Sitting under the sun in the late afternoon of a lazy Sunday, I am slapped by a resounding thought: I will never come back to this place. Never again, will I live in this beautiful house, with its pale ochre walls and sea-foam green shutters, its wood-frame veranda and vast stone patio.
Never again will I paint in the studio, watch the sun set over silhouetted mountains, or sit on the patio balcony in the evening and play the guitar.
Only a week has past and more has happened than I could have ever imagined before coming here.
I have sketched and painted Cézanne's mountain.
I have painted a castle while standing on the side of the road, while being occasionally interrupted by oncoming traffic.
I have walked the halls of an immense Roman coliseum, once home to 13,000 people.
I have sat at Café de la Nuit and stood at the spot where Van Gogh painted it more than a century ago–– a painting that I will be able to see in person in only a matter of weeks.
And, I have roamed the many boulevards and little streets of Aix,
...that ancient city that is the hub of Provence.
(This is a painting by a local artist)
Something I have come to understand about European Art Classroom, is that the program is not built just for artists or French speakers: instead,
...it appears to be built for avid learners.
From the onset, this was proven to be true.
Our first real classroom experience started on Sunday, in which we each presented a Renaissance artist we were assigned over vacation, whose original works we will see in the coming weeks (I had Filippo Brunelleschi, the ingenious inventor and architect of Florence).
Our presentations were supposed to be under 10 minutes, but almost all of us went on for 10 minutes or longer, some even coming close to 20 minutes.
What is most remarkable about this (at least to me), is that no one's presentation was remotely boring.
Everyone had clearly become intimately invested in the life and history of their artist and had vastly different stories to tell.
Now, this energy has bled into everything that we do, from watercolor painting to narrative writing to cooking meals.
We are not master painters or fluent French speakers, but we are all curious and we are all learning; however simple that may sound, that is what I find the most extraordinary about what we are doing here in Aix.