Monday, December 29, 2008

Tres Bon! Dinan!

As the New Year approached I was feeling somewhat ho-hum glum like a lot of other people. Gnarling over the economy, the belt tightening, and not just because of over-indulgence, and that post-Holiday feeling of putting all the tired-looking decorations away even though I am back to work already with root canal follow-ups and a daughter who had surgery today. Never fun.

As artists there are moments that change your life. I had one of those today when the mail arrived.  The letter, with scrawly handwriting and a foreign stamp that I had been waiting for, sat there for 30 minutes before I wanted to open it. I just kept painting a child's arm badly while looking at it out of the corner of  my eye.

I had applied for an  international grant award last Fall to study in France for a month, a program that has been going since the early 90's in Dinan, Brittany, and host to some artists I really, really admire like Dawn Whitelaw and Charlotte Wharton among others.

The award,  given by Les Amis De La Grande Vigne, funds an artist to paint for a month at the studio of deceased artist Yvonne Jean-Haffen. She left her estate including a studio to the town. Her home is now a museum which picks one of the guest residence artist's paintings at the end of his/her stay for its' permanent collection.  

Applying was somewhat vague. It was hard to find the right mailing address and I was told by a very kind email artist friend, who helped me enormously having received the award also, that the application must be handwritten in very polite french and on very proper linen stationary. The french are just like that and I love them for it. Hard trying to find someone who spoke really good french for cheap to help me, but even more hard to ask how 'polite' their french really was.  I  also wasn't really sure if my swish Mac Book portfolio that took me a morning to do, at least, would get there, yet alone be approved. Maybe it was a bit too Mac Book modern along with the traditional startionary?

So here was the day of reckoning and all I could think of staring at the brown envelop was it doesn't look thick enough for me to be a recipient. You know how you can tell if you didn't get into an art show via mail announcement without even opening the envelope? By how thick the reply envelope is. Slim - NO, not a chance or juicy thick,,,hell, YES!

I didn't want to feel that horrible sting of rejection as I was feeling pretty lousy already for said reasons. Well, I finally took a big deep breath, opened it and I got it. Tres Jolie! Although it took me a while to translate french and make sure I had got it.

I am so thrilled. I don't even care I have to go to the dentist again tomorrow.

Let just hope I paint better there than that kid's arm today. Thank goodness for landscapes.  At least there is no muscle anatomy involved.


Rhonda said...

What an honor--congrats! That is very exciting. Sounds like you needed some wonderful news.


Marian Fortunati said...

Well ...... CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!


Put me in your luggage. I'll carry your paintbrushes and luggage... ha ha.

Well deserved, Johanna. WHEN is it???

I hope your teeth feel better soon and that your daughter is okay.

Happy New Year!!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks gals. The month will be in October. Dinan is a wet place at the best of times I am told so it will play havoc with my hair. But I think of those greyed tones I can use in the landscapes and I am excited.

Even if I just sit in the studio and paint bad Vermeers, it will be fun.

Rosie is doing fine Marian...thanks for asking, making a good recovery it seems although it will be a while before she is walking.

Shelley said...

WOW! OMG, what a great opportunity! I can carry paintbrushe -- hey, I can CLEAN paintbrushes and fetch lunch, how's that for an offer? And you have a few months to anticipate!


Glad Rosie is doing well, too. And your poor teeth...sigh. Just think about France....


Tina Steele Lindsey said...

Congratulations on getting thrills instead of chills when opening your letter! I wish to add a great big thank you so much for giving me my first chuckle of the day with the, "I am so thrilled. I don't even care I have to go to the dentist again tomorrow," comment. In my book, that is feeling no pain!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Thanks Tina and Shelley.

C'est fantastique. Hope my french gets better

Sharon Weaver said...

This is wonderful news. Painting in France for a month, like a dream come true. I can't wait to see the wonderful paintings you come home with.