A Last Painting before Leaving Paris

October 3, 2004

How hard it is to leave this city. I always feel that I have left so much undiscovered. I want to sketch it all, to paint it all, to have every beautiful scene etched into my mind.

I wanted to paint on the bridge looking at the back of Notre with just a peak of the Eiffel tower in the distance. To stand on the bridge where Albert Marquet painted humbles me. He was my favorite post impressionist painter. There is such an incredible amount of detail to try to capture from this view. What I really admire about was his ability to simplify and feature the large shapes and the dramatic sweep of the Seine River as it forks and goes on both sides of Notre Dame. I have a tendency to want to put in each detail.

I took my cart with my acrylic paints and a canvas and walked the distance around 9:00 on Saturday morning. The vendors were opening their stalls along the river and the morning was brisk, but sunny. Walking to my spot would be about a 10 block walk, but I thought that when I finished painting I would cross over from the Isle St.Louis to the right bank and stop at the George Pompidou Museum. I knew that I could check my carte there and visit the exhibit. Then, I thought that I could find a taxi to take me back at the end of the day.

Standing on the bridge with a breeze starting felt so wonderful. .Somehow I had forgotten my pencil and would have to draw with the permanent ink pen I had in my pack. As it turned out that was a blessing, as I could easily put in some of the detail and the filigree on the flying buttresses of Notre Dame, and even suggest some of the iron on the Eiffel tower. I love painting on big canvases. I felt hampered with this small canvas, but I knew that I was brave to even attempt to paint in acrylics with the crowds of tourists and the curious who would eventually find me. I work quickly, but 2 hours would not be enough to include all that I wanted and now the breeze was becoming wind. A canvas can quickly become a sail. Standing over a river with a potential sail could obviously be an event waiting for disaster. So I packed my cart and walked along the Isle St. Louis, enjoying the shops. I felt like I looked very bohemian, but I probably just looked like a windblown bag lady. At the end of Isle St.Louis I found a wonderful café that had a sheltered glass wind break. I enjoyed a hot café au lait and rested a bit. The cart seemed heavier than I remembered and the cobble stones were a handicap. I decided to save the museum for another time and I went to a taxi stand. I have now learned that finding a taxi on a Saturday afternoon is almost impossible. I finally gave up and walked across the bridge at the front of Notre Dame.

I was so happy that I had walked. The area on the bridge was blocked off and young men on roller blades were showing off their incredible skills. An according player was swaying to his own music and the opposite side of the bench where I sat was occupied by a charming young lady from Denmark who was having her caricature drawn. The three of us, the artist, the young lady and I had a great conversation about the beauty of the day, her fashion internship and his business as an artist.

When I left them, I found my way back to my street, Rue de l‘Ancienne- Comedie, alive with shoppers, diners, walkers, and strollers, and I was happy to become one of them. I was so glad that I had not found a Saturday afternoon taxi.

What My Art Has Meant to Me

October 4th, 2004

Packing to leave Paris is a difficult activity for me. When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to attend the Sorbonne. I fell in love with the impressionists painters and that was my dream. Ever since I was a young child I loved to draw. I learned to look carefully and draw details especially of a large peppertree and palm trees and the foliage and fauna that surrounded our California home.

I was told by school counselors that art was not a suitable profession for a young woman who had to earn a living. I knew that our economic situation would not allow me to afford going to the Sorbonne, but I applied anyway, and to my great joy I was accepted.

I worked during the summers and after school and I attended the University of Southern California to major in psychology. That was so many years ago. I have since had many careers, raised a family of three, and started a business with my husband and written three books on painting.

And guess what? I still want to go to the Sorbonne. I have loved being in France this month. Teaching in Giverny at Monet’s Garden with the most wonderful group of women has been a highlight of this trip. The ability to paint in that utterly remarkable garden with its rich history of the man and the other artists who followed his lead is like a pilgrimage. Watching what happens to those who come along with me, and how it affects them is such a joy. If I can help them to see more, to free their styles, to enjoy their art, I feel that I have succeeded. The dynamics of such a group is always unique, but this time it was especially wonderful. I know that we have made life long friendships and that our art is not our only common bond, our common bond is being women who love life and color and the sensuous application of paint and now each other.

Going onto Saranac and Cognac was a very different experience. The sprawling landscapes of thousands of acres of vineyards and sunflowers would make any plein air painter giddy with delight. It certainly did that for me. I was prolific as usual. I have learned to set up and read a landscape quickly and with abandon. Having a digital camera along with me and being able to send images to “Bon Jour Paris, USA Guide” was an added feature for me. It did mean carrying a lot of extra equipment along with my easels and paints, and now a computer and all of the wires and paraphernalia.

Today as I am packing from the third leg of my month long journey, I am really feeling the pressure of the additional materials. Of course, not to mention I have gladly thrown away most of my painting clothes and have added some Paris fashions to my wardrobe.

I have painted along the Seine and painted Notre Dame. I have painted in the fabulous antique apartment that Marty Holmes and I have shared in one of the most appealing sections of Paris. Marty has been a wonderful friend, assistant, room mate and traveling companion for the past 20 years. She assisted me when teaching for a month on the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship touring to Africa, she carried my supplies through China, and she drives a van in Giverny, all of that from a suburban lady from Duxbury, Massachusetts. She continues to be a devoted friend and fan of my work. But this morning, I am alone and packing.

This afternoon I will fly back to Boston and to my other life. I have loved being involved in many other aspects of teaching, and running a home, but I still hope to come back to Paris and paint and paint and paint. Somehow this is where I am really alive. I love every aspect of the street noises outside of our apartment on the Rue de l’Anciennte Comiedie and the roof tops and chimneys across the street. I love to walk to the Luxembourg Gardens and sit and watch people and paint yet another Garden. I love visiting my old friends at the musee dOrsay. My luggage could be so much heavier if I had bought all of the books that have tempted me along the river in the stalls or at the bookstores in my neighborhood. Last night I dined on escargot and enjoyed a glass of Chablis and toasted my return. I know that I am not unique in my love for Paris, but I am unique in knowing that someday I will either attend the Sorbonne or teach there… which has been a pattern for me in many other facets of my life

Now I am entering a new chapter, with Nikken magnets and products that have allowed me the ability to pursue all of these interests. I hope to spread the word of their benefits and it looks it could be a new career to go along with my painting. When one loves life, one wants to be in the best health possible…I still have a lot to do and I want to share my quest with others.

.Love to All, and kisses on both cheeks




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