La Bonne Etoile Artists Retreat was specifically developed to assist artists and writers who would benefit from an experience in another culture, along with a time of seclusion and solitude. But through the years it has developed into more....a community of friends. La Bonne Etoile Blog has been designed to expand the richness of that community by continuing the quest to create and recreate together.
La Bonne Etoile workshops are ALL-INCLUSIVE, starting and ending with hospitality shuttles to and from any Paris airport. Our workshop instructors are well known for quality, patient instruction for all levels of students. contact for full information. Be sure to visit the individual websites of the artists, you will find links to La Bonne Etoile workshop information there as well.

Michelle Wells Grant Blog – France 2014 – Part 2

For those that are still on the fence on whether a stay at La Bonne Etoile is in your stars for the summer of 2015….pull up a chair, and have a good read. It is always a blessing to experience La Bonne Etoile through the eyes of our guests.  10520846_10205246069459761_8159841505932365027_nPlease welcome Michelle Wells Grant from Austin TX as we share her blog from 2014 while attending the summer workshop of Margaret Dyer.  Reprinted by permission of Michelle Wells Grant.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beyond the Turquoise Door

Is anyone tired of seeing this photo of the turquoise door?? Because this is probably the 5th time I’ve posted it, in one place or another. But it symbolizes so much! Beyond this door is the artist studio of La Bonne Etoile in France, where we spent blissful hours learning the amazing pastel painting methods taught by the great Margaret Dyer!

We started off our first night in the studio with a demo from Margaret, shown in progress here. Her process is so unique, with emphasis on value and the layering of warm and cool colors to give a vibrant, energized effect. Our beautiful model sat for us for several days and we usually painted one pose in the morning and one in the afternoon. For me that meant working much faster than I was used to and so my paintings didn’t feel very accomplished or complete. In the beginning this was so frustrating, but then I began to realize  that I was there to learn the process, not to turn out polished paintings.

It was so exciting to see the beautiful work appear day after day. We had some really amazing artists in our group.

As paintings were finished we clipped them to a wire overhead. After about a week, there were so many paintings hung that you couldn’t find a spot anymore! It was a beautiful sight.

Jane hard at work. She created some beautiful paintings while we were there.

In addition to our paintings of our model in the studio, we also had some photo shoots in the garden and  the house, using ourselves as models. This is one I did of our young resident assistant, Kathleen, hanging laundry. Btw, all laundry done at La Bonne Etoile was hung on the clothesline to dry, which was so fabulous! It smelled so good! (I just realized I’ve already put this one up as my blog cover photo… I guess you’ll have to see it twice.)

And I am proud and honored to say I now own this one that Margaret painted of us (Margaret and me) at the piano. We had a photo shoot where we donned robes and I pretended to play while Margaret  enjoyed my imaginary talent. I could not resist buying the painting. AND I bought another one she painted while in the studio, shown below.

I had to have this painting by Margaret Dyer, not only because I think it’s breathtaking, but because it is such a beautiful example of what she achieves in the skin of her nudes. Her method results in the most beautiful colors coming through on the skin, the drape, sheets, everything. I will forever have this as a wonderful reference, not to mention a memory of my weeks studying with Margaret.

Here’s one of mine. Eek! I must be nuts to post this following Margaret’s.
Love this! Four artists in a row, painting with focus!
Check out all the hung paintings. That’s just one wire … there were several.
One more of mine, painted on the last day in the studio.

Next up: our Vernissage, which was the party where all of our work was displayed and friends and neighbors came to see! Stay tuned ……..

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


After more than a week of painting in the studio, we held our Vernissage, the reception and showing of our work.

It was a mad dash to get the studio cleaned up but it looked so great. Our beautiful gallery!

Lots of Kippy and Jerome’s friends came and joined us for champagne, appetizers, interesting conversation and to view our work. So exciting! As Kippy said, now we can say we’ve shown our work in Europe!

(I think I missed the memo to wear red.)

Here’s Jane standing next to her board. She didn’t have a lot of experience painting figures before coming to France but she could have fooled us! Her paintings were wonderful and accomplished!

Kippy and me in front of my board.
I reluctantly show you my entire board because I was teased mercilessly by a certain fellow student from Tasmania (yeah, that’s you Vicki) about the one nude painting on the lower left … you know, The Full Monty? I can’t help it!! That’s the pose I saw from my easel position!
But once I got home and taped my paintings to the studio wall, that painting kept whispering to me … “TMI, TMI.” So I gave her a little makeover. Er, uh … down under. Happy now, Vicki?  😉
 Next post: our day in Paris. Stay tuned!

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