Witnessing Objets D'Art

I didn’t plan to go to Paris this summer – I went last year. Why would I go this year? This year it was for others to go. I had my glorious adventure living the dancing, swirling, passionate artist in my heart and it changed my life – like only a gift of Spirit can do.

Then, Shiloh shared that Sue Hoya Sellars, my painting teacher, was going this year. Something inside me sighed and said, ‘Oh, to see Paris through the eyes of a master, to paint beside my teacher, to be there with her while she experiences Paris. That would be so special.’  My heart murmured to me. My Muse twitched.

I still did not sign up to go. Made no commitment. Didn't even look at airline ticket prices. I wasn’t going this year. 

Then, Shiloh asked if I would I be willing to escort Sue there and back.

That simple request changed everything. I think if I had not said yes, my Muse would have gone on strike or exploded or, or, something. Her response was OF COURSE YOU ARE GOING! IS THERE ANY DOUBT?

Never argue with your Muse. It's just NOT a good idea.Trust me on this.

The adventure began when we stepped off the plane and the taxi began driving into Paris. Sue SAW everything – the ceramic chimney tops on the houses that have been made like that for hundreds of years, the materials the buildings are made out of, old next to new, the way the clouds scattered light, the hint of cathedrals on hills, the innate charm of Paris. 

Experiencing how Sue saw Paris changed how I saw Paris too. I felt called to be present, to WITNESS

The first day or so, we showed Sue what Paris was like. Having hot chocolate at La Palette where artist palettes hang on the walls. Going to Senneliers art store. The River SeineHow to find the steps down to the promenades along the Seine river. Sketching one direction, then the other. Noticing the little metal loops in the walls along the promenade; Sue decided to do chin ups on one of them. Notre Dame inside and out. The Joan of Arc statue. Hidden treasures. 

The painting retreat began in ernest and together with the group, we circled with red thread and painted the Eiffel Tower in the sunset, with crowds of people watching us. 

We walked through the crypt under Chartres Cathedral and watched them bring out the Black Madonna from the crypt and carry her in procession. I painted the arches in the ceiling, the way the light falls upon them, the amber colors. 

We braved the crowds in the Louvre to gather around paintings to listen to stories of artists, to see how the brush laid down the strokes. To watch Sue cry when she saw the Mona Lisa.  

Sue and I wandered through the D’Orsay Impressionist galleries sharing thoughts on colors and strokes and composition. Standing next to her when she saw her favorite painting. Taking her picture by the Gates of Hell. 

Painting in the gardens at the ‘villa’. Watercolors and easels and wine. Roses and line and color. Everyone busy on their creation. Ending our day with a feast of food. 

Wandering Monet’s garden, sketching flowers, leaves, chickens. Filling my pages with delight and beauty. Setting up my easel on the edge of the water lily pond along with Sue and others. Lined up in a row painting the colors, the reflections, the gorgeous pink lilies floating the green water. 

Witnessing and experiencing beauty, sublime delight, inexpressible emotions. This changed my heart, taking me deeper into who I am. Grounding me further into my artist self. Whispering to me, showing me how I have transformed. Giving me validation of the choices I’ve made in my life.

I will never again be the person I was so long ago who longed to be an artist with all her heart, trapped in a life where following her heart was denied. 

And I am forever grateful for that.

Blessings, Annette

ArticlesAnnette Wagner