One Sunday afternoon, I was browsing a nearby second-hand shop when I came across two enchanting paintings of Paris. One was of a bookstore, the other, a wine shop. They were snippets of that city’s life. The focus was solely on one store rather than an entire street or overview of the city, which you often see in paintings and photos. Their colors were muted and dark, deep greens and maroons dominated. They were painted in rough strokes. And they weren’t particularly valuable, perhaps even recreations of more famous paintings I don’t know, but they spoke to me so I bought them and took them home.
Two Portraits of Paris
The first portrait is simple. It’s a corner book shop, advertising both ancient and contemporary books, with a nearby planting of flowering shrubs on a sun-dappled day. There are iron posts lining the sidewalk. The upstairs balcony is curtained, hinting that a person lives above the shop but who that is is up to our imaginations. And the street lamp reminds me of fancy French style. It all reflects my favorite things: books, Paris, and plants.
The second portrait is even simpler. It shows a wine shop, Les Coteaux du 9ème, a wine distributor that seems to be alive and well today in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. We see the store’s awning, its flowers, and a glimpse of the street sign, rue Notre-Dame de Lorette. The colors soothe in forest green and muted gold. Whenever I look at it, I think of sharing a bottle of wine with my husband or close friends. And thinking about that makes me happy.
A Dining Room’s Sparse Decor
I hung them in the dining room. It took me a long time to find the right art for that space, a broad swath of wall on either side of an antique cabinet. Because we eat dinner there on most nights in fall and winter, I wanted art that was moody and warm, and something small enough to be the spotlight of the wall’s show. I wanted reassurance. That the actual pictures belonged to another person at one time makes me happy. The frames are lovely but not overly ornate. They gently glow in a chunky, brushed light gold. The surfaces are crackled though I doubt they’re originals. They’re signed and marked “Paris,” but I can’t make out the artist’s name. Unless I rip off the brown paper on the back and explore further, I’ll never know if they’re mass-produced reproductions.
But I don’t much care one way or the other. Their purpose isn’t to impress or behave as part of a collection, it’s to remind me of the things I love as I eat dinner with my family. For that, they function perfectly.
What do you have in your home that reflects what you love? Tell me in the comments below!
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Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.