Ok everybody.  Here we go.  Entry #1 of “Oh my gosh, Annie Fain’s actually in France” blog entries.  Though I normally keep blogging mostly art/business related the next succession of entries will have a more personal slant because I’m far, far from home and can’t help myself.  After all, it is a great way for a non-facebooker like myself to “tell stories with pictures” right?

Yes, I’m finally and officially here in France (still getting used to the idea).  I’ll skip the travel details, because clearly I made it here well enough and head straight to one of the most important topics of our lives….FOOD!

Hey! Everybody whose anybody is doing it, especially the French.  Thom, one of my two incredibly sweet and generous hosts, took me out my first night here to exactly the type of little restaurant you are imagining in your head right now.  It was lovely! (Remember, my intention is to share, not to make you jealous.)

We sat at a little table literally squeezed between a railing and the front window (from which to better watch the tall, slender, perfectly dressed, young Parisian men smoke their cigarettes out on the street…this particular stereotype is so completely true).

We started with Fois Gras, of course.  I really liked that it was served with fig jam and a little pile of crunchy seasalt.

…accompanied with a sip of red wine, of course.

After a main course of Coq au Vin, which Julia child went on about in her book My Life in France, we had Creme Brulee, (once again) of course.

Full and pink-cheeked we closed the evening out with a saunter by the Seine on Il St. Louis (which is smack dab in the middle of Paris and where my hosts have an apartment) with Notre Dame in the background.  Wow!

Here’s my first journal entry using the mini-watercolor set that my friend Melissa gave me.  All I could think to draw was that wonderful meal.  I know that are many more such meals in my future, but the first will always be special.

BookArts Retreat at Chateau du Pin


Come to the Loire Valley (in France!!!) this July and make books and mini-prints with yours truly and Laurie Corral of Asheville Bookworks. This heavenly 9-day workshop will be given at the Chateau du Pin, a half hour drive from Anger, and includes everything from creative guidance, sleeping in a castle, lovely five course meals every evening and ample quiet time for contemplation and daily walks.  What more could you ask for!

(Laurie and I are soooo excited!! Thanks for having us Peg and David!)

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PRINTMAKING AND BOOKARTS with Laurie Corral and Annie Fain Liden
July 23-31, 2010 | $2,500 9 day workshop (includes lodging, breakfast and dinner)

In this workshop, we’ll be explorers of Le Pin, using the gardens, woodlands, vineyards and castle as inspiration for miniature prints and hand made books. Students will climb through the centuries; photographing gargoyles, recording textures, sketching and abstracting ideas for images suitable for printing. Mini prints can be created as individual works and/or integrated into hand made books with a distinctive point of view. Studio investigations will also include stitching, working with collage and paint, antique french papers and fabrics and various book bindings. Come explore the extraordinary and exotic! All levels welcome. College credit available.

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To register or for more information contact Peg Gignoux/David Summer at [email protected]

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Seraphine de Senlis

I recently went to the Fine Arts Theater to see the new film Seraphine based on the true story of the life of a French house keeper and painter. (Click on images below to make them larger)

Seraphine at one of her paintings 4343565.4253116f.560

Though it wasn’t a high-action drama or heartbreaking love story I was totally sucked in.   I think I was most inspired by how she absolutely could not ignore her passion for painting.  Even in really hard times she chose to spend her money on supplies for her art rather than food or coal.   I agree that it’s a little extreme, but the result was truly amazing. (Keep in mind that these paintings were pretty large, almost as tall as her.)

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She was discovered in 1912 by Wilhelm Uhde, a German art critic and collector (first buyer of Picasso and Rousseau!).  She was working for him as his maid at the time.  You’ll have to see the movie to find out the rest, of course.

To learn more about her go to: http://serdar-hizli-art.com/modern_painting/seraphine.htm

To watch the trailer for the movie go to: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2926541/seraphine_movie_trailer/