Monday, August 31, 2015

My Stylish French Girlfriends by Sharon Santoni

Many of you are familiar with the blog, My French Country Home, where Sharon Santoni gives us personal glimpse into her life in Normandy,  France. A reflection on a life that is balanced, harmonious and very fulfilling. She has now written a book, My Stylish French Girlfriends, which is a wonderful journey through the lives and homes of many talented, unique women Sharon knows in France. 

Please enjoy our interview and some images from this inspired book that you must have for your library.

1) Sharon, how did you come to the decision to write your first book about your French girlfriends? I know that you have been encouraged to write a book for some time.

First of all Karena, thank you for inviting me over and for featuring my book, I am very honored.     Like many bloggers I dreamed of writing a book, and already had some ideas, but it was the editor Madge Baird of Gibbs Smith who suggested that my blog series about my French girlfriends would work well as a book.  They contacted me and asked if I'd be interested and of course I was thrilled, in particular when I thought more about the idea and realized that taking the photos could become a veritable tour de France!

2)  These ladies have such a variety of talents and careers. Did your friendships form naturally and easily? It seems some people have a circle of friends that are only in their own sphere of interests.

You are right, we generally connect with people who share the same interests as us, and that is certainly why there are so many creative women included in the book.  It was a complete privilege to be welcomed into the daily lives of these women, who opened up their homes to me and my photographer, Franck Schmitt.   We shared meals, we stayed in their homes and became part of their family life for a day or so.  I couldn't have written in the same way if there wasn't the connection of friendship and shared interest.

3) When you were young, did you ever imagine your life going in the direction it has taken? Making a move from England to France?

I don't think many people know how their lives are going to play out, but when I was little I know that I often told people I'd live abroad as an adult.  I love England,  and I spend time in the English countryside every month, but I was drawn to anything foreign:  languages, food, culture....    Today I have lived in France for longer than I ever lived in the UK, I am married to a Frenchman, and our children are all born here, but I still manage to see everyday living objectively, and that is what helps me write the blog.  And by the way, my house isn't a chateau!   It's just a family house. 

4) One thing that stands out to me in my French friends is the true balance they seem to have in their lives. How do you find balance in yours?

First of all I have a very patient husband, who never moans when I juggle several projects at the same time.  Like many women, I like to multi-task and to manage different activities simultaneously, it seems to make things more fun.

5) Who, what or where do you look to for inspiration? Where do you find creativity?

It sounds like a cliché, but I truly am inspired by all the everyday stuff around me.  My camera never leaves my side and I am happiest in my garden.  We are lucky here in Normandy because we are in the countryside but only an hour from Paris, so I can easily pop in to the city for lunch, or an appointment.  I firmly believe in the importance of everyday creativity, no matter which shape that may take.

6) Do you have a mentor or is there someone who has had a great deal of influence for you?

I have a couple of good friends who I can call on to talk ideas through, but for the bigger decisions it's always my husband who helps me think things through and sort priorities.  He is very pragmatic and clear thinking, and he's always ready to listen.

7) Where do you want to go next in this journey? Are there any upcoming plans, for a book of fiction, for book signings etc. 

The blog has always grown organically, and I am happy to be led in new directions when they present themselves.   I'd love to see the blog continue to grow and who knows, maybe another book in the not too distant future.

Author Sharon Santoni

Sharon thank you so much for the opportunity to have our conversation and to feature this very special book.

Readers please visit Sharon's blog My French Country Home and purchase her book, My Stylish French Girlfriends. It is so full of life, beautiful homes, the French countryside, a real treat! You will be thrilled that you did!

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Brand New and Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950's

Brand New and New and Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950's has been released to coincide with the artists exhibit of the same name at The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine running from July 11, 2015 - October 18, 2015. The Colby College has a rotating collection of more than 800 works of his art and serves as a center for the study of Alex Katz's art.

Katz studied at the famed Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan, a prestigious institution for art, architecture and engineering.

To understand how unique and individual his style is, one only needs to look at the art scene during the 50's. Abstract Expressionism was indeed the prevailing style with artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns paving new ways of art methodology. Andy Warhol was just gearing up with his iconic Pop Art soon to come.

Alex's works of art were in opposition to the prevailing trends and his compositions, which included great portraiture, landscapes and still life's stood out upon a flat ground on which he always worked quickly, fluidly, with a direct purpose. never second guessing himself. Many of his works focused on his beloved and supportive wife Ada. 

Later, into the 60's Alex was influenced by film and advertising, thus going into both large scale painting and printmaking, producing a huge collection in lithography, woodcut, etching and silkscreen. He even became a set and costume designer for theatre in the 60's, painting many images of dancers in the following years.

"Rauschenberg Double"

"During this time,  (the 50's) my paintings were very concerned with the specific in contrast and in conjunction with the general. I was now interested in Manet and Kline. My paintings were of a particular person, at a particular time, in abstract form"

Since 1951 Alex's works have art have been featured in more than 250 exhibits worldwide and is in the permanent collections of more than 100 public art institutions.

This esteemed living painter has admitted to destroying a thousand paintings early in his career while finding his ultimate unique style. 

"Sara" painted in 2012

Please enjoy this small sampling of Mr. Katz's prolific works of art and do consider a purchase of the book for your library.

Brand New and Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950's can be purchased at Amazon. Publicity copy and images courtesy of Anne Wu with Prestel Publishing and The Colby College Museum of Art.

Also a later work, "Alex at Cheat Lake", lithograph and photo offset in produced in seven colors.

Students touring the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz at Colby College

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Italian Artist Nicoletta Belletti

Artist Nicoletta Belletti and her husband, who is a fine cabinet and furniture maker, recently came to Kansas City from Parma, Italy for a Special Event at Gallery V Fine Arts at Mission Farms.  She is represented exclusively at Gallery V in the Kansas City area! I was stunned to see the most uniquely beautiful and sculptural work of this fine artist.

Nicoletta does paintings in several categories, Florals, Animals, Water, and Portraits. Her custom commissioned portraits of both people and pets will astound and delight you! 

This is just a small selection of the many paintings you can now view and purchase for your collection at Gallery V Fine Arts and on Nicoletta's Fine Art site.


You will hear of her inspiration to create beginning as a child, her adventuresome use of many materials to create the depth and various textures of  her art that makes one want to reach out and caress them.  



The Water Series

Nicoletta captures the mysterious, mesmerizing, movement of life in the beautiful blue seas.

This fine artist paints on beautiful furniture her husband creates, Her art canvases of paint are indeed works of art on the back as well. They are finely created with superb craftsmanship. You can see this when viewing her videos. I have never seen anything like it in the art world.

A fine selection of her art is now being shown here in the Kansas City area at:


Please visit and enjoy perusing Nicoletta's Fine Art Website . You can see her working in her studio and experience the wondrous magic of her painting.

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Thank you to all who have left so many kind comments, love and prayers recently.

The Arts by Karena

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Lost Too Soon

Please send Love and Prayers for a very special little two year old boy our family lost yesterday.


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