Monday, August 20, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

My week long holiday, spent in my home town, ended yesterday.

I still am feeling all of the pleasures that week brought me. I woke when it suited me. I spoke to whom I wished. I walked to destinations that appealed. I took a bus, or a subway when that destination was further than I wanted to walk.

Best of all, the opportunity existed to re-connect with many of my old pals. Some of these folks also keep worker's hours, some are more free lance, or even not dependent on work for livelihood. Many of these friends have schedules that conflict with my usual timings.

So...what a delight to have so many lunches, all over New York last week in the company of people whom I have known for as many as forty years. That is a shockingly high number of years, but also quite a tribute our wishes to stay in contact. We have gone through our early adulthood, with lots of hopes and energy, through not-s0-early adulthood and the reality that it brought us, to a later stage of adulthood that we now wallow in, wondering how that many years have passed.

These friends and I know each other well. We know all our family stories, our successes, disappointments, and above all, our resilience. Friends indeed.

What else happened on my vacation. I had the nerve to begin an oil painting. When I went back to work, in my lovely employer's retail world five years ago, I stopped painting on canvas. I did not have the time, or the calm to even contemplate doing a "real" painting, and would settle for nothing less. As the years passed, doubts entered my confidence that I could still manage to paint anything worth the effort. My handwriting has declined, and I wondered if that signalled some sort of diminished hand/eye coordination. How we doubt ourselves!

So...I had some canvasses stacked about in a corner of my apartment. I had some paint that I was sure had not totally dried up. I had some brushes that seemed okay, but others seemed quite raggedy. I also was not sure of the clarity of the old bottle of turpentine.

On day two of my vacation I made a very swift round trip, via surprisingly on time subway trains, to a downtown discount art supply shop, and got new turp, and four new brushes in the shapes and sizes that I always wear down first. Back home quickly before I lost the confidence to begin. I began a new painting, on a very beautifully sunny morning.

I have the northern light outside my window in the room where I paint. Natural light is very important to me. So...all was good. I began a new still life, featuring a beautiful, if humble, blue and white transfer ware cup and saucer that I bought on my last visit to London.

The cup and saucer were bought from an antiques dealer I had visited for many years, who had a little shop within "Alfie's Antiques Market," on Church Street, off the Edgware Road. (That area has featured in some dramatic news coverage in the past few years, but I think of it in terms of pretty china, or silver or antique textile treasures brought back to the States. When I bought this blue and white, the old lady with the stand/shop said that she would soon be closing up because business was so bad, it cost more for her to come up to London than she made in a day's trading. So, I will not see her again. Painting the cup and saucer fills me with many memories of what I have seen along those blocks of Church Street.

The painting is going well. I got enough of it established during last week that I will be able to go back to it, when I have a spare few hours or more, and polish it. Hand and eye still are coordinated. What a relief.

I did lots of hours of reading as well, finally beginning an absorbing, and perhaps inspiring book by the Dalai Lama, given to me by a Tibetan man who is part of our store staff. Tonight he is in Nepal, visiting his family. I hope that his trip will be safe.

It was possible to see lots of bad art in galleries, some good art in Museums, and hear very good music for free under the stars during the annual Lincoln Center out-of-doors festival. I live less that ten minutes' walk from Lincoln Center.

My week off also gave me time to do much thinking, sleeping, eating properly prepared meals (prepared both by me, and also, as I ate all those lunches with old friends, by skilled chefs.)

Back to work. Already have faced a few challenging, if somewhat banal, emergencies. My staff were very glad to see me. Today I got to the shop before 8, to host the company's visual/creative wizzards' conversion of the shop from the August to the September collection. The sales floor looks very beautiful. The front window display is very creative and beckoning.
Our business should be fantastic as fall arrive. We are lucky that New York is now in a cool spell, perhaps as a result of weather fronts being rearranged by the hurricane in the Caribbean.

I heard many compliments from company big wigs. Their words are nice to the ear, but I know that the weather of compliments can also change quickly. Nice to hear now, but be able to take shelter!

Tomorrow I have a day off. Time for errands. Counting my blessings.
It has been fun to read lots of your blogs during the past week. I did not always leave comments, but always liked the opportunity to travel to many other parts of the world without leaving my keyboard.

Pleasant dreams to all.


  1. Its so refreshing to see a sight like yours....I am a painter who started painting late in life.I completely identify with your perspective...I feel I am going through another childhood...the wonder of life seems to be coming back.Thanks for the insperation...from a small town in Indiana.

  2. Good evening Frances
    You certainly packed a lot into your week off! So glad to hear that it was all that you'd hoped it would be and that the return to work wasn't too rough.
    I am interested in your taking up oils after a long haitus. It's good to hear that you have had a happy return to that form of expression! I look forward to seeing a photo of your 'gift reborn' sometime in the future!
    All the best for your day off.

  3. Good morning from Wales. I am awake in the wee small hours again.
    I am back to work tomorrow, not a great feeling, though I love my job it's always a wee bit hard to go back after a holiday. But before the morning is over it will seem like I haven't been away.
    So glad you had such an enjoyable break and took up painting again, I look forward to seeing the finished result. Enjoy your day off.
    Back to bed for me now.

  4. Glad you had such an enjoyable relaxing break Frances, and lovely that you have started painting again.

  5. I love the smell of oil paints and your lovely blog brought back happy memories of art classes at school.

  6. Frances, Lovely to read about your week and you sound so relaxed and care free. It is indeed a joy to have such good friends and so glad you were able to spend some time together. The painting, the blue and white china , both seem to have strong memories that you have rekindled. This painting will surely be the result of the hand, the eye and the heart. You sound very pleasd with your results, like you really enjoyed it , well done for getting back to the oil painting. The tiny red tomatoes , a lovely subject and you are obviously inspired. Looking forward to the photographs when your painting is complete. Milly x

  7. Hi francis i'm back from my sojurn in the city,and glad the concrete hurts my feet and my back aches with adjusting my step's to suit others, i'm not very good at it and get cross..we spent lots of money though and got Nell kitted out for school... home now where i can stride out...I'm glad you took time for yourself you deserve it and how nice to go back to the new displays..xxoo

  8. Hi Frances,

    Just dropping by to say Hello, it's been a while since i last on purple coo land, but had a little time to myself today as Evie has taken Lucy out to Marwell Zoo, down near where her Uni is at Southampton.
    Evie is coming out to stay in NY soon for a week to see her friend. Her friend is having a fabulous time with her work experience.
    Warmest Wishes
    Elaine x

  9. Hi Frances,so glad to hear you have enjoyed your week off from work...also your painting abilities with the hand eye co ordination are very much still there ....good feeling for you I trust...
    Is that painting of the china your most recent one Francis? I love it,the colours are beautiful and the capture of light is just lovely too....
    Please could you post some more pictures of your work....would be lovely to see them all....
    Here's wishing you an enjoyable return to work!! less stress hopefully...

  10. Thank you very much for your sympathy and advice in respect of my shoulder... I don't know how it started it did just creep up on me. I keep trying to think when, (probably losing my memory too!!).

  11. Good Evening Frances,
    So glad you had a very enjoyable week. I love paintings in oils, I have two very large framed oil paintings handed down from my family, sadly though they need restoring. I look forward to seeing the finished piece of Art Frances. By the way, I came across a website that you may be interested in or may not, but will put it here anyway.
    She is a Brooklyn Artist.

    Best Wishes To You Frances.

  12. Hi there Frances as busy as ever even en vacances! I do hope the painitng goes well, less doubt is a stultifying thing adn one must not let it take over! Visited the museum of modern art in ceret recently,thoroughly enjoyed it and htought of you and MOMA. Saw Picassos ceramics for the first ime and was not overly impressed, very much a case of the emperors new lcothes I suspect, if anyone else had doen them then they would have had very much smaller press coverage adn praise!!!

  13. Hi Francis me again no sorry did not get your email whislt I was away..oh dear probably being deciphered by the pentigon at this veyr moment for hidden agendas!!!

  14. It sounds like you had a lovely week Frances. I do admire you taking up the canvases again.
    You do have a real gift.

    I love to paint and never have time with my small craft business. How ironic, that the thing I loved so much to do inspired me to start the business yet now I don't have time to do what I really love to any more.
    There must be something wrong in that-I shall have to put it right...

    warm wishes

  15. Fair play to you Frances, I dabble in water colours when the humour is on me, not often lately, but it is so calming to close the mind to all around and focus on what the picture about to unfold on canvas, is about to appear as.

    What a wonderful way to keep a lovely memory alive.