Les Ateliers Archives

March 10, 2008

the new studio mate

My new studio mate is mad. Not in the fun sense of the word but in the serious sense. It is something that I don't need right now to have a crazy person in my studio. And to think that I invited him to move in. He came from the atelier next door where he had problems with the other guy. The other guy is not anyone that I liked from the beginning. It is rare that I straight out don't like someone but the other guy I don't like at all from the day I met him. He's an energy sucker and was screaming all the time at the guy that came to share with me.

The guy that came to share with me I'll call Louis. Louis was a great guy before he moved into my studio. He lent me his car anytime I wanted. I asked for it once. He would always be there to help anyone carry up the three flights of stairs heavy stuff...

Due to an interruption I'll have to continue this later but it is worth a novel.

March 11, 2008

more on the studio mate

Louis as I have decided to call him might be having a midlife crisis. The fact is that he had an affair with another artist last summer, a young dynamic woman that has already an outrageous career. It was in August when it started.

Just the three of us where there. The young woman because she was having one important show after another and needed to bust her butt to get done all of her paintings, me because I had to finish this huge commission for Gables and Louis because he has no where else to go and probably doesn't have any friends either. That is what I suspect. He is also close to penniless which doesn't make for vacationing on the Côte Azur. The three of us in our studios would exchange inviting the other two for tea or a coffee it was a jolly moment more for them than for me. The weather last summer in Paris sucked, rain and cold. I was dreaming of the beach on the Etruscan coast where i spent all my last seven summers.

I noticed that they were talking more than before and thought only very briefly about it. He had always been negative about her. But I like to talk to everyone and my door was always open ready for a chat with whoever wanted to come. My studio is the very last one that you can reach so it was great to me that everyone came all the way there to hang out for a few minutes. The ateliers have very serious working artists and no one comes around for more than an hour and will understand when it is not the moment so the little breaks are quite a pleasure.

One day in this blissful moment in August I went to her atelier just as I arrived and they were both there. They seemed to have a complicity going but I didn't think anything of it and after about 20 minutes said thatI had to go work. She says wait a minute and pours me some more coffee. I drank it quickly and got up to go and she says, "Wait, sit down, we have something to tell you." I sit but my eyes say spit the toad. She says, "On est ensemble." What!? I think I don't understand did she say "We are together." I think that my French is not good and I misunderstood. It was so weird to me the whole thing. I realize then that I did understand and when he says "We want you to know because we don't want to play a comedy in front of you. I think that we make a great threesome."

When he said that we make a great threesome I was sure that they were trying to involve me and it was just too weird so I got up to go and gave them my congratulations on their bliss. Then went to my atlier and closed the door. From then on I have kept my door closed. That evening I came home and promptly told my fiancée the days events recounting that it bothered me that they had chose to involve me in their story as a witness or sounding board or possible third partner. For days I heard squeaky floor boards, whispers, groans and sudden bumps. I turned up my music and didn't go knocking. I got my paintings done and then went to Florence to deliver them.

Things with Louis and the young woman started to spoil fast. I tried to stay as neutral as possible knowing that it was destined to end. I was supposed to keep the secret because sharing the atelier with me was a friend of the young woman. My then studio mate was 28 and still a virgin, very christian. It would have caused problems to Louis's lover for the news to come out in the community of expats where they both came from it would have been terrible scandal...

It would be cool if I was making up this story but it is all true. More to come but I have to finish cooking the lamb with red peppers.

March 13, 2008

Studio Mate - I spit the toad.

This morning I farted around at home procrastinating going to Ivry and writing down my thoughts so that I would not get side tracked. Finally at 1pm I left. Before going to my space that has such a somber air since Louis has been there I first stopped at another girl’s atelier to talk to her about coming to share with me, we’ve been talking for a few days. She is bright, cheery and a serious worker. She had to go so I walked down the hall of the old tannery, the light from below peaking through the floorboards, to my door dreading opening it.

He was not there. But this shadow is in the space. I had finally worked up my courage to tell him and he wasn’t there. I thought all day about a lawyer friend of mine that told me she fired a worker on his birthday after he had given her a gift. The guy cried but then months later thanked her that he was much happier in his new situation. Not that this is the case but it gave me courage.

I didn’t really know what to do so decided to make a toilet run down the wooden stairs to the disgusting shared toilets and saw another woman that was leaving her atelier, she said she was coming to say hi. I went back into my space, crossed my legs to hold it in and we chatted for a bit. Just as she was saying good bye the door opened and in came Louis, my heart jumped, I got tachycardia, I was thinking that I was going to have the baby right then. My friend left and I said hello, to Louis that I needed to talk to him but first had to go to pee.

When I came back he said he needed to pee. I made some herbal tea and when he came back I spit the toad. He was completely astonished but calm, I was surprised. I talked at length that he is a great guy but that I cannot work with him. Our personalities are too different. I want to work with the door open to have visits from friends, turn the lights on leave the windows without black out curtains but basically work and share with the other artists at the ateliers. He needs to isolate himself, close off all the windows to have one direction of light for his still-lifes. (I used to use a spot light.) He doesn’t like the lights turned on and works until dark with a candle. A cemetery!!
I said that painting is my profession, I need light. He said that he needs to go to the atelier to get out of the house.

I feel like I have lost my tranquility in my space. He said that what if he refuses to leave. I hadn’t thought about this possibility but some how managed to say that it is my space, I have the contract and I have made my choice. I feel so much better. It is sad for him and I realize he is in a stitch but c’est la vie, today I’m a bitch.

March 15, 2008

the studio mate saga part 3

So what happened when everyone came back from summer vacation?

I was in Italy at the end of August and thenfor three weeks in September. It was really hard for me those three weeks because I was only a few months pregnant and runnig around like a chicken with my head cut off doing way too many things but mostly taking care of sending all my paintings to Gables. Finally I get back to Paris and back into the studio.

Everyone was so happy to see me, the virgin studio mate Louis and his lover that I will call XX. Everyone tells me their stories and I listen but it goes in one ear and out the other. It seemed like the world shifted in those three weeks that I was gone. Louis and XX were beyond the fisrt stages of the wild passion and the knots were starting to surface. She was even making fun of him, commenting that all men are this way and that way right in front of him. He seemed oblivious to this but had become terribly possesive to the point of not even wanting to let her go to her studio and paint. He even started throwing things and having tantrums. (I didn't know that then but find out only after he has moved in with me)

The virgin started suspecting that there was an indecent relationship going on and started saying things to me like "have you seen XX today?" then after a few minutes "is Louis here." The relationship was indecent to her because both of them lived with someone else. Louis starts to be mean to the virgin because he feels like she is threatening

One day the virgin decides to telephone the house of XX because she wants to know where XX is. The boyfriend answers and says that XX is at the studio. After about 30 minutes XX comes in all smiles and comes to talk to the virgin. I can't understand their language but from the silences and tone of voice and body language realize what is going on. XX gets furious and about that time Louis shows up. The boyfriend knows. Its a big mess. XX has to finish her work to go have a huge show in her country and in a few days is gone and stays away for 20 days. While she is gone she calls me to say hello to every one.

When she comes back things are different, she doesn't want to continue, she feels guilty and thinks that she has made a mistake. (considering his shitty character I don't blame her, but he can be so charming and has fooled me too) She decides to stay with her boyfriend and try to make things work so. SHe had even told him that she was in love with another man and was ready to move out. Louis never mentioned to his girlfriend that he was in love with another woman.

They agree that it will not work but the attraction is strong and it is a confusing period. I try to stay out of it all considering the ateliers a work environment. Louis has a key to my atelier and comes to paint on my side often. He loves the view, says that it is better than on his side, the light is better. He hates his studio mate and finds tranquility in my space. He says the music I listen to is cool. He wants to talk to me about XX, I don't.

On Dec 24th the virgin calls me to say that she has decided to leave on Dec 31st. What a Christmas present! My first thought of a new studio mate is Louis. I call him and say that the virgin is leaving. She needs to get away from XX because they now have fallen out. I ask Louis if he is interested and say that I will give him two weeks to think about it. He immediatly comes into my space to "try it out." Things with XX have completely broken by then. He is charming, loves the light, the view, etc., and finally decides to move in with me the day that he looks up above his door and sees the light on in XX's studio. That was the turning point.

He says now that he did not realize that he can hear everything she does now that he is in my space. He can hear the music she listens to, when she is on the phone, when she moves her chair, when she has visits, it it is a man or a woman. By mid February it is horrible for him. He has started to harrass (I find this out from her) her and is then that he thinks he has made a mistake. He regrets moving.

He finally lets down the facade and I see the Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde personality. I tell him that the curtains are not cool. His turpentine and smoking bother me but I open the window and tolerate it. I don't listen to music to be polite. I use spot lights instead of the overhead neon. (I now what colors I am using and don't need daylight to find the exact blend) He comes to tell me what I should do with my painting while he produces nothing incapable of feeling comfortable, he cannot find himself in my space- we have divided it with wooden panels. He comes to the atelier and sees only the things that need to be done to make it a better space - put up curtains, shelves useless things. He has probably sold less than 20 paintings in his life, stocking all of his stuff. Me I'v been living off my art for about 20 years and the 140 paintings I made last year are all sold. It starts to bother me that he is just too aware of what I am doing. I start to feel him on my back.

Ten days ago he freaks out on me, and thus I am writing this story to emancipate my spirit. He was totally hysterical, i would have been in tears if i were him. He regrets moving to my place because he now realizes the light on the other side is better, he put his heart into fixing up the other space. He misses his ex studio mate that he despised and wants to phone him but worst of all is that he hears XX and is obsessed by her. He says that he thinks that it is not going to work out with us sharing and wants to isolate himself from the world, he thinks that he will leave the ateliers all together. He throws away his paintings.

That is when I say take a vacation but I am vexed that he is there and lose some sleep over it. He goes away for a few days and when he comes back I say that i have gone to see XX and she is a friend. He looks at me and says "A friend!? your friend" Now i can't even see who i want. He says that he has begun seeing a phsychologist or a phsychiatrist and has begun taking antidepression medicine. This did not make it easier for me on Thurday to tell him to leave but I did and feel much better. I don't need this, especially right now. I wonder what is going to happen. He has to go. I hope he will go soon.

March 19, 2008

motherhood and an ipod

I broke down and got an ipod - 8 giga. I chose pink, why pink? I guess because I am supposed to be having a girl. I say supposed to because sometimes they mistake the mothers chromosones then a boy is born. I thought that I can listen to the ipod in the hospital and then maybe when I get home to not hear the baby crying.

I also thought about listening to it at the studio so that I can have music and not be harassed by the creepy studio mate Louis. But I'm not doing him any favors. I can't wait for him to leave. He has to leave. I decided that I hate him. I think I hate two people in the world, now three. A friend told that expecting mothers have a highly tuned sense of danger. I can't imagine bringing in the baby to the atelier and having that creep there wanting to look at her or get close to her. Ewe!

I had a beautiful calico cat in Florence in 1987. She wasn't just mine but was the house cat, one of the other students brought her home and before you know it we had six kittens. We were lucky enough to have a yard so she would bask in the sun next to her little fluffy kittens. There were some other cats that looked like males that would come and hang out but keep their distance sitting on the roof of the little garden house we had at the back of the garden. One day two of the cats started to fight and Mamma cat was so puffed up it was scary, her tail was huge and she was growling at the two cats fighting ont the roof. They locked together in a blur of paws and claws and rolled off the roof together falling over two meters to the ground. I will never forget seeing Mamma cat in two bounds was on top of the pile with both paws stretched out in the air above her, she literally dove into the thrashing pile embracing it. She was effective because the two fighting cats disappeared fast.

The idea of schizo Louis wanting to see the baby makes me feel like Mamma cat. Enough of him. He's rented too many of my brainwaves already. I've found a new studio mate that will be in my space for the next few months until he leaves. Last straw is 30 June. The new studio mate is a really cool woman from Virginia, a serious professional with two kids and a real good friend of a friend. She knows about the whole saga and she's not taking any of his whining.

The first thing I am putting on my ipod is Tang Around the World by Putumayo Productions

March 21, 2008

cool artists at the ateliers

The ateliers in Ivry will soon have a name. The owner is working on a website and starting planning events. The place was originally a tannery and then was a factory for making somekind of display stands. In 1999 there was a big windstorm in Paris that blew the entire roof off of the factory and then six months later the business folded. Since then the place has been slowly divided into artists ateliers.

Here are two of the excellent artists that are there:

Jung Yeon Min
She is one of the top. She outclasses everyone

Farah Atassi my favorite, young dynamic and promising. I love her painting

March 31, 2008

He's leaving

Last Tuesday I went to the atelier to clear out my space so that the person that would be taking it over temporarily would have room to work. She is a very cool artist originally from the US East coast. The space looked great with nothing on the walls and all the junk put away - clarity. We sat and chatted and talk about our experiences. I had hoped, sort of, to see Louis but he was not there.

It had been over a week since I had seen him and I wanted to be sure that he understood that I am firm on my decision about him leaving and was just not temporarily crazy because I am pregnant (his insinuation in our last conversation.)

After about 40 minutes he arrived. He was smiling and in a good mood, the good ole Louis that I thought I knew from before. I said hello and introduced him to the new sudio mate and said pull up a chair. He did and told me straight away that he had found two spaces and was almost surely going to move out by April 15th. I was pleasantly surprised and so was the new studio mate. He realized that he needs a place to himself. I told him that I was desolé to have asked him to leave and he said basically to forget about it, that it is the best decision.

Last Thursday he called and told me that he is leaving by April 1st. I am so happy! I was thinking that it was going to be a long drawn out uncomfortable situation but no. It has worked out well.

Thanks to the guardian angel that looks over me.

May 27, 2008

New artist at the Ateliers

I meet with Barry John Raybould a very interesting artist that has travelled all over the world and painted. He's painted in China, California, Italy and France among some places.
His painting workshops look very interesting. He will be a nice addition to the ateliers.

Last week was my first time back to the atelier since the baby was born. It was great to see my space and to look at the of paintings that I started before having the baby, a series representing people lounging in Luxembourg Gardens.

June 4, 2008

The studio mate from hell

What ever happened to Louis? Are you curious? I saw him today, he's on drugs. After a 2 and 1/2 month hiatus from the atelier I have started going back. Even if I just sit and look at the paintings I started before the baby arrived, while I hold my little baby and in the end don't paint a brushstroke it is great to be back.

Sunday we went and took the dinosaur vacuum cleaner from the house with us on the bus. The vacuum cleaner got dropped while crossing the street and broke. Luckily it was just an external injury so the thing still sucked up lots of dust thanks to duct tape that now holds it together.

After vacuuming we hung my hammock that once happily hung between and apricot tree and a plum tree on the Etruscan coast in Tuscany, ho hum.... Hanging the hammock took several trial runs because it is damn long and having it stretched enough so that ones buttocks do not touch the wooden floor took brainstorming. Finally everyone was happy - artist and mother, that couldn't stop rearnging things, baby and boyfriend that lounged in the hammock.

The moment of relaxation didn't last long for the wicked smell of someone cooking a merguez in almost burning oil. Who was it and where was the smell coming from? The closest restaurant is blocks away. It was Louis that now has his own little paradise of a studio, small but all his, right below mine. T he smell of his "cooking" wafts through the floorboards and tickles my nose. This smell - his "cooking " definetely not gourmet- was one of the things that truley bothered me about sharing an atelier with him. Funny how I still have to smell it. Life is funny how it plays tricks on you.

I can hear him grunting. What on earth is he doing? I get the impression that he is up to nothing good - satisfying himself. Today on my way out with little baby encumbering my moves I ran into him and he invited me into his little cove. It is cute. The light is nice and he can live and paint without having to harass anyone with his idiosyncrasies except form me that has to smell his côte d'agneau burning in some cheap vegetable oil. Makes me gag to think of it.

Well at least he is not "in" my space anymore and the new studio mate is great. Poor Louis has to put up with her blaring music, if I can hear him grunting he can definitely hear her music.

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