Artiste in Luxembourg Gardens by Barbara Andolsek
Barbara Andolsek is a gifted painter who happens to like a lot of the same things I do, like nearly everything French, red wine, children, the beach, etc. Barbara lives in California and you all know that I live on the east coast, yet Barbara and I have become quite good friends? How? By the wonderful magic of the internet.
Homemade by Barbara Andolsek
Barbara and I were both following a blog called French Word-A-Day, written by Kristin Espinasse, an aspiring author and U.S.-expatriated wife and mother, caring for her family in the south of France. Barbara's comments caught my eye, we began a direct exchange with one another, and the rest is now history. Over the past four years, Barbara has been incredibly supportive of my artistic photography efforts, giving me pointers here and there, and sometimes a dose of courage to try something new. But the highest complement she's paid me is painting my photographs. I've lost count but I know she's painted at least ten including a jar of pickles, a painter and his easel in the Luxembourg Gardens, and a babysitter jumping off a lifeguard stand.
The Babysitter by Barbara Andolsek
What began as an interested exchange between two women with common interests, grew into an old-fashioned pen-pal relationship - rich with life's details shared as only women do. When I knew I would be in southern California for Christmas, I contacted Barbara and we agreed to meet at long last. I don't honestly know who was more excited, Barbara or me. We greeted each other as long-lost friends and held hands while we took each other in, not believing that this was real unless we were touching.
Sisters in Paris by Barbara Andolsek
Peter and my sister Sally were with me, both of whom are very familiar with the friendship that has grown between Barbara and me over the years. In fact, Sally has in her possession at home a painting I commissioned Barbara to paint, one of Sally and me in Paris one Christmas Eve. Barbara's husband Tim was also aware of all that's come to pass, and thus the five of us chattered noisily for several hours in their home and over lunch, at a French Bistro - of course.
As Barbara showed us around their home, she pointed out her paintings and showed us her studio. It's a small space with buckets of brushes and paints, an easel, and lots of paintings along one wall. I so wanted to photograph this room, but alas we didn't have time, but Peter was able to get an iPhone image of her brushes, those instruments that have baffled and frustrated me since grade school, but that she wields so expertly capturing light, texture, and a moment in time.
Paris Reflections by Barbara Andolsek
As we were being introduced to some of her works that we'd never seen, Barbara noticed that one in particular caught my eye - a verticle painting of the Eiffel Tower with pedestrians and the tower reflected on the rain-covered steps of the Palais de Chaillot, and she gave it to me right there on the spot. So now I am the proud owner of two Andolsek's, this one hung in our foyer where everyone can see it.
I understand everyone's caution about the internet especially as it relates to privacy and when it comes to that I am cautious too, but I also beseech you not to allow that to paralyze you when it comes to the internet. In the past four years I have come to know a small group of truly talented people - artists, photographers and writers, who also happen to be incredibly generous with their knowledge and experience. These people have become associates if not friends and I wouldn't want my life untouched by theirs.