It’s 3:29 AM and I’m up communing with my favorite early morning sky. I did so in Paris as well, only those times I was perched on top of the toilet seat with the bathroom door sealed so as not to wake Suki. As mothers get up at all hours for their infants, so too do creatives make themselves present to incoming inspiration =P
One of my quiet internal simmering hopes for this Paris trip was to be exposed to the lives and works of creatives from the past. More than just seeing a painting of theirs, I wanted to see artists’ studios, gathering commons, and walk the streets that inspired Chopin, Fitzgerald, Monet, Van Gogh, and more! So many artists found themselves living in the “City of Art” even for just a brief period of their lives, and here I had the chance to go with my artist sister to see what kinds of inspiration still lurked on those old streets.
However, upon meeting up with Suki in Paris, our own little shared world came into being and those simmering hopes took a backseat. Suki and I entertained each other with plenty of goofiness as seems to be the trend in our sisterhood. Plus, being greeted multiple times daily, “Bonjour madame,” gave me happy goosebumps, as did many run-ins with street musicians using their gifts to spread the love. Actually, among my siblings I am known to burst into original song when the mood is right.. and the mood was often right in our Paris world.
The last portion of one phrase from such a jingle: “Someone’s a Little Crazy and That’s Ok with Me,” became very useful in processing all the foreign encounters we had. For example:
“Oh, you gotta open these train doors yourself.. (and that’s ok with me)”
“French people don’t readily smile so much..” (and that’s ok with me)
“This museum directory is inaccurate..” (and that’s ok with me)
“Hmm, this towel wasn’t clean..” (and that’s ok with me)
“It appears we bought the wrong train ticket..” (and that’s ok with me)
“The hot water ran out..” (and that’s ok with me)
“Oops, we missed our stop..” (and that’s ok with me)
“I don’t know how to say…” (and that’s ok with me)
“Wow, it costs a whole euro to use this tiny toilet..” (and that’s ok with me)
Paris, like any travel destination, was an opportunity to practice life.
One thing I’ve come to love deeply about watercolor painting is that it asks the painter to take joy in spontaneity by remaining in the present moment being a creator in a state of receptivity. It is like keeping one’s composure whilst navigating through a large moving crowd of people. Little openings reveal themselves only when you are already there in that very moment looking for what is next. Somehow you can harness its unique properties to blend and flow where other media would not, and create an atmosphere like a memory or fragments of thoughts. It asks you not to premeditate too much, and bring a flexible open heart to the blank paper..with a willingness to go with the flow.
Eventually, there is a ‘final product’ and you put the brush down. But as a mentor artist from my teenage years said, “The real art is not the finished painting, it is the process. When you are done painting, the art is over.” Now, through watercolor, I finally understand what he meant. The message is no different from those who have said that one’s life is a work of art. With what mind do you wake up at 3:30 AM from a loud neighborhood rooster’s crow? When impatience besieges you when the many lines you stand in each day move slower than usual? When other people want to share their perceived problems with you?
As with watercolor, in life we are all co-creators. As the day unfolds, no matter how tightly we’ve constructed our schedule and repeated our intentions, something greater unfolds that we are merely a part of. To cultivate the flexibility and willingness to roll with life’s punches and learn to see the little openings that appear out of the apparent chaos is real life magic. The end product is always just a shadow indicating the real presence: the heart and mind behind the action.
All an artist really is, is a finder of this magic.
I am deeply thankful for the many opportunities to roam the globe this year and learn to see my perceived world through watercolors. Also, I am grateful to have shared these roamings with very special people. This entry concludes my ROAMoChan 2018 travels (I think).
I don’t know what I will paint next.. and that’s ok with me~
Boat on Monet’s lily pond; Giverny, October 2018
“La Pie” (The Magpie) by Claude Monet; Musee d’Orsay, Paris