Having retired from many years work in critical incident response, chaplaincy and pastoral care in Australia, I was adventuring in France,when an injury to my leg, instead, led me to an oil painting workshop with American impressionist painter Jerry Fresia at his studio in Lenno on the shores of Lake Como.
I had never painted, except for taking art at school, but had lived around artists for much of my married life and given birth to three, so in approaching retirement had often pondered if all those years of observation might count for something?
Jerry’s expert tuition over one magical week certainly dispelled any misconceptions I had that artists were born imbued with talent. Instead Jerry taught that in learning to see as The French Impressionist's did, I would paint. The excitement was profound as I began to discover this dimension to myself that years of self doubt had hidden.
It seemed fitting to create a new persona. There have been many and varied chapters to my life, and this is a completely new one. At 74 I am a very late starter, but what a wonderful way to discover more of who I am and to keep growing, instead of battening down the hatches to wait for Godot!
As Jerry teaches his students, “The painting is the by product of becoming more of who we are, they are little chinks of expression that happen on the way to finding ourselves.” (From “The Practice and Philosophy of French Impressionism,” by Jerry Fresia)
Adopting such an attitude has been really helpful to me. In letting go of all preconceived ideas of how I want a painting to be, or what artist I would like to emulate, I can enjoy the process and be surprised by what emerges.
The idea for this page might not have been, but for the paintings of Julian Merrow-Smith at www.shiftinglight.com. Julian’s daily paintings, entitled Postcards from Provence are in my opinion, and from the comments of his many thousands of followers, food for the soul, that encourage all inspirational possibility! Thank you to Julian, and to Gavin Smith, the fine New Zealand painter and friend who introduced me to his work. http://gavinsmith.vc.net.nz