Les Bouquets

Allo mes amis! Comment ca va? I hope all is well with you, it’s been a long time! Last time I checked in it was to talk about a book I’m working on that’s taking quite a bit of research. While that’s underway I needed a diversion and came across this image (below). It’s a sketch from the year 1735, a beautiful flower arrangement that had just begun to fill in with color yet was never finished. It struck me that each of the masterpieces we see today started with the simple act of putting pencil to paper. I had the urge to continue coloring it, remembering the fun it was as a child!

In fact, I was so charmed by it that I started to look for old images in the public domain that were similar, black and white sketches that would be fun to color; arrangements, single flowers and bouquets from a time when floral design and observation of botanicals was both a science and a high art. the idea came to create a coloring book for adults that was sophisticated and would be easy to use. It was a big task since most of the images needed adjusting, color correction and restoration. they often had seams in the center like the one below,

or were crooked and yellow, scanned at high resolution but not the best quality.

There was no shortage of out of print books and images to be had, and so, with the help of a talented assistant, we worked on each image to take out the flaws and retain as much of the detail as possible.

The results led to clear, highly detailled illustrations that are pretty to look at and, when even the slightest color goes on with colored pencils or pastels, they spring to life like mini masterpieces.

As I was putting it all together in the last stages, I was visiting my mom and she was very encouraging as i stayed up late learning about the process; creating the cover, the ins and outs of self publishing on amazon and all the little details that went into it. One night we printed out the entire book to see it in hand. She happened to have loads of colored pencils so for the next few nights after dinner, we sat down with tea to talk and without planning, gravitated toward filling in the images, surprised at how easy it was and the satisfaction we had with seeing the results.

Those evenings spent talking and laughing, as well as in silence and in contemplation are some that I’ll treasure forever. Coloring became a little respite for us, a way to create without having to be particularlly creative, a way to do something together yet totally independent. Everything stopped for awhile, there was no stress, just the pleasure of play, bringing back those fond childhood feelings of contentment.

We’re no rembrants but we stopped and admired and ooh’d and ahh’d at each other’s work

and giggled at who could have created this vase!

When we finished a few, i shot what we’d done to make a collage, then searched for flatlay images and put the photo of the colored pages in the space between the pencils (below).

The image of the book cover went on the flatlay shown in the first photo of the post.

After countless revisions, adjustments and tweaks, voila! it was uploaded to amazon and the book is live now!

Each copy is printed on demand right here in the USA.

I’ve learned so much from this process, not the least of which is to continue learning. everything’s daunting until we do it once, non? If you’re interested in hearing more about it let me know and I’ll go step by step.

There are so many resources online to help with every aspect and I recommend sites like the Internet Archive, Fivver and Rawpixel to make the tasks easier.

With that, I promised to give atttibution to the images used to create the flatlays, so thank you to the creative artists on Rawpixel and Freepik and the incredible resources that are available to us all!

If you or someone you love might enjoy this book to de-stress, meditate or just plain old play, head on over to Amazon and get a copy of Les Bouquets. For every book sold, food will be donated to our local shelter where so many animals are in need of nourishment and comfort.

Well, I hope you enjoyed catching up, I sure have missed my blog friends. So for now mes amis, have a beautful, colorful day!

PS if you leave a comment you’ll be in the drawing to win a free copy! Winner announced next friday :)

October 27, 2022. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . 1700s, Coloring Book, Les Bouquets. 20 comments.

Conversation Starters

Paris, Palais Royale, Marais 1600s

Bonjour mes amis, ca va?

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve typed those simple little words, close to a year by the looks of it. I miss those carefree days of checking in, coming here just to rendezvous together for a bit with you. But life sped ahead, and somehow the blog got pushed to the bottom of the list, patiently waiting for the day a keystroke would bring it back to the forefront, remaining still as each day passed. And of course so much has happened with all of us, it’s hard to recap. So we won’t, let’s just take it from here.

So what’s going on? Well, I’m back to the blog and biz and thought it might be fun to tell you about a project that’s been brewing for years and is finally underway. Not to give too much of a spoiler but of course it’s Paris related (an obsession of infinite inspiration), but it starts an entire century before the Versailles era we’ve come to equate with the old Paris we’re so familiar with. That glorious time had a predecessor, and it was filled with the darkest of the dark and brightest of the bright in terms of everything from society to science.

The project is a book series on the Salon Hostesses of Paris; the women who, starting with Madame Rambouillet in the 1600s, used their homes for intimate gatherings with locals of all status from the famous to the infamous, to discuss how they would change a decadent, debaucherous and dangerous city into one that celebrated gallantry, manners, preservation of the language, art, litterature, dance, theater and philosophy. And change it they did. Madame Rambouillet was the first salon hostess, an innocently self-created position brought on by her revulsion to the happenings at the Louvre which included immoralilty, backstabbing and general chaos by which she was disgusted and retreated completely into her own world and was determined to have, do and be something different, something beautiful and civilized and precious. She decided to renovate a house close to the palace and named it Hôtel de Rambouillet. She designed it to be grand and open so the light would pour in and her guests could circulate. She used the doors and windows to merge indoor and outdoor living, and created what was to become a place of legend, the Chambre Bleu, where she hosted many evenings from her alcove bed. Through her gracious spirit and ability to inspire, she was a muse and encouraged and extruded conversation from her brilliant writers and thinking guests and who ushered in the Age of Reason and Age of Enlightenment. Conversations were key; they were the foundation of the salon. Discussion, wit, observation, encouragement, appreciation, speculation were all the rage and were often recorded by the guests once they got home.

Of course the story of her life and those surrounding her was outrageously monumental and her legacy is staggering but we’ll leave that to the book! What’s fascinating is how much there is to discover, the records that were kept, the private notes of the guests. Even more remarkable is how one woman was able to influence an entire culture so many centuries ago by simply facilitating conversation and celebrating it as an art.

Engraving of the Grounds, Hotel de Rambouillet: Perspective view of Paris in 1607 from a copperplate by Leonard Gaultier. The Hôtel de Rambouillet is a Parisian hotel known for the literary salon of Catherine de Vivonne (Madame de Rambouillet) held from 1608 until her death in 1665. It was located on rue St-Thomas du Louvre (street perpendicular to rue St-Honoré, approximately on the site of the current Turgot pavilion of the Louvre).

I love digging up old images and records of the property as it was developing. It’s absolutely fascinating that someone would make an engraving like this one above to commemorate the venue.

Blueprints for L’Hotel de Rambouillet

Or this drawing of the beginning ideas for the Hotel de Rambouillet – By today’s terms, a model sketch or blueprints, even graph paper!

Rendering, Hotel de Rambouillet, Paris

This little drawing of the plot may be my favorite and I’d love to find the entire map. The record keeping and documents are just incredible. This was at a time that Paris was exploding. In 1600, Paris was the largest city in europe and growing by the day. We rarely think of those whose hands built the city brick by brick, they’re long forgotten. But they do live on in so many ways, don’t they? The 1600s on one hand was a modern era with many minds being open to building techniques, style nature, mathematics, astronomy and countless inventions including the microscope, the telescope and thermometer. Just to put things into perspective though, Notre Dame was started in the 1100s! C’est fou, non?

But that’s another story.

Anyway I better get back to work but am glad to reconnect. If you’re interested in learing more or want to get on the list for pre-order, let me know. Till then, have a wonderful weekend, hopefully filled with meaningful convos!

August 12, 2022. Tags: , , , . RAMBOUILLET. 6 comments.

“a book is a gift you can open again and again” -Garrison Keillor

bonjour friends, i hope you’re having a lovely sunday. i have to admit it’s been a lazy day but that seems to be the only way to take time to leaf through the pages of my favorite books. there are so many books and so little time as some wise soul once said. are you obsessed with beautiful books? for some of us they’re treasured friends, constant and reassuring, they transport us and show us something different each time we open them.

i started looking for a pretty book to add to my mom’s collection since she always has them displayed on her coffee table. i got lost in a world of volumes i’d love to have myself and still haven’t decided which will be best for her birthday. she’s a traditionalist but has a modern streak. her bold style still influences me to this day. anyway i couldn’t resist putting them all together even if it’s just in a virtual library via this blog post. if you have a fave or one i should look into let me know. till then i hope you enjoy this little collection and maybe get some inspiration for yourself. the one below is tempting me to try a saffron shade to contrast my one pink wall. click on the cover to see more images and what’s inside with a link to amazon. happy browsing!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

Charles W. Eliot

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Jhumpa Lahiri

“The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book.”

Northrop Frye

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.”

Charles Baudelaire

“It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  

Jane Austen

“A book is a dream you hold in your hands.”

Neil Gaiman

“No two persons ever read the same book.”

Edmund Wilson 

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.”

Emilia Fox

May 23, 2021. Books, Decorating, Friends, Life. 3 comments.

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