“the best laid plans of mice and men…..” I had a vision of this time in Normandy, and as is usual in my life, if I make a plan or have expectations, I have to review and change.
Many artists (myself included) need quiet, security, and sanctuary, in order to open themselves up on canvas, show their inner most person to the world (whether it’s in music, on film, on canvas, painting realism or abstraction or something in-between). I find that if that sanctuary is absent in my life, where I am in the moment, that I cannot work. I found myself in such a situation, and had to change most of the outcomes of my first month abroad. I expected respect for the reasons I came on this working trip to France – a small solo exhibition in a small town, to paint in the time off from sitting in the gallery – communicating, in an interesting conglomeration of English, Spanish, French and charades, with people who came from as far as Holland, Spain, the UK, and decided to step into the gallery. I found the opposite; and had to change accommodation, and to decide ultimately if I could even afford to stay in Normandy or to cut my losses. As a result, I can’t paint even as I write this, and that was half of my purpose for returning to Normandy this time. Since my work has been more upmarket than locally in Normandy for awhile now and I really can’t change the pricing, sales, while welcome, were never the big expectation from the early conception of this show. Life’s challenges in New Mexico made it more important to sell….but I still held no illusions on that front! The work here will go to other exhibitions in the UK.
I expected to focus, to feel only my art, my creativity, feel that rush of pure creativity….living, breathing my art….like I did before I returned to the US, or last winter when I stopped working for others to concentrate on my painting for the exhibition. Life is never completely absent for sure, but it’s necessary to be able to keep it at bay. And what I do as a professional artist is just as committed and focused as any other career! So many people just don’t get this! As a result, I found new digs thanks to new friends; but no painting – although I can take photos and sketch a bit – and had to decide, with my organizers, if I could afford to keep the show up til August 15!! We had to analyze the fall out if I pull out half way through versus the fall out if I keep up the show (emotional and monetary fall out).
Ultimately, through the generosity of friends new and old, we were able to keep the exhibition open; and I’m so very glad we did! It ultimately surprised us with attendance – each day the gallery was open I had 20-30 visitors from not only the village and surrounding countryside, but from farther afield in France and into the rest of Europe and the UK. I’ve made new, lasting friendships; one painting sold; and everyone who came through loved the focus of the exhibition on the coastline and kept talking about how “strong” the paintings are. I am so very grateful for the chance to have met wonderful people, to show and talk about my work, and to spend time in a very quiet, lovely part of France.