SANTÉ!

Patois Garden, 10x10 oil on panel.

Patois Garden, 10×10 oil on panel.

The big week is here. My Double Header. Tuesday I had blood drawn for the PSA test which would determine my future health course. So much was depending on this test result, in my mind, that I must confess it was the singular nervous moment of my cancer journey. Maybe I was still just subconsciously remembering the bad test of March. However, when I sat down in the chair and felt the tourniquet tighten around my bicep, as the needle entered my vein, a premonition came over me that everything was right. The number was going to be next to nothing.

Of course I couldn’t wait to find out. So by Wednesday afternoon, when I hadn’t heard anything, I rifled an email off to Dr. Abouassaly. How many doctors answer your email within an hour? Je suis très Dr. Abouassaly. But he had nothing to offer. In my germanic need for efficiency, I wanted that report in hand by Thursday when I saw him. Rattle-bang-boom, text and call mania, and by Thursday morning at 10:00 I had tracked it down and trekked back to Labcorp, leaving the lab with the results in hand. Seated in the car, the drum rolled in my mind as I opened the envelope. Trumpets fanfared as I saw >.1 on the value line. According to Dr. A, that puts me out of the need for further treatment! It was a upbeat checkup that afternoon. And an intimate celebration that night at Larry’s, our favorite hang out.

Now it’s Friday and almost time for lunch. Focus is on prepping for the studio sale tomorrow. I’ve run inventory, priced and framed the last two paintings. Know anyone looking for a large painting of french countryside? I have some yummy brushy ones to offer! All sizes really. Including the paintings done en plein air in France this past June. Whether you’re purse has padding for a painting or not, I hope you’ll bring a friend and stop by. Corks will pop and light snacks will be waiting. Help me celebrate a successful summer of travel, surgery and sun.

Make a comment below and I’ll give you a special discount in the event one calls your name!

IMG_5501THE WAY I read a letter’s this:
’T is first I lock the door,
And push it with my fingers next,
For transport it be sure.

And then I go the furthest off
To counteract a knock;
Then draw my little letter forth
And softly pick its lock.

Then, glancing narrow at the wall,
And narrow at the floor,
For firm conviction of a mouse
Not exorcised before,

Peruse how infinite I am
To—no one that you know!
And sigh for lack of heaven,—but not
The heaven the creeds bestow.

Emily Dickinson

August Angst

Peaceful Times, the Perigord. Stebner 30x40 oil on linen.

Peaceful Times, the Perigord. Stebner 30×40 oil on linen.

The end of August has a lot at stake for me. I’m nearing week eight after surgery, when I have a PSA test to confirm that surgery was the last step in my cancer treatment. And since the beginning of July, I’ve been painting up a storm for my end of summer art sale August 30, two days after my checkup, which carries with it some of the same anxiety as the unknown blood test result, believe it or not. No matter how you plan the event, you never know who will show and if you’ll have a piece they find irresistible. Insecurities can bubble. All the stars have to align just so. It seems that, art aside,  a good show requires the perfect mix of faithful followers and new devotees. Throw in a great gallery contact for the future and it’s a winner!

Early Hours. Stebner 18x24 oil on linen.

Early Hours. Stebner 18×24 oil on linen.

Anxiety aside, there’s a certain exhilaration in taking blood tests and planning art sales, that’s like a good trip. The unknown created by hills, valleys and turns are what make a journey memorable, paintable even. Whether it’s wondering what your blood draw will reveal, or watching to see who has responded to the invitation to see your new art, the antennae are tuned. In truth, it’s why I prefer Normandy, Burgundy and the Perigord over the plains between Paris and Limoges. Seeing for miles ahead becomes all too predictable. But just as I hope for that irresistible hamlet around the next bend, I long for success unexpected those last days of August which usher in a clean slate and full coffer in September as I set off for a new Artistic Adventure on the Dordogne River.

Boats and Water Lilies, Giverny. 20x30 oil on linen.

Boats and Water Lilies, Giverny. 20×30 oil on linen.

Birthday Wishes

IMG_5425Yesterday, I looked out the door to see if art supplies had arrived and noticed two strange looking tubes sticking out of the mailbox. As my eyes focused and my mind wheeled into gear, I realized that my paintings from the week spent painting with Antonin Passemard at the bend in a country road called Mougny, in Burgundy, had arrived. Eight canvases perfectly rolled into the tightest two tubes imaginable had safely traveled over three thousand miles. 

Today’s work became a return visit to obscure parts of the Morvan where I spent a week painting with 10 other painters from around the world, as I spread out the unrolled canvases and restretched each one in preparation for tomorrow’s  framing session. Those days spent painting barns, fields, mediaeval churches and sleepy towns unfurled in my mind as I was transported back to the pleasure and heat of that chapter of life that led up to my cancer surgery.

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Come to think of it, the days of this summer have been packed just about as tightly with life as those cardboard tubes. Through the mind’s cleverness, I find myself in so many different places at once. June’s Norman countryside, Burgundian villages and vineyards are as real and vivid as Cleveland’s University Hospital and doctor’s offices. Images of this week’s birthday garden party morph into  balmy evenings spent dining in french country gardens just weeks ago. I can’t remember the first time I made a wish and blew out candles on a birthday cake.

All the same, I’m aware of wishes coming true. Deftly, I slip in and out of each place as I paint my dreams, here in my Akron studio, preparing for gallery deliveries as well as my August 30th summer’s end art sale here in the Patois garden on Dorchester. All this contorts like a Disney Fantasia scene, with the realization that in, two months time, I’ll be back in France’s mysterious Perigord and Quercy, painting winding rivers, cliffs and stone villages I haven’t seen for over two years.

That little boy who dared to daydream of castles and cottages years ago, swells with exhilaration, seeing how dreams come true.

Lazy Bones, Mougny, France. Plein air 11x14 oil on linen. Stebner

Lazy Bones, Mougny, France. Plein air 11×14 oil on linen. Stebner

Pushing the Envelope

Dooryard. Stebner. 5x7

Dooryard. Stebner. 5×7

I’ve been home from France less than three weeks and I’ve been painting all I can in between cancer surgery, catching up on weeding the gardens and planning the next painting trip to one of my favorite regions of France, the Perigord. I leave in less than two months. Who wants to see it with me?

My Kind of Farm. Stebner 5x7.

My Kind of Farm. Stebner 5×7.

This morning I finally received the pathology reports from my brilliant surgeon, Robert Abouassaly. Talk about the nick of time. Those aggressive interlopers had taken over nearly sixty percent of my prostate and pushed right up to the gland’s edge on one side, ready to burst out. Happily, all lymph nodes were negative. So we can count surgery a success as long as my PSA test next week comes back zero. I’m already thanking the Universe for zero.

Twilight in Mougny. 6x8 plein air pochade. Stebner

Twilight in Mougny. 6×8 plein air pochade. Stebner

PSA zero and life full speed ahead. I want you all to see the work I did in France as well as new inspiration since returning, from little 5×7’s to larger works. So I’ll be painting and framing all I can, getting ready not only for galleries, but my summer’s end show on August 30. You’re the first to know. Mark your calendars. I’d love to see many of you!

Safely Grazing. 9x12 Stebner

Safely Grazing. 9×12 Stebner

Normandy Hedgerows. Stebner 11x14

Riot of Roses, Normandy. Stebner 11×14

Fourth of July 2014

20140608_143723Just over a week ago, I was savoring my last French coffee and buttery croissant in Paris before packing my brushes to return home from a month in France. I’d led two small groups on Artistic Adventures through some rural haunts of Normandy and Burgundy, as well as studying painting for a week, myself. The next day, I was sipping clear liquids from my sun drenched room at University Hospital in Cleveland, just hours after a successful prostatectomy.

20140603_112224You see, March’s blood tests were not what I’d hoped for. A spike in my PSA results called me to make decisions about new doctors and protocol. April’s MRI and biopsy only verified the fact that my Bavarian cancer cure a year ago was only temporary. All this was a parallel chapter playing secretly as we made final plans to celebrate our daughter’s May wedding and then take off on the French adventures I’d promised a dozen of my followers.

What changed not only my mind, but my FRAME of mind about surgery? At the end of my first consultation at University Hospital, after recommending surgery as my best long-term option(exactly what he knew I was avoiding), Dr. Hoimes said to me: “You’re a young man and you have many more paintings to create”. Brilliant! Ultimately, tail-gating surgery onto the jet-lag of my month in France was just another unexpected turn in the road and my mind was at that perfect spot to experience the unexpected and bring me to this blissful moment, today, snacking on dead-ripe watermelon in the garden. Quintessential Fourth of July fare.

The potager at Chateau Chatillon.

The potager at Chateau Chatillon.

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La Bohème to Bloomsbury

20140617_065601Sleeping in a top floor garret in the old walk-up Hotel Esmeralda à la Bohème last night was all the more intensified by Parisian thunder storms. The perfect punctuation to the end of the first chapter of my French sumer trilogy. However, getting my gear to the station and making sure I was on the train to Burgundy was a bit stormy, itself. Staying calm and allowing ample time paid off. That and remembering that life is just the ultimate adventure.

Any guesses what famous Parisian literary spot this is? My room looks down on it's back window!

Any guesses what famous Parisian literary spot this is? My room looks down on it’s back window!

 

So the three hour train ride turned into five. If railroad construction didn’t thwart the trip enough, come to find out, it’s an obscure French holiday- and the beginning of a train strike. Surprise! There’s a french expression that essentially says the French are either on strike or holiday. Today was both.

Tomorrow’s another day and I’m settled with my new painting buddies at Table-Tableau in the Burgundian Morvan. It all seems so Bloomsbury out here in the country with the only humans being artists. One mission accomplished. More artist contact.

Salsa music is playing, the sun is shining and it’s almost dinner time. I can’t wait to see what our Dutch host, Agnes, has prepared. The table under the patio awning is beautiful and it smells divine.

Bruce is happy and content.

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Ford Every Stream

IMG_2226Just a week and a day ago, I arrived in France with 5 close friends and family to share some of my favorite corners of Normandy and Paris. Several hours ago, the chapter closed as I kissed them goodbye at Hotel du Printemps, Paris(12th ar.), before they shuttled back to Charles de Gaul to return home. Our time in Normandy will be shared in retrospect, as we had no internet at the lovingly restored old mill in Le Bec Helluoin, where we dined chilly evenings by the fire and woke to grazing sheep each day. Add the comforting white noise of the water of the brook powering the paddles of the mill wheel and you have a fine recipe for relaxation.

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Such idyllic moments were accented by day trips to Versailles and Monet’s Giverny to the south and Honfleur, the medieval port town at the mouth of the Seine River to the north. In between the two was a road trip on the “la route des chaumieres”, the path of the thatched houses, along “les boucles de la Seine”- the buckles of the Seine, aptly named for the hairpin turns the mighty river makes north of Rouen and the amazing chateau garden of the Champ du Bataille

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Not wanting to abandon our water theme, we saw Paris from the Bateaubus, the water bus system which transports passengers between eight major sights of Paris along the Seine River. The most relaxing way to see a very busy city. All the years and times I’ve been here, I’ve never done it before, but I promise, it won’t be the last.

Life in the Fast Lane

Silence at last. There hasn’t been time to think or write since the beginning of the month until now.

New paintings find their home with a long time collector.

New paintings find their home with a long time collector.

 

 

The past weeks have been a bit on the hectic side. Just two weeks ago, Jim and I walked our daughter, Amy, down the isle of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Canton, to be married to her own Prince Charming. More sales and deliveries to new and standing art galleries for summer sales have been squeezed into the schedule before heading to France for a month of touring, teaching and studying of my own.

10 Stebner's are on exhibit at Chentini Gallery in Hudson Ohio this summer.

10 Stebner’s are on exhibit at Chentini Gallery in Hudson Ohio this summer.

Now, Jim and 4 friends and family members are on route to Paris, where I’ll meet them and guide them through some of my favorite haunts of Normandy and Paris. Then, I get to study painting at a tiny art center in the rural Morvan of Burgundy before picking up a group of my painting students and significant others to live the good life in Burgundy form a week, then return to Paris. The blog is once again live! Stay tuned for pictures and snippets of France the Patois Way. If you feel terribly left out, you can jump on board with me in late September or early October, when I’ll be in a lovely stone house in the Perigord.

In a month, I’ll be home with new paintings, artist friends from around the world and memories to paint for a long time.

Sharon Weiss Gallery in Columbus continues to sell my work.

Sharon Weiss Gallery in Columbus continues to sell my work.

Stebner, in Your Words

5.5"x12" Stebner oil on panel.

5.5″x12″ Stebner oil on panel. $295, unframed.

Well, the next two weekends I have art shows. April 27 is Artsyism, a show for northeast Ohio artists which supports autism. The following weekend, May 3rd is my spring open house at my home studio here in Akron. I’ve been painting up a storm as well as creating new stoneware garden structures for the events. Here are some samples of what will be available.

A new offering will be some giclée prints of some favorite paintings for those who want a Stebner but can’t fit an original in their budget right now. You can even custom order most any of my paintings in about any size, as a matter of fact! Just ask for a quote.

On another subject, I need your input as I try to expand the Stebner audience. Would you kindly take a moment and answer these questions for me? I’ll be ever so grateful. I’ll even give you a $20 discount coupon towards your next painting or garden structure for your time, good for one year from your posting.

 

Brittany Springtime. 5.5"x12" Stebner oil on panel

Brittany Springtime. 6×8″ Stebner oil on panel, $200 unframed

Red Gate, 6x8 Stebner oil on panel, $200, unframed.

Red Gate, 6×8 Stebner oil on panel, $200, unframed.

 

Just Wondering. 11x14 Stebner oil on linen. $475, unframed.

Just Wondering. 11×14 Stebner oil on linen. $475, unframed.

Lenten Fasts

Self-Portrait, February 2014. oil on panel 11x14

Self-Portrait, February 2014. oil on panel 11×14

After a tease of sunshine and 60 degrees over the past couple days, fickle March has rallied her north winds and is blowing one more snow on us. All part of the lenten torment: giving up pleasure and offering deeds of discipline are not optional in such weather: they are imposed. I’ve expressed my opinion about Lenten sacrifices in past years here, but let me just say that I’d already declared that my sacrifice for this year would be to clean up the trails which have collected behind me like the wake of a motorboat or Hansel’s bread crumbs over the past months. That’s precious time I could be painting, so no questions about the validity of my spiritual sacrifice!

Nevertheless, I fear writing a blog about cleaning one’s own mess bears the possibility of emptying out all my faithful blog followers I’ve struggled to collect over the past three years. Hence, I offer, instead, a peak at some of the work I’ve done this late winter as the piles of paperwork, wood dust and painting rags collected. This collection will be seen at two upcoming shows in late April(Cleveland, Ohio) and early May(Patois Studio, Akron,Ohio). More can be seen in the gallery of my new website.

Hope of Spring, 11x14 oil on linen

Hope of Spring, 11×14 oil on linen

Summer Pleasures, Normandy. oil on linen 20x24

Summer Pleasures, Normandy. oil on linen 20×24