In the meantime, I was running out of money. I thought that I really had to sell my paintings. I went to a print store and made new prints from the paintings I had made in Ireland. They made better quality prints than the ones in Ireland. The young woman who handled making prints for me widened her eyes and looked impressed when she saw my paintings.
I also went to some more art galleries to ask if they could arrange an art exhibition for me. One gallery owner said that my paintings showed the influence of Van Gogh or Monet, but he said that his gallery had already booked all the exhibitions for the next two years. I went into another art gallery and showed them my paintings and asked if they could buy or hang them in their gallery. It was an older woman who I spoke to. She asked me what medium I had used for those paintings and I said it was watercolour. Then she said that, in Paris, paintings had to be made in oil. I was disappointed.
On another day, I met an older man who was drawing in a courtyard surrounded by beautiful old buildings. He showed me his drawings in his pocket-sized sketchbook and, he also told me that he knew a Japanese female artist who painted in Paris and sold her work in Japan. His name was Paul. He wrote down his address on a paper and gave it to me and told me to contact him if I ever wanted to.
I bought oil paints in an art store and I started painting a series of cartoon-style paintings. The theme of those paintings was the environment and global problems. I thought I could try to get them printed as a children’s book in Japan. I completed the series and wrote to a few Japanese publishing companies, but they wrote me back and said they didn’t do things like that.
While I was in Paris, I painted many city scenes in oil on paper. Also, I painted a view of the Seine River, part of Bastille and other city scenes. The look of my paintings changed into something more colourful and abstract while I was in Paris. Hamid said that he liked those colourful ones more than what I had painted just after I’d arrived in Paris. They were more realistic and had a more traditional look.
One day, Hamid asked me to draw his portrait, so I drew his profile at the reception while he was talking to the hotel staff. He had a beautiful straight nose and it was like I was drawing a sculpture. After that, Karen, his brother saw it and told me that he wanted one for him too. I said okay and I looked at his face for several seconds and I went back to my room and I drew his portrait from my memory. When I showed it to him, he seemed impressed and liked it.
I spent a lot of time painting in my room and Hamid one day mentioned that many towels in the hotels were getting paint on them because I had been painting in the room, but he was smiling. And he showed me a towel that had some green paint on it. I appreciated that they were very generous about me painting in the room. I thought that being an artist was a privilege in Paris as people there have great respect and appreciation for artists.
Featured image: Bastille by Chiho Yoshikawa, 2001