Category Archives: the elephant goes French

come with the elephant to southern France for an art retreat


thanks to the first participant of the online challange – waiting for more..

Thanks to Simone,  she was the first one responding to my challenge – this means she should be honored in a special way, therefore here is a video to honor her  being the first one following the online challenge:

the loneliness of a great French artist

I was strolling through the small streets of Pézenas in the late afternoon, looking at all the wonderful houses well preserved from the last centuries, as I stumbled upon this exceptional gallery.
The town is famous for it’s history and it’s richness during the 16th century. Today you will have to walk with your head looking high up the facades to be able to really take this in. Bringing your head down to street level will be irritating and frustrating.

The vast amount of useless tourist naps, little storefronts filled up with useless souvenirs, waiting for someone sentimental enough to spend more money on the stuff as it is actually worth it.
These seem to be harsh words, but believe me, I am almost a normal women which enjoys shopping, but this here, was an insult to the city, the architecture and anyone with only a small sense for art.
So this gallery I found or which found me, was a exemption. Not filled up with things made in china, it displayed some most elected and most exceptional beautiful art work.
I have landed in a gallery from a quite well known artist and painter.
Emmanuel a nice handsome man end of his 50th approached me with soft voice and  French accent. Asking me if I myself practice art and involving me in a light conversation about art and his work.
Right at the end of our small talk he asked me the question which I almost expected to come, just because of the way he was using his soft voice.  So we did agree to have a drink together continuing our conversation on art.
Thankfully there was a young couple joining us, making the conversation even more interesting.  After a while you get an idea of where the conversation would have gone to, so having the opportunity to converse with all of them about architecture and the approach to the creative life was a welcoming surprise.
The evening continued to be fun and interesting. By listening to Emmanuel about his work and life it became apparent on how lonely he is, even though he knows so many people and leads such an interesting and successful live.

It is always surprising when you meet people who seem to have reached the things in life you are aiming for and then realize how much even they are still humans with the same dreams longings, disappointments and struggles in life.

heavenly breakfast

This might be the best way of ending an amazing trip full of art, creativity and freedom to experience oneself in a new way.
At around 5.00 AM I woke up to the sound of the birds in the garden. This was not the ordinary mornings bird chirping. This was like a full symphony concert towards the end where all instruments get to play together ending in an crescendo of almost deafening volume. It seemed it was the happening of ten thousand birds right outside my window.
Hoping I would fall asleep again I turned and tossed myself in bed. Finally after it seemed to be an except able time to get up I took my shower packet up my belongings and opened the door to the small shaded patio.

There the breakfast table was already set for me, an adorable small table with a plate and the most voluminous breakfast, fruits breads, croissants , marmalade, tee and coffee and this all for myself…

Resting in the moment, enjoying every bite, the taste of the fresh fruit, the coffee and tee, all this almost let me forget the time.

With only a smidgeon of hurry I packed everything in the small quinqueciento (the most stylish tiny  Italian  car I rented)  and drove in the direction of the train station. With just 10 min. to departure of my train I hit my own record on being not freaked out to make it to the train.
The two guys at the car rental station were quite helpful in the way that they did only gave me the petty look instead of making any commend on how not French it was to just drop the key on the desk mumbling some kind of I am sorry and then running out the door with the excuse that my train in leaving in five minutes….
I guess my husband would be proud of my way of taking it easy, as I am always the one who’s wants to be at the train or plane like an our early…
Anyway, I made the train and all the connections, now being safely back in the country of my origin travel, where all started just some 10 days ago.

It will be an interesting time which will follow this vacation and I would like to invite you to check out what will happen the next few month..

Luxury pure – sometimes you just have to treat yourself

Once again, being persistent and knowing what you want paid it off…
As my journey continued and I have been arrived at my new destination, I first went by the tourist office.  It was a surprise and disappointed to hear that there are only three hotels in this town.

What I did not know at this point was that there are tons of so-called chambres d’ hôte, which surprisingly are not considered a hotels even though they are much more charming and more beautiful as a regular hotel. Later I learned from my host, that these are private houses with max. 5 rooms in total to rent.
Thankfully I got a little booklet showing not only the three hotels but also these about 12 little treasures. After walking up and down the little town, looking at one place after the other, I came to this little street with the place I fell immediately in love with, “les galeries de Baulac”.
Since during lunch hours most places in France are closed down, this one did not make an exemption. Ringing the door bell did not helped and so I made my way back, pounding about the bad luck and the poor little me.
But once again remembering the lessons, I persisted, took all my braveness together and called this place by phone.
Only when you know how poor my French is, you can imagine how much this was an act of persistence. Probably one week prior I would have given up, but this time I knew that if I want to get what I dearly wanted, I had to go through this embarrassing moment and just hope, that it will work out.
And it did  and voilà,  now I am sitting here on my here in my deck chair enjoying the sun, the shade and this little paradise…

what got packed for me – remembering the last evening

The last evening was special, special in a way as I got to learn more about Leo and Carol and their creative lives.
Leo invited us and two other women to give a showing of his selected works, most of them installations, sculptures and other most impressive works.

It is touching to me to see how other people choose to create their lives and the courage it takes them to follow through it.

Work seriously, put all your effort in it, but do not take the work serious.
Art as a spiritual practice

It is time to find my own way

After packing all my stuff together, putting the acrylics back in the plastic bags, so that they would not spill into my big backpack, it was time to say goodby to the creative spirit and community in this lovely house.
It is time to find my own way with all the detours and all the hurdles which come together with the exploring of new ways.
And in real life exactly this was happening today to me. I started off with the book village which was recommended by my friends, looking at a place just outside the village next to an old Abby to stay for one night. But I was not successful, better not patient enough and not trusting myself enough that this was a good idea. So I continued my way to a small town which I had goggled and had thought that it would be interesting, but what a disappointment. Yes it was a small town, this part is right, but it was nothing I imagined or I wanted.
After driving through the most impressive landscapes and villages, the landscape had changed and I was frustrated, that the way I thought it would work out was in that moment a total failure.
Thankfully I had learned the lesson about being persistent just yesterday so I could practicing exactly this right in that moment. By the way, this actually wasn’t very easy, since hotels on these small back roads are rare.
Just before I thought I would have to give up and sleep in my car, this very small and most cute hostel showed up with the most friendly host, testifying that persistence does pay off…
Now I am sitting on my bed,ready to fall asleep digesting all the lessons I learned in these past days, hoping to be geared up enough to continue finding my own way…

The pallet gets only more colorful

The last day painting this carol is over, we had a fantastic afternoon painting in Barry’s garden.
This afternoon has teach me an important lesson, the lesson of how to deal with frustration. I so much wanted to catch the amazing tree and house of Barry, a little paradise within the most beautiful landscape of southern France.
But all my wanting was not enough or it was too much to bring it on the canvas. Even after the help of Carol and her input of how to fix it.
So my disappointment tried to discourage me and the little Damon was sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear over and over again that I am a fool to believe I ever could become an artist.

It was a internal cool down phase, until Barry was looking over my shoulder and commenting on my painting, telling me what he saw in it. He gave me the most important advice:

“never give up and never abandon a painting.  It will come back, just put it to the side and look at it every so often.  At one point you will be able to see the potential again and then you will be able to continue and finish it.”

This is the other side of the first teaching, that everything is under painting until you are done.
Being persistent, is one of the most essential lessons to learn.

Later that evening this statement was repeated again in a other discussion.

A rainy day and some good photos are the best precondition to a productive day…

I woke up kind of early with the urge of painting that one particular photo I took two days ago. So I started the day without a tea or a coffee and sneaked up the stairs to the studio, trying to not wake up anyone- partly because out of fear, I would be held up again to bring the painting out to life before the day actually starts.

And voy la, it almost automatically came out on the white canvas, like saying, hey, why did I have to wait for you so long…
The bike with the flowers made their way into this or better my world…


After breakfast I started another painting, using one of the most valuable instruction I learned during this retreat from Carol, saying, everything is under painting until the painting is finished. And the second equally important sentence: don’t keep it if you do not like it.  So I took the blue painting I did two evenings ago and completely over draw it. Now I feel so much more happy with it,  I actually love it.I


The last painting this evening, after having had a delicious lunch in one of the very small villages around here, I did off of one of my photographs I took some days before.It is very challenging to paint on such a small canvas and yet, I think it is a great training to learn how to place color and perhaps even some texture….
Thankfully it was raining almost the whole day, who knows where else these paintings would have ended up…


searching and creating your creative path


painting is a series of experiments and the response to it, you do it to become more conscious. – Painting is a spiritual practice –

The time here in France is like a real break out of all the old boundaries. I do not expect, that they will be all gone when I am back home, but I have the hope and somehow also the confidence that I can slowly overcome them. This experience shows me more and more, that the boundaries are self made, created by my own anxiety, my own self limitation and by the deadly habit of criticizing myself.

Letting the inner Damon go on and on about our not being worthy, not being god enough, not being talented, clever, smart or something enough makes us small and the wall of boundaries higher.
It is quite interesting, that there is a seemingly common sense, that art as a profession is not what one is allowed to do, let alone being successful by doing art on a professional level… “Weekend art” is what is not only tolerated by the society, but also sold to us as the smart way to go.

Crazy to think what our world would look like if all the other artists before us would not have overcome theses boundaries.
Imagine a world without music, paintings, movies, books…

On our tour through the country, visiting Berry at his most amazing French cottage, he read us the following note, he had found somewhere in a book:

The artists commitment,
I promise to always remember my power, love and intelligence as an artist and the vital role that artists have played in every culture and time. I will never again invalidate any artist, including myself or any work of art, but rather allow myself with all artists to end our (…) oppression and enthusiastically encourage the creativity of every human.



what I can see…

When I wake up and open my eyes, I can this….


stepping out the door and walking for two minutes, I can see this…


taking a drive for 10 min. my eyes are looking at this…


comming home after having seen many many more things and my camera having taken hundreds of more photos, I walk upstairs into the studio and look out the window, seeing this….


finally putting in my work, doing what I came here for, trying to indulge in the colors, express the part in me which wants to be heard more. At the end of the day, I can see this…