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.
Five 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’.
After entering the nursing home, Madame Nottale, for the first time in her life, had the space and time to paint and write every day. When I arrived, I was amazed to see her paintings and drawings covering every surface available in her room, including the ceiling.
A fraction of the work on display…….
In this quick watercolour I caught the profound changes that had become evident in her face. She was now liberated – and free 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 enthusiasm and life.
During this visit, Madame Nottale made a drawing of me…….here she is selecting a pastel….with her daughter Claudia.
From this point of view, it was interesting for me to observe Madame Nottale’s astute observational skills and deep concentration and focus. Creativity had become her life force.
Along with painting, Madame Nottale was writing remarkable poems and essays. Her son, Laurent, was telling me that some of the language used in the poems went 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 I made last week of Madame Nottale
Madame Nottale demonstrates to us all 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, leaving behind a wealth of information through her paintings and writings.