So, I re-read a journal from four years ago, written just a few months into our French residence. It is clear that I was writing in order to reassure myself. I used to paint a lot at our [very typical] long wooden French farmhouse table. And the paintings were smaller than I was used to, so I did far more detail work, and more preliminary sketches, and made slower progress, than I did with my usual big-brush or throw-paint-at the-canvas style, and I was trying to tell myself that small was okay, for awhile. But I don't think I was very effective at listening to (or maybe even giving) myself advice, because I can say now that I was not painting enough in France.
But here, in California, I am finding that small work can sometimes be a good change. And sometimes table-sized, more concentrated work is calming. And I can admit that I have done small-brush work on small areas of paintings (at my plastic, not French, non-farmhouse table) twice this week. But I do have to add that the fact that I can throw or drip paint, or use big brushes, or nail big wooden painting supports to the wall, or that I can change entirely and print, all help me feel as if I can do anything. This is a feeling I lost track of in France.
Instead, in France, worried that I would lose track of something, or miss something, I made a lot of lists. Here are a few that I picked at random out of the same journal:
-our car is 137 cm "long" [really?]
-Francis Bacon had it backwards: the field shimmers & the figure rests --- do that
-the name and number of our British estate agent, so we could ask her to dinner [we never did]
-names of our banker [she spoke English] and our chimney cleaner [he did not]
-the place where you can sign up for a gourmet mushroom weekend
-the stereo is coming 10/26
-pansies flower from Sept-May
-interrepteur= switch dimmer=baisser
-the bathroom sink space = 45" wide and 26 1/2" deep [note that this was a non-metric measurement]
-the song I heard was "This Modern Love' by Bloc Party
-pelouse= the lawn tendeuse=lawnmower tondre=to mow [it took 3 hours to mow our lawn]
-LeMans to Tours = 85 kms.
-print copies of the photos and then incorporate them into the art -- how? poplars?
-the hours of the [recycling area/dump] decheter -- closed Fridays and Sundays
-the hours of the British and American pharmacy in Paris
-Charley roasted chestnuts from our field yesterday
-Corot: "sheer fidelity to landscape" (Monet book)
-why is the restaurant Au Pere Tranquille?
-little hills with farm cottage
-dates for December
-22 [Euro] cents per min. under current system to call U.S.
-flowers from car dealer/fog
-list of doctors/Xmas Messe/sapins de Noel
-outside porch light
-"Soiree Beaujolais" at our cafe: samedi a partir de 20h.
-walk--bad luck chez nous--car ins.--cow died
I don't make big lists now; but I still make little ones, almost as often as I now paint "small." But somehow, I feel like I have more possibilities, the world is more open to me. I don't know why that is, but I'll take it.