etretat garden

A Whimsical Garden in France: Les Jardins D’Étretat

After spending time in my studio painting a few weeks ago, I started browsing through a magazine online (I forget which one) and I came across a short article about Les Jardins D’Etretat located on the Normandy coast about a two-hour train ride from Paris. The picture below captivated me and I transported myself into the shoes of the painter. I visioned myself perched on top of the ragged cliff with a paintbrush in one hand while admiring the breathtaking scenery. I could taste the salty air, hear the thunderous roar of the crashing waves from down below, and feel a cool breeze move across my face. Then, out of nowhere, I snapped out of my hypnotic state and my immediate thought was: “We really need to buy tickets to France.”

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This past weekend I spent some time in my own garden to tidy things up a bit. As I was working, I remembered the image I came across a few weeks ago. The property was once owned by a famous French actress, Madame Thébault, who was a friend of artist Claude Monet. Monet frequently visited Thébault and encouraged her to plant a garden. The scenery greatly inspired Monet and over the course of his artistic career, he painted numerous pieces of art capturing the cliffs and shoreline below. I don’t know exactly how many paintings he created of Étretat because conflicting research indicates anywhere from 30-50 individual paintings, including the two shown below.

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Etretat is becoming more and more amazing. Now is the real moment: the beach with all its fine boats; it is superb, and I am enraged not to be more skillful in rendering all this. I would need two hands and hundreds of canvases.  –Claude Monet

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Étretat is best known for its chalky cliffs and rock formations. It’s no surprise that Monet was so inspired by the natural beauty of the region.

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I would love to see pictures of what the gardens actually looked like in the early 1900’s when Thébault planted the original garden. The current gardens that I am highlighting in today’s post were restored in 2016 by Russian landscaper Alexander Grivko and are open to the public to enjoy. I am sure Thébault and Monet would be happy to know that the area continues to inspire.

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The whimsical garden combines landscape and sculpture. The willow “painter” is a tribute to Claude Monet.

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The website for Les Jardins D’Etretat is currently being revamped but be sure to check out the video on their homepage. I won’t say anything about the video other than it’s “dreamy”….. Once you check it out, you’ll know exactly what I mean. 

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Welcoming Strangers into Your Home

A couple of years ago I was at a local flea market and a complete stranger captivated me. I laid eyes on the artwork you see below and was intrigued by the woman in the painting. Who is she? Who painted her? What’s her story?

“You know, if one paints someone’s portrait, one should not know him if possible.” –Otto Dix, artist

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I know absolutely nothing about the woman in the painting. She’s a complete stranger but I knew that I had to have her. I welcomed her with open arms without any thought of how she would be displayed in our home. As a result of my uncertainty, she’s been sitting at the back of my closet unframed and hiding in the corner. Over the last couple of weeks, I did some major purging of items in my closet and realized that it’s time for her to (literally) come out of the closet and find a suitable place to be displayed. (By the way, at the time this post was finalized I still hadn’t quite figured out where to display her.)

I am fascinated by painted portraits. They create an immediate sense of history and elevate the decor in a space. Put them in a grouping and they immediately exude a regal quality.  Let’s take a look at how they have been incorporated into a few interiors.

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I once spent part of an afternoon with a friend at the Huntington Library making up stories about the people in various portraits. What would this guy’s story be?

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from the office of reviving charm

From the Office of Reviving Charm

Dear Readers….I’m back!

I was away from my computer for longer than anticipated but I am officially back from my unintentional hiatus. What started by taking “a few days off” turned into weeks. Then I realized I had to deal with a technical glitch that required me to move my domain name from one host to another that resulted in an additional delay. It was actually a blessing in disguise because that had been something on my “to-do” list for quite some time. Sometimes life forces you to tackle certain things and this was one of those times. Has this ever happened to you!!??. I’m glad that I had to deal with the issue because it provided a wonderful opportunity to clean up a few things on the site.

One of the changes I made is to incorporate a new feature on the sidebar called “From the Office of Reviving Charm”. It will feature something currently on display on my office bulletin board or in my office. I’ve occasionally shared a few images but decided to give it a permanent home on the sidebar. Be sure to click the new image when it’s posted on the sidebar because it will allow you to view a larger image as well as read about any comments I might have about it.

I always loved the art of collage and creating mood boards so when I had a chance to design my studio/office, I knew I had to incorporate an extra large bulletin board that would allow me to pin bits of inspiration gathered from here and there. The images change periodically; I’ll pin new images or sometimes just rearrange existing ones. Whatever strikes my fancy…

Here is a section currently on display. It includes a small 6″x6″ piece of art I created to post among various black and white images. During the time I’ve been away from my computer, I had the opportunity to start painting again. It had been a long while since I picked up a paintbrush but I vow to do it more often. What do you vow to do more often? 

This is the end of my Public Service Announcement. Tomorrow I’ll be posting about a designer I’m currently crushing on and featuring some photos from their portfolio.

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Art: A Focus on Marco Tirelli

Today a complete solar eclipse will be visible across a wide stretch of the United States that will sweep from west to east. It’s a huge deal since the last complete eclipse was back in 1918 and it hasn’t been since 1979 since the last eclipse was visible from the mainland United States. The next solar eclipse isn’t predicted to happen again until 2024 so many people are using this as an excuse to throw a theme party (although who really needs an excuse to throw a fun party?). I will actually be attending one by someone who knows how to host a fun festivity and my special glasses, from what I am told, have already been reserved for me. Hopefully, they match my outfit…


There is something beautiful about the simple shapes found in our solar system so I always find it intriguing when an artist chooses to select them as their subject. The contrast and tension between light and dark are also particularly appealing to me and these simple, rudimentary shapes can feel very fresh and modern when displayed in today’s interiors. Case in point is the interior below by French interior designer Jean Louis Denoit. The art on the wall is by Italian artist Marco Tirelli, who our focus is on today.jean louis denoit marco trielli moon artMany of Tirelli’s paintings and sculptures depict abstract subjects. His work has been described as capturing “indeterminate forms interacting with light and shadow, such that they appear to occupy three-dimensional space.” His art has been hard to categorize by some but has been referred to as “metaphysical” by others. marco tirelli moon art reviving charm 1

Marco Tirelli in his studio in Rome (2012).

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Tirelli’s first exhibit was in Milan, Italy in 1978 and his work has since been exhibited all over the world. The following pieces were shown last year at Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium.

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Exhibit at the Pastificio Cerere Foundation in Rome (2016)marco-tirelli black and white art

Exhibit at the Di Meo Gallery in Paris (2006) marco tirelli art Reviving Charm

Exhibit at the Palazzo Poli Istituto Nazionale Per La Grafica in Rome.marco-tirelli-palazzo-poli-istituto-nazionale-per-la-grafica Reviving Charm.jpg

Exhbit at the Venice Biennale (2013)louise-alexander-gallery-marco-tirelli-venice-biennale-Reviving Charmmarco-tirelli-venice-biennale-2013 reviving charm 1

Exhibit at the Museo Mathildenhohe in Germany (2002)marco tirelli art Reviving Charm 1

Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna, Italy (2002)marco tirelli artist Reviving Charm


I was hoping to use today as a way to pay special tribute to the moon. Although research for today’s post took me down a slightly different path than originally envisioned, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Enjoy the day…and don’t look up…well, at least not without your special eclipse glasses.