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The Healing Power of Art through Sketchbooking

 Last Month, Renee Phillips, contacted me about writing an article about the Healing Effects of Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. She writes a blog called The Healing Power of  The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS website publicizes art, artists and art organizations that enhance the well-being of individuals and society through art. Renee had read about my Sketchbooking classes at the NY Open Center in February and March 2015 and was intrigued.  So many people have discovered this activity and habit of recording their life on paper in a book with words and images. They literally sketch and watch their ideas, thoughts, observations and “life” take shape and form on paper!…. She interviewed me and here are a few excerpts from the May 21, 2015 article on her blog:

"Healing Power of Art" article by Renee Phillips about Lois Bender and Sketchbooking

RP: I’ve heard both terms used —  Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. Are they the same kind of activity?

LB: Both terms describe writing and image-making in a journal, sketchbook or notebook. The terms are interchangeable. Although Art Journaling emphasizes the image aspect, words and images are usually combined in both Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. They both convey the notion of the personal and subjective recording of your experiences. This activity keeps you “in practice,” just as perhaps “Piano scales” do for a pianist.



RP: Lois, what are the benefits you derive from Art Journaling?

LB: Creativity, self-reflection and emotional expression come together in Art Journaling. It’s an act of “personal integration,” connecting your thoughts, emotions and subjects you enjoy. I always incorporate color in my sketchbooks. My medium of choice is watercolor because the flow of water is so healing.  Art Journaling  serves as an “alternative selfie” record of one’s experiences.  Anyone can make Art Journaling a fun activity and life practice to promote self-awareness and personal development.



RP: Lois, when did you start doing Art Journaling?

LB: As an art student I was encouraged by my art teachers to keep an Art Journal and developed the habit. Art Journaling improves one’s art style and voice because you make frequent drawings and see a sequential development. I have kept one going especially while drawing and painting onsite from nature. When traveling, especially in Paris, I always keep one!  To read the interview in full, please go to

Manhattan Arts Intl Media founded by Renee Phillips


 Renee Phillips,  founder of Manhattan Arts International, has benefited so many artists with her personal in-depth focus and blogging on all the exciting and diverse work being created today. She advocates for the healing role art plays in our lives. Additionally, her Manhattan Arts International programming promotes artistic excellence through curated online art programs, theme exhibitions, and social media communities. As the Director, arts advocate and author, Renee launched this website after publishing Manhattan Arts International magazine for 17 years. She also offers a wealth of experience and expertise through her consulting services for artists which can be found on her website

About Renee Phillips
Renée Phillips is an author, arts writer, and curator who lives in New York, NY. She is founder and director of Manhattan Arts International,, and executive editor of The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS. She has curated more than 60 art exhibitions including the annual “The Healing Power of Art” exhibitions. As an arts’ advocate she has served on the advisory boards of several non-profit arts organizations. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. She runs an artists’ career consultant website at Renée operated Manhattan Arts International magazine 1983 – 2000.


Watercolor and Sketchbooking classes with Lois Bender


It’s “April in Paris” Gardens in NY Today!

Les Tuileries, Watercolor by Lois Bende

I just wish I was in Paris to see the Spring this year !   ….so the next best thing is to experience a virtual Spring in “the Painted Gardens of Paris!” in NY!  Imagine a stroll under the new leaves and blossoms everywhere. I really loved exploring the Parisian Parcs and “Jardins!” and am thrilled to have a show of the work….. “April in Paris…..Chestnuts in Blossom……” The Song….music composed by Vernon Duke and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg just puts a smile on my face…..and when sung by Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong…..the smile just spreads….. See Carol Gillot’s Post on April 6 about “April in Paris!” to see Paris in early Spring a few days ago… I asked her to take a walk in J du Lux for me while thinking of the song!

So let’s take a stroll in the Paris Gardens in NY !



The opening is tonight and I am there on Thursday evenings, Fridays and Saturday!
Merci! and hope to see you there sometime! A bientot!

Atlantic Gallery, 547 W 2t St or 548 W 28 St., NY,  Ste. 540

April 7 – May 2, 2015   •  Hrs. 12 – 6 pm  Tuesday – Saturday, Thursday till 8 pm.

Opening Reception Thursday April 9, 2015

5 – 8 pm

Let’s Toast and Celebrate Paris Gardens!

Show invitation

And Visit   later today to see publicity!!!!

French District-Lois Bender-April in Paris_0634

November’s Notebook of Flowers and Farewell to Fall!

Notebook-Flowers-Cahiers-Nov2014November’s here Today and Gone Tomorrow! And Gone all the Beauty of Fall whizzing by… My November “Notebook of Flowers” shows a Falling Leaf and bouquets of Ilex berries, Autumn Roses, Hydrangeas, Red Anemones and Tulips in Autumnal Rustic Reds, Browns and Oranges….


a Fall Bouquet in the studio….


a quick but large sketch of 22″ X 30″… showing a light touch…. inspired by all my Fall Travels!


Fall’s cornucopias of gourds and pumpkins, and squashes and corn…..


Bushels of Thanksgiving Bounty….


Abound in landscaping everywhere as a last hurrah before winter!!!


And especially the Chrysanthemums brought my eyes a feast of colors…


Chrysanthemums caught my fancy this fall…. they were everywhere in beautiful big mounds!!


and mounds!….




and  mounds!



and mounds!!!



and mounds! … Inspiration for my Notebook of Flowers pages!…..


Grapes, pumpkins, chrysanthemums!


Oranges and Purrples


Purples and Oranges….


Pots and pots and…..


Pots of Chrysanthemums in the Plaza by the 5th Avenue Apple Store….


An explosion of Mums wherever you go!


overflowing in pots or …..


in front of the Hampton LIbrary, Bridgehampton


and in flower beds decorating NYC apartment buildings’ properties.


They say that Chrysanthemums are the last flower of Autumn… They are right!


My October Notebook of Flowers! Looking for Chrysanthemums everywhere, I found them also at


The Rockefeller Estate, Kykuit, in Sleepy Hollow, a place I finally visited, featuring extraordinary views and


a modern art collection including decorative glass sculpture by Tiffany,  gorgeous “Mum” landscaping,


A Rockefeller Garden in late Autumn, a Fall Finale to gardens everywhere until Spring!


but not a goodbye to Fall Chrysanthemums!as they are my featured flower in


 my October Notebook of Flowers/ Cahiers de Fleurs……I decided to paint flower and nature studies and share them with you in a notebook journal style for purchase on Etsy…..Each month I will paint a few pages of art in journal style and create reproduction prints on watercolor paper (8.5″ x 11″) and send them to you…. Available by Single Months or as  a 12-month Subscription. Choose a vertical single image or a double page spread format. Available now on Etsy. Original Art Watercolors will be available for sale soon on Etsy too.


November features Autumn Bouquets! “Notebooks of Flowers” Watercolor Prints can make great gifts….thinking ahead to December!   Savor the beauty of monthly watercolors of gardens, flowers and nature in “Notebooks of Flowers”  from GardenSpiritsNY!  Farewell to Fall and  Greetings to “Notebooks of Flowers”!

Seduced! By Monet’s Gardens and Giverny, a “Stage-Set” Village for Painting Floral Scenes Everywhere!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Join me at Giverny!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

“THE” Bridge of Giverny….. I painted this iconic image after hours with an evening “Artist’s Pass” at Giverny with only 20 artists working in the gardens….. How luxurious to have a clear “non-peopled” view of this bridge….

Monet's Giverny Bridge

With plantings of bamboo (great texture!) next to the bridge, extending the Japanese influence that Monet loved.

Monet's Giverny Bridge

I am painting here about 7 pm on a lovely June evening!

Monet's Giverny Boats

and here are the boats that show up in Monet’s paintings!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

My sketch trying for the panorama and the great evening light on the scene!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Back in the studio, I enlarged the scene as a diptych using 2 Arches  30″ w x 22″ h sheets for a panorama. But where do I begin to tell you how I got to paint in the evening here? ….Well…..

Carol Gillot's "Paris Breakfasts" Bog

HERE!…….. This is yesterday’s blogpost,, by Carol Gillot (who I met this trip!) who blogs (8 years) and paints “watercolor dreams” about “la vie en Paris,”  her view of Parisian & French life, art, style and lifestyle with tips, observations, humor, etc. in such a captivating and well-loved blog that virtually all Francophiles and Paris Lovers eventually learn about it by word of mouth, etc. As a fellow watercolorist, Paris Lover, and New Yorker, I’ve followed her for years…. She started blogging, inspired by her love of Paris, her “artist’s eye” and her watercolors of Paris café fare….

Carol Gillot French Pastry Photo

and “FOOD,” especially gorgeous French pastries, photographed or painted. She finally moved to Paris in 2013….

Carol's Gillot;s Josephine

She posts on Culture, Retail Stores, Outdoor Markets and Art Shows, such as this blogpost on the current art show at the Palais du Luxembourg on Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s wife, the taste maker of her day… And today’s media such as The Huffington Post and The New York Times have written about and lauded Carol’s postings. Subscribing to her Paris Breakfasts blog is like getting a daily taste and vision of Paris in your mailbox…. (She now offers subscriptions to a monthly “Letter from Paris!”)  Soooo…..

Carp;ine Homes Nuckolls teaching at the ARt Colony Giverny

 Carol G posted in 2013 about her visit ito Caroline Homes Nuckolls’ yearly “Art Colony Giverny” Painting Workshops, one  of which Caroline had invited her to for a week. Carol had blogged enthusiastically about it, and so Carol asked me to meet Caroline this year….for an evening of painting with her in Monet’s Gardens. Thank you Caroline! Her Workshops have been running successfully for 13 years.

Art Colony Giverny

The workshops look exciting…. Imagine setting up your easel on Monet’s Bridge!

Art Colony Giverny.Caroline’s website explains the special quality of her workshops in Giverny….She offers a complete Painting and French country experience, painting at different locations in Giverny in addition to Monet’s Gardens…..Painting with Caroline was a memorable evening…. Workshops in Giverny are perfect for a garden and art lover….

Geraniums at Monet's House

My view at 6 pm of Monet’s Geranium Beds!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Quick sketch!


Painters around Monet’s Waterlily Pond!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

I’m painting the pond too! but with imagined wisteria blooms!  Again!

Goodbye View of Monet;'s Garden

The end of the evening and a lovely last view of Monet’s Flower Bed Gardens…. and Giverny, the village ?

Giverny Map

The town brochure has a fun clear map of which this is a part!






scenes and images


everywhere you turn


to paint

Giverny Nympheas Restaurant

and shop and eat…. Here’s Nymphéas, a Restaurant and Boutique just opposite Monet’s Home.

Mme Baudy's Restaurant

And here’s the famous site of the hotel owned then by a Mme. Baudy, (now a popular restaurant), where Monet’s artist friends stayed on their visit to Giverny, many of them Americans.

Mme Baudy's Restaurant

and the charmingly shaded outdoor cafe/restaurant! Reservations, Please! And there’s a beautiful garden as well….


And the Impressionist Museum is a delight! Founded by Americans and managed by the Louvre…


This exhibition pays tribute to all the American Artists who supported and appreciated Monet so early on….

Musee Impressionism Garden

This garden design is part of the fabulous Musée Impressionism’s Garden of which these 2 plants humorously portray a “haystack!” cut in half horizontally.

Capucine Cafe

Earlier in the day, before meeting Caroline, I relaxed and took “un café” at “La Capucine,” a popular cafe next to the Tourism office, Tea Salon, Gift Shop and Botanical Flower Shop where I watched “Giverny Life” go by.

Capucine Cafe

What a charming cafe?

Capucine Cafe

and outdoor seating!

Capucine Cafe

looking out towards the plants for sale!

Capucine Cafe

and thinking that would make a great painting!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois BenderEverywhere is a painting waiting to be painted…. The Gardens, The B&Bs, the Streets!   The Seduction is complete….. When am I going back ???   A Bientot!  Soon!  Soon!

Giverny Brochure

Thank you Monet!!!!, Carol Gillot !!!!,

Caroline Homes Nuckolls ! and Giverny!!!!

Wouldn’t you like to paint in Giverny next year !?!?!?

Follies “Monceau,” La Vie Romantique and Monet’s Giverny, Ville de Fleurs


Who isn’t enchanted by the wonderful cursive organic Art Nouveau Metro Designs by French architect Hector Guimard? What would Paris be without “His Metro?”  Monceau is a Park with a storied history….


A French Duke of Orleans bought the land of Parc Monceau in 1769 and asked Louis Carrogis, called Carmontelle, creator of “fetes” and spectacles, to create garden picturesque “scenes” of illusions of different eras and countries. This “picturesque” style became the vogue style in the era of French Rococo and Parc Monceau had “Collections” of a Dutch windmill, classical Roman ruins, Eqyptian oblilesks and pyramids, English garden styles, etc. A Round Greek Temple with a colonnade as seen above was added by French architect Nicolas Ledoux as an official “office” for the garden… Nice Office.


This is a circular Roman Colonnade was part of a Naumachia, referring back to to ancient Greek and Roman world where the emperors (Julius Caesar, being the first one) had festivals called Naumachias (greek for Naval Combat). It was part of the “stage set” surrounding a basin for “Naval Battles” as mass entertainment ….They  were like Hollywood productions using 6000 prisoners of war and digging basins or using the Tiber, with real combat and death, all to create an entertainment spectacle.(Wikipedia fills in some facts!)  Unbelievable.


One would never guess the historic meaning of this lovely colonnade….
A “Folly” bien sur!


A “Miniature Folly” is in this Petit Pont and River inviting a petite promenade….
My watercolor of it is buried in a suitcase…. The royal property was taken by the French government after the French Revolution, and finally refashioned by Alphand (public works creator) under grand designs of Haussmann and Napolean III  to recreate Paris’ urban plan with a plentiful park system. The Bridge and river, Grotto and cascade, the Naumachia colonnade, Roman Arch, and pyramid are some elements that have been preserved.


……giving us a trace of the Egyptian World.


The Monceau quarter is a very upscale neighborhood with wealthy families of that day, Pereire, Rothschild, Cernuschi, Ménier, Camondo members using the park and creating its reputation and allure. Monet painted the rich bourgeoisie promenading here! A park that is very popular today was a “garden cabinet of curiosities” in its original day. Marcel Proust played here as a child…. Did he have a premonition of  “Remembrance of Things Past” here ?!  Just imagining…..!
But more of Monet a little later…. when he’s not busy painting at Parc Monceau…


The contemporary “Folly” of Merry-Go-Rounds is everywhere in Paris’ Parks
as is an adult essential: Wifi!


I couldn’t resist a “Go” at a Merry-go-Round! And the Chestnut Trees!

Parc-Monceau-Chestnut Trees

 The Chestnuts are beautiful trees to paint and their blooms are fantastic in late April/early May.

La Vie Romantique-Jatdin-Musée

And now leaving the Follies for the Romance of the 19th century world of Ary Sheffer’s Montmartre home and garden and the legendary visitors of the Romantic Period and Style in Literature, Music and Art, Chopin, George Sand, Delcacroix and friends….

vie romantique-1s

A long tree canopied path leads to  to home and garden, now a museum, and hidden in the heart of Montmartre.


the courtyard…. Horse and Carriages imagined here in the 1840s with Chopin and George Sand arriving…


The entrance to the museum with tourists taking a break….


The entrance to the garden….


with it’s lovely leisurely ambience…


and light and congeniality…. Too inviting not to paint….


In fact I had time to paint 2 sketches…..The warm light was joyous….


The garden is waiting for you to have a seat!


And the romance and spirit of the Romantics—of people enjoying themselves
continues to today!  The garden is delight!


An now for Giverny! Monet’s Paradise and  Garden Lover Mecca!
Did you know that the artists going to Giverny can get an Artist Pass to paint in the gardens from 5:30 pm to 8 pm on weekday evenings!? More to come as I am lingering at the Musée and Jardin de la Vie Romantigue too long and need to go the Giverny another day!  With all this Garden “Galloping,” one needs to take a break at beautiful garden cafes!  Un café élongé, si vous plait! ….Perfect! …L’Aprés-midi Parfait!!  ….. Giverny, La prochaine!




Flora, Fauna and Follies…a Roundelay of Gardens in Paris

Parc Florale Paris


Parc Florale Paris

Flora: Beautiful Giant, Giant, Giant Rhododendrums are hiding in the Parc Floral, a contemporary-designed showcase park, in eastern Paris in the Bois Vincennes opposite the Chateau Vincennes…. Photomontage of many big plants above!

Parc Florale

The combination of the Rhododendrums and tall white Pines impress!

Parc Florale Paris

Especially on the dreary rainy day in May that I visited and was surprised by the gorgeous Rhododendrums….There is always something in bloom in gardens, contrasting gardens that just bloomed or are about to bloom !
Parc Florale Paris

Above shows the “in between” plantings time from April’s blooms to June’s blooms….The park hosts fantastic events and concerts in the summer here…..Motto for May: Don’t leave home without your umbrella/parapluie!

Parc Florale Paris Watercolor by Lois Bender

When you’re so excited about color, it’s hard to remember to leave white space….. here’s a first wet into wet layer that dried; then, I added the accents of bright color.  Wet into Wet on a larger scale is just bigger “Charging in color” and tilting the paper to control the runny pools of watery paint!   Charge!

Parc Florale Paris Watercolor by Lois Bender

Here’s more white space! A Good Rule: Stop when you think your watercolor is “unfinished!” because the white space reads as light, connecting the form and color! I forget that the unfinished quality has this strong power of suggestion.

Parc Florale

You can get lost looking at all the Rhododendrums, but the fun signage points the way….


and now for the Fauna! in the next Garden to the south…Parc Montsouris, a 14th arrondissement urban park in the “landscape style” innovated by the 19th c. Alphonse Alphand under Baron Haussmann’s direction in 1878, is done in a grand “man-made” style with sloping lawns, majestic trees, circular flowerbeds and allées with landscaped scenic vistas, custom-designed for promenading by nature-craving industrial age city-dwellers — a style subsequently imitated worldwide….(Central Park?)

Parc Monsouris in Paris

This watercolor vignette of a meandering park corner gives the woodsy bucolic tranquility on another!… rainy day in the park….Then I wandered upon the lake where under some small dwarf pines, to my surprise,

Photo-Parc-Montsouris-2 Black Swans

I found my very own “Black Swan Lake,” home to many wildlife birds, including 2 Blacks Swans and their 2 baby swan(lings?)s! Never seeing black swans before, and seeing they really exist, was startling to me….

Parc Montsouris

An actual real contrast to our very own East Hampton pair of swans in the pond by Guild Hall….Perhaps the swans can do an exchange program for a year so we can see black swans in East Hampton for a year….And speaking of Fauna, did you know…?

Kangaroos at the Jardin des Plantes

that Paris has its very own Kangaroos residing at the Jardin de Plantes’ Zoo (Paris’ Botanical Garden and Zoo) …..YES, Quelle revelation!


This 18th c. Garden, founded in the Age of Enlightenment by France’s great Men of Science, has great educational programming in all “Flora and Fauna” as I learned! while searching for the “Rosarie” Garden


in front of the great 18th c. architecture…..before another round of rain, “La Pluie”…..


…. now time to run into a “McDo,” MacDonald’s for “un café and wifi”…. before I face the “Follies”

Jardin du Albert Kahn

On another day (note finally the sun!) I followed Frenchman Pierre’s (of Pierre’s Restaurant in Bridgehampton) advice not to miss the Musée et Jardin du Albert Kahn, a place paying tribute to the 19-20th c. outstanding businessman-diplomat who believed in world peace through understanding the world cultures. Both Pierre….and Kahn….are right!  The Musée’s 5 Gardens represent different world cultures, of which the Japanese Garden is truly an amazing example of landscape design in the eccentric design genre or “Follies,” using surprises of textures, constructions, shapes, layerings, color and materials like Bonsai miniature trees on platforms standing in the ponds, conical pyramids in stone, tricks of scale and size, sharp color contrasts…. There’s an imported Tea House and Village…. It’s just eye candy everywhere you turn!…..


Textures bombarding you in unusual designs…. See the “Dot Motif” in the Pines and stones….
New England stone walls were never like this….


The repetitions of  the Cone shape in topiary-shaped plants…. yet not at all like French Formal Design, Bien Sur!

Jardin du Albert-Kahn

And the reflections in the pool were incredible…. so many great photos I couldn’t put into this blog….Jardin du Albert-Kahn

I got so involved in “noodling” the details of this watercolor! The intensity of the yellows & blues captivated me….

Jardin du Albert-Kahn Watercolor by Lois Bender

Red leaves of the Japanese Trees in Spring add range and variety to a non-autumnal garden! I just kept widening my eyes and dropping my jaw at seeing so much invention, conception and innovation in”artifice and style” here in the layerings of shapes of colors!


But French Gardens have their own conceptual “Follies” style of exotic themes, a garden style originating in the 1700s. I leave you here at Parc Monceau in the northern “quartier” of Paris which has its very own Metro Monceau to continue the Garden Tour next blog with Parc Monceau (with exotic, fanciful, romantic and picturesque jardins a la mode). In this “Painting the Gardens of Paris” tour, time for an Intermission, D’accord, “ok?” ….Mais, oui!!…… I leave CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine, tomorrow for Paris for a few days before returning to NY. So many Gardens, so little time, ….but time to take a breath for a relaxing end to the tour!

Voulez-vous Promenader sur La Promenade Plantée (the French “HighLine!” ) ou Musée Rodin, peut-être!?


France was first, before Chelsea, NY, at transforming an abandoned railway line (in the 12e Arrondissement)—the old Vincennes Railway, running 2.9 miles east of the Opera Bastille to Bois Vincennes—into a “green belt” of a continuous pathway park promenade called Promenade Plantée where it descends below street level with tunnels eastward from Parc Reuilly (midway) and called Viaduc des Arts where the railway was elevated on an archway trestle viaduct running parallel to Rue Daumesnil near the Opera Bastille. How clever of the French to create a series of artisan specialty shops—the Viaduc of the Arts—into the transformed archways below the Garden Promenade walkway above! How clever to be first (Sorry, Chelsea)!



or Perfect for a run! The day I visited was a work stoppage, a “greve” by the SNCF French Railroad and the Traffic below was “New York” horrendous, police everywhere redirecting furious drivers… So glad to be on the Promenade above it all!


Much nicer to look at a Park than a Railroad ! as the Real Estate around Promenade Plantée discovered….


Every Parisian Park has enlightening signage…..


See the Roses!


Smell the Roses!

Promenade Plantée

Paint the Roses!

Promenade Plantee

or draw watercolor crayon-style…giving a dry brush feeling of the accentuated tooth of the paper!

Promenade Plantée

A surprise awaits as the railway “path” opens up to a park with a skyway walkway “Bridge”above Parc Reuilly connecting the Viacduc section to the next section below ground level coming ahead….


with gardens around the circumference where I am walking…


a watercolor combining different views…. but look outward towards the street and another garden appears…

Promenade Plantée

The “Vertical Gardens” on the walls and buildings in Paris….so in vogue today— behind which is the traffic from the “greve”—strike!

Bastille and SNCF railroad workers striking

BTW, this is what was causing the straffic several weeks ago, French SNCF workers striking in a “mani”….manifestation…. and this strike was repeated in the last 2 weeks with slow-downs of rail service throughout France. French workers are not afraid to strike…. but where else but at the Bastille. …..But back to the gardens….

Promenade Plantée

i love the angular wall of green textures….. before I arrive at the tunnels of the next section…


It is groomed as a sunlit “wild” forest with canopied layerings of leaves….a “tunneled walkway”and…


the effect of a wild forest…unlandscaped… is so real and welcoming in the middle of the Paris cityscape.

Promenade Plantée

The ivy cover and cools of the various greens are so inviting. An “overlook” stairway is for “just viewing” the leaves!


The shade is luxurious…..


and then it opens up to a final section of a more landscaped garden…There’s more…., but…. just for something completely different to end this blogpost, how about the Musée Rodin ?

Musée Rodin

“The Thinker” is thinking about it, but I think we should…..

Musée Rodin

It’s so formal, manicured, peaceful and calm as a complement to Rodin’s vision of the human form.

Musée Rodin

It would be impossible to sit and paint onsite peaceably with so many people trying to take photos with him. Painting him later, I rearranged the roses to frame him better, choosing a profile view which “reads” better….

Jardin du Musée Rodin

 The dome of the Invalides peeks out behind “The Thinker.” At least he will always smell the roses. Voulez-vous promenader dans beaucoup des jardins parisiens.……  Mais, oui, d’accord! …..He doesn’t have to think about it!




Meet the Pigeons! G-a-r-d-e-n-h-o-p-p-i-n-g Parisienne …..


Sunny! Perfect for Pigeons to have elegant perches, catching a few rays! I revisited the Palais-Royal after I my first visit was thwarted by “Fermé,” closed for an art installation….




Gray…   : (


Sunny……! ……….Gray……,   Sunny…….,  Gray……..,   Sunny ……….  all day….

Jardin du Palais-Royal

It was a cloudy, sunny and also an almost rainy day in rotation a few weeks ago, but I actually sat and painted this watercolor at the Jardin du Palais-Royal and by late day, the sun won out! The problem was do I paint it sunny (warmer colors) or cooler-grayer and tried to stay in middle! Ideal time for 2 paintings and switching back and forth!!!!! Pigeons make a home on many a head of a statue….and defy making a “Dignified” shephard and his goat. The storied past of this garden where royalty lived and the 18th c. Rococo aristocrats and Revolutionary Enlightenment intellectuals intermingled and schemed is legendary and you walk in their footsteps…. Buildings peek in everywhere when painting French gardens, and this Palais-Royal facade had gorgeous neutrals and geometry….
and to provide contrast the roses of course…..


The shepherd’s friend sitting further down has his own pigeon. I noticed that the statues at the Jardin du Luxembourg, such as the Reines de France (Queens),  solve the problem with long metal needles placed into the tops of their heads….. not here though…Though charming perches for Paris pigeons…, Pidgeon “Poo” does’t look very good on them!

Suare Vert Galant on Ile de la Cite

Another iconic garden in the literal center of Partis I loved is the “trop petit” postage stamp of a triangular park at the front tip of Ile de la Cite by the Pont Neuf…..


with an equestrian Statue of France’s King Henry IV (late Renaissance) above it…..
his royal policies resulted in great civic improvement and added physical beauty to Paris.

Sq-Vert-Galant-Henry-IV-Sketch by :Lois Bender

..quick studies revealed there were no pigeons sitting on Henry IV’s head…..
no doubt due to is royal powers, I’m sure….

Square Vert Galant + Henru IV Statue

I seemed to have made Henri IV into a giant lording over His Paris with a sky of white clouds to roam in. It seems once you start painting clouds in Paris, you can’t stop!


I went up to where Henry permanently reigns and saw the view below of this triangle where you see both sides of the island and the bateaux-mouches’ depot— the angle was irresistible.

Square Vert Galant on Ile de la Cite

and jarring but an interesting point of view always catches my eye…..


A Panorama with The Louvre on the Right Bank…. Padlocks professing love abound
everywhere on Paris’ bridges, as well here….


No Pidgeons!


And always The Tuileries invite a memorable walk… Especially when heading to the fabulous Libraire de Jardin, Garden Bookstore, at the other end of Les Tuileries near La Place de la Concorde. The bookstore’s present site was once the home of the famous legendary French Landscape Architect of Versailles, Vaux Le Vicomte, etc., Andre Le Notre (1613-1700)….It’s marked with his commemorative statue…………I took this photo 2 years ago in the cold freezing June of 2012 and decided to paint its panoramic view with this year’s flowers….. why not!

Panorama of Jardin des Tuileries

Clouds and Gardens would be more true to my project’s reality!…
Clouds of Paris! and the Louvre always!


But how about a restful quiet garden?? Like the one at the  Musée Eugene Delacroix which was housed in Delacroix’s studio and garden of his later years. I took a photo from a window within his studio of his garden… I got chills thinking I was in the very beautifully skylighted studio where he created his work!

Jardin de la Musee Delacroix

I sat in the garden on site and did this hoping I could catch the feeling quickly…. and wanted to do more variations of colors… so I did a few more back at the studio I have in Camac…

Jardin de la Musee Delacroix

Stressing the lavender and green palette… There’s no one way to see color! …..
Neutral taupes can go many ways!  Blue-er here!


But looking out of  the studio window of Delacroix brought me back to thinking about my studio window of my temporary studio at Camac and the beautiful view…. I took so many photos of the sky colors, clouds and lighting effects! Look at the amazing evening golden light colors with a dark cloudy overcast sky….such drama!

The House at CAMAC, Marnay-sure-Seine

It’s like doing a combo -lighting of night and day in 1 painting!
(Magritte did one…now at Moma!)

Sunset at Camac from my window

 Sunsets are now at 9:45 pm !!!!  Sparkling golden light on the stone….. Such long days and so much daylight is amazing to have as an artist…. With sunrise at around 5 am, it’s practically 17 hours of daylight at the summer solstice! June 21 tomorrow! Giverny and More ….G-a-r-d-e-n-h-o-p-p-i-n-g…. to come! Happy Solstice from Paris and near Paris …. avec beaucoup, beaucoup des couchers de Soleil beaux de Marnay-sur-Seine! ……..À la prochaine !

Getting A Glimpse at the Gardens of Paris…between raindrops!

Jardin des Tuileries and The LouvreGarden Greetings from Paris. I have been going crazy running around and visiting
some of the beautiful gardens and just trying to get a feel and glimpse of what to paint…. Some gardens have very iconic views that represent the garden so well….especially the formal gardens such a Jardin du Luxembourg and Les Tuileries…. Others have freer designs. I’m exploring them all and “Vive la difference!” I made quick sketches in watercolor crayon and paint. There is so much to see and paint, so here’s a little taste of painting the gardens…..Starting with Les Tuileries and the Louvre with the plantings of purple phlox this May,  accompanied by the photo below so you can see what inspired me.

Jardin des Tuileries et LouvreA Beautiful Day… rare in May with all the rain…. to walk in the garden!

Jardin des Tuileries and The Louvre

The foreshortened row of vibrant flowers under the shade called for intense color. I was trying to decide where the “lights” are, using the white paper, and deciding on the grass finally!

Jardin des Tuileries et Louvre

The quick glimpse approach of  a sketch of such a complex image makes me simplify…and edit….and sometimes invent as we see below….

Parc Bagatelle

This is the special exhibition gardens at the beautiful Parc Bagatelle, a part of the massive Bois de Bologne in the western part of Paris. Louis XV created the park. These pergolas display the lush ample growth of leaves that follow the Wisteria Blossoms that I had just missed by 2 weeks….So, et viola….


Sometimes a view calls for invention and I said to myself, Why not!

Jardin du Palais-Royale

And the shade provided by so many trees in grand “Allees”?…. What color is the shade of trees?…. Mixing yellow ochre and a purple is one way to go….Next to the Louvre, this is Le Jardin de Palais-Royale, which was closed the day I went, leaving me with a view of the shade and rows of green; another visit is “bien sur.”

Jardin du Palais-Royale

And the rows of Linden and Poplar trees are so majestic. The leaves are pruned into rectangular shapes to ensure that they have enough room as the trees row larger…. How does one paint the variety of greens?
Le Notre, the famed landscape architect of France, notable for Vaux le Vicomte, Versailles, etc. founded a principle of the eternally green garden by using evergreen and hornbeam trees and boxwood plantings… using nature to its best advantage and endowing France with its classically designed “very green” formal gardens. But learning to paint the variety of greens is a project in itself!  And Shapes! The topiary designs delight!

Jardin du Luxembourg

But for color, the flower plantings at the Jardin du Luxembourg, (created by Maria de Medici, King Henry IV’s widow in the early 1600s) bring vibrancy to the formal gardens of beautiful sculpture and urns and balustrades in stone and lush green lawns…….

Jardin du Luxembourg

The plantings are changed a few times a year with a variety of color themes….

Jardin du Luxembourg

I fell in love with the stone urns of potted geraniums, the statuary presences, the rational geometric design of the garden with balustraded terraces and the rows of trees with their stately tree trunk “columns.” It’s always wonderful to return to this garden….. I have a garden of thoughts when I see and walk in this garden!

Jardin du Luxembourg

The large trees seem to embrace this urn….as I eliminate the 21st century metal fencing!

Jardin du Luxembourg

Rain clouds gather around us in May and I could’t resist trying to capture the neutrals of the cool grays with the creamy tans and beiges of the Palais du Luxembourg and Urns of Putti holding a bowl of flowers.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The statue below the putti is praying for the rain to stop or go away! One learns to love painting in the rain and painting from photos you take when it is raining…..Sketching in Watercolor helps one to make decisions quickly about what’s the right color and about simplifying the design. They aren’t polished works but rather free and intuitive and show “process” so well, recording what inspired us! …inspite of rain!! In this May, don’t forget your umbrella, rain poncho and plastic bags when painting gardens in Paris! …..To be continued!

A Big Welcome to Paris and Marnay-sur-Seine in Rain and Shine!



Un Grand Bonjour from Paris! “April in Paris” gives me a a big welcome with Wisteria Vines blooming in a Parisian Terrace Garden!


Spring in Paris also greets you with RAIN! ……a Beautiful “Paris Gray” Storm during my visit to Le Jardin du Luxembourg, but here’s a little pink cheer to offset the gray!

Art Gallery on the Fence

 And an “en plein air” Art Gallery of Photography awaits you!


He toots his horn and heralds the Spring..

Yellow Flower Borders

…..and the Rain to come! I came to paint a watercolor, but the park was so crowded,
that instead of a calm unpeopled setting, it recalled for me the busy urbanscapes of Canaletto with his amazing Venetians populating his “Piazza” grand settings….

The day is a holiday in France….Le Fete du Premier Mai …. France’s Labor Day and the park is filled will people at leisure, dodging the rain drops all day! The statue… I didn’t have time to find out his name because the storm was coming….seems to be pondering the weather….

storm in Jardin du LuxembourgHmmmmmmm! ….Should I stay or go ?


I was starting a watercolor on this stone ledge as the storm approached and made
unavoidable these luscious slate blue-gray colors… always seeing the silver lining in
colors of the clouds….


It’s time to leave…Bien sur!

Watercolor of Jardin du Luxembourg

I will have to add the Parisiens in another outing! ….
I took in only  the yellow palette of the flower beds and gray clouds….
Yellow (no daffodils here)…….a harbinger of the sun to come in Marnay-sur-Seine…..


The train form Paris to Nogent-sur-Seine (to the southeast) from Le Gare de l’Est was fast…and then it’s a short car ride to Marnay-sur-Seine…. The Artist Center is housed in a former monastery and the farm hamlet is small with no stores… just residences….


Bonjour le Soleil! Here’s a Courtyard with housing on the left and the Gallery on the right…


A Scenic walk around the setting is a first day’s discovery….


The buildings show an old country farm village….


but within, there’s an interior of a modern art gallery for instance in one building


Irises welcome you in May….


and the stone wall textures on the houses are so inviting….


as I walk down to the Seine—the pastoral rural Seine—unlike the urban Parisian Seine…


Here so many wonderful surprises await …..


….like this view….. the Center is on the water and faces the Seine….


It’s a fairytale setting of houses and gardens….


and the art studio I have is big … 20′ x 20′ at least!  Why leave!!!


with views like these from the other terrace!


and the sunset light on the roofs of a neighboring house from the kitchen window at Camac…Center of Art at Marnay-sur-Seine….! It promises to be a wonderful 2 months ahead….mais, oui!

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