I'm back from my pre-launch tour-slash-vacation celebrating the countdown to INDELIBLE hitting the shelves in the US and Canada, filled with laughter and memories and *WAY* too many pain au chocolats. But that's the present I got to have with my family: having the sort of celebration where dreams come true.
I confess I have BIG dreams about being a writer. I've had them ever since I was five and wondering what it would be like to see my book on the shelf of a library or bookstore. (Hint: It's awesome!) And while I have some of those big dreams mean foreign sales and movie rights and awards from my peers as well as paying for my kids' college and taking my family and friends on an all-paid dream vacation, I also have smaller dreams that count just as much, marking my way along this publishing journey, celebrating milestones and proving just how far I've come. Last week, I got to have a dream come true.
Maybe some of you have followed along long enough to remember this particular dream: I'd been on a trip to Quebec and posted about the food and the architecture, the Cirque du Soleil show (Ovo) and the Bodies Revealed exhibit, but most important to me was that I'd found a couple of paintings that so astounded me, that I aspired to own one someday. [Click to reminisce with me.] The motion of trees and the colors of leaves, the swirl of branches as if we were laying on our backs and looking up at the world through a haze of forest into the bright light of the sky so touched my husband and I that we went back to look at them again and again. Unfortunately, they were WAY beyond what we could even consider purchasing, but it cost nothing to dream.
But I was living one of my lifelong dreams: writing professionally and my books were selling. I slowly began saving up and, since I'd taken the card of the artist and title of the paintings with me when I left Quebec, making note of the galleries where I'd seen them on display, I contacted the number when I was getting close to my goal...only to find that they'd both already sold.
I was crushed.
Still, I kept an eye on the artist, Pierre Marcoux, and followed where his work would be showing and every time I visited Quebec, I sought them out. Considering we've gone to Quebec every 2-3 years, this was a long process and I was never disappointed in the incredible work I saw but invariably, they would be sold before I got to see them in person. On my latest trip, I excitedly went back to the gallery that still featured Marcoux only to find that there were none there. I was shocked. In fact, I was shocked enough to do something completely and utterly ridiculous...
I emailed the artist.
I had emailed him before, once, when I first linked to his website to tell him how much I admired his work and while I never expected a reply, he graciously thanked me for my email and hoped that I'd enjoyed my trip to Quebec. I was touched and smiled and that was that. This time, it was different. This time, I said that I was a long-time admirer of his work but had not located his work while in Quebec and had he moved galleries? He replied that he had not been working due to health issues and that to please tell him next time I came out and maybe he could tell me more then. I wished him best wishes and good health and maybe for ordinary people, that would have been that...but it wasn't.
The next time we planned a trip to Quebec, I wrote to Pierre Marcoux in the hopes that he was feeling better, that he had returned to his art, and that I might get to see his paintings once again. He wrote back with an invitation extended to my entire family to come visit him and his wife at their home outside Quebec in order to visit his garden and studio.
Let me put this simply: I flipped out.
This...this was incredible. It was like being invited to Giverny by a modern-day Monet. I had to read it again to make sure it said what I thought it said. It was like getting my college acceptance or my book offer all over again. I squealed to my parents, who would be meeting us in Canada and had heard me babble about my love of Marcoux's work for years. We arranged a date to come out and it became the most anticipated part of my vacation. We planned the route and brought a gift and were welcomed to his home on a beautiful July afternoon with a kiss on both cheeks and a tour around the gardens.
Oh! The gardens! There were vegetable gardens and flower gardens and water gardens, bubbling fountains and streams, fish ponds and bridges, shady trees and exotic plants and an enormous 10-sided gazebo with hand-cut skylights that he had designed and built from scratch using no plans, but having it come together as he went, constructed over three years. (He even made a miniature one for a backyard bird feeder! Did I mention the bird feeders? Or the birds? Or the butterflies?) And if that wasn't astounding enough, he invited us into his home for drinks and his downstairs studio.
He showed us how he started, creating textures on a blank canvas, letting the motion inspire the painting, he showed us how and why he chose colors and use of light, using motion and emotion, inspired from nature peeking right outside his window. And then there were the paintings. So many beautiful paintings, each one impossibly more gorgeous and vivid than the next. He presented each one under his natural light array upon the easel, explaining where the inspiration for it came from, pointing out details and how the series or style evolved over his lifetime of painting since age 17. He'd been a biochemist, an art teacher, worked in a hospital and gallery co-ops, and all the while there had been his painting. I saw water pools and apple trees and spruce trees and snow, sunsets and the Northern Lights and flowers and leaves and tumbles of branches in every color under the sun. I couldn't stop smiling. My mother audibly gasped. And when he spoke, it was with grace and wisdom and a humble truth about art that I struggled to recite in my head, not to spoil the moment by writing everything he said down that instant and managed to save a few pearls because of how much they resonated in my artist heart. I treasured them even more than what he had shared with me thus far and this is some of what he said:
"Everything in nature is motion. If you drew every leaf on a tree, it wouldn't be a tree."
"All of my art is about motion and light. It is always at the heart of all of my work...The paintings are different, but that is always the same."
"I don't know where I begin, but I paint and I paint until I come to the end and then I think, 'It's done.'"
"The subject of the painting doesn't matter--what matters is the feeling you are left with after you're done looking at it."
I was touched, moved, inspired, awed. I didn't dare ask if any of these paintings were for his next gallery show (which would be happening next month) or if some were available for purchase. It was too personal. I was too nervous. So, naturally, my father asked instead. And Marcoux said that there was no obligation, but that these were available--they were all available--and I started to dream and, at last, let the dream become real.
So now I am the proud owner of Lumière de Septembre, one of my personal, precious dreams that I can look at every day and know that I made it happen. Like my books. My children. My life as I know it.
And now I'm home with the INDELIBLE blog tour still marching on it's way: today's stop features some character interviews at Refracted Light Reviews, full tour schedule here. Lastly, I'm happy to be able to make someone else's dream come true--the dream of winning a contest! (I know it's a little dream, but they all start somewhere!) So the winner of a signed, embossed, shiny first-batch, fresh-off-the-presses copy of INDELIBLE is:
Go dream. Dream big! Dream small! Dream of whatever motivates you to make good art. Because, at the end of the day, what we have in our hearts are our hopes, our memories, and our most heartfelt dreams.