Burning Home Fires

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Last summer, this blue-eyed wanderer spent a record six weeks away from home, teaching and conducting Artistic Adventures in France. It led to the beginning of the now-thwarted, overwhelming attempt to move there permanently in August.

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Then a plan B, filling the autumn with the upheaval and excitement of moving and restoring our new Highland Square home, which boasts not only a first floor painting studio, but also two wood-burning fireplaces.

Supposedly…

With major construction behind us, Christmas Day, itself, was a delightfully quiet one. Anchored by a day-long fire in our newly rebuilt(smoke-free!) fireplace, it was interrupted only by a long, leisurely walk in the sun with our trio of canines.

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Life’s rhythm has changed since moving a little over a mile from Dorchester Rd. In our new hundred year old digs, incorporating many of the events we love about French village life has been possible: walking to the market, cafes, coffee shop and pharmacy as much as possible. And the fireplace.

1934574_10207495839292708_3509966120791038704_n.jpgLoosing the convenience of an on-off gas valve to control the fire has slowed our pace further, leading us to revel in the leisure and the labor of the moment. Evenings spent lingering by the fire until only embers remain have brought further contentment to this new chapter of life: a silver lining to the inevitable limitations accompanying these onsetting “Golden Years”.

12391773_10207541328869919_2387994479260122359_n.jpgAs I listen to the crackling fire while planning new summer French Artistic Adventures, for the first time, I feel a wistful twinge about being away from home, measuring the number of weeks and days I really need to be away from our new dream.

 

Paintings: June in France

Tomorrow marks two weeks home from my summer painting/teaching excursion in Burgundy and the Périgord. Blogging was minimal because we had very little wifi. Also, there’s been a problem with my blog site domain name, which I’m happy to report was corrected yesterday. If you’re reading this, you’re back in the fold. Welcome!

I’ll try to write more about the trip in hindsight, but for now, sit back enjoy this little video of some of the finished paintings from the trip. I’ve taken time to tweet them from their raw state which you might have seen either here or on Facebook while I was gone. They are all either 6×8, 8×8 or 8×10. Now they’re ready to find their home. Feel free to contact me for prices. Shipping is free.

Packed

Packed: The past weeks were scheduled “comme d’habitude”- as usual. Work. Concerts. Company. Parties. Add a last minute mural job that filled two days. Add a trip to Sharon Weiss Gallery in Columbus to exchange work which took one day. Round it out with a last minute overnight to NYC to pick up the paintings that didn’t sell at my show at the gallery of  St. Mary the Virgin, and there’s a week’s worth of time stuffed into my last two weeks before leaving for France.

Packed: France this round adds one more dimension. Beyond 5 weeks of clothes and painting supplies, three weeks before taking off, a one-man-show was negotiated in the Chateau Hall of Limeuil in the Périgord. That means I had to figure out how to fit finished work into the suitcase, as well. And the days of two free suitcases for international travel are over, which means I’m on a fifty pound limit, plus carry on luggage.

Packed: Stress was mounting the last week, right up to the ticket counter, when I discovered my suitcase weighed fifty-seven pounds instead of the forty-eight it weighed on my scale at home. Of course that may have something do with the suitcase hanging over the sides of the scale. Thankfully, there was no line, so I had time to repack, transferring seven pounds from my suitcase to my backpack. But the mission is accomplished and I’m listening for my Paris-bound plane load in Toronto. Twenty minutes late so far. Happily, I have no connection to make. Just two art exhibits to cram into one day, before mounting the train Wednesday morning to head to Burgundy.

New York City, Here I Come!

Belle Normandy, 16x20 oil on linen

Belle Normandy, 16×20 oil on linen, Stebner

The cold of winter has served me well. Creative juices have been kindled like a roaring fire. With spring, I’ll be just as busy showing the work I’ve created in these months of studio hibernation. Consider this blog entry a personal invitation to attend my upcoming shows! I can’t wait to show you my new work in person. It’s just never the same online. Here’s the lineup.

White Tulips, 11x14, oil on Linen, Stebner

White Tulips, 11×14, oil on Linen, Stebner

The Rest of the Pepper, 6x8, oil on linen, Stbner

The Rest of the Pepper, 6×8, oil on linen, Stebner

AKRON, OHIO: March 7, beginning at 7:00p.m. My mother would be 92. This season is dedicated to her. I open a one man show that evening at a very special gift/floral shop here in Akron: Every Blooming Thing. It’s also the night of the monthly art walk in Akron. This show will feature many of my new, smaller paintings, which I’m passionate about. intimate portrayals of fruit, flowers, animals and secret places abound. The nice thing about this show; you can take your purchase with you on the spot.

Faded Glory, Brocante, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. 16x20 oil on linen, Stebner

Faded Glory, Brocante, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. 16×20 oil on linen, Stebner

NEW YORK CITY, Friday, April 17. Every artist dreams of having a show in New York. I’m thrilled that my fist show in this mecca will be at a very special venue, dear to my heart: St. Mary the Virgin, Times Square, where Jim and I were married a little over a year ago. This amazing venue, at 145 W. 46th St, has a gem of an art gallery. I’ll have a one man show of larger french interiors and exteriors exhibited here for two months. Who’s going to come celebrate the opening with me Friday, April 17? I’d love to see you there! Evening hours of the reception to be announced.

L'amour des trois Oranges, 8x8 oil on linen panel, Stebner

L’amour des trois Oranges, 8×8 oil on linen panel, Stebner

AKRON, OHIO, Saturday, May 9, noon to 4p.m.. Annual Studio Spring Open House. Enjoy the garden and studio as you shop my art and antiques from France.

May 29-June 4: Burgundy, France Table/Tableau Art Center

June 16-26, Limeuil, France

Who’s tempted to fo to France with me in June but on the fence? The dollar has never been stronger and flights have dropped. It couldn’t be a better time to see Burgundy or the Périgord with me. Burgundy is a bargain. The Périgord is one small group of four or five of us. Space remains in Burgundy. Just 2 places for the magic town of Limeuil, France on the Dordogne River. Questions? Click on the links or call. I love talking about these intimate peaks at France! And feel free to share the blog with others or make comments. I love knowing you’re there!

Contemplation; What's Next?, Normandy. 12x24 oil on linen, Stebner

Contemplation; What’s Next?, Normandy. 12×24 oil on linen, Stebner

Looking down on Creation

IMG_5718It’s a wonderful thing to be in Aix-en-Provence, the home of Cezanne, under the protection of Mt. Ventoux. From almost anywhere in town it’s possible to look about and see the famous mountain standing guard. The city itself is a picturesque, provençal, mini-Paris: friendly yet chic, rooted in historic yet youthfully progressive.  And then there’s the food…

unnamed 2Just 45 minutes from Arles, it would have been an easy day trip. But with an invite from Wendy’s daughter, who was leaving town for a skiing weekend, we were packing the Peugeot, Viggo, the cocker, and all, for an overnight in her 200 year old family cabane, high above the city. What could be more romantic than turning off the busy road on the edge of town only to cross a narrow, one lane, stone bridge, le Pont des Trios Saulets, immortalized in paint by another famous figure, Winston Churchill? It was just a foretaste of the rustic pleasures in store at the stone cottage up the mountain, where we could look down on the city or across the valley to Mt.Ventoux, itself.

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Saturday in Aix, as in many cities, towns and villages in France, is a time to faire les magazins- go shopping, whether for necessities or luxuries; and we did our share. From open air markets to antique art boutiques to Hermes, we covered the gamut. That night, after Wendy and I had a little paint-out in the garden, we all relaxed around the fireplace with Robert’s favorite pizza and wine, resting up for our big Sunday walk down to Aix and back. Viggo was in heaven and we weren’t far behind.

unnamed 3Back in Arles, after a late afternoon trip to the hill town of Les-Beaux to scout out more painting sports for future tours, we were once again at table, dining, wining and plotting an autumn Artistic Adventure not to be missed.

Who wants in?

Absence

1412599836404It’s a well-known axiom that inaccessibility or distance increases an object’s value. C’est la vie. Just before opening this post to write, I was editing all the photos that had been locked on my phone for weeks, finally successfully downloaded to my computer. Listening to Lara Fabian chant her hit, “Je t’aime”, I couldn’t help but ache to regain some of the Dordogne Days of the past three weeks.  Every photo I open oozes happiness, joy and beauty that was my Artistic Adventurers’ daily fare.

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Home again, we settle into our familiar routines, lovely in their own right. Traces of travel still litter my studio- paintings to inventory and supplies waiting to be put away. I have hopes of picking up a paintbrush tomorrow and begin to relive my vagabond moments in the privacy of my studio, as I paint more French memories. Suddenly, I think of my grandmother, a brilliant Oberlin-educated suffragette, destined to spend her life raising chickens on my grandfather’s farm. Never going farther than the grocery, she only traveled through books and decades worth of letters from her British pen pal. But it was her retelling stories of the world beyond that filled my imagination with a thirst to see its wonders with my own eyes. I see even more when I paint it.

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