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:
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.
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.