JOURNAL

JE SUIS ARRIVÉ

Living in France 

When am I allowed to say I live in France? Is it when we bought the house? (No). Is it when we arrived in April to move in? (No). Is it one week, one month, one year after we arrived? (Maybe).

L-R clockwise: coffee at the hearth on our first night here, a composition of flowers against a fresh white wall, our new home before the grass was cut, a break for coffee in the yard

As I rode my bike from my village to the next yesterday, zooming down the hill, on my way to draw the church and castle there, I had the feeling: “I belong here”. I sat up a little taller, looked more fully at the fields surrounding me, breathed in the fresh, cool air and I smiled. Je suis arrivé.

Coming home from a long ride on my bicycle

I have studied French for over 20 years - off and on - but never received the degree I sought as I found that studying the language consumed all of my time (no time left over for art!). It was very difficult for me (all those rules and exceptions to the rules - egads!). Now that I am here, though, I can tell that those years of reading French literature and fables, of taking the Conversation and Composition class a zillion times, paired with previous trips to France… the language is beginning to come together in my head. It is still difficult to speak - and comprehend when people speak to me - but I can tell there is a chink in the door, I can see a path towards understanding, and I know that with every day it becomes just a little easier as just a little more of the words I hear make their way into my brain.

As an artist, what is exciting me the most about my physical world is that there are no right angles here! Everything is handmade, worn with age, settled with years, and roads are created by feet, not by plum lines. The stone houses are created by the patterns of the stones; the interiors of the houses are molded by hand; the door knobs and furniture have been loved by hands for years.

L-R clockwise: the stones that make up our home, a nook for the most fantastic coffee break, a gift from a neighbor - goose eggs along with a chicken egg

Oh, and the landscape… Let me tell you about this beautiful landscape I have landed in. There are ubiquitous rolling hills. There are large skies. When the sun shines, everything is beautiful and green. These nights are filled with skies populated with dense stars, even more stars than our place in the U.S.! When the clouds prevail, it is beautiful in a cool, moist way. The greens get greener, the cows by the road more defined. The roads are narrow and curving here. It is also a fabulous area for bicycling - so much to see with enough of a workout to be a challenge.

Most of the houses are stone structures, as is ours. In Georgia, we live in isolation, in a wooden house, tucked into the forested countryside. Here we are in a hamlet, surrounded by friendly people who stop in to check on us, and give us our daily dose of French. We eat French baguettes. We drink French wine. We marvel every day at our good luck. We are here. Nous sommes ici.

The view! The view!

Click to enlarge and see the dolmen, likely from the Neolithic period

Sunset view from the house

We have the most incredible hearth

The back of the house. So much to discover! Such light!

I love the landscape here!

PS - A note about the election that just happened here… I wish that I had been able to vote, and am so very fortunate to live in a country where love prevailed!

PPS - In Athens, GA, USA, new work is up at BMA @ Home, just in time for Mother's Day! Click here to purchase!

 

Businesses That Inspire Me #2: American Giant

Sometimes I am so delighted by a business transaction that I feel compelled to share how good the experience - and the company - are. In this moment of admiration, I realize how much I can learn from a well-run, ethical company about how I should transact business with my customers. 

I first read about the apparel company American Giant on another blog post, and right away I knew this was a company I wanted to watch. The clothing looked comfortable and stylish, but it was the story that really grabbed my attention: American Made and Built to Last. I requested a catalog - because I love paper catalogs and getting things in the mail - and when it arrived I was even more pleased. The catalog was sumptuous, printed on nice heavyweight paper, with good color and layout, and great photography. The message was clear -  "We started American Giant with a simple goal: MAKE EXCEPTIONAL CLOTHES IN THE USA, AND OFFER THEM AT A FAIR PRICE."      

Wow - I like it! The attention to detail, the quality of the merchandise, and the way American Giant told their story all had me reaching for the “buy now” button. I ordered their newly released pant (“designed to fit and flatter every body type”) and essential hoodie, because for me - that is the perfect casual outfit!

Once I placed my order, the communication from the company was clear and timely. I was even more pleased with the speed of delivery. I received a message informing me that “The Pant” was so popular (even though it had just been introduced) that its expected ship date would be the day my zip hoodie was to arrive, but it turned out that it actually arrived with the rest of my order, making me very happy.

And oh, how I love a good box! Everything was packed neatly in a box that was just the right size. When my order arrived (so quickly!, even with free shipping), I had the perfect ensemble for travel, work, and kicking around town - a black fitted pant and a beautiful, comfortable, well-fitting black hoodie! I have been looking for the perfect black hoodie for a long time, and now I have found it. Once I tried my new purchases on, I realized how comfortable this outfit was. I was sold. So, lessons learned from this transaction are those I want to apply to my own practice:

  • Offer a great product (well made, timeless, and high quality and attention to detail).
  • Offer exceptional customer service (pay attention to your customer, anticipate questions, and keep in touch through every step of the transaction).
  • Use high quality, attractive packaging, and ship in a timely manner. 
  • Make the customer happy with their newly acquired item.
  • Offer Free returns - “any item, any reason, any time”
  • Include the Statement of Purpose everywhere - loud and clear and in easy to understand language

Now I can carry these lessons into my art business as it grows and blossoms. Planning for success means paying attention to lessons all around me.

Another business that inspires me? Moo! Check out my review HERE

Thanks for being here! What businesses are inspiring you lately? I'd love to hear!

SPEAKING OF INSPIRATION: LOVE OF THE LOCAL

If you're in Athens, be sure to see this exquisite exhibition with artist and textile designer (& yet another business that inspires me) Sara Parker:

February 6th-24th @ UGA

Improvisation in Repeat is the result of a process of deconstruction and play. These pieces each execute a concept or set of guidelines which, while agreed on in advance, require reconsideration and improvisation at every stage of creation. The concepts on display range from a mathematical approach to color mixing, layering to create depth and density, and color blending via image masking and transparency.

MORE INSPIRATION: MY LOVE OF LIFE 

Just a handful of images to give you a glimpse into my world. I am so fortunate to make work that I love and to travel!