Thumbnail studies

One Month in France, week four

I’m writing this from Montreal. The month in France came to its conclusion. We are home.

It feels strange to look out the window and see the same sad, post-winter backyards, the patches of snow that refuse to melt. The trees that can’t grow leaves because the weather is still not warm enough.

It was hard to be away for a month and yet, it seems it went in a blink of an eye. The final week was a struggle because most regular Airbnb’s are usually furnished for short term stays and if you are staying longer there are a few additional things you have to take into consideration.

For the entire month I couldn’t do any sort of workout. One day I tried to do Essentrics but it didn’t work very well. I didn’t have a yoga mat and the floor was slippery.  The chairs were hard, the futon was excruciating. The street was incredibly noisy. People yell a lot at night.

Creative Block

I had a pile of art supplies. I’d brought everything: good watercolor paper, two sketchbooks, two palettes full of paint. I had the Pentel paintbrush, water brushes, microns, you name it. And yet, I could barely take out a pencil. I didn’t know what to draw, what to paint. I was completely uninspired. I was stressing about this major pause in my projects, about how I would get back to the swing of things.

FlowArte painting
Here I am, demanding the water and color to converse. One day I painted a cow, another day, simple textures. A portrait too.

We visited a small town called Aix-les-bains. It has more charm than Grenoble and it’s a lot cleaner. They have a beautiful lake which we found after walking aimlessly for about an hour. It was the first day in months we were able to sit for a good while in the sun.

aix-les-bains

I managed to pull out the sketchbook and just went back to the basics. Value studies, thumbnails. At that point I realized my impatience has hindred me more than I thought. In my quest for becoming good quickly, I skipped essential practices that are extremely powerful. Doing pencil studies before painting is so helpful, especially when you haven’t yet trained your eye-hand coordination. I’m so “desperate” to paint with my brush and stop having to sketch in pencil that I ruin more paper than I want. As I did these quick studies, I realized how my lack of humility and patience had blocked me during this trip.

I truly believed I would walk around, sketchbook in hand and paint these amazing urban landscapes. Well, surprise Luisa, you haven’t practiced in a year and… do you really want to do urban sketching?

Surprisingly… no.

As I felt the month winding down and very little to show for it in terms of art making, I was feeling discouraged. But then I noticed how as I did other activities, like writing and reading for hours (sometimes until 2AM) my brain was giving me a direction. It was telling me that yes, I can paint watercolors, I can keep practicing urban sketching, I can continue to make beautiful leggings for the poets of body movement and create artwork for lovely notebooks. I can continue to make portraits, but there has to be a common ground. There has to be a meeting point where my love of words, pictures, philosophy and ideas meet. And so I didn’t paint much, but I came home with the seed of a project. Its time has come.

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you had a brief introduction. I am reaching out to people quietly and gathering stories, thoughts, perspectives on a topic that is rarely discussed.
I feel like I’m finally finding a thread.

Donc, merci la France, for the bookstores, for the magazines, for the exhibitions. For the pastries and the fantastic wine. For the mountains, your beautiful language, the delicious morning bread. For the color palette, the postcards and the diversity you still embrace.

Panorama-grenoble

All photos by the love of my life.