Friday, 11 May 2007

A broken Woman - un peu restored

You see before you a broken woman. The reaction of Chief Patissier to my thrilling news that I had been appointed as chairman of the public health committee for the commune (with special responsibilities for fosse septique ) was not quite all I would have hoped for and to be blunt he has forbidden me to take on the post at all !

I was most distressed by his reaction and could hardly contain my tears ( but needless to say did). However when he described precisely what inspecting a fosse septique might entail, I could fully see that this is indeed not an appropriate task for a lady such as myself and was quite shocked at what I may have inadvertently got myself into. As he pointed out so clearly ,what would the mayor think (when he finally recovers the use of his faculties) if I demanded to inspect his plumbing ? It would be the end of our social life, for who would wish to invite us to dine , knowing that I have made myself overly intimate with the their sewage system ! Who indeed ? Quelle horreur !

Luckily Chief Patissier has promised to have a quiet word with Monsieur Cornichon the rural clerk and suggest to him that Nicolas Fartoocozy might be a more appropriate person for the position, so that I can at least be released from my brief term in office whilst still saving face. Since few of any social standing can bear the man it matters little how he spends his time.
It would also appear, from his somewhat violent reaction, that Chief Patissier is quite taxed by my need to busy myself and expressed , quite forcefully, his grave concern that I should be so in need of stimulation that I sought to seek my pleasures away from home . I was suitably reprimanded and he declared I had been exceedingly selfish and that he had been markedly hurt by my actions. He reminded me quite firmly that a lady is never bored. I stood before him a chastened woman . It is perfectly obvious that he would have found it far more acceptable had I persevered with gardening , regardless of the risks involved. Much as I do of course adore my dear Chief Patissier I do find him a sanctimonious prig at times. Being a lady however I shall say no more on this matter.

By way of recompense he has decreed he shall find me a suitable diversion and after some deliberation, suggested I may take up oil painting. To that end he has this very minute gone out to discuss with Antoine where he might be able to purchase for me the appropriate necessities for commencing this new hobby. As he quite rightly pointed out, it is unlikely Monseiur le Gume in the village , nor the local market, will be able to supply my needs. He has insisted therefore that he and Antoine go to Paris immediatement , to equip me with all the materials I should ever need to keep myself occupied as an Artist. I did voice timidly that I would quite relish the chance , should it be possible, to travel to Paris with him, but was reminded firmly that my proper place is here Chez Nous caring for our family. Sometimes I do find being a woman and the endless responsibilities that entails extremely fatiguing.
Since I am not even sure I wish to be a painter, I feel I might at least have been allowed to have a say in the decision. However as I have been reminded all too often today my station here is as wife and mother and I have little choice but to demur to his judgement, “Noblesse oblige” etc. One must, I suppose, simply be grateful he did not hit upon pressed flowers as an appropriate pastime for me, otherwise I might have been forced to entice Madame Grognonne to put arsenic in his morning cafĂ©. There is after all a limit to what even I can endure without protest.

As it would appear to be my lot, I am determined to be quite excited by this new venture and have begun compiling a list of what equipment I might reasonably require. However this is turning out to be quite a task in itself as I have never painted in anything but watercolours and have no idea what one might need.

One presumes some sort of easel, several large canvases and of course paints. I imagine also a large straw hat might be necessary to protect one from the sun, a fetching painter's smock, starched off-white linen perhaps with a small decorative collar in drawn thread work and a large pocket for whatever artists carry about their person. A pretty little collapsible stool with a feather cushion, a parasol bien sur, a scarf also might be quite a pleasant addition to the ensemble but am torn between pale blue and aqua silk. Apart from these basics I am quite at a loss and must investigate further, although whom might be able to advise me hereabouts I can not truthfully imagine!.

Upon reflection I am certain I shall discover that Chief Patissier is, as always. right . This is undoubtedly just the precise occupation for my talents and I find myself already invigorated with enthusiasm despite his refusal to take me to Paris, which still chafes a trifle. I am sure that even a few days in the salons, shops and galleries of “la belle Paris” would have lifted my spirits admirably and inspired me to create great works of art. Nevertheless I shall have to be content with providing him with instructions and a shopping list and hoping beyond hope that he manages to return with all the items there on and a few trifles besides.
My one lingering disappointment is that I had rather set my heart on commissioning some talented artist to paint a portrait of myself in my robes of office as Chair of the public health committee for the commune (with special responsibilities for fosse septique ) and that if I am no longer to be chair I have no pretext for such a frivolous indulgence.

But wait how foolish of me not to think of this before! Since I am to be an artist why not then paint my own portrait ? Oh what a splendid idea! I feel quite euphoric at my own genius and good sense. I shall paint a magnificent portrait of myself and hold a grand unveiling for all to admire my skill with the brush! I may even perhaps hold an exposition at the salle de fete this summer, or perhaps be generous, with what I am sure will undoubtedly turn out to me my immense artist talent ,and offer to teach art classes to others less able.

I think perhaps my forté may well be the human form . As soon as I am fully equipped I shall commence straight away with a nude study of Madame Grognonne posing as the Goddess Athene. Although I will be the first to admit she may not be an ideal model one must after all start somewhere.
Ah me, I am beginning to feel quite my old self again, perhaps, my life is not so drab and dull after all!

The illustration is by Stanislaw Wyspianski and shows an artist's studio in Paris. It is unfortunate of course that the artist is Polish but these things are sent to try us, and one must admit the room itself looks a delight. I am considering asking Chief Patissier if I might have the summer house converted into such a studio for myself, or possibly one of the greniers in the west wing, I do hope he agrees.


Hopping Moon said...

You are right about needing a painters smock - Tumbling has a bright red one infact when he does oil painting. A much needed requirement to stay anywhere near paint-free clothes.

And a straw hat sounds divine - better watch out that mme Grognonne does not demand that she wears it instead though and you end up with a sun burned nose!

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh, Un Peu - what an eventful life you lead! And Chef Patissier certainly sounds like A Man Who Knows His Own Mind - and that is so attractive in one of the unfairer sex.
I can't wait to find out what style you adopt for your artistic ouvre - which I'm quite sure will be most impressive! Might you be inspired by the post-impressionists, perhaps, who were very big in your neck of the woods? Or perhaps you'll be more like Pissarro, who was reputed to have painted in the nude (at least I think it was him - my art history studies were such a long time ago). But please don't take to the absinthe, my dear - we would hate to see your lucid prose dissolve into an alcoholic haze.

Looking forward to more

Frances said...

Bon soir from New York.
You will want to start a large collection of rags. When working with oils, it will become necessary to wipe brushes, fingers, whatever ... every so often.
I have found that working with oils does improve the strength of one's finger nails. Perhaps you will also discover this hidden benefit of the arts.

toady said...

You will need to mix copious amounts of flesh coloured paint if you are to paint Madam G au naturelle - bucket loads of the stuff.

sally's chateau said...

Both Un Peu and Madame Grognonne sound in dire need of a holiday in my most humble opinion. I could of course suggest a most suitable location, and will refer to Le Chateau's diary immediately. You will of course recall that we positively welcome naturists in our quiet sunny corner of southern France and in this simple way you could produce the mammouth masterpiece of Madame Grognonne 'au natural' in a degree of comfort and style !!!

Elizabethd said...

I think you need to enquire whether Giverny would give you a long lease...think of the inspiration!
Maybe take up Patchwork instead?

PG said...

I too find that a nice smock and parasol are essential to the artistic experience (hem hem she said, looking at her grubby cords)
You are far too modest and demurring, I wonder if you have heard of the suffragette movement? I think Madame Grognonne would feel very much at home...

lixtroll said...

I would recommend that every young lady paintress, to complete her apparatus of happiness at the easel, should acquire a charming basket of peasant design, perhaps decked with bows to match the hat if it is to her taste. In this basket should be kept approx 3 litres of gin, whiskey, vodka or wine according to the young lady's preference.

Withy Brook said...

The comments are nearly as beautiful as your marvellous blog. I really do not feel I can compete!! Please send a picture of yourself at the easel, with your pretty hat and painter's smock on and a threequarter finished portrait of Mmme G. It might be better to omit the model, I'm not sure that we could stomach that!

Inthemud said...

Well I must say I am relieved that you have been talked out of taking the Committee position , not the thing for a lady!

But taking up Oil paiting, yes indeed, can we order now before you get famous!

Pondside said...

MOO darn, you've said it all already. Well here could host ,'Painting Holidays in France''ll need to visit some of the more important museums and galleries(I'm sure le Chef would agree) will need to establish a salon at which other like-minded (good looking young male) artists will come together to discuss'll become a mentor to these (young good-looking male) artists. Anyway, the possibilities are endless and you need never feel blue again!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

I can lend you the bell I hit Matron with . . . to er show it to the man of the house - I am sure, if he is musical, he would enjoy his head ringing.

muddyboots said...

l am sooo glad you are feeling your noraml self, l find a glass of pineau or even a single malt does help enormously & things although might be out of focus are back to their normal hilarious self.....hic

Blossomcottage said...

A famous artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of a billionaire’s wife, “She is not very beautiful” said the billionaire “Please paint her with empathy”.
Sometime later when the portrait was finished, it was unveiled for the billionaire, he was delighted with the painting of his wife but disappointed that the artist had painted a man behind his wife.
The man had his hands over the woman’s shoulders and down into her dress and he was grasping a bosom in each hand.

“Why have you painted this man” said the billionaire?

“Monsieur you ask me to paint your wife with empathy” said the artist.

I did not know what this means so I looked it up and it said

“Fellow feeling in the Bosom”

Blossom x!!