What was I thinking?

It’s official.   I’ve returned from living solo in France for 5 weeks.  Now that I’ve been home for one week and had time to process, I can share my experience.

The conscious planned purposes of the trip were to take an art course to paint on the streets of Paris and maintain a travel blog of the trip.   Except for two weeks, I traveled solo through a country 1/2 way around the world where I didn’t speak their language, experienced train travel for the first time, stayed at local AirBnB lodgings, and scheduled my itinerary as I went; an extreme independent existence.  However, there were subconscious purposes quietly waiting to emerge … those of self discovery.

The very act of setting out on a trip is very optimistic.  What paint do I take?   Will this hat shade my face while I paint? What will I wear?  I had my maps, had planned my itinerary, had carefully packed and weighed my suitcase, and put my liquids in plastic bags, etc.  But as Andrew McCarthy says: “the path from optimism to discovery is a rocky one”.

Leaving the familiar for the unknown can create life-altering moments while on the road, far away from home and routine.  Along the way my lodging plans changed frequently, some by my choice, some by circumstance.  With all my maps, it seems I still got lost at least once every day.  Many anticipated museums were closed because the season had ended or because they were under renovation for next year.   Traveling and exploring is physically demanding with lots of walking and step climbing.  A few days of planned activities were cancelled because I just stayed in bed in slept (on the bright side, I ate anything I wanted included pastries and still lost 12 pounds while I was gone).  I didn’t see or go to nearly 1/2 the places I had wanted to as the emphasis shifted from the need to see the things I think people expected me to see to just sitting and immersing into the moment (like an afternoon of watching the sun play on the water at Nice).

Travel changes us.  I had always thought myself an independent person but this trip challenged that perception. Traveling on a budget is very limiting and the trip at times was excruciatingly lonely and a little scary.  Then a discovery.  As I rode the train from Paris to Nice (while eating my trail mix and looking out the window happy that I was on the right train), I realized that I could and was doing it.  I was on my own, a “traveler”.  I was not one of the people getting off the tour bus and allotted 5 minutes to see a site before being herded to the next stop.  I was creating my own journey even if included fears and loneliness.  So, while I learned I can do this, I’m also aware that I don’t have to.  The next trip will be planned a little differently.

My other self realization was that I do indeed need people in my life and that my home and community should be appreciated and embraced  (not try to escape from them).  I have fallen in love with French cooking and adopted their concepts about food.  Formerly a person that did not cook, I  brought back cookbooks in order to learn and practice my new love (and a new apron as a symbol of my intent).  One week at home and I’ve already changed the dining room with tablecloths and candles etc in order to celebrate my new cooking accomplishments with friends.

As for the art, the purported art course (and initial purpose for the trip) was cancelled.   The travel blog never happened either.  Turns out those were not the real reasons I was there.  I was there as an observer, not a doer, and to learn about myself.  I brought back a ton of ideas and photographs to use in new paintings.   The challenge now is to capture the essence of the French experience on canvas.

P.S.  And yes, I did see the magnificent light that the Impressionists speak of.



One More Workshop before France

Bruce Peil is an oil painter livivg in Texas focusing on the landscape with a wide variety of subject matter ranging from snow scenes, to mountain vistas, sky scapes, to pastoral scenes from his own backyard.

I have time to take one more workshop before I leave for France.   If you’ve ever seen original paintings by Bruce Peil, you will understand why I need to squeeze this in.   His paintings make you feel like you could reach out and touch the landscape.  I’ve never seen such remarkable snow.   Although I’m not a landscape painter, I think the principles will apply to city-scapes as well.   The description fits perfect for what I want to do:  “it’s about capturing a moment in time … capture the scene before the light changes…”   This sounds 37634_1798191x550like a modern day impressionist.   How could I resist?    BrucePeilArt.com

Posted in Art

Help Fans Find You Online: Watermark Your Images :: Social Media Success for Artists

Patty Hankins is like the guru of social media.  This is a link to one of her articles.  If you sign up for her newsletter she will send you a report of how to size your photographs for various media formats.   She has done so much work; why should we struggle and reinvent the wheel?

Source: Help Fans Find You Online: Watermark Your Images :: Social Media Success for Artists

Becoming an Artist


I looked at my calendar and realized that I began this quest about 1 1/2 years ago.  Although I drew as a kid, it never became part of my life because of the perceived need obtain an education and earn a living … life intervened.  Now that phase is behind me and I am free to totally embrace the experience.  It took time to reach a certain maturity level and learn what truly matters to me.

Why do I paint?  Because it makes me happy.  Selling a painting is a very pleasant by-product but not the primary reason.  I love the process and I love sharing my art and touching someone to bring a smile to their face.

What do I love about the process?   I love seeing the image in my head take shape.  Usually I have only a rough idea of what I’m doing … I don’t sketch and do composition drawings; I just begin to paint.  Often, and understandably, I don’t like what I’ve painted so I paint over it.   Sometimes I get stuck and have to prop the canvas along the wall before the next step emerges.  I think the re-painting over a previous attempt gives history to the painting and documents/celebrates the process.

I sincerely believe that I channel my work from a greater source .. after all, where do ideas come from?  How do I decide to change a line or pick a color?   I think that given time and practice I will become more perceptive of the images that come to me and more skilled at executing them.   For now, I’m exactly where I need to be.

Why Paint?

Martha Erlebacher says “I think we recreate the visual world as a hedge against death.  Every time we make a picture of something, we are creating a parallel universe which will outlast us.”