Tuesday, May 31, 2016


My dad, from France....

My parents are in Provence this month, a place they love. My dad blogged about it this week, in the course of discussing the artistic process of editing, or winnowing something down to a finished product. He sculpts sometimes, an art that is really just the editing of a piece of wood or clay.  I love what he had to say about editing, a necessary exercise that is difficult for me.

Here is part of what he wrote:

I am still in Provence, France where we are barraged by exceptional images. This is a place where hundreds of memorable moments are thrown at you every day. It is a dry climate with a steady stream of cool air that is funneled down through the Rhone valley by the Mistral winds coming from the Alps. When one steps out of the sun and in to the shade you feel this cool breeze. There are hills and mountains and flat fields of vines and crops. Villages sit atop high places and cling to sides of cliffs. They perch defiantly against the march of time and tourists. I have come to paint for over 25 years to the same villages and have become friends with some truly remarkable people. We are currently a guest of Ernst Sillem, a Dutchman, who has lived in his words, “an amusing life”. 

Ernst will soon turn 93 years old and still lives a vigorous and independent life. He has a glint in his eye and pep in his stride. His life has not been easy and in his success and positive nature we can learn some lessons in life. 

Ernst learned the skill of editing while being held a prisoner in German work camps throughout World War II. Ernst was saved from dying with all the occupants of Dachau as scheduled by the early arrival of American troops. He was a rare case of someone surveying the whole war being overworked and underfed in these hideous camps. He has many stories of grit and some good luck. His survival and subsequent life were a product of mind over matter. He declares that this was a grand school to learn how to survive hard knocks.

In prison Ernst learned to edit. He learned to put yesterday out of his mind in order to face the day ahead of him. This was a skill that he would need in his life that took him to pioneer new agricultural techniques in Morrocco and a rabbit farm in France. His ” good head” would help him cope with the loss of three wives, a son and many friends. Each day he wakes with good cheer and adventure in his heart. What a gift. What power good editing can have.

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