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.

Back in the Périgord

wpid-wp-1433697412930.jpegLeaving Burgundy, Suzanne and I had the sublime joy of picnicking in the Auvergne, surrounded by wildflowers framing the mountains and volcanoes in the distance. Yes, sublime about sums it up. Approaching Limeuil some five hours after departure, I wondered how I’d feel upon returning. No need to worry. As we rounded the sharp bend in the road, tight against the stone wall, all the joy of this little gem shone anew. In the heat of a sunny June, the bridges and stone buildings glow golden while the rivers sparkle. Our ancient stone house, which has sustained centuries of plagues and pleasures, is even more charming than I remembered. Renovations are underway to make it even better.

There’s an extra thrill about coming to town and seeing your poster on shop windows and your picture in the paper. With the help of my trusty student and great friend Suzanne, the show is up and I’ve had a few painting sessions in the Jardins Panoramiques which surround the chateau hall at the top of the town. Tomorrow night is the official opening, le vernissage, as the French say. I’ve choked and woken several nights after hearing that I’m expected to say something after the mayor and the president of the Rives d’Arts. I feel pretty comfortable muddling through daily life in France, but never imagined a public address. Luckily for me, the president is Dutch and will speak in both English and French, so i can follow her lead, after the French mayor. There will be English speaking people at the event, anyway. The Périgord is riddled with them. And my mantra is “short and sweet”. I’ll smile my way through it and keep you posted!

Lean Times to Time Square

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A week from right now, Jim and I will be back in New York meeting new and old friends at the church where we were married last January. This year we’ll be celebrating the opening of my first one-man-show in that amazing city. How honored I am that it will be in a place so dear to our hearts. Thanks to Father Gerth, Jose Vidal and our friend who put the bug in their ear, Suzanne Woods, one of my dear “Artistic Adventure” painting students, who was with me last fall in the Périgord.

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I can’t wait to go. It’s been a long Lenten journey for me. My 40 days in the desert were spent on a cold, steel radiation table every day at 5:30 zapping some obstinate prostate cells that escaped the surgeon’s knife last June. As usual, I’ve planned all my medical attention around trips to France and New York. Nothing, but nothing, can interfere with the joy that fills my soul and drives me to create. My energy and determination are stronger than ever. So celebrate with me if you dare; I have passion to spare. New York April 17. Burgundy May 28. The Périgord June 16. Or my studio on Dorchester Rd. May 2.

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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

Burgundy in a Nutshell

Morning in Normandy, Stebner 10x20 oil on linen

Morning in Normandy, Stebner 10×20 oil on linen

Winter seems to have lulled us to sleep. I confess, this blog entry is a blatant plea for your assistance to help me find the perfect people to take off for a painting adventure in France with me.  As followers of my blog, your recommendation is more valuable than anything. If it’s been in the back of your mind to join in and you just haven’t gotten around to it, please do so now! If you know someone who might be interested, I’ll be forever grateful if you let them know. The Artistic Adventure to Limeuil in the Périgord has two or three spots left. Burgundy has more, as it houses more students. And Burgundy is a great deal for anyone interested in a painting vacation! I’ve thrown in a special offer for college students because I’d love for this session to be cross-generational as well as cross cultural. Flights have just dropped in the last week, so, as two saucy young travel-bloggers say, Shut up and Go! I guarantee a great time!

And for any of you readers who sign up or send a friend, I’ll thank you with a $50 gift certificate towards a painting of any size!

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New Year, New Start

Provence: Chateau Grounds. 11x14 oil on linen

Provence: Chateau Grounds. 11×14 oil on linen

Returning from southern France, I’ve absorbed myself in an annual oblation: cleaning house. Don’t panic, I’m not talking about the whole house! Rather, housecleaning my studio. It was instigated by the purchase of a new desk. Change one thing and everything changes. In this case, not just the organization of my studio, but changes in my painting, as well.

Bowl ofOranges 8x10 oil on panel

Bowl ofOranges 8×10 oil on panel

I doubt if my change in painting approach can be attributed to the clean-up. It’s more the result of meeting my new friend Wendy and having our own little art-fix together in Arles. Unknowingly, she inspired me to try to make friends the palette knife.  In high school, my first painting teacher painted solely with the knife. The 60’s had just ended and the knife was still à la mode. I avoided it then and barely gave it time last summer in Burgundy, where I painted next to my new palette knife-painter friend, Monika Johnson. Nevertheless. the seeds had been planted and now watered. But bref, every time I’ve picked up a knife to paint in place of a brush, I feel like I’m painting with the wrong hand.

French Coffee Pot and Pears. 11x14 oil on linen

French Coffee Pot and Pears. 11×14 oil on linen

At this stage of life, I’m all about confronting whatever fears remain. And what’s the worst thing that can happen in this case? Really! So the challenges of 2015 are being faced head-on. Welcome the fresh breeze of the unknown. As a result of my taking the knife in hand, going back to the brush is already a more efficient process. It’s brought me to paint with thicker paint, having been inspired last summer by Antonin Passemard and Anastasia Dukhanina. As a teacher, it reminds me that words sometimes take a long time to take root.

Blue Skies over Uzes. 11x14 oil on linen.

Blue Skies over Uzes. 11×14 oil on linen.

I’ll remember that this summer when I’m teaching in France in two very beautiful and different parts of the country: Burgundy and the Périgord. Who’s going to face their fears, put excuses behind, sign up and join me? You won’t regret it!

L'Eustaque: Winter Plane Trees. 8x110 oil on panel

L’Estaque: Winter Plane Trees. 8×110 oil on panel

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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Caves and Cravings

In June, I introduced my clients to Paris by ascending the Eiffel Tower in the afternoon, where we could gaze far across the sun drenched city to the Basilica Sacre Coeur, crowning Montmartre, only to ascend Montmartre late that night  up the steps of that monument and look back the opposite direction to see the illuminated city and tower twinkling back at us. Yesterday bore similarities mirror images. We made our way to Roussignac, one of the many pre-historic caves within 30 miles of here, to see absolute herds of mammoths, horses, capricorns, rhinoceros and bisons drawn 15,000 years ago on the caves ceilings and walls. What overwhelmed me traveling several kilometers underground to see such ancient drawings, was man’s intrinsic, inescapable need to create and tell his story in some visual form. When these caves were inhabited by middle Magdalenian people, they were only high enough to crawl in. Like Michelangelo, these first artists drew their stories lying on their backs.

Back on our hilltop medieval village, a mere 8 or so centuries old, we ambled under a clear and starry sky to a lovely restaurant near the top of Limeuil. Sitting comfortably upright on the terrace under ancient wysteria arbors and garden lights, we savored a perfectly prepared repast of Périgord gastronomic delights. Silently licking the last morsels of walnut cake and crème anglaise from my fork, my mind ambled through the day-compressed tour of civilization, from burrowing underground to the beginning of man to this sublime moment of evening exhilaration. And my soul, whatever that enigmatic thing is, felt as full and satisfied as my stomach.

Strike Two!

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If you followed my blog through Burgundy this past June, you’ll recall I was trapped in the “little” train strike that turned into a “big” one. Isn’t one strike a year enough?! Obviously not, since I found myself maneuvering the current “grève” of the french Air France pilots this past week. Thanks to my french Facebook friend, Valerie Pillot, for giving me the heads up early in the week and Julie Kapper, my Delta flight attendant painting student, who advised me to follow my gut and rebook my Delta reservation through KLM instead of waiting to see if you-know-who would cancel my flight or not. They did and I was able to side-swipe what could have been a 4 or five day delay and loose only one.

Add to that snafu a complication of assembling a new traveling easel that put me in a last minute tailspin. That set saws spinning and three trips to Lowe’s for wood and Best Buy for the right tripod. What if I hadn’t been organizing my suitcase packing strategy for over a week? Yoga breathing and repeating the mantra “Everything is going exactly as it should” protected my from my own predisposition to simply collapse in a puddle or scream in outrage. Self-pity, is never flattering and I was determined to stay in the moment and increase my stamina for problem solving.

Success. All packed. Decent sleep. Rising early to take care of those last loose threads, I kissed dogs goodbye, rode smoothly to the airport with Jim at the wheel. A line-less bag checkin and I found myself pre-qualified for TSA, to boot! Here in Atlanta I sit a satisfied soul, having savored a lunch of watermelon salad, roasted cauliflower and a dish of giant italian white beans and peppers. And a glass of white wine. There’s nothing like that first glass of vacation wine. The switch flips and the world is right. When everyone in Ohio is sound asleep or awake with insomnia, my students Rochelle, Mike and I will be settling in to our stone house in the Périgord.

Yes, Jim, “I love our life!”

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Looking Down on Creation

Just a turn in the road, here in the Perigord.

Waking to what looked like an all day rain switched me into plan “B” mode early this morning. While Grif slept in, I did my research and emailed Libby, our landlady. It was a day to hit Quercy, the region just west of us and have a few more mountaintop experiences. If clouds broke we had our paints in tow and could be, as an erstwhile flame said, protean. Look it up. I had to.

First we headed to Rocamador, a citadel built into one of the massive rock cliffs punctuating this amazing region. A bucket list item. As magnificent as it is to imagine humans building it, in many ways it seems a futile attempt to compete with or civilize nature. Thank God, the church houses one of the 180 mystic black virgin in France, which I adore. Having missed the main path, we ambled the athletic gravel shepherd’s path tout seul. Hanging out over the very top of the mountain’s balustrade is vertigo defined. One mountain top down.

After

Before

As the weeping rain continued after lunch, we set our eyes towards a wild card. Libby, our art historian landlady, had suggested the Jean Lurçat(I confess my hitherto ignorance) atelier and museum. Think Picasso. I tried not to get distracted by the huge medieval edifice on a distant hill as we approached the neighboring town but as we climbed higher out of the Dordogne valley to St.Laurent les Tours, we began to hyperventilate as the reality that our museum was the edifice which had captured our imaginations many hairpin turns ago. Cubist tapestries drawn from a medieval donjon!

The rest goes without comment, exempt to repeat Jim’s montra “I love our life!”

Now that’s my idea of a studio, Mr. Lurçat!