My trip to New Orleans last year was the first time I’d traveled alone as a widow. The experience was profound.
Details of the trip and that experience are in my book…and I’m advised to not give them away here. What I can share here is that, in addition to all that amazing personal growth, the Crescent City also opened me up to writing fiction – flash fiction, short stories, and an erotic thriller – based on the dark, torrid tales of the buildings and history there. No cotton candy in those pieces of writing. Hell no.
It reminds me of a song from the play WICKED. “I don’t know if I’ve been changed for the better. But I know I have been changed for good.”
That’s what happened to Edgar Degas. A brochure in my hotel said the same and lured me to the Degas House Museum. There I learned more.
Edgar Degas was a successful artist in 1880’s Paris. He painted in a traditional style, as did other leading artists of the era. After the Civil War he felt compelled to visit the New Orleans home of his Creole Mother’s family. The bright sunlight hurt his already damaged eyes and the humid air blurred his vision. Still his first painting in the city was a masterpiece of realism. In “The Cotton Exchange” you can almost hear artificial, but polite conversations between back-stabbing gentlemen in that formal, financial jungle.
But soon everything changed.
Degas began to embrace the bright, steamy air and subsequent paintings captured the IMPRESSION of that world.
It still gives me goose bumps to consider all that followed. Standing in that house…in the room in which he lived and painted….I was washed in the very essence of change.
Yep, Edgar…I get it!