Artistic Origins

I received the most praise growing up for the way I painted, that was my gift! I had found something that would get my parents attention. Being one of 8 children It was hard to get your parents attention. My mother grew up surrounded by the art world. Her parents were antique dealers in Cannes, France and had a good reputation in their field. They were both self-taught and learned everything from books. My grandmother was an avid reader and learner and that is something I definitely inherited from her.

I wasn’t a good student in school. I had a terrible time memorizing things, my mind was always wandering and trying to figure things out…I couldn’t concentrate…it still is hard for me! When I met my husband, he loved to read, which was a difficult thing for me, but eventually I got into it. In my early 20’s I started reading books that I missed reading when I was a child. For example I read every one of Jules Verne’s books. The only books I would read before that were books about Prisons and War. I believe I was so hurt inside and so isolated, I just identified with these people’s pain. My husband on the other end would read submarine books. He did that for years…now he still reads a lot about boats, but they don’t have to be submarines. I believe it had to do with all the bottled up feelings he kept inside as well. What a pair! Eventually when I found the Lord, I got really hungry to learn all I could about Him and I just couldn’t get enough. Now my house is filled with books just like my grandmother’s house. This is part of my inheritance!

Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.

Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.

So when I grew up, I was surrounded with antiques and the art world was just a really big part of my life. It was kind of hard to stay in the present moment as we were surrounded with old things and always talking about them. They were like live idols living among us. They definitely took a lot of time and space. I wasn’t that interested in them. My Mom was an amazing artist, she had gone to the French Art School “Les Beaux Arts”. She was catholic and found the Lord painting Icons like Greek and Russian Icons in her later years after my dad died. It was her way to communicate with God. In my family it was an honor to be an artist. So I went to art school and found great relief in expressing myself through drawing, painting, pottery and such, but mostly through color. I couldn’t express myself in words but color was my tool. When I was 12, we had an art class at school and I had a couple of assignments to do at home. I did two paintings one of “Guignol” a famous French puppet that we had at the house and one of a clown. When I turned in the paintings to the teacher, she didn’t believe I had done them myself and I was rebuked and got a bad grade for it. I didn’t have parents who would have defended me for such a small matter…so I thought and I didn’t say anything at home. I was totally devastated. How could she have done that? I resented that teacher for the rest of the year. This is how I dealt with resentments: don’t tell anyone and let them fester forever! It didn’t work! Fear ran my life and left me paralyzed, with no hope for help. If my parents didn’t think it was important, then it wasn’t! The other side of this story is that if my teacher really wouldn’t believe I had done the paintings, then it must have been pretty good and it really was a compliment, but I couldn’t see it that way.

smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris

smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris

Since I could hold a pencil or a brush, I loved drawing or painting. I painted the garden, the house, little fantasy outside scenes etc…it was also something that Mom and Dad approved of, so it led me to do more. After barely finishing high school, I entered Art School while still living at home and these were some of my most exciting years. I became a teacher in a center for children from 4 to 12 and they all called me Mom, which made me feel good. I taught them to do hand-built pottery and painting. I got really attached to them as they loved me unconditionally and filled some of the void inside of me. I graduated from that school with honors having learned all kinds of crafts – my favorite ones being pottery and painting. When school was over I moved to Biot, a little village in the South of France where I worked hard for a silversmith. Denis was Iranian and a fun guy who had a problem with lust but never laid a finger on me, he jokingly called me his slave…I made pennies while he often went sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. I was the only apprentice there. He taught me the craft and was a very good and patient teacher. I was a good worker, very productive and learned the craft fast. At the time I was 21 and had left home with the idea of never going back there to live. I wanted my freedom and I did get that! I shared a little apartment with my oldest sister Jacqueline. I was still under the authority of my older siblings but we were all in rebellion so we rebelled together. My oldest sister who was always difficult with us when Mom and Dad would go away and leave us with her, changed drastically in Biot. One day she brought home maybe 20 or 25 hippies who had no place to spend the night. Our apartment was very small, just a studio, and we had people all over our floor…they slept there. We never did drugs in those days and I believe our Mom’s prayers had a lot to do with it. In the beginning of my second year in Biot, I met my husband David. We lived together for 5 years in the south of France, Italy and then Paris. We had the moving bug and never settled any place for very long. Then we thought we would go to the USA and see if he could sell his artwork. We thought we were leaving for 2 months but we never returned to Europe to live. We have now been in the USA for 38 years!

My sister who lived with me then, worked for a talented artist who did exquisite Leather work. My brother who lived in the same town had his own business restoring very intricate antique French furniture, his specialty being Louis XIV Brass and Tortoise Shell inlaid wood work. I worked for him for some time too. So we continued the family legacy.

Now I am back to working with Sterling Silver and using every bit of advice I learned from Denis, my teacher who died a few years back. I still absolutely love creating jewelry and am so grateful I can do something I love and have people wear it. My next phase in jewelry starting very soon is to include soldering and extend my creating possibilities. It will open a new perspective and I am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

What is the hobby or activity that helps you tap into the creativity God has given you?


8 thoughts on “Artistic Origins

  1. Enjoyed reading this Jeanne. It reminded me of my experience in recovery. I had a long hard time with resentment. I learned to forgive and get to the root cause. It wasn’t easy but it proved fruitful. And how wonderful that you were able to reconnect to art you love and enjoy!!!!


  2. Marvia, yes forgiveness is the key that holds the door opened to the recovery process…so many layers and years of judgments turn into freedom. It’s not an easy process and lots of pain involved in the process but wouldn’t go back to the way I was before for anything!


  3. Hi Jeanne,

    I’m so glad you are writing your life story, one chapter at a time, and allowing us to share in your rich history! I know you went through a lot of trauma, but there is so much beauty there, too!

    I was so angry to read how your teacher treated you; and it makes me think that she was probably jealous. Jealous of your artistic gift.

    Do you still paint?


  4. Thanks sweet Susan! I like your idea about the teacher, never saw it that way! I haven’t painted in many years. I used to have a business for years painting on silk with anilin dyes and did really well, but the twins were born and my professional life stopped! Still recovering I think!


  5. It was about 2 a.m. when my favorite Venetian necklace broke. (In fact, it’s the one I’m wearing in my online profile picture.) I was standing on deep-pile carpeting at my sister’s, where I had gone to help after her husband died. I found myself on my knees, picking up each little Murano seed bead. I put all the pieces in a Ziploc bag. Then I thought of all the Ziploc bags I have of broken “favorite” necklaces. So, once back home, I took a jewelry-making course. Then I started envisioning what I could do with polished agate slabs from “my Brazil,” combined with Venetian glass I’ve picked up from estate sales in all my world travels. The first necklace is still stuck in my imagination, but my inventory of pieces is growing so one will have to pop out soon. Ah, those creative juices! 😉


    • You are too funny Sharon! I love the adventurous and creative spirit in you! I would love to see the new jewelry coming out of the old broken pieces – maybe also a parallel of what God did with your life! Awesome!


  6. What a cool story! I come from a family of artists, too, and have learned that even though I may not be into fine art, God certainly does work His creativity through me in lots of other ways. I keep encouraging my mom to get back into it more – she and both of my sisters are some of the best artists I know!! I’m sure you feel the same way about your family. It frustrates me to hear that a teacher led to discouragement of that gift in you. A similar thing happened to my mom and unfortunately, it’s affected her artwork (or lack thereof) for YEARS! She’s finally learning to listen to all the positive words we are surrounding her with, as well as knowing that it’s a God-given talent – she needs to be using the gift, if even only for God Himself! Thanks for sharing your story.


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