French Paintbox is a dream conceived out of our appreciation for France, particularly the Southwest's gentle landscapes, lush gardens, savory foods, and artistic spirit. To share these things with others and to enable them to expand their creativity is our intention and pleasure.
We, the Oxmans, are a family business based in Santa Cruz, California. Richard is a former Professor of Theatre Arts and ESL at Rutgers University, Montclair State Teachers College, Seton Hall University, and many other educational institutions worldwide (30 years). Sylvie has been an antiques dealer (20 years) and tour guide for foreign travelers.
Sylvie and Richard's collective background draws upon varied disciplines and makes for a well-rounded workshop. With Richard's experience (as Workshop Facilitator, Homestay Director, etc.) and Sylvie's eye for the finer things in the antiques realm and tour credentials, they are perfect complements for their unique "dual-facilitator approach" to these artistic retreats. Translated, that means you've got at least two highly-qualified people looking after ten participants. With their focus on addressing the singular tastes and preferences of the students, that ratio is essential. In fact, on some days, as many as four "staff" members will be supervising the needs of the group.
During the middle of the most recent "Enchanted June" workshop, Paul, the husband-poet of painting instructor Elisabeth
surprised everyone with an invitation to
their home for lunch where he prepared and
served a gourmet meal. Following the
unexpected feast, Paul treated the entire
group to an unannounced poetry reading as
Elisabeth continued to be a gracious host
for several hours. And all of this following
their Master Class! The hosts at the country
home where you will lodge are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and accommodating, and enable Sylvie and Richard to concentrate on some of the finer details for your workshop.
We do not hire a van to ferry everyone around on a "It's Tuesday, it must be Toulouse again!" approach. Rather, we encourage three participants to secure automobiles absorbing most of the rental cost and arrange for individualized excursions whenever possible. We advocate the sharing of vehicles so that we limit our impact on the quaint villages we love. However, having a few vehicles allows us to cater to different moods and interests. For instance, only four people may be interested in antiques, only three in wine tasting, only two in the vast natural wonders of the region, while one lone participant might want to return to paint in a previously visited location on a given day. The camaraderie and independence encouraged by what we like to think of as a "nouvelle façon" reaps many rewards. By providing sufficient up-to-date information to make intelligent choices and "maximizing" travel options, we believe we expand everyone's horizons. And the entire staff feels that there's a correlation between achieving the goal of "seeing with new eyes" and avoiding a cookie-cutter itinerary.
We have learned a lot from past workshops, and we believe that by having each participant acknowledge the principles in the DECLARATION OF HARMONY which follows will go a long way toward ensuring a true rejuvenation vacation and educational experience combined. Everyone is an equally important member of the group, and we know that positive thinking, respect for refinement, sensitivity to others, and willingness to tread softly on foreign soil are essential ingredients to having an enchanted experience.
See ARTISTS page for testimonials. Additional references available upon request.
SOME RECOMMENDED WORKS
(for practical info and getting to know us better):
Guides: Lonely Planet's South-West France and DK Publishing's France (in the Eyewitness Travel Guides series), the former inexpensive enough to purchase and the latter certainly worth a review in the bookstore or library, especially the "Survival Guide" in the back.
Fiction: There is too much to list, of course, but Patrick Süskind's Perfume, an unusual historical French novel, is a favorite.
Gardens: Little, Brown and Company published a Bulfinch Press Book in 2000 by Louisa Jones, The French Country Garden; it highlights, among other things, Les Jardins des Paradis and Eric Ossart (see WORKSHOP).
Films: This is a special category that we absolutely love to discuss so feel free to inquire; too numerous to give a list here.
Links: Will provide a list upon request for specific interests.
History: Robert Cole's A Traveller's Guide to France for the briefest of introductions.
We would like to propose a blueprint for a mood.
Let's encourage sharing, consideration, and sensitivity as a means for treading softly
on foreign soil and optimizing positive experiences for all.
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