Paris and Perseverance

ImageIs fifty the new thirty?

Last week I was in Paris. My friend Ave, who treated me to this fabulous visit, is not a struggling artist – he’s a physician. He is also an amateur photographer seeking to be more creative. He’s going to attend his second photography seminar soon, at age 65.

We both had been to the Musée d’Orsay as well as the Rodin Museum but wanted to visit them again, together. At the d’Orsay, I was once again overcome with emotion viewing a Van Gogh self-portrait. Over an espresso, Ave asked me why? I shared many thoughts, not necessarily answers: the power of his gaze, the emotional energy of the brush strokes but probably the most poignant, I feel his pain. He didn’t begin studying to be an artist and painting until his mid-thirties after working as a clergyman. He was rejected from art school.

At the Rodin museum, we both marveled at his work: the gestures of hands, the emotions in faces and the stance of bodies displaying everything from torment, to pride, and love. Rodin too had been rejected by many art schools and worked as a craftsman for numerous years creating ceiling decorations and reliefs for vases before creating his art. Boldly different from the accepted style of sculpture at during his lifetime, his work didn’t receive positive reviews until his forties.

We visited the Musée de l’Orangerie too. It was a first for both of us and mesmerizing.  It features Monet’s water lily paintings that were pieced together into murals. Two oval rooms each featuring four murals, showing different times of the day, were saturated with color and texture. Each work engulfed you in a world above and below the water. Monet began his masterpieces at the age of eighty.

The trip was inspirational and motivating on many levels. I’m 49 years old and worked for twenty years as an art director then a creative director in the graphics and marketing industries. For most of those years, I wanted to paint and didn’t. Life happened. I’ve now been painting for several years, searching for my visual voice. After vacillating about applying to art school to earn my MFA and aid me in my quest, my two children, one a college graduate and the other a sophomore, convinced me to do it. In December I applied to several schools and by February had been rejected by Yale. In March, I received another “we received many qualified applicants but…” Then spring arrived and I was offered opportunities.

This September, I’ll begin my studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts in Boston. Though I most likely will be older than some of my professors, after my visit to Paris I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I’m looking forward to exploring, pushing boundaries, sharing ideas, and creating.  

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