Staying in a chateau in the Loire Valley, at the “Circle Of Misse,”in France, seems too lofty an experience to even contemplate.
The rolling fields, and soft sunlit, and hazy days, set the erratic mind at ease, and allows for creativity to blossom once again , and the senses are reawakened to fresh possibilities.
Allowing myself the opportunity to take part in this oil painting course abroad in France, seemed like a decadent dessert, filled with chocolate idea.
Was I nervous, and apprehensive before pressing forward into this new challenge? Of course I was. I had not really painted in a very great while, and although I had taken art courses a hundred years ago, I had never really been instructed in how to render with oil paints.
My cousin, Janette, a well established artisan, with incredible talent, would be my teacher this week. We had grown up together, and had shared many moments filled with laughter, and young girl crazy adventures, and late night escapades involving canoes, skinny dipping, and sleeping outdoors, with lots of chit chat, playful banter, and the eating of lots of chips, and chocolate…but.. of course.
For all accounts, we had always shared a deep connection, and caring for one another. She had never been my teacher, and yet what I experienced this week, is that, perhaps she had been teaching me all along, and perhaps, I, had been learning from her all along, as we do, when we push into life experiences together.
This week was about going forward into once again, unchartered territories. I was like the lavender blossom, carried into the next village, eager to spread my fragrance, and waft over to the next garden, not knowing what would bloom, but eager, and yearning to learn something new.
As I anticipated this “artistic retreat,” it sounded so glamorous, and almost untouchable. I walked out the door, and my Mother waved her pale, blue veined hand tentatively my way. The light from the back hall illuminated her slim figure, and it hit me bold, that each time I said good bye, there was a sense of “ would I see you again?”
This, I supposed, is a natural thing to ambush your mind, as you love deeply, and choose to care, and let into your heart, those that can ultimately leave you.
Loving wide open is risky, but …it is worth it.
I traveled to the city of love, Paris. Whenever I think that I am fortunate to let this word off the tip of my tongue, I smile… this is a city with decadent everything. From the art museums, to the extravagant architecture, and fine dining establishments, it just envelops all of my senses to be here. It is glamorous, noisy, busy and quite wonderful.
There is so much history here, that my inmost being floods with intense emotion, and longing to travel back into time, and watch the “goings on” from above. It’s no surprise that there are multiple stories involving building a “ time machine” or two. To feel cemented in place with my current history, and not feel, and experience what others that went before me felt, feels like a flat, and one demensional surfaced space.
I want to view things from their perspective, I’m so curious about their life experiences.
In these past 6 days, or so, I was able to work on 3 oil paintings. I am shocked, with a childlike wonder, that I’ve completed this task. It seemed to be an overwhelming challenge, when Janette, our beloved and charming teacher, let us dare, that this could be achieved.
Opening up to just the possibility that something new, and perhaps, previously caught in your psyche could emerge fresh…was a tantalizing, and welcoming fantasy.
I felt like a child on Christmas morning eying the big colorfully wrapped box that sat waiting for me under the tree. As I wiped my sleep filled eyes, I sat with wonder anticipating what could be going on inside of this gift. Was this gift really for me? Could I be bold enough to dare unwrap it? Would it disappoint? Would I disappoint?
Could I walk through this door, would I be willing to risk what waited for me on the other side? I knew my own history, because it belonged to me… it was mine. I yearned to know what the package contained, what part of myself would I unwrap, if I took that next step, boarded the plane, went to the far away country, and grasped the paint brush that would color my next steps.
The “Circle Of Misse” in the town of Misse was a picturesque location, nestled in a valley in the French countryside. I could lose myself here. I wanted to.
I wanted to know what came next, what was on the other side.. Was I still able to acquire a new understanding in a subject that felt foreign, and complicated. I could disappoint myself, clearly, I could let my insecurities and fear rule here… but what bitter disappointment would I have within myself, if I didn’t at least try to make myself uncomfortable in the field of my unknown and uncharted dreams.
Gazing out my bedroom window on the expansive fields, dotted with trees, was a restful view. It brought a sense of serenity to me. I guess that I could term it, as feeling “ in the zone,” of this artistic experience.
I am grateful, again for being here, in this place, willing and able to take hold of this next vignette, that sits just waiting to be touched.
I was not prepared for the flooding of memories, and emotions that would wash over me as I steppped foot onto French soil again. It was just over two years ago, that I had been here, as my daughter, Bianca would grow terminally ill back in Colorado. Emotions hit me like a wall of stone, and forced me to unpack them. I wanted to roll back time of the past two years, and have my life go in another direction, and yet the time machine was not real, and this was not feasible. It was not possible to bring my little girl back, no matter how badly I longed for her.
I had also spent a lovely time here in the past with someone I had deeply loved, and who no longer was a part of my life. There was a myriad of emotions that welled up , as these memories filled me. There was a loss of dreams, a saying “good bye” to a past that would always be a part of me.
Maybe, I had to let these ones go, to grab hold of my present, and ultimately… my future?
This resonated with me.. it seemed somehow appropriate, and yet strangely out of reach.
Like a distant cross perched on the ruins of a crumbling church, a thought emerged for something that still stood firm within me… hope.
Hope is ever the thing that urges me on, into the next experience, the newest challenge. The shaky ground that I perceive myself to be standing on, is not shaky at all, it’s just my perception of it. It is just how I feel, my emotions, it is not what is true for me necessarilly .
Just as this stone structure has stood the test of time, and this cross silhouetted, means stability to me, it stands firmly positioned toward the glowing sunset, urging me to clasp it firmly, and move forward.
All three of us students who learned how to draw, and apply paint to our canvass , collectively were amazed at what we were able to achieve. Our teacher unlocked these skills in us, and she fostered them gently, and patiently, and we were excited, and dare I say a tad proud , of what we had done.
Sitting in our little art studio drawing, erasing, starting over, and beginning again, our teacher would give gentle correction, and instruction, and would encourage us to see things differently, to really study an object, where is the light, how can the light, best be illuminated. “Make the shadow darker,” she would remark… Then say..” is it really brown, or do you see a hint of purple in it.” She challenged us to open our eyes, and then gave us tools, and a technique, that step by step we were able to understand, and emulate.
There was a process to this creating of something new. We each remarked, at different times, how ominous it was to stare down a blank canvass, and how intimidating it felt to cast that first daring touch to this blank space beyond.
After that first mark of charcoal, or wetted paintbrush touched the fabric of the canvas, it began, and anything was possible.
Just walk through the gate, take hold of it, dare to invision the next part of whatever it will be…do not be afraid.. anything can be made into reality after all… can it not?
Unlock the future of the unknown..can I be bold… will I?.. it’s a choice after all, to venture into that next chapter, the next painting, the adventure of living….will there be loss?.. certainly… it is inevitable…
There is so much to yet experience, and relationships to foster, and life to live… and canvasses yet to paint… and people to live and care for…
There is such beauty that envelops and surrounds entirely even the simplest of objects… and having my eyes opened this past week especially to see the art in a “still life” was transformative…to me..