Closerie Falaiseau was almost ready for rental when I received a phone call from an American and his wife who wanted to stay for nine days, starting just two days later. I was having dinner at L’Embarcadère with Kathy Stanford from Femmes Francophiles. Relationnel had already gone back to Paris to work. I frantically tried to remember what still had to be done to receive our first guests but it seemed “do-able”.
When John Modesitt and his very charming Japanese wife Toshiko arrived on the Sunday, everything was ready. I showed them around and they immediately loved the house. Toshiko seemed intrigued by the Henri II mirror in the living room and she also liked the fact that you could see the kitchen through the original oak beams. John loved all the wood everywhere. He mentioned to Kathy that he “painted” but it was not until a few days later that I discovered that he is a well-known American impressionist artist and the only living impressionist to auction in Christie’s impressionist auction.
Relationnel and I returned to Blois while John and Toshiko were still there and we were delighted to see his recent paintings spread out on the floor of the kitchen to dry. They had two days left before returning to San Diego which is the time needed for an oil painting to be dry enough to roll up. John was out in the countryside finishing off his last painting. Toshiko explained to me that he had spent a lot of time working on the colour green this year. There are many different shades of green in the French landscape that are difficult to render on canvas.
I had already seen some of John’s paintings on his website so I knew that I liked his style. When I saw the actual canvasses, though, I knew I wanted one! There were several I liked but one in particular took my eye. Relationnel preferred another painting but it was of Amboise and I wanted one of Blois! So we went away and thought about it. From time to time while John and Toshiko were out, we’d steal a look through the glass door of the kitchen and finally decided which one we wanted. “The Loire at Blois, Noon”. It depicts a scene that we see each time we take the lovely drive from Closerie Falaiseau into Blois along the Loire River.
John just had the time to stretch the canvas for us before he left. Now all we have to do is frame it. We are extremely happy to have this beautiful work of art for more reasons than one. First, we both love the painting itself and that is surely the best criterion! We love the composition, with its brightly-coloured turn-of-the-century house and tall poplars up on the left , the steel truss bridge spanning the Loire, Relationnel’s favourite river, with its sand banks in the middle and overgrown vegetation. And you can almost see the clouds moving across the top of the canvas.
Second, it was painted by someone we have met and like. Third, the artist told us it is a “special” painting for him. Fourth, it was painted by our very first guest. And last, but not least, it is a symbol of our future life in the Loire Valley where we will be living permanently when Relationnel retires in October 2014.You might also like to read my interview with John published on My French Life http://www.aussieinfrance.com/2012/07/profile-john-modesitt-american-impressionist-painter-in-france/ John Modesitt http://www.americanimpressionist.net/