She is an Austrian artist, currently based in a small touristy town in Eastern Europe. She sits on the sidewalk of a small uphill road running up to a proud fortress from the 11th century. She paints little miniature paintings of the fortress and other popular tourist destinations of the city. She describes her miniature artistic impressions of the fortress in great detail along with the significance of every little ledge protruding from the grey wall. She talks even more passionately about her flower paintings. Every flower she paints has a special significance. The story of each flower and its medicinal properties is even more impressive than the painting. The beauty of some paintings is enhanced further by philosophical little quotes written below in her beautiful artistic handwriting. There is a line from the poem written by her and a few others by famous philosophers from Europe and China. While she tells you about the therapeutic properties of some flowers, she throws in a line about the technique used for making the painting.
She pulls her torn jacket close to her body to protect herself from cold. But her eyes never leave you, except when she tells you about the political conditions of the country and treatment of women and artists. The wisdom of her light blue eyes, partly hidden by old specs, is deeply enhanced by her wrinkled face and warm smile. She can talk about art, history, medicine, yoga, philosophy and social perils with equal flair.
She sits at the steps of a grand ancient fortress in a beautiful European city, painting all day long, hoping to sell her miniature artistic impressions of the city, it’s spirit and her favorite flowers in an attempt to make some money for food and warm clothes, and happy to share her life story with anyone willing to listen to her.
She has great wisdom gathered over many years from books, her mother and her personal life experiences. She has strong political and social views. She is there only for a few more days. Once winter arrives, she has to find another place to sit, paint and sell her paintings. She dreams of writing a book with medicinal properties of flowers which few know of. She plans to migrate to another country, hopefully warmer, to continue her work.
I don’t know if her work is painting, medicine or philosophy. I don’t know if she has any family. She says she lives with a friend. She says the treatment of women artists in her country is unfair. I don’t know what gives her hope and what is the source of life in her.
But her story makes me wonder about the condition of women and poor in a rich country.