Madame Nottale – harbouring a deep well of creativity.

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My first encounter with Madame Nottale was when I was invited to dinner at the family home in Marley le Roi – (south west of Paris) in 1983.         She made a huge impression on me at the time.

I first painted her in 1994 (above portrait watercolour/gouache)…..At which point Madame Nottale was raising her family of eight children and working full time as a nurse.

Three years ago, I visited Madame Nottalle in a nursing home situated in the historic district of Le Pecq, also south west of Paris.     Interestingly, it’s an area I am familiar with as I have  other friends who live almost next door to the home.      It’s what I call a personal ‘hot spot’ – a subject I will write more about in a future blog.

After entering the nursing home, seemingly from out of the blue, Madame Nottale began to paint and write every day.     When I arrived at her room, I was amazed to see her paintings and drawings covering every surface available.

A fraction of the work on display…….

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It was thee years ago when I painted this quick watercolour which expresses the profound changes that had become evident in her face.       She had been liberated – and given the space and time to tap into a deep well of creativity which she had been harbouring all of her life.

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Last week when I was in Paris, once again I had the great privilege to make a watercolour of this amazing lady.      Now 92, she no longer speaks but says everything with eyes which sparkle with life.

Even better – Madame Nottale made a drawing of me…….here she is selecting a pastel….with daughter Claudia, who I have known since 1974.

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From this point of view, it was interesting for me to observe Madame Nottale’s astute observational skills.

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The finished drawing….which I will always cherish.    It is signed AN – Annette Nottale.

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Along with painting, Annette is writing remarkable poems and essays.        Her son, Laurent, was telling me that some of the language used in the poems goes back to Annette’s early childhood when she and her brother lived with foster parents on a farm.        It is language that wouldn’t be used to day….language and thoughts that have been harboured throughout her life.

It’s a joy to see the life and energy within her work and being…..to say that she is inspirational is an understatement.

Watercolour last week of Madame Nottale –  in progress.

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The plan is for a film to be made of Madame Nottale at work, along with an exhibition of her paintings and writings.        I feel that this would be very important.     It would show that it is never too late to draw from within…..to immerse oneself into the joy and fulfilment of the creative process.

Needless to say, I came away feeling inspired and uplifted.

More about my Paris trip to follow.

A Bientôt

30 thoughts on “Madame Nottale – harbouring a deep well of creativity.

  1. ShimonZ

    An uplifting post. It is always a great joy to to witness creativity up close, especially when it springs from a person that we admire as a human being. Just so as not to be overwhelmed by all the glory of this world, we tend to be quite selective about what we really see and hear. And unfortunately, this process often makes us insensitive to people of a different age group, those who have a different skin color, or those who speak a different language. But when some characteristic of someone we have me or know, encourages us to see past the screen window… ah, what wonderful surprises are in store for us.

    Reply
  2. teagan geneviene

    Janet, this is such a powerful post. I’m honored to “meet” Madame Nottale.
    And your water color portraits always amaze me; so beautiful. Mega hugs!
    PS: Remember the “shadow” I wanted to transform? I thought to see bold blues, yellows, oranges… but in stead there is gold. And an unexpected new guide.

    Reply
  3. freespirit

    I love this Janet, i had a French friend for many years she was a neighbour infact, i visited her up to her death at ninety five years of age she had no family in england and lived alone she was often misunderstood by other english people for her very open attitude to life which i personally loved and she had an amazing sense of humour.
    I love this ladies paintings on the wall i have mine on the wall in frames too, an amazing lady i would love to meet.X

    Reply
  4. Jet Eliot

    Oh how I enjoyed the different phases of both you and Madame Nottale in this lovely story, Janet. It’s a divine testament to the glories of creativity and expression. Thank you so very much.

    Reply
  5. snowbird

    What a marvelous post and how I enjoyed it! I’m so pleased that Madame Nottale finally let her creative side free, I suppose raising all those children left her little time for herself. Seeing the portraits was such a treat! xxx

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Yes, raising eight children, one of whom was profoundly handicapped….and working full time as a nurse didn’t allow for anything else, plus she grew up at a time when women weren’t given the necessary opportunities. Interestingly, her brother (a boy) was an excellent artist and made his living as such….but the important thing is that she is doing it now. Thanks Dina..xxx

      Reply
  6. Mary

    What a wonderful relationship you have with this beautiful woman, it is evident the love that exists between the two of you and her daughter. Love seeing her creativity at this late stage in her life and how they have peppered her walls – the portraits are a connection to your history together. Very uplifting, you are an inspiring person Janet!

    Reply

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