I’ve never wrapped up a year, but as this one closes I feel the need to assess what I’ve accomplished and what’s happened in Paris.
In January I wanted to celebrate turning fifty. My day fell on a Saturday night. But that weekend I was supposed to attend a TEFL teaching workshop. I could celebrated another day. Then the journalists of Charlie Hebdo were massacred. The workshop was cancelled. I never celebrated my 50th though I did obtain my EFL teaching certificate. Teaching English to little kids is great fun but I’d rather paint, write and sculpt.
Paris was outraged. I went to the peace march, made my illustration, saw snipers on roof tops.
I began rewriting a manuscript I’d finished in October 2014, White Sky of Paris.
My exhibition of large scale paintings opened at the EXPO on rue Saint André des Artist in Paris’ chic 6th arrondissement. The show ran until April.
In February one of my dealers, Sarah Hasch Fine Art, phoned me to ask if I would paint a life sized resin tiger for a fundraiser. The Amneville zoo near Metz, to create a buzz for their brand new tiger exhibit,Tigerworld, wanted ten artists to paint these bland resin monsters. I’d always wanted to paint a cow for that cow parade thing, but a tiger was better.
The conversation when like this.
“Would you like to paint a tiger?”
“I’d love to…” in a few months when I feel like it, “…when?”
“Can you come tomorrow?”
“I’ll call back in a few hours.”
The following weekend I was on the train to Metz dragging a purple Walmart luggage brimming with acrylic house paints, chrome spray paint, all the wrong sized brushes, and my projector. (Because I project my images on my canvases and on tigers, bien sûr. Sarah I’m looking at you!)
I ran a three day painting marathon in a city bus depot turned artists’ ateliers, met some other artists, and slept with a red tabby named Zelda. Three days wasn’t long enough. I returned to Metz a few weeks later, this time without my projector and the correct size brushes. But with a new suitcase (Walmart’s purple lost it’s wheels and went to the trash.) I slept with Zelda again and sneezed for three days. I painted to live rock music and varnished the Tigre Bleue. Thank you Sarah.
In April the tigers where exhibited in place de la Gare, in Metz and I was contacted by a new gallerist from Honfleur who’d seen mine. I drove my paintings to Honfleur and began my exhibition with Paris Art Web gallery.
In May, Carré d’artistes contacted me to offer an autumn dédicace (an exhibition with a meet the artist paint-live event) in their Lille gallery.
In June, the tigers were auctioned off. Mine sold for a surprisingly high price, better than Ara Starck’s, the daughter of the renown Philip Starck. Yippee!
From May to September, I worked like a fiend to produce eighty small format paintings and twenty large formats for the October exhibition in Lille. In the end, they were a little less than eighty, close to sixty-five small and about fifteen large. I couldn’t paint fast enough, for every time I sent paintings, the adorable Céline Jacob, the gallery manager, would telephone to say they sold the minute they’d arrived.
In May a terrorist cut the head off his employer and hung it on the fence. This was near Lyon. It was far removed but unsettling. Talk of thwarted attacks came on the news and bubbled in conversations. I remembered being locked into a store on boulevard Saint Germain because the firemen exploded a bizarre package which was abandoned in the street.
In July, half way through rewriting White Sky of Paris, the story stopped working for me and I needed to reassess. I discovered K.M. Weiland’s the anatomy of scene structure and decided to make a scene draft of my manuscript. I needed to know how one scene rolls into another.
In July, the Côte d’azur welcomed me. I’d gone twelve months without a vacation and was in dire need. The cerulean water was so cold one day because of a Mistral, I couldn’t feel my toes after a twenty minute swim. But knowing that grey Paris awaited my return I made every minute count. The down time was uplifting and my toes thawed.
In August, three Americans thwarted a massacre on a train from Belgium and subdued another terrorist. Friend’s were on that train we watched them on the television on the station platform.
On October 3rd I traveled by train to Lille for my dédicace, a one day meet-the-artist event where I was to do live painting exhibition and couldn’t. The gallery’s security gate wouldn’t open. It was disappointing for the gallery and myself, but it was one of the best opening days I’ve ever had. Clients came to a café across the street where, the manager, her assistant and I huddled away from the autumn chill. I signed the backs of their paintings, while Céline did everything in her powers to open the gallery. The gate never went up. Thanks to the help of two electricians who jammed their tool boxes under the gate, we slid on our backs and entered the gallery. No way was I going to miss going inside despite the danger. I personalized more paintings for the clients who’d already purchased. I kind of felt like Angelina Jolie when I slid under the ginormous security gate. It looked like a wrinkled wall of metal above me as I slid under, the worry in the back of my mind that it might unhinge any moment.
A few weeks before my show, I’d started Angela James’ Before You Hit Send online editing workshop. I learned bundles about editing. Each day I spent hours on my manuscript, analyzing each scene, searching for unnecessary words, over writing and redundancy. It was pure heaven.
I’d like to enroll in her upcoming February course but I’ve too many paintings to create for a show in June 2016. The temptation is there, we’ll see.
Then I redid my website, said good-bye to blogger after eight years and my other dinosaur web server, passing to wordpress. Learning the wordpress platform was a crash course in a new language.
In October I was tired of painting. I was exhausted all around but made a wonderful trip to to Maryland and enjoyed basking in family love. And on a whim I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month.
In November, thanks to the support of Susan Pogorzelski who I met through Janet Reid’s blog. I wrote 50k words of a first draft for a new manuscript that I’m calling Overlooked. Susan created a Facebook support group for NaNo writers. Back in 2001, I wanted to write Overlooked in omniscient POV but didn’t know how. After fermenting for fourteen years, and through lots of reading, research, and study I was able to write Overlooked as I had originally envisioned. Overlooked is a roman a cléf.
During the NaNo writing, the Bataclan was attacked, hundreds of people were slaughtered. The perps who acted on behalf of some wicked crusade that’s been announced in Europe for the last twenty years succeeded in scary the diapers off us rich folk living life the way we think it should be lived. Free, laic, with women’s rights forefront. I will never be the same. Most people I speak to say something is different. It’s not the same. Suicide bomber’s will do that to you.
François Hollande declared war.
Writing Overlooked kept me sane.
Writing keeps me sane.
It’s nearly Christmas. My heart is heavy as I think of the mother’s who lost their children the night of November 13th. Everyone knows someone who was there. I was supposed to out to dinner in the neighborhood. There was enough news coverage but here is a photo from December 11th. The layer of flowers is ever growing and the crowd of curious is so large it blocks traffic.
AAWE contacted me to create an illustration for a their magazine in lieu of the “events,” as everyone refers to it. The only specification was that the image contain the French flag. It was terribly hard to paint. I’ll post a photo when the issue is released. Here is the rough for an image they chose not to use. It’s Marie Anne one of the symbols of the French republic. Every school has a sculpture of her.
Two weeks ago Carré d’artistes phoned and offered me a new venue. Exhibit my paintings at their gallery on rue Saint André des Arts in Saint Germain des Près, Paris’ sixth arrondissement. They want forty paintings now. In the last two weeks I’ve painted until midnight and all weekend. Normally, those forty paintings would have been sitting in my atelier but I needed a break from painting and feel good I took it. I need to write.
I’ve four more small paintings to finish by 6pm today. I can do it.
Starting mid January 2016 my urban Parisian oil paintings will be on display and for sale at 60 rue Saint André des Arts.
It’s a great wrap-up for my ninth year in Paris. I’m excited to launch into 2016.
I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season full of love, light and joy. I hope the Syrian refugees are taken, especially all the children.
Please tell me how your year was. I’d love to know.