January 31, 2012

Oh my goodness you guys, I keep forgetting to tell you, but we bought a painting! It’s pretty big — about 4 feet across. It’s titled “L’Amerique.” Also. It’s the coolest! I’m actually pretty nuts about it and point it out to any one who shows up at our door. : )

There’s a little story behind it too, in case you’re curious. In December we went to an art exhibit featuring the work of Jean François Sineux. You might remember me mentioning the Sineux Brothers — we’re renting this house from one of them. The entire exhibit was a series of cows:

Maybe a hundred of them. And they were so good! We missed the opening night, and when we visited on the second night of the exhibit, almost everything was sold. But our favorite piece was still available. So we bought it before it was grabbed up! In fact, instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, Ben Blair and I decided this would be way more fun. The following day, we brought the kids to see the exhibit too. They guessed which painting was ours immediately.

I know we have that adorable, crazy old car that will make a fantastic souvenir (if we can just figure out how to get it home…), but I think I’m even more excited about this painting.

It’s such a perfect memento of our life here. It reminds me of country roads, fresh milk, and the cows that wander in the field around our house. Best of all, it reminds me of the Sineux family — they’ve been so generous and kind to us, and my memories of France will always be intertwined with thoughts of these good people. Seriously, it feels like the best souvenir ever.

This is the first piece of “big” art we’ve purchased. It felt like kind of big deal, like it was the beginning of our own real live art collection. Tell me, please. Are you a collector of art? Have you ever seen a piece of art and felt compelled to buy it?

P.S. — Want to hear a bit of trivia? If we had stuck to our original plan, today is the day we would be moving back to America. That blows my mind! It seems like we just arrived a few minutes ago.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bente January 31, 2012 at 10:25 am

Such a great painting! I can see why you’re taking it home with you :)

When my husband and I were still just boyfriend and girlfriend and travelling Europe by train, we bought two paintings at a market in Krakow, Poland. They had the same theme, but different colors, complementing each other. We kept one each, promissing that if one day we got married and had our own place, we would put them up on the wall together.

Today, the paintings are hanging on the wall in our living room, reminding us of those early years of our relationship :)


2 Ann January 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

We love collecting art. We just bought a piece over the weekend. We have no more walk space for art but we just can’t stop. We have a lot of leaning art now! I can share some of our favorite artists and galleries if you want!


3 katharine January 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

As an artist I applaud you for buying original art. I always find it surprising to see great interiors that don’t have original art. It doesn’t have to be any more expensive than the other things we buy: ipads, fancy phones, flat screens etc. and has a much longer life. Each painting or sculpture we have bought always brings back memories of when we bought it. We have never regretted buying a piece of art, though I often think ruefully about the work of art we loved and didn’t buy!


4 Lauren@BaylorSays... January 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

We are ready to start collecting…everyone should choose pieces that are intimately special and momentous. Great choice!! It will mean everything to your family and your family’s family one day. :-)


5 Amanda January 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

It’s crazy to think you were supposed to move back today. I started reading your blog just before you moved and it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!

I love the painting you bought and can only imagine how impressive it is in “real life.” I’ve bought a couple of pieces of art from a local art show called “Paint the Heartland.” Dozens of artists come to a little town in New Brunswick, Canada, called “Hartland” for an entire weekend. They spend two whole days painting on location. You can buy the piece before as they’re working on it – before the paint even dries! How neat is that?!

My favourite piece that I bought is pastel on some kind of hide. It depicts a young black woman carrying flowers from the market. Her dress is bright yellow and the flowers are red. It’s not my “usual” style and my friends are always surprised when I show it to them but I love it. I can’t look at it and NOT feel happy!


6 Christine January 31, 2012 at 11:25 am

I love the car you purchased and would have bought it also. We’ve shipped one car from England to Australia. Worst case you could get your car to England then to the States that way. If you want any details, let me know!

The cows are incredible. We don’t have any art, I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.


7 Nora January 31, 2012 at 11:42 am

We have collected many small pieces from our travels. They are spread around the house in almost every room and remind us of so many good times. Hard to pack a big piece. But one I wanted was in a small antique shop in Amsterdam…a ship painted on old barn boards, about 4 ft by 6 ft.. Would have been spectacular to own.
When we lived in Amsterdam, it took a year to adjust (new doctor, dentist, bikes, food, driving-gasp!), a second year to soak it all up, and the third year was spent regretting that we were leaving (a lot of, “this may be the last time we take the train to Paris”, now that’s hard to let go of!). Stay as long as you can!!!


8 rachel schindler January 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I do hope you get to stay in France for a very long time. I love reading your stories about France and your surroundings. Love the painting…you have excellent taste.


9 Carly January 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I love this story! When I was pregnant with my first child we bought our first, and still only, piece of “fine art” during a trip to Lake Tahoe. I completely understand the excitement and the feeling that it’s the start of something. How fun! Congratulations on your purchase, it is truly lovely!


10 Tina January 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

What a great painting…and series! (pretty relevant to our life here in the plains…LOL!) We have a tradition to bring home a piece of art from every destination. We also buy a piece for our kiddo for every birthday. It’s really cool to walk through the house and remember where we travelled with each piece.
P.S. I am behind on my reader. SO BEHIND. You are staying in Paris? Wonderful!


11 vermontmommy January 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Love it! I collect art as much as I can. It makes me happy.


12 Andrea January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

So cool! I love your cows!

My grandpa was a professional artist, and I was fortunate enough to receive several of his pieces when he passed away. I love displaying his work around my home (though several are still awaiting frames!). Someday I’d also like to purchase a few favorite pieces to display alongside my grandpa’s work.


13 Carina January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I love to collect art! I know “the” piece when I see it–you just have to connect emotionally to it!

I feel strongly that anyone can start collecting original art that is meaningful to them (I even gave a Ignite! talk on the subject.) Congratulations on your first big purchase! I hope it makes you happy every day.


14 kristi January 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm

ooh, i love cows! those paintings are fabulous, especially the one you bought. i rarely buy art for myself, but often as a gift for friends.


15 Joni January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Yup, love cows, love the painting :}


16 Caddy January 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I’m very excited and happy for you guys, starting your own collection of art with a piece that means a lot to you guys. My mom loves antiques (she grew up in area where there were a lot of digs for old artifacts and started collecting them in high school) and she always says that they’re better when they have a story behind them.

I don’t have an art collection but I do have some old heirlooms from my grandmother and great grandmother, old gowns with gorgeous beading (which I can’t wear). I plan to frame and hang them as art when I get a place of my own.


17 Amber January 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm

So wonderful! How long do you plan to stay in France? How did you work that out with visas? I don’t think I’d ever want to leave!


18 Olivia January 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Gorgeous choice! I happen to love collecting art from my super talented friends:

My first art purchase was by John Skibo of a farmer and his prize winning bull. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveskibo/103262977/in/set-72157600284690122/
It’s huge and I LOVE it! Congrats!


19 Robin January 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Love it!


20 Mindy Hardy January 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm

We have a watercolour painting that we bought 8 years ago in Oxford while living in England, and I love it! Art is definitely the best souvenir (although we didn’t try cars…).

So, I have a question for you: how are you going to handle moving back to the states? I know there are conveniences that the USA offers that you don’t find elsewhere, but sometimes I think life here is too convenient. I want to walk down the lane to pick up fresh milk from a farmer. I want to cozy around the fire in my drafty old home that is so full of character. I want to to be forced to stay home because the local shops and restaurants are all closed at a decent hour. The USA has a lot going for it, and I know there are so many frustrations that come with living abroad…but I really think we have a few things to learn as well. Anyway, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. I’ve recently moved and am trying to find that perfect place to call “home” in a new city. I haven’t figured out the balance between reality and holding out for my ideal (which may or may not involve cows and green pastures…).


21 Cindy January 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Have followed your postings for some time. I enjoy just reading, however had to write after seeing the art display today.
I Love art, if I had my way we would be art poor! I too have many pictures of bovine around my house because we operate a working ranch. You said the art show was all about “cows”…painting #2 in the photo is definitely NOT a cow. It tends toward the manly persuasion, he is a bull.
So a better art exhibit title might be ; the Sineux Brothers – Cows and a Little Bit of Bull!
Thanks for the giggle!


22 Sandra January 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

When my husband and I were first dating, we went on a walking tour of local artists’ studios. At one of them I was quite taken with a colorful painting of flowers in a meadow. Very impressionistic.

Much to my surprise and delight a few months later this same painting turned up as a gift from him.

It hangs today over our fireplace.

As long as it means something to you, art is never a bad investment!


23 Molly January 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I also love collecting art… though I mostly have smaller pieces. It started in college when I went to Guatemala for an Alternative Spring break and I purchased a quilt in the market. After that, I seem to always find a treasure to bring home. The most difficult thing for me can be spending a lot money if the purchase feels big or extravagant. I can agonize as I deliberate. That all goes away once the art is home. I grow to love the pieces more as I live with them. It’s lovely to be surrounding by beautiful and interesting reminders of my life’s adventures.

I love the cows. I’ve always felt very neutral about cows but, recently, I’ve been very drawn to art with cows on it. I’m happy I’m not the only one!


24 Katie January 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm

What a fun painting – it has a touch of whimsy that I appreciate.

We buy a piece of art for every year that we are married instead of exchanging anniversary gifts. We have the entire year to find our art. Six years in, most of the art is simply “folk” art although we did buy our first gallery piece this summer. At some point I would like to buy something to invest in but for now, I love our collection. It is full of pieces big and small from our travels and adventures. Some pieces are by friends or family, others from etsy, some from coffee shops in places we’ve visited. At the end of our lives, we should have a house full of art. It’s fun and exciting.


25 Petra Palmer February 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

Katie, what a wonderful idea! So special and meaningful, your art collection growing along with your marriage : )


26 Ann January 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm

What a great experience.

When we lived in Ukraine we went to the artists lofts that were supported during the soviet period by the government.

It was amazing to visit the 80-90 year old artists of all genres. See the work from the Soviet period and the current work and hear their stories.

Wonderful art purchases. Most of all, I love the pictures we took of walking in the artists lofts and down the halls stacked with art of all type.

People proud of their art and skill they had honed over years.


27 Béa February 1, 2012 at 12:52 am


We shipped back our car from the US to the NL when we moved back to Europe a little over a year ago.
Two different friends of ours also took old cars back to the US a while ago.
I can only talk about our experience here but changes required by the dutch road authorities were pretty minor (fog light and indicators on the sides). Not sure it’s really relevant to your case though…

The only few things that propbaly helped us were:
- the car (an Element) was rather recent (to get its official description – the shipper dealt with that. I think)
Mind you, our friends to took an old Prosche to the States, and others an old Rolls Royce
- we were close to the harbour on both sides, so we could directly drop it off and pick it up.
-last but not leat for us, we had owned the car for more than 6 months prior to the move and could thus take it as part of our household content i.e. without having to pay fees to have it ‘imported’ on top of the shipping cost.

It may all be old news to you…
Still I can check back the names of the shipping companies if you like.
They may give you a rough idea of how difficult it is.


28 Béa February 1, 2012 at 12:54 am

propbaly? oh my, this cold is getting to my brain!!!

The typo queen.


29 Béa February 1, 2012 at 1:01 am
30 kirsten February 1, 2012 at 7:00 am



31 Lisa February 1, 2012 at 7:25 am

Gabrielle~ Did you send pictures of your new art to Ree at The Pioneer Woman? She’s “mad” about cows!


32 Lara February 1, 2012 at 8:02 am

I love original art and have been lucky to pick up a couple of pieces here and there. I’m lucky to have a spouse that has the same feelings about owning art and it has been fun to slowly start our collection. Congrats on buying such a cool piece.


33 magickwrds February 1, 2012 at 11:35 am

Love it! What an awesome piece of art- gorgeous colours, striking composition. Very powerful piece. Good for you!


34 Sara February 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Congratulations!!! Just perfect, in every way.


35 myseastory February 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

love art and buying a piece is like splurging in shopping but with no guilt!
i remember being so excited when i bought my first piece, i have bought two and inherited one, so i have a little collection that makes my home so personal.


36 juliagblair February 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I am completely impressed with your art purchase! Love the power and
beauty and merging colors and energy. marvelous choice.


37 Jane February 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I LOVE these paintings! If I had been there I would have bought one too! Growing up in rural central TX, I also have a fondness for these large animals of the bovine family. I have a special one of a Longhorn that my daughter named Blue Devil (a nod to my husbands alma mater when it’s really the mascot of my own) It hangs in my breakfast room. It is painted by our talented friend Jared Dunten…with a paintbrush between his teeth. It’s beautiful. You can see it here. http://jdunten.com/paintings/animals/janeys-longhorn/ And go ahead and read Jared’s story too – it’s inspiring.


38 Rosemarie February 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

The cows are fabulous!!!

Art is my weakness – oh, and buying things for my daughter – neither can I control myself. Usually, I can only afford small pieces or prints – not sure if that is offically considered art collecting, but it fills my house with beauty and brings me such joy – much like my daughter!


39 Greta February 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

We bought our first “real” piece of art in France too!
The summer before we had our first baby, my husband and I took a 5 week backpacking trip through Europe.
We stayed in Arles for a few days and took a trip to the beautiful, old, hill town of Les Beaux.
It captured our hearts.
We visted a gallery there and met a delightful french artist.
He wore linen pants, leather loafers and a loose, linen shirt.
He was kind and funny.
We loved his art and purchased one of his paintings.
Each time I see that painting I am reminded of that day, that town, that artist, that trip, that adventure and that time in our lives.
I love it!
Thank you for bringing up such lovely memories.
And I love your painting too!
Love from


40 Rebecca February 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

What a great memento! My husband and I buy art for our birthdays too – it doesn’t happen every year, but it’s fantastic when it does!


41 Tiffanie February 3, 2012 at 12:09 am

That is an amazing piece, that’s all I can say! :)


42 Marianne February 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

What a treasure! I am crazy about cows too! You are blessed indeed with wonderful adventures. Thank you for sharing them.


43 juliagblair June 7, 2012 at 7:30 am

I love the BURST of light and energy!


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