An artist goes to Paris…

An artist goes to Paris…

My entire life, I’ve loved Paris. I was a little kid growing up in a country down in the deep American South. There wasn’t a lot of high culture available. Somewhere, somehow at age four or five, I heard about PARIS. And I was sold on the glamour, the beauty, the history, the lovely sounding language. I begged my mother to sign me up for ballet classes at Elaine’s School of Dance in Cullman, Alabama. It was located right next to the junk yard in an old metal hut. 

To hear the French commands spill from Elaine’s red lipsticked mouth in time to the classical music was a dream to me. My parents thought it was ballet that I loved. It was really anything that got me closer to anything French. 

By the time I was ten, we had moved to a larger city and I had the opportunity to enroll in French classes. I WAS IN HEAVEN. And I was really fortunate to have a series of French teachers who changed my life.First, Mademoiselle Anne Wideman at Altamont. I have a memory of calling her Mamzy, but this could be one of those mishmashed conflations of the initial French language program we followed called, Le Grand Muzzy. Second, I had the profound honor and pleasure of being a student of Madame George Ann Parker. She was the epitome of elegance, intelligence and joie de vivre. I spent my junior high lunch hours in her classroom, delightfully conjugating verbs and translating Molière. 

My parents never traveled internationally, but they saw the pure passion I had for seeing and learning the world through experience and immersion, and they sent me to travel each summer with Madame Parker. And it was always Paris that had my heart. 

It has been a long time since I’ve visited my city, my great love. So when a friend and collector of my art invited me to join her in Paris, I said YES. OUI OUI OUI. No questions. No pause. My passport was expired (and lost!), yet we booked the tickets and I scrambled to pull it all together while knowing it would work out just the way it was supposed to— me in Paris. Period. 

Let me tell you, the greatest unforeseen delight is to travel somewhere as a grown ass woman. Ha! What I mean is that it is pure pleasure to travel with yourself when you are so fully, wholly pleased in who you are. I was seeking nothing, seeking no one, not going in search of anything or any “lost” part of myself. 

I went to Paris, so entirely whole already. And it meant that every step was pure presence. I was present in the moments, not rushing from one thing to the next. I was wholly pleased in each stroll, each destinations and the steps along the way. 

And it all hit me at once, having visited the art supply store, Charvin. This shop has been on the Seine since 1830, slinging paint and smocks and such to the greatest artists of the past two centuries. My favorite painter Joan Mitchell bought her paints here after she expatriated to France. I took my time here, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over each little thing. The metal cases for the watercolor kits, the lambskin pouches for pencils, the hand made paint brushes made of fine hair. 

Believe me, I procured my treasures— one of which is a travel watercolor kit comprised of pigments I chose my hand, assembled for me in the most magical small case. I profusely thanked the shopkeeper, “merci merci! C’était un grand plaisir de ma vie! C’est un rêve, maintenant la réalité!”

I walked out the door, new tools in hand- each a delight- and as the early Spring sun revealed itself from behind a long Parisian cloud, it hit me like un coup de foudre… I am living the life I dreamed of since I was a little girl. 

I AM LIVING MY DREAM. My dream is my reality. 

And just as that sunshine burst forth, so did all my tears of joy. I walked along the Seine, watching the old bouquinistes selling their wares from their ancient green boxes, the Parisians walking with bountiful bouquets filling their arms, the bateaux sailed along the rushing waters after several days of rain. The cafes filled with locals and tourists, basking in the sunshine. And here I was. 

Here I am, walking along, taking it all in, full of delight, full of gratitude. 

I hope I always accurately convey the deep gratitude I have for this life. Yes, I work very hard. Yes, I live DEEP in my practice of art and living. But it is my life’s work because of the many patrons, collectors and friends who support me in so many ways. 

I am forever grateful. 

To live in gratitude is a practice. 

Again, thank you. 


Original paintings from my time in Paris are now available, see them all here


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