Last days of France and return home...

I'm home from Ireland and France and still absorbing it all- knowing I'm changed from the experience and curious how the change will show itself in my life. I wanted to show you a few images from the last four days in France...

This is the Abbey at St. Florent le Vieil, a town along the Loire river west of Paris, where the International Pastel Festival was hosted so beautifully. Every artist and organizer we met was lovely and made our little group of Texas artists feel very special.

Coming into town, we stopped to take pictures- the one above was among them- and when we returned to the rental car we found Diana Moya, our leader and driver, unable to find reverse on the stick- shift Renault. Each time she released the clutch the car moved a few more inches toward a plunge into the river Loire. I want to you to picture four very well-dressed dainty women pushing a full-sized sedan up a hill with the car in reverse with me (in jeans and tennis shoes) behind the wheel. Never underestimate the power and determination of women artists! I expect to find a video of this event on YouTube someday, posted by some startled passerby.

L-R: Yours truly, Debra Richardson, Sue Wiley, Mary Beth Martin, the Mayor of St. Florent le Vieil, Patrick Martin, Francoise, Libby Peters, Chris, Diana Moya

An article about us in the newspaper in France...

Here are my two paintings at St. Florent (two others are at the other Festival site in Feytiat, France)...

Evening Flight, and Morning Flight.

Posing with the Mayor of St. Florent le Vieil

The street between the Abbey and our hotel on the water. The whole town was just charming.

Back the next day to really look at all the paintings....
Then we (the Texas artists) went to lunch at this terrific crepe restaurant. This was my salmon crepe with white asparagus and a to-die-for sauce and that's, yes, a mojito to the left of my plate and a glass of wine to the right... uh huh... and an assortment of cheeses, some made locally, and crusty bread. We laughed, we talked art, we stuffed ourselves. Mango ice cream was involved.


After this meal, my dear friend and portrait artist, Libby Peters and I took a walk back to the hotel. We sat down in the grass along the path by the Loire river and talked for hours. Funny- we live an hour from each other and had to go to France to get time to talk. My internal art compass got reoriented by talking things over with Libby. I owe her BIG.
One last look at the Abbey...


Ginette works with the Abbey and generously offered to drive me the 40 km to the train station at Angers on Sunday. She spoke no English and I spoke no French but together we sang along to the Beatles' Penny Lane when it played on the radio and hugged each other and grinned when we arrived. People are wonderful everywhere.
Joanna and I had one last night in Paris before our VERY early taxi ride to the airport on Monday. We sat at this sidewalk cafe by the Seine for a long, long time over our dinner
and coffee and talked about what the time away from home had allowed us to see more clearly about our lives: Our lives are good and it's always worth becoming more conscious about what is now habit and what could be fine-tuned to something better and more authentic.
Back home....
This painting was a portrait (commissioned by the man's son) I did just before leaving, so was now dry and ready for varnishing on my return. He picked it up yesterday, was delighted, and has three other portraits in mind, one of which will be of himself from a sitting. I'm really looking forward to that- it promises to be very special.
Thank you for going along with me on my summer adventure! An adventure that requires a passport is always wonderful, but the one I have sitting in front of my easel with a paintbrush loaded with one juicy color after another can be just as transporting and life-affirming and exciting.
Heck, just a conversation with a good friend can change your life.
Here's to our next adventure!

10 comments:

Joshua Kadtke said...

Such a wonderful tour visually and with words, thanks for taking us to Europe! Glad you had a good (by good I mean amazing) time!!!

Rita said...

Awesome, awesome, AWESOME!!
Thanks for sharing!!
(I especially like the photo of the FOOD! YUM!)
:)

Jo Castillo said...

You are back, yay! Of course I'm away now and we are separated by miles. It looks like you trip was well worth it and you are enthused and have a new plan. That is great. This portrait is wonderful. See you in the fall. Many hugs.

Studio Zanne said...

BRAVO! Susan, Bravo!
What a wonderful experience and how incredibly precious! I can't wait to see the wonderful new paintings that will be inspired from your lovely trip overseas! You're portraits are already so strong and powerful like this one...now they'll just have wings!

Lokelani Forrest said...

What a wonderful time you must've had. It was fun following you on this journey. I'm glad your situation with the car in reverse did not turn into a disaster. Thanks so much for sharing your trip.

L.Holm said...

Oh my gosh - looks like an incredible time! What fun!!
Am still chuckling over that visual of the ladies pushing the car. too much.
Your paintings look fantastic, and I love the photo of you in the arches - looks like a painting itself. great light!

Diana said...

Oh Susan...did you have to talk about our near death incident...? LOL. How come you didn't point out OTHERS couldn't find the 'reverse' either...LOL!!!

We all had a wonderful time during this trip, people were wonderful to us, the food was out of this world, spectacular scenery, and our memories will live forever in our paintings!!!

I'll try to do better next year, promise! :0)

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

THank YOU for taking us along on that wonderful trip! I bet you have lasting effects... I hope you remember everything forever!

Ann Rogers said...

So glad you had such a wonderful trip, thanks for sharing it with the rest of us! Fabulous portrait!

Barbara M. said...

Superb blog entry and paintings. I feel for you. It's hard coming back home from such a great trip. Europe just is so amazing. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. Congratulations on all of your successes. You so deserve the life you're living! Three cheers!

xoxoxoxoxoxBarbara