Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sennelier in Paris

Watercolour postcard - 3 Quai Voltaire, Paris
(featuring Sennelier's new Forest Green)

As I was leaving for Paris last June, I received a box of Sennelier's new formula watercolours.  Since they were Impressionist Colours, I had to take them with me.

I spent a whole morning in the Musee d'Orsay and then walked along the Seine in the footsteps of just about every artist who ever visits Paris - to the little shop at 3 Quai Voltaire.  It is here that  generations of the Sennelier family have listen to what artists really want and then come up with the colours in every form you can imagine from oil to watercolour to pastels and acrylics. 

Today as you 'snoop around Sennelier' it's apparent that the family are still listening to artists, this tiny shop has everything you've read about anywhere.  I was particularly delighted to see that they have obviously been following the huge on-line community of sketchers because all the pens and inks and brush pens are available here.
Of course at its heart this shop is still about pigments.  And what wonderful pigments.  I could go on forever but really this is just a plea that if you go to Paris, 'rush to Sennelier'.
Any stay in Paris is way too short so can you imagine my delight when I arrive back in Italy to find another unexpected package from Sennelier.  
Sennelier A History in Color by Pascale Richard

This book tells the story of Sennelier largely through its relationships with famous artists but it reads like a book of friends.  

'For a painter, an artist's store is like a toy shop' - Amerian Artist Christopher Brown
'Here are the talismans, they are going to help me, to give me wings.' - Vincent Bioules

On page 190 of the book is a cartoon by Jean-Jacques Sempre which illustrates his privileged relationship with Sennelier.  
'One of the pleasures of the painter is to prepare his palette silently in his studio before starting to work.  Another equally strong pleasure is the ritual of shopping at Sennelier where you can find it all, even what you are not looking for!'  I couldn't agree more.

But I am giving too much away, buy this book and delight in discovering as I did that in David Hockney's The Grand Canyon one finds Helios Red and Chinese Orange by Sennelier.  He is another pilgrim to Quai Voltaire.

Obviously this book was a gift to me from Sennelier but I couldn't have been more delighted had I bought it myself.  I will always treasure the personal note inside from Dominique Sennelier where he acknowledges that 'we share a passion for colors'.  Sennelier makes the most humble artist feel special.

After the excitement of Sennelier I stopped at a little cafe in Rue Montmatre and made a quick sketch of Paris rooftops.

We are going back to Paris this year for a special Christmas.  Guess where I'll be heading.

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