If you're walking down Main Street Saturday, the colors blooming inside Studio 7 may reach out and grab you. Don't resist.
Contemporary artist Florence de Bretagne will make her debut at Studio 7 Fine Arts on June 5 with her imaginative creations. They are bursting with brilliant colors and circles, often lollipop-like trees or perhaps balloons.
"I really like this shape," de Bretagne said. "I'm a bit obsessive. It has been like a signature."
Not only will de Bretagne be on hand to show and to talk about her work, she will be painting.
"The light here is excellent," she noted when visiting the gallery last week. "I will come with a painting already started and try to finish it by the end of the day."
This is a departure from her usual work habits in her atelier, the converted garage at her home in Palo Alto.
"I like to be really alone, super-focused," she said.
But Studio 7 owner Dirk Christiansen suggested she let people see her at work.
"I thought, 'Why not?' Surprises always come as an artist. It will be an interesting experience for me," said de Bretagne. "Painting is really very dirty - I wear very dirty clothes and sometimes have paint in my hair."
"Most of the time I have music on while I work," she added. "I'm inspired by jazz."
She usually does her paintings on the floor, she said.
"Sometimes I have a vision and it works very well," she explained. "Most of the time I don't know what I'm going to do."
As a painting goes into different directions, it can take years to complete, she remarked.
The results are whimsical paintings bursting with color and character.
"The meanings are really spontaneous - it comes from my heart," she said.
De Bretagne moved to the United States four years ago from her native Paris. She said she is impressed by the optimism of Americans and feels that her paintings done here reflect this.
"I begged my husband to come here," she recalled. Thibaut de Bretagne works for Cisco.
"I like the atmosphere here," she said. "People are positive, and optimistic that if they have ideas they will come through."
She mentioned that a painting she began in Paris took on brighter colors as she worked on it in the United States.
"I use very bright colors," she said. "I buy my own powder and create my own colors."
She paints in acrylic and often adds oil on top. Last year she began to add text around the edge of her paintings, to give them more meaning.
"They are mostly in French but one began in French and finished in English," she said.
De Bretagne did one exhibition with all small painting that could be creatively grouped and combined as her patrons preferred.
"One person bought 16," she recalled.
Her work has been exhibited recently at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason and galleries on the peninsula and in Los Gatos.
De Bretagne, who was born in Paris in 1972, first approached art as a hobby, attended business college and earned a law degree. But when a bad back kept her out of the workplace for 18 months, she spent her time painting and also read Rainer Maria Rikle's "Letters to a Young Poet," which inspired her to embrace her inner artist. She passed an examination for the National School for Decorative Arts in Paris, where she studied painting and photography.
She said she mostly paints these days but her photographs can also be seen on her website, www.florencedebretagne.com. She has photos from the landfill in Palo Alto as well as the industrial junkyards of San Francisco: Where others see ugliness, she can see beauty.
"I try to think outside the box," she said.
When she began to paint professionally, the circles kept reappearing. She painted a mural of huge lollipop flowers on the bedroom wall of her daughter, Zoe, who is now 9. Her son Domnin is 5. Her afternoons are sometimes spent doing art projects with her children, such as fun collages with everyday objects.
Children are welcome to the demonstration at Studio 7, said de Bretagne, who remarked that she always loves to see the work of children. Christiansen said he will have paper and crayons for young ones to produce their own images are as they are inspired.
"The wonderfully fun and unpredictable visual scenes created by Florence de Bretagne paintings create a very special display opportunity for Studio 7 Fine Arts," said Christiansen, who noted that her paintings "both inspire and redefine a room."
Studio 7, located on Main Street and Angela, will have French music playing during her appearance, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and will serve French coffee. Guests will be welcomed with a big red balloon and the brilliant colors and works of Florence de Bretagne - as well as the artist herself.