the perfect candle

The Perfect Candle for a Painter — That’s It!

Photo: Courtesy of ASTIER DE VILLATTE

Sometimes you choose for what or for whom a candle is perfect, and sometimes the candle chooses itself. In these situations, you can do nothing but capitulate to the candle’s demands; it’s simply not worth it to resist. The candle gets what the candle wants. And this new candle wants: to be for a painter.

And it is!

The candle comes from Astier de Villatte, a Parisian company that sells, among other things, this incense that I highly recommend for autumn and winter. It’s so good, oh my god. It smells like you live in an old cozy church in the woods that’s been repurposed to be an upscale cabin. But we’re not here to talk about that incense. We are here to talk about this candle. It’s the first candle of Astier de Villatte’s I’ve tried, and it’s called “Atelier de Balthus.” Here is what it smells like, according to Astier de Villatte:

In the painter’s studio, all covered in wood panelling, time seems suspended. Through the big bay window overlooking green altitude meadows, the Northern light pours her powdery rays all over brushes, palettes, tubes, paint pots, sketched canvasses and rags still wet with linseed oil. The air is fragrant with the heady smell of turpentine mixed with lovely wisps of smoke, honey, woods, tobacco and cedar wood. 

Ahh, the heady smell of turpentine mixed with lovely wisps of smoke, honey, woods, tobacco, and cedar wood? That sounds heady, and lovely.

— But is it?

Is the candle good?

Yes! I love it. It truly smells like all of the things listed in that description. Sometimes — often, really — you get a candle with 100 fragrance notes and you smell it and you think, “this smells like … uhh … grapefruit?” And you feel inadequate. Not here, though. It smells like all of those things, and it is good. And interesting! Turpentine and sweet, smoky wood. It is not an ordinary candle.

How much does it cost, and how long will it last?

It’s new and, as far as I can tell, just starting to pop up on websites, but Astier de Villatte candles generally go for about $88. The burn time is allegedly 60 hours.

When should you burn this candle?

I suppose it might be redundant to burn it when you’re painting. You still can, though, if you paint. If you don’t, maybe you can burn it while you’re trying to be creative in another capacity — like maybe when you’re doing a full face of makeup, or when you’re putting together a lamp you bought from Amazon.

Otherwise my recommendation would be to, of course, burn it at night when you’re under a blanket on the couch.

Who should buy this candle?

You should buy it for a painter you know. So much of gift buying is saying to a friend, “I know you are generally interested in something like this, so here is this thing about it. Please like it enough that you at least don’t visibly recoil.” In this case the friend will, at least, also get a nice candle.

The Perfect Candle for a Painter — That’s It!