had been able to see all four of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Provence. The Amphitheater and arch in Orange, the Popes Palace and bridge in Avignon, the Theater and St. Trophime Church in Arles and the aqueduct. Only thing we missed because the weather was out of our control was the lavender bloom…meaning we will just have to go back someday.

The last day in three minutes:

(don’t forget to make it full-screen so that you can see the birds fly)


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Pernes-les-Fontaines…

It is getting close to the time of our next trip. I need to eliminate photos from the iPhone and iPad so I can fit in the new thousands of images so I realized that I had never wrapped up the Provence trip. There was a lovely town close by to where we stayed called Pernes-les-Fontaines. Forty fountains (but I did not take pictures of all of them) and possibly the best shutter colors in all of Provence. Most magnificently, the loveliest iron work on top of the church steeple.

IMG_2006The cat keeps chasing that mouse, forever…

A stroll through the town…

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Some of the fountains…

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Your choice of stucco for your walls…

IMG_2110Also, a bride…

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Her name is Amelie…we know because we checked…

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and we walked…

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I particularly loved the cafe umbrella that was adorned with scraps…think I will do that at home…

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There was a castle…

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and the Tourist Info center had art in its garden…

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We were not successful in getting wifi in their wifi cafe, but we met the dog on the bar stool…how cute is that?

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Got back home to another great sky…

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Cheese…

My favorite images from my trip to Provence included the Cheesemen I saw in the markets of Aix-en-Provence and Pernes-les-Fontaines.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Pernes-les-Fontaines

Pernes-les-Fontaines

Passionate for goat cheese (especially when drizzled with lavender honey or decorated with thyme flowers)

cheesefrom aix goatcheese

When my friend Lisa (who was looking forward to her own trip to Paris) said, “Why don’t we take a cheese class?” I jumped-like-a-goat at the thought and even roped Terry into going, too. Since it coincided with our 39th anniversary it turned into a mini-celebration of sorts in honor of goats, longevity, and friendship! Some people have time-shares in vacation properties and then there are those who have goat-shares for the milk (investigating now).

We made feta, chevre, farmhouse cream cheese and fromage blanc.

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Cheesemakers

Lisa’s photo of her fellow cheesemakers

It was a lovely day in San Francisco…

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Trader Joe’s has goat milk but maybe TM will give me a real goat for our 40th!?

Next it will be olives…I can feel it…

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Probably need to get a hat to fit into the whole theme of markets and cheesemen and our new favorite CD is The Goat Rodeo Sessions…we blast it everywhere…love goats!

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Cassis…

We were lucky we planned our day trip to Cassis on a Monday. If it had been a weekend or more in the middle of summer it would not have been as bucolic. The town was in perfect form…not too crowded and beautiful weather. Two of these pictures I took with Hipstamatic, but the rest were with the native camera of my iPhone with no extra processing. Yes, the blue is the real blue. After a boat ride to see three Calanques (inlets) we repaired to lunch (from the sea) and a serenade. Cassis started as a fishing port known for its limestone quarries. The base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor came from here. Now it is a tourist area very popular with the French. I think if we ever go back there we will try to spend many days in Cassis. It was that lovely. We got some good glimpses of Cezanne’s mountain as we drove home past Aix-en-Provence. My movie shows our day. Make it full screen by tapping the arrows in the lower right hand corner.

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Pont Julien and Lourmarin…

Toward the end of our stay in Provence we visited Pont Julien a Roman bridge of great beauty, longevity, and no mortar. The niches you see are not for statues. When the water rises, they allow it to flow through. A testament to Roman building and engineering and why the bridge is still there for us to enjoy.
After visiting the bridge, we drove down a steep winding road to find Lourmarin. Coming toward us were about 300 Porches on a car club outing. They were having a great time flexing their muscles and power on the curves. We kept wondering about their risk taking with passing since they were coming right at us. We survived, luckily, so we could meet a cat that looked like Cliff…or at least a brother from another mother! Make the video full-screen by clicking the arrows in the lower right hand corner.


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Avignon, two…

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The Pope’s Palace in Avignon was a massive structure which at this point no longer exhibited much opulence, the centuries having seen its decoration removed or deteriorated. The remaining decoration could not be photographed because of preservation concerns, so I settled for light reflections and vaulted ceilings until we were almost finished with our interior tour.

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The last large room we walked into contained some treasures of a new variety, however. There was set-up going on of a significant art show that would open two days later.

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Entitled “Les Papesses”, it featured five high priestesses of modern art with their modern work reverberating against the Medieval space of the Palace.

The art was in disarray, I could not get near or find many good angles for photos, and there was caution tape everywhere, but it has been fun since we’ve been home to try to figure out what the art and exhibit was about.

Before the Popes came to Avignon, there was a Pope that turned out to be a woman, Pope Joan (discovered because she was pregnant). The name “Les Papesses” (women Popes) refers to the five women artists considered to have major impact in their field of art. At the time I was familiar with Kiki Smith and knew she was American. After I got to researching I realized I was also familiar with Camille Claudel. I had seen a large portion of her work the year before when we visited Rodin’s Museum in Paris. She was his Muse and lover and tragically spent the last thirty years of her life institutionalized. I had seen the work of Louise Bourgeois (French) before as the sculpture garden at San Francisco MOMA has one of her large spiders near their Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk (wonder if it will still be there after their three-year renovation?)

The other two artists were Jana Sterbak (Czech) and Berlinde De Bruyckere (Belgium). Once again I was struck with how labels in art museums help me put art into context and understanding. None of that here. Some of my pictures are trying to be just an impression of the art for that reason. I did not buy the catalogue of the show. It was big, heavy and would not make it home in my suitcase. So I have tried Google searches but specific pieces are hard to name without the catalogue especially since sometimes all I could see was the back. I rented the DVD “Squatting the Palace”  about Kiki Smith from Netflix since I have been home (a documentary about a show she had in Venice) and I looked back at my pictures from last year at the Rodin Museum. I loved seeing the contrast of the art with its antique environment and wished I could have come back later when it was all set up.

IMG_6111IMG_6112Kiki Smith

IMG_6113 IMG_6109Camille Claudel

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Louise Bourgeoise “Maman” (the spider) with “Planetarium” by Jana Sterbak behindIMG_6105 IMG_6119 IMG_6121IMG_6124Jana Sterbak

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“The Princess and the Pea” as well as some floating nightshirts and straight jackets. (Is that a comment of feminine or what…)

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Kiki Smith’s “Pyre Woman Kneeling”

IMG_6132IMG_6134 IMG_6136 IMG_6135Opposite the original art of the structure…

IMG_6137and a slight bit of original fresco…

IMG_6142It was another lovely day in Provence…one of many…

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Walking shoes…

During my last years of teaching, I developed a loyalty to comfortable shoes and bought my first pair of Merrell. A lovely dark grey shoe with blue trim. They did a good job of mitigating foot pain and developed a used patina that included drops of paint from many projects. By the time I retired and started traveling, I had purchased a second pair (with chartreuse trim) that was developing its own patina to go with  comfortableness. I took them on our trip to Florance and Tuscany and they did not fail me on the cobblestones of Italy. The glitch was that I had not learned, yet, that it is not wise to purchase books in museum stores and when it came time to pack the suitcases to come home I made the dreadful decision to leave them behind so that everything else could fit. Broke my heart to give up that chartreuse, but I knew that I had the blue trimmed pair at home.

As we left for Provence, I put the blue trimmed shoes into the suitcase as the backup shoes for foot fatigue. They did their duty well. As we packed at the end of the trip, however, it became clear that although there were no books to pack there were lavender soaps and lotions as well as nougats from the candy factory down the road at St. Didier. The shoes were not going to make it back to the United States. So there was a short ceremony as they were put into the garbage can near Le Beaucet. Almost like burying a Jackson Pollock painting. RIP great friends, I appreciate your support all these years. View from the trash cans toward Le Beaucet:

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Purchased new ones once I got home:

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Same brand, new color…wait for it…”elephant, with pink trim”. If you know me you will know why the name swayed my choice…if you don’t, scroll to the bottom and put the word elephant in my “search” engine!

My shoes are my passport to adventure!

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New app: Etchings.


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Pattern, Color, Printing…

Pattern          Color          Printing

While in Provence, we went to the factory where Les Olivades fabrics are printed. These are the iconic “Pierre Deux” fabrics characteristic of Provence. I was excited to see the silk-screen process. (You may remember that when I entered my first Duomo in Italy I decided my goal was to become the intern sitting on the floor cleaning ancient mosaics with a tooth-brush; when I marbled paper in a paper store in Florence I wanted to hire on to be their “marbler”; and Paris made me think I could get hired to paint walls the colors that the Musee D’Orsay has chosen.) Now that I have returned from Provence I want to follow in the steps of the many Cheesemen I saw in the marches (my friend Lisa and I have signed up for a cheese making class in August) and I keep wondering why I spent so many years in that classroom when I could have been learning how to be a master-printer at Les Olivades? The process is very similar to EZScreen printing which I love because its cleanup is with water. Here is my iMovie of the process: (You can make it full screen by clicking the square to the left of the word Vimeo.)

pillowThe pillow I bought at the factory store. (Any one else have a husband that hates pillows on the couch? geez, I felt like I was bringing back contraband!)

patternsPatterns for a class with guru Mary Ann Moss here and an inkjet transparency of a photo I took of the clock at the Musee D’Orsay ready to be made into a silk screen. Fun is happening here!