Monday, August 30, 2010

Bien Dans Sa Peau

 Elle y est.   ink & colored pencil.  mounted on William Morris design.  by Linda Hampton Smith

One of my favorite expressions is to be "bien dans sa peau" (feeling good in one's own skin, at ease with oneself).   I'm much closer to that state of mind in my fifties, than I was in my twenties.  But I'd like to be positively aglow with self care and self love and self celebration.  Kindness unto me.   A sweet gentillesse.

In order to help that feeling along,  I figure one must truly care for oneself, non?  Take time to exercise, meditate, breathe deep and nourishing breaths, eat well,  sleep well.....  All of which is one's true "beauty" regime  (and none of which I do on a consistent basis.)    

So, as a nice first step in consistent self care, I thought I'd initiate a daily face cleansing routine... French Style:

1.  Apply cold cream to face.  Massage in a circular motion.  
2.  Remove cream with cotton balls,  wiping off in upward strokes.
3.  Apply a toning lotion with the cotton.
4.  Apply a light moisturing lotion.

I've done this for a couple of days, now, and I can say that the extra minute of pampering is a cherishing moment at the mirror. 

A sweet tendresse.   To which I say, continuez, ma fille.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Les Fenêtres     Watercolor   by Linda Hampton Smith
"J'ai tendu des cordes de clocher a`clocher; des guirlandes de fenêtre à fenêtre; des chaînes d'or d'étoile à étoile, et je danse".         -Arthur Rimbaud


"La fenêtre, en province, remplace le théâtre et les promenades."     -Gustave Flaubert


"Les yeux sont les fenêtres de l'âme."     -Georges Rodenbach

All of these wonderful "window" quotes come from an awesome online resource.  Mots d'auteurs  allows you to search for quotes by way of a single keyword (mot clef).   I find this wildly entertaining and sometimes make a game of it.  Choissisez un mot and give it a go!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vive le Chocolat

"Vive le Chocolat"   Ink & Colored Pencil   by Linda Hampton Smith

Many of my quirky little characters come from absentminded doodling.    I clearly had chocolate on the brain when I penned this picture.  No surprise there.  

How 'bout quelque chose séduisante, melty and merveilleuse?  (I ask myself this question on a regular basis.)

Miam. Miam. Miam.

La Vie est Belle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fleur de lis

Fleur de lis    watercolor by Linda Hampton Smith 

In honor of Bastille Day, I rummaged around for my Fleur de Lis painting so I could post it here.  I've always adored the Fleur de Lis.  I suppose it's ironic that I'm featuring the very symbol that the citizens of Paris protested as they stormed the Bastille, for this represented the monarchy.  Politically incorrect or not, it's pretty - n'est-ce pas? 

                                            Fleur de lis Medallion

It's believed to be an abstraction of both the iris and the lily and I love its symmetry and its curves.   From my studio window (yes, I have fleur de lis sculptures on my windowsill!), I can see the abundance of blooming lilies in my backyard.  Fleurs de lis partout.  Happy Bastille Day! 

                 Les Lis      watercolor & gouache by Linda Hampton Smith

Monday, June 28, 2010

Je me souviens

"Je me souviens"  Graphite on Paper    by Linda Hampton Smith      

La Mémoire.

 Waves of nostalgie wash over me.  All the time.  And they're not rosy, dreamy vignettes.  They're vivid and compelling and immediate.  As if they've just happened and are happening still.  Time drops away.  Maybe it's because I'm a visual thinker.  My memoires are like pictures that hang on the walls of my mind.   Like one of the grands salons in the Louvre where the paintings hang floor to ceiling. 

And what hangs on the walls of this salon?  A gazillion things.  I share a few.......

Un panier de chanterelles.  Just last night we dined on chanterelles (sauteed in a port wine sauce and poured over baked chicken breasts flavored by orange slices.  YUM. )   Earlier in the day, my son Will (a 20 year old amateur chef extraordinaire)  and I picked them together on a nearby forest trail.   I savor, avec de la gratitude, this sweet gift.

Years ago in Paris, I spied this dalmation waiting for its owner.  I loved and love this moment. Not only for the pleasing palette of colors but for its portrayal of a quiet and resigned longing.  


Opening a door, one day,  in Vieux Montréal,  I was greeted by an apple red surprise.  For some reason, this  insistent advertisement makes me really happy!   "Entrez,"  I say!



Images of my mother.  I treasure them not only for her beauty but for the fact that she has always encouraged my love of art.  As a young woman, she read an article about the benefits of exposing your baby "in utero" to great music and art.  So, while pregnant with me, she walked the hallways of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, lingering in the French Impressionist wing.  Years later, when I studied art in college,  she hung my paintings all around the house.  It struck me then, seeing my framed pictures so lovingly displayed, that I must, in fact, be a " true artiste!"   Surely, it's no coincidence that I'm drawn to French art, as well.


                                             Grâce à vous, maman.       

What wonders we carry within us.  

Un veritable tableau vivant.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vergennes French Heritage Day

"French Heritage Day"  Watercolor and Gouache by Linda Hampton Smith

A sizeable part of Vermont's population has Québécois heritage.  This hearkens to the mid 1800's when the  province of Québec suffered widespread crop failure. Political clashes between the British and the French worsened. Many French Canadians sought employment and refuge from discrimination by traveling south.  They found work in the mill towns of Vermont and throughout New England.  Life was no paradis, however.  Wages were low and spoken French was forbidden in the classroom.  Sadly, many children felt ashamed of their heritage and the French language soon languished.

In a redemptive move at righting such wrongs, many Franco-Americans are casting a compassionate eye on their heritage.  French Heritage Festivals are springing up everywhere.   Here in Vermont, Vergennes hosts "French Heritage Day."  This year's fête will be held on July 9th and 10th on the city's beautiful town green, in the Opera House and along the streets of this charming ville.  A parisian-style waiter race is among the days events! 

I will be exhibiting and selling my artwork along with other artistespâtissiers, boulangers, chanteurs...
I get to revel in pure Francophilia and chat in French toute la journée!  LOVE it.  If you're in the area,  je vous invite! 

Along with this groundswell of Franco-American pride comes a growing number of musical groups who perform traditional Québécois songs.  "Va et Vient", a local band, has samples on their website. Écoutez and Enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dreaming in French

Dreaming in French.  Watercolor & Gouache by Linda Hampton Smith

From time to time, I dream in French.  I love when I do because I'm quite fluent in my dreams.  Not so in real life.  I speak a decent French.  I can get by in a Francophone country.  But if someone responds to me in "bullet-speed" French, forget it.  Je suis perdue!

The following dream may point to my insecurities on the matter.  (Or deeper insecurites, perhaps!)  Any takers on interpretations?...... 

I was in a train station and about to depart for France.  I could not find my ticket.  I stood in line at a ticket booth.  I approached the ticket master and still hadn't found it.  I was pulling wads of papers out of my purse and going through them one by one.  I apologized profusely in French to the ticket master.  At this point, there was a long line of impatient people in back of me.  I turned around and apologized en français to them as well.  My ability to speak French wasn't winning me any sympathy! 

The ticketmaster finally said, "You have one hour to find your ticket.  Otherwise you can't go."  At that very moment, I found the ticket.  I had tucked it away in a little pouch in my wallet.  The ticket had a picture of three little pigs (!?) printed on it.  I was elated.  I turned around for one last time and apologized to the crowd-  "Désolée,"  I said.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vue Panoramique

Along the highways and byways of France, there are road signs that always catch our attention.  They read:  Vue Panoramique.  Printed on arrows,  they point this way or that.  Who could resist?

"Argenton" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Watercolor on Paper  

In the petite village of Argenton, we get out of the car, explore the interior of a church and exit by way of a huge oak door adorned with fanciful hinges.  We stand in a courtyard and admire the sweeping view.  Ah, deep and lovely breaths of French air and the satisfaction of, well, magnificence. We've never been disappointed with  la promesse of panorama.  Except for one occasion.   We dutifully followed yet another sign, walking and panting our way up the hills.  We came across a field of sheep who stopped munching on sweet French grass and  blankly stared at us.  Then we stumbled upon an abandoned hamlet. This really excited our imagination.  We walked past miles, it seemed, of woodland.  Utterly exhausted, we finally turned around in search of (please, God!) flat ground.  We never found the elusive "view" and wondered if it was someone's idea of a joke.  Yet that never-ending hike gave us an intimacy with le paysage that we would have otherwise missed out on. 
France on Foot: Village to Village, Hotel to Hotel: How to Walk the French Trail System on Your Own

Nothing beats a good walk in France, vue ou non.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Le Tournesol

"In the Woods" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Acrylic and Gouache on Paper

Although the trees limbs are still bare and there's a chill in the air, the soil has finally softened.   I've been happily working away dans le jardin - edging my garden beds with stones I collect from the woods.  The effect pleases me.  This will be a special summer.   We recently cut down many trees due to having become, over the years, overgrown by moss.  I anticipate for the very first time in this home setting:  La lumière du soleil.  And a ton of sunshine-friendly flowers to follow!

"L'amour de la Fleur" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Watercolor on Paper

Which brings to mind: Le Tournesol.  I've never,  jamais, ever been able to grow sunflowers because of the shade.  Now here's my chance!  I've been studying seed packets in the stores.  La variété est grande.

Sonja Sunflower - Seed Packet

Sunflower Moulin Rouge 50 Seeds per Packet

Sunflower Giant Sungold 50 Seeds per Packet

I'm envisioning Provence in my own backyard!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Enfin Le Printemps....presque

Here in the north, Springtime's a tease.  One day I'm tilling the soft warm soil.  The next day it's frozen solid.  The shovel lays beside the garden until the earth softens up again.  In the meantime, I "virtual garden" on one of my absolute favorite sites: L'atelier Vert


Still, True Spring is not far off.  With great anticipation, my arbor lays in wait.  Soon climbing roses will cover, no, smother it with a fragrant and lush embrasse.
The Roses: The Complete Plates (Taschen 25th Anniversary)

Un très bon printemps à tout le monde....

I'd send you a chocolate bunny if I could.  Certainement, one of our more joyous and delicious symbols of Spring!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bleu et Blanc

Those blue and white Parisian street signs evoke much delight.  To the Francophile, moi!, these utilitarian signposts symbolize such bons souvenirs de France.   I'm not the only one.  They have a cult following, it appears.   A bit of online research yields a dizzying amount of trade surrounding the ubiquitous bleu et blanc.  Companies like Emaillerie Normande will customize them with any message you want. Or you could choose from their own selection:  LAPIN LUNATIQUE or HAMSTER MALICIEUX or ENFANT TERRIBLE.    Drôle.


I may just order the ENTRÉE DES ARTISTES for my studio door.

Paris Street Sign Cufflinks

                 And these nifty cufflinks as well -- Is that going too far? 
                 I think not.

Eiffel Tower (At Dusk) Art Poster Print - 24" X 36"

According to Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo, Napolean decreed in 1806 that street names no longer be engraved on the walls.  Rather, they were to be painted.  In 1847, authorities chose the enamel plaque. Could they have envisioned what a hot commodity they'd become? 
                                           Street Sign for Intersection of Avenue De New York in Paris, France Photographic Poster Print, 24x32