Thursday, 24 April 2014

Finding My Rhythm

I have now settled into my temporary residence in a mostly 16th Century Braeton house, courtesy of the generosity of a friend. The plan is to stay here, use it as a base to explore from (should a painting or two sell), and paint.  If you’re trying to find it, Lézélé en Plouyé, Huelgoat, Brittany is west of Carhaix....set in the middle of the finger that is Brittany and on the edge of the Finistere.  After spending hours every day working with my beloved mare, Dancer, helping her feel secure (still an ongoing process these days) and settled in HER new home, this past week, I began to paint. 

After a 6 month hiatus, the sense of relief was palpable, when I got out the oil paints.  Coaxing the tops off of disused tubes of paint, the jar of liquin, and finding my turps substitute (legal to take on a car ferry...) was nearly a religious experience for me on the first day!  Yet the two paintings I started have come along slowly as I picked my way through the image, trying to work with different light, an image across the room (electrical outlets being a challenge here), etc., etc. 

I first found myself sketching not Brittany, once I’d found the image I wanted of the local disused mill, at Pont Morvan; but Scotland and my beloved Glenfinnan, and also,  the beaches of Normandy and even more so, the markets and landscapes of the Cote d’Azur.  I also found myself suddenly aware that the sketches themselves might be, must be interesting to clients!  I had to tell myself not to be silly, to ignore that voice, because as soon as I paid attention to it (that voice), my sketches became stilted and awkward and DEFINITELY less loose.  Lots of laughter ensued; thankfully, I managed to quell the critic fairly rapidly.  The sketches are for ME and my work, and if a few of them get into the larger world, then fabulous – but not the other way around!! 

Some of the effort of the last few weeks, and continues in this completely new (to me) place, has gone to sourcing materials, solving problems, finding the market, necessary things for my horse, my painting, my sanity!  It’s nice to be able to run to a market and back in 20 minutes (!!), but the other side of that is that I’m finding that I’m more isolated here than I ever was in Glenfinnan.  It’s harder to get out into the world here  - Even to the rest of France.  Brittany is just that isolated in its little peninsula world.  So, a hard realization has been that my beloved cat, Ceilidh is best left with her next best friend, my neighbour, until I am able to move to a less transient home (I miss her terribly!); and that at the moment, any spare cash is necessarily used on exploring my new world, to find my rhythm, to see if this part of France ‘fits’ me. 

I’m now alone in the house for the first time.  Not alone as in “going to the market”, but on my own.  To fill my day however suits me, to not share conversation with someone over dinner one or the other of us has cooked, to not say goodnight to anyone. I like that part of life! In fact, I’m realizing that this is the first time since I left my studio at the Steading in Glenfinnan that I’m truly alone in the biggest sense of the word!  And this timing here now, is pretty much when I thought I’d be ready to leave that studio for the larger world!  Whew!  What a journey! My own devices, bar the very welcome interruptions of new friends or visiting loved ones, completely – answering to no-one!  Rhythm indeed! 

Vuellettes sur Mer, sketch 2, charcoal on paper, 6 x 8 in., £100
 Vuellettes Sur Mer, sketch, charcoal on paper, 6 x 8 in., £100
 Mill at  Pont Morven 2, Sketch in Pencil for painting, 6
 x 8 in., pencil on paper  £100.
Loch Shiel sketch for painting, charcoal on paper, approx. 11 x 16 in., £200

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