Friday, June 16, 2006

Doing the Monet thang

Painting outdoors. Lots of painting is happening in our little corner of the world. The weather is so incredibly perfect now that everyone seems to have the outdoor painting bug. And the beautiful French daylight is inspiring, too. Our local hardware store got its old paint stripped from its wooden facade and is getting a fresh new coat in a favorite paint color here -- white! Wonder if they'll try to copy the colors of the pharmacy next door -- white with bright green trim. I'm sure they won't try to replicate the design of the sushi restaurant around the corner -- gray and bright, light purple.

The other day, I saw who I assumed to be an art student, just sitting on the sidewalk at Place Pereire, a few feet in front of an ATM machine, sketching his interpretation of the brasserie (cafe/bar/restaurant) across the street -- not in pencil, but in paint. How bold! Two to three hours later, I passed him again and he was nearly done with his very colorful, impressionistic piece. He could probably sell it to any tourist nearby with no problem. It looked a lot like the paintings of Paris geared towards tourists sold in Montmartre at Place Tertre.

Today, as I walked down Boulevard Pereire towards Place Pereire to take the metro, I saw a man on a ladder with a white pencil, sketching the letters for a new sign outside of a tiny store selling home decor items and furniture. When I came back three and a half hours later, his hand-drawn letters were perfectly painted in yellow against a dark green background. It's so nice to see an artisan at work, doing what he does best at its required slow pace. Most places these days would probably get a machine-printed sign on canvas or plastic. Faster and cheaper. Or I guess you could pick up anyone off the street to do some stenciling. Let's save the artisans, a nearly extinct species.

Painting requires so much time and patience. I think it would be good for everyone to put on the brakes once in awhile in our fast-paced world to do something they enjoy that is slow...like cooking (microwave doesn't count), do-it-yourself home improvement projects, sewing, for example, and of course, painting. I find that slow activities, like washing dishes by hand, are often like mediation, or therapeutic. Your mind will be able to cleanse itself, and you'll find a little bit of peace -- something we all need.

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