I began in Provence almost two months ago excited and not knowing where this trip would take me. My goal was to paint more than I ever have and this I did. I have traveled all over letting my surroundings influence the progression of my work and myself. Arriving back to Aix, after all the experiences and paintings done I was still unsure what I was doing and to what purpose this adventure was leading me.
My understanding of the true meaning of art I have formulated over time but with the narrow guidance of my own. My week working with Kirsten, Margerie, and Jill has expanded my horizons tenfold as to know what I am capable of, how much I have to learn, and what the artistic pursuit is all about.
As enjoyable as the week was the verbal breakdown of “work-shop” best describes the experience. We worked twelve hour days for seven days. We painted the quintessential Provence: the olive trees, the lavender fields, the ancient ruins, the small towns of the Mediterranean, the flower markets, and the many sunsets over the sun baked hills of dry white stone. Multiple paintings a day, all very quick. The physical process was accompanied by spiritual guidance. The only words that need be thought are “let go.” No calculating, no analysis. Free yourself and take a giant step outside your mind. On the surface I have mixed feelings about each painting. Some I am proud of. There were others I wanted to throw into the woods. Beyond my simpleminded scrutiny, I began to feel what it is all about. It’s about moving forward, creating your own experience within the painting, making the canvas many more dimensions than just two, and to taste the eternal. These last words are Jill’s.
I have been humbled by the oil paint. I realize that I have so much to learn and with learning comes tremendous growth. Painting styles that I have never understood or appreciated I now accept with clarity. A Zen master once taught the path to enlightenment as follows: Study the bamboo, become the bamboo, and then forget everything. I envisioned that I would leave France knowing my exact path and my next steps. Instead I am leaving with more questions and uncertainties than when I came. I do not mean this negatively. What I do know is that I have to change, because I have changed. My initial goal of painting faster has been achieved. With that being done, now it is time to immerse myself into everything. All mediums, all subjects, every process and state of mind. The security of knowing the future kills the excitement of life. By not knowing, which none of us do, we can embrace uncertainty and appreciate the natural evolution of our lives. Good or bad, this is the route we have to take. For those that believe in an underlying good, this adventure is an encouraging future. I am now back home in Charlotte, NC amongst friends and family unsure where I will go next. I’ll wait and hope for something great.