Pont Aven, France
If you know me, you know how much I love France.
I loved it even before I knew anything about it and was a self proclaimed francophile by the time I hit high school. At first I had some little opportunities: when we had to sign up for language class in high school I picked French. France was the main motivation for my very brief declaration as an international studies minor in college (after which I realized I couldn't properly dedicate the time, because I was too obsessed with painting and running...what's new). Then a dream I didn't even know I had came true. A few weeks before graduating with my BFA, I was notified that my school had nominated me to apply for a post baccalaureate fellowship at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art in Brittany, France. I was all in - and I pulled together an application faster than I done anything ever in my life.
By the end of August I had packed my bags and was on a plane for my first solo international trip, stuck in a hurricane, and stranded in New Jersey. Eventually I got to Paris, where I was also stranded because I couldn't remember the name of the town I was going to, and as it turns out, I didn't pay close enough attention in high school French class.
Eventually I did make it, and my epic trip over the ocean is a story for another time.
Pont Aven is a storybook town. It's small, and in the countryside - there are just a few main roads and most of the buildings and houses date back hundreds of years. A massive forest called the Bois d'Amor spans the town and is anchored by the Aven river - which is at times a small brook, and opens as a huge mouth to the Atlantic. The rocky coastline is about 2km from the town and I would run there with some frequency (while being chased by wild turkeys) which I remember clearly, but not very fondly.
That coastline and landscape rooted me while I was in Brittany and I made most of my artwork about it. I didn't realize (do we ever) that it was going to be one of the most transformative periods in my life. A lot of it had to do with France, but a lot of it had to do with the part of life I was at when I was in France, how much I grew while I was there, and the beautiful people I was there with.
So yes, the landscapes are all inspired in one way or another, by the Brittany coast of France. But they're also inspired by growth, transformation, positive energy, joy, and adventure.