JOURNAL

MY NEW HOUSE IN FRANCE / MA NOUVELLE MAISON EN FRANCE

Let me tell you about my new house in France. I'm on my way there now!                                                                 + But I have been on my way there for over 30 years...

Quote by Gregory Kramer collaged on top of a new work on silk

I want you to know that anything is possible. My husband Harvey and I planted a very small seed of this dream many, many years ago, and it has finally bloomed. France has always spoken to both of us. We love the light, the language, the culture, the rolling hills of the countryside and the bustle of the cities. I especially am drawn to the deep love of art as a part of life. Not only am I going to France for six months to live and make work in a modest, old, mysterious home in a small, sleepy hamlet, but I also have an exhibition nearby that I have been madly preparing for. My dreams are coming true!

I want to share with you a little bit about this journey, because I'm not a "second home" kind of person. I raised my family in a homemade home in the woods outside of Athens, Georgia. Harvey and I were fortunate to buy property before the real estate boom in Athens, and we lived extremely modestly as we raised our children. Who needs a television when nature is right outside every window? I am fortunate to not have my values based on material culture as much as the culture that living life as our best selves gives us. A life full of love and leaky roofs and deer-scavenged gardens and the language of the forest. So, how did I buy a home in France? It sounds very complicated to some, but it's really about patience, commitment, and perseverance. Our little house in the woods in the US afforded us the saving of pennies, and the land we own is vast. We were able to recently sell a small parcel, using an incredible real estate agent (and an even more incredible artist!) named Sean Dunn, and we happily and fortunately sold part of our land to a young family with similar interests as we held when we started our homestead. 

So, back to the question... how to buy a house in France? You look and look for years. You travel all around the countryside. You find a small place that feels like you belong. You go back and you visit and you make friends. You find a house that feels right, that's ready to live in but not completely renovated. I like it when homes are real, strong, and full of stories. It's not covered in coats of paint, there is nothing fancy about it. We paid cash for our home, that's how unbelievably affordable it was. It's perfect. 

Today -- right now, in fact -- I am on a plane to live in France. Our son Sam and our lovely dog will hold down the homestead outside of Athens. I will set up my studio in the old barn that is part of the property, connected to the home. I like to think about everything that came there before me, and I wonder how it will influence my work. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. 

This is our opportunity to shine. It is our opportunity to immerse ourselves in a place that we love. It is our opportunity to live the adventure we dreamt up so many years ago. Thanks so much for joining us!

A painting about a dream... read more about this new work and what inspired in on instagram, where I'll be posting regularly. 

Today. Leaving our home in Georgia (with Sam) for our new home in France! (Click to view larger) L-R: René, Sam, Harvey

The full moon waving us away

On the plane to France, 20:30, 12 April 2017

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant  Jess . Check out her studio  HERE ! And more Henry is  h  ere  :)

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant Jess. Check out her studio HERE! And more Henry is here :)

Why I Love France, Part II

The last time I posted here I was in France. Now I am safely at home in rural Georgia - dreaming of rural France.

Why do I love France? Rather than tell you, I will show you. Here are additional photos* of my personal impressions of France. Let me know what you think -- comment below or contact me. I hope you enjoy my survey!! 

* see my last blog post if you missed the earlier posts about traveling in France. 

Why I Love France, Part I

My Parisian friend Etienne asked me a few years ago, “Why France?” What is it you like about France, that you come here so often and want to spend even more time here? What is it about France—especially Paris—that interests you? Why is it so important for you to exhibit your artwork here in France?

I thought it was a good question. I reflected on my answer for about 24 hours, then went back to Etienne and replied:

“The aesthetics in France speak to the aesthetics of my soul.”

He then said he understood.

And for you, dear friend, rather than share more words about what this place means to me, I will share photos that I hope will convey—more profoundly than words—why I want to spend more time in this beautiful place.

Merci beacoup, et à bientôt!

-René

What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I almost missed my train because I was blissfully writing postcards in the waiting room of Gare Austerlitz-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I take a wrong turn when I am walking somewhere and get fabulously lost-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I ask for "le billet" (the ticket) 
rather than "l'addition" (the bill) at the end of a meal -


     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I sleep too long on day 2 but not long enough on day 3-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I ask for "de l'eau" (some water) rather than "d'eau" (a [glass of]  water)-

     What matters is that I am here.

I am over feeling embarrassed or insecure in this foreign country because I don't  know the language well and am sometimes unsure of the customs-

     What matters is that I am here.

I've always wanted to avoid looking like a tourist, I've wanted to fit in, and not be noticed by the people who live there, but I just don't think that's possible anymore-

     What matters is that I am here.

France calls me, and I respond. I go to her. 

     And all that matters is that I am here. 

 

A Quiet Visit to a Café

Shoemaker-Kate+BenCafeotheque-Paris Today, a year after my last visit, I quietly returned to La Caféothèque de Paris. I didn't let anyone know I was coming. I wanted to see this magical place again by myself: explore the rooms, study the walls, feel the space, and find out whether the coffee really is as good as I remembered.

It is.

The espresso I had today was full of body and smooth as silk. No acid, no bitterness; just pure, gentle coffee flavor. It really is the best coffee I have ever had.

The space is also as wonderful as I remembered. It has four connected rooms for enjoying your beverage, each with its own personality. Today I sat in the "Green Room," a setting with rustic wooden tables and plants - including coffee - growing everywhere. The cafe was pleasantly busy; there was a buzz of soft conversation from some of the patrons, while others read or spent time with their work before them.

As I sipped my espresso, I watched the activity on the city streets through the large windows overlooking the Seine and Île Saint-Louis. I watched the cycles, the motos, the little Fiats and Peugeots go by, as well as the pedestrians: the office workers, students, and tourists. The streets were alive, and all who passed by looked as though they were enjoying the day as much as I was.

***
I'm exploring France and calling it research. What artwork will come from my current experiences?  In just another week we'll be celebrating the opening of my first exhibit in Paris!

 

LaCafeotheque-StealthVisit3-MC

Discovering Chartres

StAignanChurch_ChartresFrance-WP We discovered St Aignan Church on the way up the hill from the Auberge de Jeunesse, spending quite a bit of time in there. The patterns of the chairs caught my eye, along with this section cut into the wall. What stories could be told there?

On the old market square in Chartres, where they now sell flowers, we had our first coffee and hot chocolate. A glass of water was 20 centimes extra, but it was chilled. On that first night, from the Auberge, we could see the light from the setting sun hitting the clouds and lighting up the sky around the cathedral. C'était superbe.

The café, 'La Chocolaterie', was on the corner with umbrellas covering the tables, and we ducked under them as it started to rain. It was the middle of the week, and it was quiet in the town.

I love looking at the doors & windows, the patterns they create, and the street corners with the irregular architecture that is older than my country has been in existence. Just about everywhere I look I see inspiration for my art.

***

I'm exploring France and calling it research. What artwork will come from my current experiences?  In just a few weeks we'll be celebrating the opening of my first exhibit in Paris!

Doors & Windows

You may know that my first love, even before coffee and the café experience, was Doors & Windows. I've always been intrigued by the patterns of windows on buildings, by the patterns of the window panes, by the relationship of the door to the rest of the façade, and by the decoration on the door itself. Heaven! Here are a few of the patterns I've seen since we landed in France: image-1

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I love the way this last set of doors is on a slanted street, and the way that teeny door on the left makes me want to open it and see what's inside!

 

Beyond Excited!

La Table a la Cafeotheque de Paris, 4th

I am beyond excited

about my upcoming art show

in Paris!

 

I've been trying to remain calm and stay focused on my work, but now that the time for departure is near (October 14th), I find myself dancing in my shoes without moving my feet. (Did I really just make up that saying? - But, it's the way I feel!)

There is a Facebook Page for the exhibit & reception created by the venue; the reception will be held November 12, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. Please share the news with your friends who might be able to attend; I'm sad that my U.S. friends won't be able to be there with me, but I am certainly intending to make new friends while I am in Paris. I love art receptions!

I've been working hard printing all new beautifully colored prints for this exhibit, and I'm very happy with the results. I will have all the new café prints uploaded to my website before I leave, so you can see the results of this labor of love.

The image, above, is of the café table at La Caféothèque in Paris. Their coffee is superb! You can see the bag of coffee beans I bought and the delicious latte I was drinking when I made this sketch. Très fantastique!

Un café, s'il vous plaît 

Lino prints of the café experience by René Shoemaker La Caféothèque de Paris 52, Rue de l'Hotel de Ville Paris, France November 12, 2014 - January 7, 2015 Reception: Tuesday, Nov 12, 6:30 pm

French Coffee; French Landscapes

René Art is at Donderos’ Kitchen for the month of March. Both the Coffee Cup prints on paper and the silk paintings of the French experience are beautifully displayed together. The food at Donderos' is delicious, and the ambiance is fabulous - go check it out if you are in town! 590 N. Milledge Ave, Athens, GA, 30601

This is a precursor of the exhibit that will be in Paris at La Caféothèque this winter. Do come see if you won’t be able to make it to Paris for the opening!

 

Roujan Hillside-Languedoc Roussillon, France

image Shown here is another view of Roujan, which I introduced to you earlier with the paintings of the Roujan Medieval Quarter, and in another street scene (with the Volkswagen). This view is from the bottom of the hill while standing between the soccer field and the wine cooperative; the school is in the forefront, and at the top of the hill is the town bell tower made of wrought iron.

One evening, as we explored the perimeter of St. Laurent Churich in the twilight, the priest offered us a personal tour of the building, along with stories of the history and architecture. On the feast day of the patron saint, St. Lawrence, the sunlight shines in a small window, illuminating the rose window at the back of the church.

[Art now on exhibit of my French experience at Aurum Studios in downtown Athens, GA for the month of February (last week!). ‘Widening the Horizon’ with Suzanne Gernandt, textile artist extraordinaire, of Waynesville and Asheville, NC.]

Illustration: Roujan Hillside, Roujan, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. 2014. Hand-painted silk twill. By René D. Shoemaker

Leaving Paris, Heading East

When we left Paris, we began driving southeast in the car we had outfitted with a mattress and cooking supplies. I was so happy to be on the road again after the month in the city - breathing fresh air, seeing space, blue skies and fields. Spent the night at Troyes, in the Aube Department. That night we had sheep bahhing us to sleep. We definitely were not in the city anymore! OnTheRoadAgain