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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Mixed Media French Prints

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Each year I create special items for the French Country Christmas Event in my garden shed. Mixed media French prints were part of this year's speciality items. 

The watercolor version of a photograph of Sainte Chapelle and the Palais de Justice in Paris, France is one of four mixed media French prints created from original photographs I took while traveling in France. 

Mixed Media French Prints

Sainte Chapelle and Palais de Justice

Located on the Île de la Citè, the Palais de Justice is part of what was once the residence of French kings and the medieval judicial center in Paris, France. Formerly the royal chapel, Sainte Chapelle, with its majestic spire, adjoins the justice building that still houses the Court of Appeal of Paris. 

Today Sainte Chapelle hosts classical concerts throughout the year in its upper level surrounded by magnificent stain glass windows. Attending a concert in Sainte Chapelle is always a highlight of any trip I take to Paris.  

Joan of Arc Statue

A gilded statue of Joan of Arc stands in the Place des Pyramides in the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement.  The magnificent 5-star Hotel Regina is a fitting background for the beloved Joan of Arc.  

Known as the deliverer of France during the Hundred Years' War, she successfully led the French troops in battle against the English at Orléans in 1429. Only 13 years old, she inspired the French people in battle and in her deep faith in God. Truly a woman before her time, she still inspires the French people and people all over the world. 


la Poésie 

A pair of gilt angels sit on the rooftop corners of the Opéra Garnier in Paris, France. The angel on the right corner is La Poésie, Poetry, shown above. The angel on the opposite rooftop corner is L'Harmonie, Harmony. 

Part of the fame of the Paris opéra house arises from being the setting for the wildly successful novel Phantom of the Opera, written by Gaston Laroux and published in 1910. The fame has only increased since the musical Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in 1985 and ran for 35 years. 

Tour Eiffel

While the first three prints may not be recognized by everyone as Paris landmarks, the Tour Eiffel is synonymous with Paris, France all over the world. My original photograph from which this watercolor print was created was a dark, out-of-focus shot taken on a rainy overcast day, almost deleted from my files. The resulting print above illustrates the power of today's computer software to transform photographs. 

All of the watercolor prints started as original photos I took during my trips to Paris. Using computer software, each photo was transformed to a soft watercolor version. 

Then each watercolor photo was printed on speciality paper. Some were printed on printer friendly thin watercolor-like textured paper. Others were printed on gold metallic printer paper. 

What makes these mixed media prints extra special is the 12" x 12" archival 100% cotton rag handmade 300 gsm watercolor paper with deckled edges on which each print is attached. Framing the watercolor prints in the usual wood frames, including gold leaf frames, would not create the striking one-of-a-kind personality the handmade watercolor paper does. 

For those of us who are drawn 
to objects due to their tactile qualities, 
handmade watercolor paper is a joy to hold! 

Watercolor paper weight can be expressed in lb (pound) or gsm (grams per square meter.) The higher the number, the thicker the paper. 140 lb paper is roughly the same as 300 gsm. Cold pressed watercolor paper gives the beautiful deckled edges. 

These prints are on heavy weight 300 gsm handmade watercolor paper with beautiful deckled edges. To give an even sturdier weight to the prints, each 12" x 12" watercolor paper was attached to standard solid mat board typically used as borders of prints in frames. 

The heavy mat board backing provides a surface to attach a sawtooth hanger so the prints can be hung using beautiful ribbons. The ribbon hanging the La Poésie angel print and the Joan of Arc print is a gold and white 1" wide ribbon printed with fleur de lis. The ribbon gives the French mixed media prints another touch of French design. 

The nature of handmade causes variations in the color sometimes. The top paper is creamier colored than the bottom paper. The creamy color of the top paper is perfectly suited to the gold tone Joan of Arc watercolor printed on gold metallic paper. Whereas, the bottom white watercolor paper pairs well with the clear blues and whites in the La Poésie watercolor printed on white textured paper. 

Another nature of handmade is each piece of handmade watercolor paper will vary in texture and in shape. Notice the top edge of this 12" x 12" paper is not square. The right edge slopes downward. 

Some people prefer items to have little imperfections that give the item more personality. My mathematical mind prefers everything perfectly squared and level. However, the beauty of this 12" almost squared paper overrides the perfection preference in me. 


The mixed media French prints put French Country in the French Country Christmas Event in December 2023. They offered my customers a unique view, and perhaps a memory, of Paris landmarks for Christmas which also can be used year round in everyday decorating.