2018 Greetings from Aix

January 30, 2018

As some of you already know, in France it is bad luck to send your New Year’s greetings before the new year has begun & then you have until January 31 to do it. Having adopted the French ways that suit me, this is one that I like.

“Here’s my secret, it’s very simple:
It is only with the heart that one sees clearly,
The essential is invisible to the eye.”

Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Aix. I woke up this morning and thought of you. I had been turning and tossing all night lamenting and worrying with each one of you in my thoughts. My anguish was accentuated by the whirring of the wind and the rain outside. What I wanted was to be able to let you know how your spirit has touched my spirit and how dear you are to me. How grateful I am for your friendship. And how inadequate and humbled I feel to not be able to let you know how much you mean to me. In the night I recalled the beautiful calming words from one of my favorite novels Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.

“As she spoke the words of the prayer, she felt her yearning gradually spread like rings on water. The various thoughts that were making her uneasy were smoothed out, her mind grew calmer, tenderer, and a gentle sorrow, empty of all thought, replaced her troubles. She stayed there on her knees, aware of all the sounds of the night.”

I imagined rings on the water as they rippled and receded and then flattened and melted into the glass-like surface of the water and then I rippled myself into a peaceful sleep.

L'Abeille covered in snow, December 2017
L’Abeille covered in snow, December 2017

I often wake up to the voice of Isaiah, his words enter my mind and give me hope to start the day: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning….thou shalt call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:9)

I hope wherever you are in your heart, mind and soul, you will receive the ripple of my spirit, like rings on the water flowing out to you to say, thank you. Thank you for your friendship, for your thoughts, for your visits, for receiving me, for your cards and letters, but, most of all thank you for your spirit. My heart is full to the brim with a feeling of closeness, a kinship. I am with you in a painting or drawing that may hang in your home or in the pages of my book or through an image on Facebook or Instagram.

I believe in this way we are together, cheering each other on. From deep down in my soul comes the gift of your presence through a memory, which causes a smile to surface and I am not alone. Waiting for the voices of Nature to reveal its mysteries, I will perceive a new uncreated beauty that comes from the thousands of souls who are with me. Your presence brings depth and integrity to the moment when I am in front of my canvas. The trees are clapping their hands as the wind blows and bends them to a new form and the water, reflecting infinity, awakens a new vision that goes beyond all, to unknowing. This is my way.

Photo of the Steenhuis Ruffato Family
The Steenhuis Ruffato Family

My whole family has embraced this way, the creative way. We work all the day long in our different disciplines, meeting up for meals and then back at it again. Ideas take root and then become new creations in our kingdom here on the hilltop. Serge and Sergio are forging metal sculptures each in his own way.

Alexander is working with his different materials – stone, cement, pigments and wood. He is influenced by the Romanesque art of the 11th Century. The Silk Collection has been our latest joint project, transforming my paintings into silk scarves and an Eiffel Tie. I am so grateful for Alexander’s vision. And so happy about the positive feedback we have received.

Jimmy continues making films, mostly about the creative process and nature. He is also learning lithography from Sergio on our 1880’s press that belonged to Leo Marchutz. They are printing my images directly from the stone. To see Jimmy’s films and visual images of the lithographic process, go to www.artinprovence.com/video.

My Team on Tour, March 2017

Sergio and I continue to trek across America twice a year on tours of shows, speaking engagements and workshops. Jimmy came on the spring tour to film and help with setting up and taking down. On the fall tour he was replaced by Alexander. My right-hand girl, assistant Ginny McDowell, was part of our team. Her feminine presence and all the myriad tasks she does throughout the year keep me sane. Her mother, Ellen McDowell, worked tirelessly, organizing workshops, shows, stuffing envelopes, sticking labels and stamps – you know, all the fun stuff. And Nancy and Dickey, who tend to thousands of things and welcome us with a warm home and meals and parties. Denise and Stephanie here in France are part of this unending process of things to get done. Where would I be without them? I don’t know. But the one who carries me through the threshold every night and wakes up to prepare all things for me all day long, all my life long, is Serge. All the gold in the world could not equal what he has given me. My cup runneth over.

I close wishing you a year of good health, inspiration, peace and lots of love. To those of you who are alone or suffering and to those who have experienced loss, I send my spirit to embrace your grieving soul and hope that you will feel the ripple of water like a caress.

“We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees why does he hope for it? But if we hope for that which we see not, only then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)

May my soul touch your soul and may we be taken beyond our daily struggles and be given a taste of the eternal.

All my love,


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