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