I’m married to a painter who works magic. She looks at both ordinary and incredible things in an extraordinary way. Here is an example of what she looks at, the Chambord Chateau (castle) in the Loire Valley of France, and how it comes out after she looks at it for a time and paints it.

She is far more amazing to me than this spectacular chateau of the Renaissance, a little lodge of the French royalty where they and their friends gathered to hunt, they claimed, to control the animal population of the day. But I doubt this was the real reason they hunted. I suspect it had something to do with manhood, of proving oneself worthy of leadership, perhaps an affirmation of their birthright among the privileged classes.

Anyway, here’s Ellen Summerfield Russell at work. And at play.

Ellen Russell at work and at play on the Chambord Chateau, July 2013.

Ellen Russell at work and at play on the Chambord Chateau, July 2013.

And here’s an example of her artistic magic.

Ellen Russell painting, "Charming Chambord," July 2013.

“Charming Chambord,” July 2013.

Some artists have criticized her work as elementary, as childlike, as a distortion of reality. In my mind that is at the heart of her amazing work: the ability to see things through new eyes, to throw off the shackles of technical precision to the point of photo-quality painting. As she says, “Why don’t they just take a photo and be done with it if that is what they’re trying to copy.” She’s not big into copying. Her work is never boring. It almost always slaps the viewer into paying attention.

Among a great many other things, she taught me her love of French culture. And I’m grateful, as I am every day.

Years ago she saw me through new eyes. I still don’t know what she saw. But one day she may do an Andy Warhol-type painting of me–elementary, childlike, and a distortion of reality. That’s pretty much me.

Related posts:

Recouping in France, June 28, 2013 (1 in a series of 4)

Normandy Musings–Unexpected and Long to Linger, July 12, 2013 (3 in a series of 4)

France – The Marais, Heart of Paris, July 19, 2013 (4 in a series of $)