I have gone to France almost every year since 2000. Before that I went to France two times, the first time in about 1985, the second in 1992. Some of my friends and family tell me that I need to get out of my rut and go somewhere else. I usually agree and this year I am going to Italy and France, but I do love being in the rolling hills of the French countryside or exploring in a prehistoric cave, not to mention the freshness of French food. And of course who can’t love Paris, even though Parisians are the ones who have given the French the reputation of being rude. It is really only the waiters.
Road in Southern France, 2007. ©Timothy B. Anderson, photographer
Part of my love of France is being able to finally arrive at my final destination, usually now Soréze, after about 20 hours of travel. Once I am in the place I frequently rent, I am there. There is no period of adjustment. I know the roads and the places to go for great food or wonderful scenery. I am comfortable driving and the roads are great and very picturesque. I speak French well enough to get by, and the people are very encouraging and friendly.
Soreze, France, 2009. ©Timothy B. Anderson, photographer
Another reason I love to go to the south of France is that I have always been able to rent a house with a studio. I go there to paint. I first started painting in the small village of Soréze where I attended a painting workshop that emphasized creativity not technique. That was helpful to me because I had no technique at the time. I knew nothing of perspective, color combinations or drawing. I did, however, have a simply glorious time. And I fell in love with painting.
Here is my very first painting.
My first painting, (untitled), acrylic on canvas, 2000. ©Ann Hart Marquis
Once I learned to draw, I went back to it and made the table larger so it didn’t look like the vase was going to fall off. It is interesting to me that I already had the palette colors that I use frequently today.
Here is my second painting done at the same workshop.
Ruins, acrylic on canvas, 2000. ©Ann Hart Marquis
We were at a goat farm and were able to wander around the extensive property. I decided to paint part of his decaying three-story home built in the 1800’s. I love this painting because when I Iook at it, I am able to feel for it as I did then. Later that day I asked a French friend why someone would let this once lovely house go to ruin. The answer was a sad history lesson for me. I was told that so many men did not return from World War I and many homes were left to crumble because no one was there to repair them. There were more than 1,357,800 French men killed and most of the fight took place in France.
France has touched my heart in many ways. I cherish it and can’t wait to get there.
How about you? Is there a special place in your heart that you yearn for?