Thursday, 24 May 2007

Un Peu and the artist's models


The day Chez Loufoque did not start well. I had intended to be up with the lark and to commence my painting of Madame Grognonne preparing the petite déjeuner in the kitchen and therefore had left my easel canvas and paints in the hallway ready to plunge in as the muse caught me.
Sadly I had negated to alert other members of the household to my plans and therefore when Madame Grognonne entered the hall, in search of some tapers to light the fire, she tripped over my painting stool and fell down the stairs into the wine cellar. Luckily Henri Jacque Le Cravacher was at the bottom fetching absinthe for the horse and broke her fall.

Unfortunately the ensuing commotion woke the dogs who in turn awoke chief patissier who was furious at being disturbed and immediately demanded coffee and crepes without delay. This was a trifle awkward as, it being exceptionally early, Madame Grognonne had not yet lit the stove and therefore was forced to attempt to hastily prepare breakfast using nothing but a candle and a small griddle.

I am sure given time she would have succeeded admirably but we shall never know for, at a vital stage in the proceedings, youngest rushed into the kitchen to discover what the uproar had been about and his opening the door blew the candle flame rather alarmingly which caught Madame Grognonne’s apron strings alight, which in turn set fire to the oil cloth on the table. Youngest, showing great sense for his age and size, grabbed a container of water from the dresser and threw it at Madame Grognonne intending to extinguish the flames.

Sadly, unbeknown to him, the container was filled with kerosene for the lamp which rather exacerbated the situation and I am sure if it had not been for Henri having the good sense to throw Madame Grognonne to the ground and stamp on her we could have had a very nasty accident. As it was we discovered once the place had been set to rights and the stove lit that Chief Patissier had in fact retuned to his slumbers totally unaware that his ill temper had nearly cost us our housekeeper and our home. I can not help but feel that if only Madame Grognonne had shown the sense to turn on the electric light before venturing into the dark hallway all of this could have been avoided. I do sometimes wonder if domestic staff are not far more trouble than they are worth.

The unnecessary incident in the kitchen meant that I had to reconsider my plans for the day as I could hardly paint “servant preparing breakfast” as Madame Grognonne now had a bandage around her head and one arm in sling which I found most vexing. I therefore took my equipment out to the stables to commence instead on a study of “the groom at work” . However Henri was for some strange reason unwilling for me to paint his likeness citing Fatima’s excuse of his religion banning the depiction of the human face in art which I found most unbelievable. I know for a fact he was baptised a Christian and one has only to visit the village church and see the many depictions of saints in various stages of diverse forms of martyrdom to realise that it is out and out rubbish. Nevertheless there is no point in attempting to paint someone who refuses to stand still so I therefore went in search of another subject.

The children having gone already to school and Chief Patissier not being at his best in the mornings, I sought out Loic le Boiteux our gardener whom I knew was in the greenhouses tending to his cucumbers. Although regrettably Loic lost an arm and a leg during the war he remains an excellent gardener if a little slow at times. Sadly, having been rather shell shocked in the trenches he has somewhat of an unfortunate reaction to loud bangs which cause him to freeze in terror sometimes for hours on end. Although this does nothing for our vegetable production it had the possibility of being quite an assert for me terms of my paintings. Having crept up upon him in the far glass house I slammed the door hard and yelled loudly at the same time thus causing him to go rigid mid stoop. Thus I was able to spend a productive morning in the warmth of the glass house merrily painting Loic as “ The one legged gardener tending his plants” without interruption.

Despite all expectations to the contrary I therefore was lucky enough to spend a productive morning and complete another canvas before the midday repas. This afternoon I am contemplating seeking out Loic again as I have asked Madame Grognonne to tell him that I would like him to do some work in the flower garden, thus, providing I am able to startle him, I hope to add my composition of “One legged gardener pruning the roses” to my growing portfolio before dinner.


…………………………………………………………………………

The painting above is of the martyrdom of St Peter of Verona a copy of which hangs in our village church in between a painting of St Tremeur having his head cut off by his father, and another Breton saint suffering a similar fate. Proof if ever it were needed that it unwise for a child to anger their father. This painting obviously took some time to paint as one can clearly see that the models have become bored with the proceedings. The priest on the left of the picture seems to be holding some sort of discussion with his attacker which I suspect relates to what they planned to do after the sitting as he has the same expression as youngest and middle have when discussing whether to go hunting for birds nests or frogspawn after luncheon. Either way the fact remains that this is proof that Henri was , as I thought. in fact not telling the truth and the Christian church has no aversion to the depiction of the human form. Perhaps he is as I have suspected for some time merely shy.

13 comments:

Cait O'Connor said...

Reading your blog, which is just hilarious, is a wonderful way to start the day. Thank you!

ChrisH said...

Un Peu is truly dedicated to her art, isn't she. I did enjoy the explanation of the painting. Most enlightening.

The Country Craft Angel said...

YOu are so entertaining. And so knowledgeable. What a tonic.

warm wishes

sally's chateau said...

I am most impressed at the lengths to which Un Peu will go to for the sake of her beloved art, she is indeed an ingenious woman and to be admired I am sure.

Inthemud said...

What a catalogue of disasters!! Glad you managed to get painting in the end!!

LittleBrownDog said...

I so enjoy hearing of Un Peu's antics - but poor Mme Grognonne, though; is she not a bit singed? Mind you, how fortunate to have a gardener who can pose for hours on end. Can't wait to see the pictures.

muddyboots said...

as a child l used to love gruesome paintings

Tattie Weasle said...

Une Peu I am delighted you have so quickly found another muse in Loic and I so look forward to viewing your works. Do hope that Loic will be given enough time for weeding as I am in the unfortunate position of NOT being able to see my roses at all for weeds. My boy of all trades has sadly succumbed to the kissing disease and is hors de combat!

bodran... said...

what a turmoil!!!and what a clever idea with the gardener you had me in fits..xx,,advert in organic parents, lots of money and not very big and no replys as yet, fingers crossed..xo

Frances said...

A canvas completed? Well done. How do you know when the canvas is completed? Might you feel the slightest doubt, or even the hint of wonder that a return to the picture might be wise?
Are these canvases linen? Is the grain fine? Have you given consideration to what frames might be suitable?
Meanwhile here in New York, I once had lots of time to draw and paint and am quite unhappy that these pursuits currently run in last place, behind filling obligations that may not be at all meaningful to me. But they do pay the bills, so that may be a bit meaningful, afterall.
The pencils are called Inktense, and are manufactured by Derwent. Sometimes a catalyst is powerful ... that is why it is a catalyst!
Best wishes. xo

Pondside said...

Brilliant, Un Peu!!! You have found that all-important artistic niche in your one-legged gardiner! You could go on for a while with Loic and the four seasons, Loic as the various agrarian gods...the possibilities are endless.
Not surprised to hear that you are a fellow from-the-highlands Catholic - your stories are too clever and twisted to be written by anyone who had a sensible Lutheran upbringing!

Fennie said...

I am still trying to work out - picky person that I am - how you prune one handedly - let alone one leggedly - a Unidexter - as Peter Cook would have called him. Presumably Loic has some sort of crutch? But back to the roses? Does he hold them in his teeth while plying the secateurs? (I have just spelt that secatuers which is rather more dramatic). No doubt the finished canvas will fill us in on all these matters.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

LOL at un Peu's treatment of the gardener - very inventive . . .