This last week has been just what I needed!
A series of calm days with my grandparents; spend enjoying the beautiful mountainous landscapes, having cozy evenings in front of French TV channels and visiting extended family.
I’ve really been pampered and I feel so grateful. This was without a doubt the very best way to round off my creativity travels.
Switzerland & Family
The first days were rainy, and I spend most my energy fighting my cold. Gradually I got better and we went to eat dinner at my grand uncle’s house. His daughter, my grand cousin, was also there along with her two sweet baby children. They were simply adorable and we passed some lovely moments – drawing together amongst other things.
Mostly in the mornings after breakfast, I installed myself at the dining table and began painting watercolors. My grandparents had kindly supplied new sizes of watercolor paper, so I began painting several versions after the same old photographs that I had bought in Kaunas.
One day it stopped raining and it even became almost sunny. We decided to go to my favorite museum near my grandparents – an art museum build upon roman ruins that they have preserved visibly within the museum’s exhibition hall as well and in the sculpture garden.
The garden is one of my favorite sculpture gardens ever – only equaled with the one at the Louisiana art museum in Denmark. Not only is the collection of sculptures exceptional at the Foundation Gianadda, Roman ruins intersect with the sculptures, the plants and under the trees cute ducks take naps. To top it all off the mountains create a breathtaking frame in the horizon, giving it all additional grandeur.
As it has become tradition, I bought some postcards in the museum shop and then we had a drink in the garden’s cafeteria. Here we sat comfortably while discussing the exhibition – as well as anything else that came to mind.
Although my birthday isn’t until the 31st of May, my grandparents still wanted to celebrate me. So my grandmother baked a delicious lemon cake and put 27 candles on it. Just like when I was younger, I where to blow out the candles.
They took the task of taking a good photo of me blowing out the candles touchingly serious. We had to re-light the candles three times – right until there were only melted bits left. I can’t remember when I’ve been celebrated like that last; most probably all the way back when I was a young teenager. I won’t lie, I enjoyed the attention.
Another day, my grand uncle took me riding on his motorbike. We went all the way to Raron – a small village in the Swiss-German part, where poet Reiner Maria Rilke’s grave lies. With the sun on our backs we rode through the Rhône valley, passing vineyards and with mountain ranges on every side.
The beauty blew me away. I’ve always felt a great connection to the Alps and a longing whenever I’ve been far from them – which is most of the time as I’m commonly at home in Copenhagen. On the other hand, I miss the ocean and the salty breezes, even the cries from the seagulls, when I’m far from the sea, as in Switzerland.
Raron itself was a positively postcard perfect village. Rilke’s grave was unconditionally placed in the best spot by far, slightly more secluded on one side of the church near the edge overlooking the valley; a fitting resting place for a poet.
Luckily, on most of my last days in Switzerland the sun kept coming out. Amongst other things we went to the marked in the nearby city of Martigny filled with stands full of fresh vegetables, local cheeses and sausages as well as stands with clothes and toys for kids. I’ve always loved the Swiss open air markets.
Also, of cause, I kept painting watercolors in the mornings:
Visit in an Artist’s Studio
One afternoon we had dinner in a restaurant along with one of my grandmother’s cousins – my grandmother grew up in the area, so she has a lot of family close by. By the table to our left, a couple sat down and immediately my grandmother and her cousin started talking to them, since a third cousin’s son had married the newly arrived couple’s daughter.
Although we enjoyed our dinner at our separate tables, we talked across them and I learned the wife in the couple next to us was a local artist. My grandmother proudly declared that her granddaughter, while pointing at me, was also an artist. The local artist invited us to join her at her atelier the next day.
She was very welcoming and an attentive guide through her atelier. Her paintings were often full of colors and busy shapes – that’s to say expressive bold lines, rather than delicate detailed ones. I liked many of her artworks. I showed her a few of my pictures on Instagram and she seemed pleasantly surprised.
We ended up in the room where she did her paintings and there were boxes upon boxes of small tubes of paint. Most of them were with oil paint, which I have never used before. I mentioned this and she told me to take as many as I would like.
I hesitated, but she kept insisting.
The first one I went for was a tube with petroleum colored paint. I held it up towards her, while explaining that I loved that color. She exclaimed how we had the same taste, she also absolutely loved it.
As it turned out that was the last tube of petroleum paint, and she naturally wanted to keep it. Still she insisted that I could take one of each of the others. I started only with a few, but she kept telling me not to hold back! She even found a paper bag for me. This way I ended up with a decent stack both of oil paint tubes and some watercolors as well.
Her generosity really moved me. She even said that if I was staying longer I could come and help her tidy her atelier. I replied that I come back to Switzerland once a year and I would love to come back to her atelier and help – and maybe even paint together. She laughed and replied that in that case we could sit in each our own corner, as she preferred painting immersed in her own process.
The visit was very inspiring, and I certainly plan to visit her again. It was motivating to experience her encouragement – although she also repeated several times, that life as an artist was a battle and you had to be extremely strong, fight a lot and undergo many trials, especially financially as it’s hard to earn a living while painting.
I appreciate both her warnings and her compliments.
I’m quite aware already, that the choice to invest in an artistic ambition to use my painting skills in a career isn’t the safest one financially. My ambition, however, isn’t to become a well payed artist – it’s to try and find a way to evolve and include my art as a serious and professional part of my life. Rather than gallery artist, I’ve been thinking of graphic design or illustration.
All that being said, my first priority when I come home is to find work, so I can set up and settle down in Copenhagen – and then I’ll work on somehow weaving all my artistic projects into a new financially stable everyday life.
The days have flown by and tomorrow I’m going to fly back to Denmark.
It’s been wonderful to reconnect with family, relax and to enjoy the beautiful nature all the while.
All the same, I’m ready to return home.
K and I have a busy schedule of renovation work ahead of us, since the first new adventure waiting at home is the project of renovating a new apartment in which K and I am moving in together. A lifelong smoker used to live there and so the apartment is all yellow and smelly.
I short it needs a few loving hands, to say the least. It’s romantic though, I think, to renovate an apartment together. Even if it does mean that we have to live in a mess of work utensils and paint cans for a while. Still, I’m more than ready to come home and get started!
This is actually the very end of my art travels. In the beginning it felt like this day would never come, but of cause, like everything else, it had to end sometime. I’m not going to stop working on my creativity and artistic ambitions, though, and in that sense my art travels will never stop.
For this reason, I do plan to keep this blog alive. Keeping the title but reinterpreting the ‘creativity travels’ less literally and more abstractly; doing a sketch in the new apartment can also be a creativity travel , simply as a creative spark inside the journey towards creating a new home.
Realistically though, the first month or two I might take a break from blogging; seeing as I will most probably be quite busy working in the flat and on searching for a new job – and hopefully not long after on working a new job!
Thank you to you all, dear readers, for joining me these past months on my creativity travels!
It’s meant so much to me, especially in the lonely moments, to know somebody was reading my words and sharing some of my experiences with me.