It’s about 3:30 am and through our open little window of our charming one room apartment in centre-ville we can hear the last bit of drunken French chatter of the night. It was probably around 2am when Hilary, a co-fellow, roommate and belle amie resolved to ease our sleeplessness (thank you, jet lag) with late night snacks from our old favorite Lavarene bakery, serving petit glazed tartes aux fruits 24 hours a day. From our deceivingly castle like wooden front door, we passed the Cathedral San Saveur in the square outside, walked down streets home to so many memories from that semester two years ago, past the stone fountains with faces, past the empty market square where we’ll be buying fresh foods every morning from the kindest of country French vendors.
Even in the daylight the boundaries here in Aix-en-Provence between dream and reality are blurred. Two days in and I’m already full to the brim of quiet joy not only for living in such a vibrant, historic city, but for my purpose in being here and for the long journey that made that purpose clear. I spent the interval of my absence dreaming of this place but perhaps more importantly thinking hard about why and how it made such an impact on my creative and intellectual life, an impact that in ways is still beyond my capacity to articulate. And now, at long last, I’m back. I’m back to paint and draw and ponder some more in addition to my duties as a fellow to maintain the studio, to guide and help students and to assist the two wise, admirable, good humored professors who run the show, John Gasparach and Alan Roberts. As I’ll write more in the weeks to come, this is a rare gem of a school, a school who’s pedagogy is guided by the tried and true belief that the study of nature and the art of the past opens the door to personal and artistic integrity.
But now it’s time to sleep.