Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Best Job in the World

Bill Davidson, Painting in Provence
We've just completed a heavenly week of painting in Provence with our artist and "professeur" Bill Davidson, which was so much fun and so perfect and went by so very fast that is seems like a distant, fleeting dream.  Luckily we've got the "goods" to prove that it really happened, and some fabulous photos taken by Bill and a few of the ladies on the trip.
Here was the setting in Provence:
A magical backdrop of the Luberon valley in Provence
First night's lecture on the terrace of Les Murets
Add to that seven talented and committed artists, and give them a brush, a palette, a blank canvas and a drop dead gorgeous view (and maybe a little food and wine from time to time), and look what you've got:
Sydney, capturing the morning light on the vineyard down the street from our house
Carol, capturing one of the most iconic views in Provence
Elizabeth, catching the light off the top of the vines
Leslie, focused on shapes and values and all the space in between
Mary Jo, politely fighting off all the admirers who were hiking to Gordes
Tei, who couldn't believe her eyes when she first saw this view
Debbie ("Woohoo!"), are we having fun yet?
Add a charming, delightful, patient, encouraging, and ever-so-talented Professeur named Bill Davidson, who made it seem so easy, and so much fun ...
Le professeur in Gordes
The work that these artists created speaks for itself.  Here are some of the studies that came out of this workshop, which will be turned into little masterpieces in the next weeks to come (and shown at Huff Harrington's annual Bastille Day Celebration, opening on July 14th at Huff Harrington Fine Art):
Vineyards with a Provencal house in the background
The challenging composition of roofs and angles
View of the Luberon Valley next to Gordes

And the marvelous vertical accents of the cypress trees that dot the beautiful countryside.
For one of us, the highlight was being with seven wonderful, enthusiastic and talented women, plus one heck of a fun guy, in a gorgeous, challenging setting that , as one of the women said, was a picture perfect painting around every corner.  Luckily, these die-hards had to stop for lunch every once in a while, and so we enjoyed some delicious, festive meals in some of the best restaurants tucked away in the Luberon Valley.
Lunch under the plane tree in Oppede le Vieux
Roughing it at the Bastide de Gordes!
On the last evening, we were all on the edge of our seats as the Professeur wielded his magic palette and offered a constructive critique of the works, making a few discreet suggestions with his ever active paint brush.
Sydney, taking it all in, surrounded by the little jewels
Le Professeur performing his energetic critique on the final night
I think it's fair to say that this was a hugely successful trip all around.  The artists, who had all studied with Bill Davidson before, knew him well and appreciated his style, and were able to learn so much from him in this unique environment.  For his part, Bill, whose enthusiasm is completely contagious, loved the area and was thrilled by the work that all his students did (and the sketches that will be his inspiration for many paintings to come ... can't wait!).   And for the lucky hostess, this was just another bit of proof that I may have the best job in the world.  Thank you painters, thank you Bill, and thank you Meg, for letting me go! Oh, and can I sign up for the next one?
Why is this woman smiling?
Ta ta ...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Painting in Paradise

Right now, a group of completely lovely and fun ladies (and one super nice and talented guy) are mixing paints, plotting compositions, cleaning brushes...all while sipping a nice chilled rose and drinking in the glorious sights, sounds and aromas of Provence.

Bill Davidson, one of our exceptionally gifted representational artists, is leading this little expedition - and reports from the field indicate that dinners at the base camp (Les Murets) are lingering into the wee hours and laughter can be  heard throughout the day and evening.
Bill Davidson: Le Professeur.
This isn't Bill's first painting workshop and the ladies accompanying him on this trip are longtime fans of his luminescent and lively work.
Bill's an enormously talented plein-air painter.
However, it is the first time they're all come together in Provence and we are hearing that these serious and committed artists are loving the daily selection of mind-blowingly beautiful scenery they get to paint.  There have been a few last-minute location changes (mostly due to the unpredictable mistral, the blustery wind that can pop up unexpectedly and wreck havoc with art supplies and paper towels.)
This little Provence piece is pure Bill Davidson...
Bill's paintings are warm, vibrant and full of light. (A Respite Corner, 11 x 14, oil on canvas)
We've been begging Ann (who is keeping an eye on the group for us) to fill us in on all the funny stories that we know are happening on the trip so far...and here's the first report:

"Today our little group was painting in Gordes and they began to attract a huge crowd of onlookers.  Bill was busy painting away and creating this drop-dead beautiful painting that had everyone ooohing and aahing.  He stepped away for a second...and one of his protegees walked right up to the painting, grabbed the brush and began acting like the painting was hers.  The spectators begain complimenting her and asking her about her technique and she was able to bask in the limelight until Bill turned around, saw her and playfully burst her bubble.  The protegee confessed over wine at lunch and had everyone howling..."
Bill in action in Gordes.
Here's the view that group had this morning...
The painting that had everyone oooohing and ahhhhing.
So far, their itinerary sounds like a little dream come true: starting off the day with a light and abundantly fresh breakfast at Les Murets, followed by a couple of hours of intense painting (and maybe a quick browse through a bustling and loud local market...)  That's a lot of hard work and sustenance is definitely in order after that, so the next few hours probably involve a delicious lunch and plenty of wine.
Lunch for hungry painters.
The multi-tasking Christophe who drives us - and pours the wine at lunch. He's handsome, too.
And the afternoon wraps up with several hours of painting an impossibly gorgeous landscape with expert instruction from Bill.  Another day's adventure might include a trip to Cassis, the picturesque fishing village near Marseille - a light-drenched painter's paradise - or a visit to a spectacular private garden.
The picture perfect harbor at Cassis.
A private tour of a spectacular garden was also on the adgenda.
As the sun is setting, dinner is served on the terrace at Les Murets...more fresh and locally-sourced food and plenty of red, white and rose to wash it all down. Yum.
Dinner on the terrace.
The good news is that we are already thinking about painting trips for next year -  and we're sure they'll fill up as quickly as you can say "wet paint."  We're hoping we can persuade Bill to come back and we think we've convinced the exuberant and lively Nancy Franke to do a couple workshops, too.
We'll be confirming dates in the next few months and if you think this sounds like a perfect trip for you, click here. We'll be in touch.

Ta ta...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Make Mom's Day...

With Mother's Day right around the corner (May 13), we're busy as little bees around here helping our dear customers and clients find exactly the right thing for their Maman.  And, while it's true we have a treasure trove of gifties here at the store, we love coming up with creative suggestions, too.  So, when we are asked our humble opinion, here's what we're saying:

Mom'll love keeping her white wine (and red, too!) perfectly chilled with The Corkcicle. We love this and wish we had invented it. $24.99.
This will keep Mom's wine perfectly chilled.
Be scent-imental with our divine selections of subtle candles. We especially adore the delicate green tea scent that we buy in France. From $42.00.
These candles have the lightest and most subtle scent.

Baubles: need we say more? We have a gorgeous collection of interesting, unusual and just plain fun jewelery. From $35.00.
Baubles for Mom are always a sure bet.

Pool Chic: we found these Tunisian foutas in France and love them for their multitude of purposes.  Surprise your mom with a couple of colorful ones, perfectly monogrammed, for her porch, pool or patio.  $42.00.
These French foutas have zillions of uses - from pool towel to table cloth and just about everything in between.

Magic Massage: all of us Huffingtons adore massages and, in particular, we like our local Massage Envy studios.  How about a series of hour-long massages for your maman?

Stylishly Shod:  ballet flats...in a bag: we couldn't resist these when we saw them.  Elegant, easy and sexy leather or suede ballet flats that fold up into a cute little leather pouch for traveling. We'd love a pair in every color. $175.00.
Just about the chic-est and softest ballet flats we've come across...

In the Bag: if you pop by the store, you can tell we love bags of all shapes, sizes and colors.  We've got a big selection of our favorites.  From about $50.00.
A stylish tote or bag will go a long way with Mom.

Abundant Flowers: yes, we know...everyone buys flowers for Mom. But what about calling a specialty florist and having something extraordinary done? We love Lush Life, which is right down the street from us.
Lush Life is right down the street from us...and we love them.
We adore art and nothing makes us happier than being the recipient of an original painting.  Check out local art festivals for inspired and emerging artists or stop by your favorite gallery.
Nancy Frank's "Nuance" 44 x 44, oil on canvas. Drool, drool.

And, we know we moms would ADORE something like this:
Maybe two tickets on our favorite airline:
Economy is fine...

And, dinner here...
This would be sublime...
Is that asking too much?  Okay, we all know it's about the gesture and the thought, not the purchase.  So, this looks really good...
Breakfast in Bed? Perfect!
And we'd be thrilled with some love, affection and attention on the side, please.

Happy Mother's Day...

Ta ta.