Sunday, February 26, 2006


lettuce 2

The day the New York Times article came out, Julian decided - interestingly - to go out shopping at about 7am East Coast Time, like a man who couldn’t stomach being present at the birth of his own child. The purchases started coming shortly afterwards like early contractions and I was alone watching the thing go into labour on the screen.

Fastcard purchase number 24367*****card transaction…
Fastcard purchase number 24368*****card transaction…
Fastcard purchase number 24369*****card transaction…

When J returned we sat swatting our way out of the thick swarm of emails – an average of 3 a minute – replying, refunding, red-dotting - until there was no available category left. We woke in the morning laughing.

Hidden amongst the purchases were other requests - for J’s ‘piquant’ images to appear on a Californian chile label and a book of postcard paintings. New names for the site have also been proposed (‘Shifting Paintings’ or ‘Shifted Light’ being but two) and a spoof letter arrived from a friend:

“Dear Julian,

Attached is a photo of my cat Guggenheim. Please paint him with
something French, like a baguette or garlic or you know, and with
some of those mountains and houses and French nature stuff in the
background. And make him look French, maybe like with a beret or
something, or just like a certain "look" in his eyes - you know, sort
of an oolala thing. I've been to France, so I'll be able to tell.

I need it for next week.”

There seems to be no doubt about it that on February 23rd, our lives changed.

Returning from our ‘inspirational’ walk with the cats this morning (now made infamous by the Big Apple Rag), we stood gazing at the falling down pile of stones held together with red sand we call home and planned, for the zillionth time, the renovation of the hayloft into a studio and a gallery, moving swiftly on to the rescue of the ruined remains attached to it, the lap-pool for my daily kilometre and midnight skinny dips à deux and a room of my own. For the first time, it actually seemed that the dream might, just might, come true.

Then, having done my daily meditation in the vines, I got to thinking: What is the dream, exactly?”

Anyone could take this bizarre brush with instant fame as an excuse to sell out, dumb down, cash in. Julian’s desire, however, is not to mass-market a product. It is to be free to paint; not to be tied down to what others want but to let sable and oil lead him over canvas’ grainy terrain or silken gessoed card; to take risks and to be true to his artistic heart knowing that there are people out there who trust him.

And mine?

Yesterday I went shopping for our celebratory dinner and to choose small vegetable gems to paint. In the Marchés de Provence I picked blood crimson marbled tomatoes, cherry speckled lettuces and I bought five very expensive tea-pink roses that I paired with pale mauve wildflowers. It was then that it hit me how simple my desire is. It is to be quiet of mind, to be healthy and to be surrounded by beauty. It is to be home with my love and to be happy.

Elsewhere in the world this month, many of my friends – all in their forties - have given birth - one through scheduled cesarian as a single Mum by a donor, and another having defied the disease (endometriosis) that prevented us having children, popping a sprog eight months after her wedding day.

On this sun-bleached day in the Vaucluse it feels to me like everyone everywhere, is giving birth to their dreams.


Blogger zhoen said...


Indeed, most real folks take on success with a genuine desire simply to live the lives they already have with a bit more grace, ease, space.


4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

Yes, simple, compelling, powerful, desires. "The treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all." (And can be the most maddeningly elusive :)) Your post is a happy reminder that change is a constant - thank goodness.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Sarah Mackenzie said...

It's good to appreciate your happiness

6:57 PM  
Anonymous gail said...

Nicely said, Ruth, and amen to all that.

7:20 PM  
Blogger beth said...

Really happy for you both. Your desires are similar to mine, Ruth, though "having time to create and share some of that beauty" has to be in there too.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Lin said...

Julian's NY Times Home section announcement note arrived. Initial thoughts were, "Yes! How wonderful!" Secondary thoughts were selfish. No time to browse at call my husband over and remark over the beauty of the blood oranges or the shadow on a Provencal field. Thoughts of having to set my alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning to beat the pushy New Yorkers to the buy and then I thought again.

How much beauty there is in this world that exists whether or not I purchase it or covet it. Be comfortable and be happy. I will miss the leisurely browsing on his website, but I hope this affords you both the ability to pursue your dreams in more comfort and with less worry about the basics. In the meantime, I will enjoy the pieces of beauty that are mine and marvel over the others!


12:42 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

Thank you everyone for your moving generosity.

I want particulalry to thank Lin, who brought tears to my eyes and whose sentiment I wish we could convey to the hundreds of disappointed - and often pissed off - potential buyers with their fingers on the button. The beauty of this project, as far as I see it, is that it is democratic; out there for all to enjoy; that EVERYONE who signs up receives a postcard from Provence every day in their inbox.

There is a lovely comment also from Leslee on Julian's painting of yesterday which expresses this very beautifully.

Of course having a live piece is different but there is plenty of time. They will keep coming, and from a happier artist.

Anyway, plans afoot for at least two books so watch this space.

9:54 AM  
Blogger RedLady said...

Lin and Leslee do indeed sum it up well. Although I was initially (although mainly extremely pleased for you both) a little sad (for want of a better word) that it would be harder to get my greedy hands on one of Julian's beautiful creations, I still feel as I first did when I discovered his site: as if I'm in on a wonderful secret. It makes no difference that many others are now also in on this secret, it doesn't take away from our pleasure in looking at these paintings, feeling them and loving them. I feel almost cheeky each time I go to Postcards and my colleague who sits next to me has no idea of the utter loveliness that jumps out of my screen and into my world as I sit quietly next to her. I would love to share it with her, only she rather looks down on me which makes me shy away from her. I work every day at finding her and putting the awkwardness away. What better way to start than by giving her this...

5:11 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

I am glad I stumbled into your blog world! To hear about your adventures and dream come true! Congratulations on selling out, the empty frame was a good touch!

9:37 AM  

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