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A few days back, I accompanied my mother to Duncan for an appointment. As we waited to leave Salt Spring Island on the ferry, I told my mother about an amazing event that had just happened. When I finished she said, That’s such a great story – you must share it! Why not? It’s such a great example of the power of connection as well as the idea that you just never know who will buy one of your paintings.
Where should you begin? Where should you start?
I’ll start at the end.
Vivian, the owner of the Peninsula Gallery, letting me know the good news that one of my pastel paintings had sold and she’d just mailed it off…to a man in Germany. “He says he met you at the Tate!” I could hardly believe it! And you’ll soon see why.
Here’s the painting that now belongs to Stephan.
Now, let me take us back to the summer of last year.
I was in the UK in June and July teaching two workshops (as well as visiting old – and new – friends). After a lovely, if rainy, Retreat to the Yorkshire DalesI was thrilled to be teaching at the Cornwall School of Art for three days in Truro. I spent a few days exploring the coast, including St Ives. My primary reason for going? The Tate St Ives.
I love spending hours at a public art gallery, both to view the art and to photograph those who are viewing it (a subject I like to paint!). And with all those hours of exploration and examination, a gal’s got to remember to keep her stomach nourished alongside the soul nourishing. I visited the Tate cafe twice during the course of the day.
The second time it was crowded. The server asked me (and another) if we were okay with being seated together. I agreed, and so did he. We ordered our food and sat in a circle, where we began a conversation about art and the meaning of life. It was wonderful and unexpected! This stranger – Stephan – was on a six-month sabbatical, cycling all over western Europe. And we were on the Tate the same day.
It felt strange to be disconnected when it was time for me to leave. A part of me thought that it was best to let this moment be a memory. I gave him my business card at the last moment. Then, I went to the gallery on my own.
It was finally time to get back on the train to Hayle, where I was staying. As I was leaving the gallery a cyclist passed by, waving. Stephan, the stranger at my table, waved. Serendipity, again. It felt good to say goodbye and acknowledge the end. The book was closed, so to speak.
This was June.
I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from Stephan in December, just before the Christmas holidays. Remember, I had no other way to contact him. I didn’t even know his last name!) I hope he won’t mind me quoting these words – they express So perfectly? What I also felt
“It’s been a while that we were seated together in the cafe of the Tate Gallery in St. Ives this summer, but the – although brief – encounter with you, has stayed with me ever since as a beautiful reminder of how magical connection can feel like even – or maybe especially – if it happens by chance and that it’s always worthwhile being open for it. That’s one of the many things that my sabbatical taught me last year.”
And now we come full circle: The email from Vivian to say a guy from Germany – Stephan – had bought one of my paintings. WOW! You never know what you might find!
This story is important for three reasons.
- You never know when someone will buy your art. You don’t know when they will buy it, why they will buy it. It could happen at any moment, for any cause. I have been a believer for some time that there’s a person for every painting I create. It’s just the timing that’s unknown. This experience confirms this belief.
- We encourage you to remain open.I could have declined to sit at a table with a stranger on that particular day. To be honest, I enjoy being alone, with my thoughts. But I’m also curious and that keeps me open to connection and possibilities. Conversations can lead to nowhere or magical places. You never know what you might find!
- It’s such a cool story! My Mum encouraged me share it
A little extra to add. Although this painting came from out of the blue, it came as an idea fully formed in my mind’s eye. There were some tweaks to make as it emerged but generally speaking, I’d “seen” it. (Here you can see the progress of the piece..) And the title? Well, I’ll leave that for you to ponder on! The piece is pretty abstract and certainly not what I’m known for. Vivian liked it too. Now, it has found a home in Germany. Isn’t that just the best?!
Do you remember a story about a piece of art that sold? Please share it with us in the comments.
I hope that this will remind you to be open to possibilities. You never know who is going to buy your artwork next. And you just never know what connections you’ll make along your art journey!
Until next time,
PS. Thank you Mum for suggesting that I share this story. I never would have thought of that on my own.
PPS. And Stephan, if you’re reading this, thanks for giving a home to one of my pastel paintings. Also, thank you for the memorable encounter!
PPPS. Okay, I’m not sure but…as I was preparing this post, preparing the images, I noticed that in the photo of Stephan cycling away, he has an orange bag on his back. In this Gallery-Goer painting, which I created from a photo taken in the Tate Gallery, the man is wearing an orange bag. Could this be Stephan ??!! What do you think about this?