It is never too late. 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, when she made a huge impression on me.

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

Three years ago, I visited Madame Nottale in a nursing home situated in the historic district of Le Pecq, 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, Madame Nottale began to paint and write every day.     When I arrived, I was amazed to see her paintings and drawings covering every surface available.

A fraction of the work on display…….

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In this quick watercolour I caught 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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At this time she was 92 and no longer able to speak, however she said so much with eyes that sparkled with life.

During this visit, Madame Nottale made a drawing of me…….here she is selecting a pastel….with daughter Claudia, who I have known since 1977.

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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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Along with painting, Madame Nottale is writing remarkable poems and essays.        Her son, Laurent, was telling me that some of the language used in the poems goes back to her 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.

Quick Watercolour last week of Madame Nottale

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Madame Nottale shows us 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.

Madame Nottale died in 2016 aged 94.   A life very well lived. 

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A Bientôt

30 thoughts on “It is never too late. Madame Nottale harbouring a deep well of creativity.

  1. Joseph McDonald

    Hi Janet, sorry to share my brother Danny passed away 2/14/2020 after a long battle with cancer he was 77! I know he would want me to share with you! Hope your well and happy!

    Love joe

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Joe…lovely to hear from you, but very sorry to hear your news about Danny. He was a lovely man, and interestingly I was just thinking about him. Hope all is well with you and your family. Janet X

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Having spent a lot of time in nursing homes in the UK with my late Mother, yes, the one M Nottale was in was really lovely….They should all be like that. Have a lovely weekend and thank you for the comment. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  2. Emma Cownie

    Yes, what a wonderful story. I am still thinking about those 8 children of Madame Nottale! She clearly never did things by half! Your two portraits are fascinating too, they reflect the change in both her and you!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Madame Nottale’s life was incredible. When I first met her at the dinner in the eighties, her husband (who thought he was the king of France) was seated at the head of the table wearing a huge orange necklace studded with garnets! Her eight children are also amazing…one a Nobel prize winner, another a successful actor/director of theatre, sadly one that committed suicide and another that was profoundly retarded. M. Nottale never complained, but it was clear that when she entered the nursing home, her life opened up….creativity poured out of her:). It was wonderful to witness. Have a lovely weekend and happy painting. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  3. davidjrogersftw

    Thank you Janet. Here is a story I could write about in an essay titled “Late Bloomers and Creativity,” It would be good, but not nearly as lovely and life-like as your drawings and your testimonial of a little crumpled talented old friend with a pen in her hand

    Reply
  4. rlseaton

    I absolutely love this story and the artwork. What delight to read it. Thank you for sharing the life of this special woman and the freedom she finally found. No, it is never too late.

    Reply

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