Tuesday, February 27, 2007

leeks and fishes


Two years ago and about three months Julian sat watching the baseball movie ‘Field of Dreams’, tears pouring down his face.

‘Build it and they will come’ he chanted softly over and over again. ‘That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to build it….and they will come.’ (He is still sure Kevin Kostner said ‘THEY will come’!)

Julian had been observing Duane Keiser , the very first and at that time the only ‘daily painter’, from his first painting of – ironically, a baseball - and was both impressed and inspired. For the next few months he hardly moved from the furry envelope of his bathrobe, nor from his paint splattered ibook at the kitchen table. He hardly heard me when I spoke to him and all he talked about was html this and font that. While all around him walls screamed to be plastered (they are still screaming, I’m afraid, but they may stop soon!) and floors to be lain (ditto) my wonderful dogged wild husband set to work building it.

In February 2005, Julian put up his first oyster. In April, with his mailing list finally breaking out of the confines of his family and friends, he dared to write to his hero and he swapped Rain and Sun , for Duane’s milkweed seedpod.

They are both still painting oysters and other fishes almost every day.

For the last year Julian has not only painted almost every day, but he has been making and packing prints, packing paintings, replying to emails, taking trips to see gruff Vincent (even gruffer when he sees the pile Julian or I bring in) in the post office, photographing, resizing and posting the image. A good nine to five (or more like 7-7) job and not badly paid either. However, in the evenings, just when we would sit down to dinner or to watch a film, the dreaded hour of selling came; of researching each of the twenty people who purchased in the first minute to see how many times they had tried, and how many paintings they already had, and trying to choose whose payment to accept. As a good catholic boy, this nightly decision was causing immense stress, as were the dissatisfied emails from people in Australia; people on dial-up in Texas; people at work in Wales; walking the dog in New England; people who typed slow or drove the children to school at that time every day…..

When we thought about the idea of adoption, it was clear we already had a very big baby that needed constant care.

Now, whilst dozens of artists are following suit, and building their own daily painting practice, making sites and guilds and of course daily paintings, Julian’s site has been completely redesigned (and yes I was partial to the snot green too but the paintings do look marvellous on white) and a brilliant innovative (sorry for gushing, Dean) in-site auction incorporated so that all the above folk have a chance. Yes, the paintings are going for more - sometimes a lot more sometimes not much, but this way people can actually choose the one they want and they have twenty four hours and not one second to decide. Julian (always the good catholic boy) is also going to try and do one a week and sell it in the old way and at the old price. With the changes, he has time to paint and to relax. (though our dear friends who are chefs - and by the way PLEASE buy their new book 'On Top of Spaghetti' it's brilliant - may shriek 'Relax? Film in the evening? baaah humbug'). I have seen him laugh more in the last two weeks than the last two years, and that has to be a good thing, and maybe even one day he will lay (or even better allow someone else to lay) the kitchen tiles that have been sitting outside the house for four months.

So, this is not a leak, it’s a leek . It’s official. The New Look Postcard From Provence is on your screens now. Go check it out!

Time for me to open the oysters, and a round of applause, I think, for Bilbo Baggins.



Blogger Duane said...

Bravo Julian!

9:10 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

how lovely to hear from you, Hero Duane! All I can say is Bravo YOU! and thank you too!

9:16 PM  
Blogger Duane said...

Julian's paintings are thank you enough.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Ruth, the link from 'leek' doesn't seem to be working...

So glad it's all going so well.

7:20 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

thanks zinnia. should be a working leek now...

11:42 AM  
Blogger Louis Boileau said...

Hi Ruth,
Thank you for this post. It's inspiring to get a glimpse into the lives of two such creative people.


1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not the complaining Australian!...
I have, however, been cheering loudly at Julian's success. I'm glad 'he built it'...

12:30 AM  
Blogger beth said...

Ruth, the new site is gorgeous, the leek is one of his best -- but I also am very taken with your photo at top and what you have written about Julian, so lovingly.

2:26 AM  

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