Thursday’s Drawings

I wish I could say I did my best drawings on my last session but I struggled for the first part of the day.  Our model was an older fellow and he was a bit fidgety which I found distracting today.  I switched over to watercolour washes and quick line drawings during the last few poses and it went better.

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Our model in the afternoon brought props, which can be interesting but it can sometimes make drawing more difficult if they hide the neck and shoulder area.  She was a great model, no fidgeting or moving about at all.

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And finally another set of metro drawings. The last few days the cars have been pretty packed so drawing was sometimes impossible. I had to be content with people watching, and there are always interesting people to watch on the metro, or anywhere in Paris, for that matter.

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Saying Goodbye to Académie de la Grande Chaumiére

Today was the last day of drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére, and I felt quite sad when I left.  I really loved the time I spent here, and this week I have had several conversations with some of the artists drawing there.  I guess it took a while for me to feel comfortable enough to do so, and today several people came and initiated conversations with me, which was really nice.  Here is ‘my spot’ in the studio

imageI came back for one final look around before heading to the Musee d’Orsay. The stools get stacked at night so the studio is ready for a painting class in the morning.

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I am really going to miss being here.  This intensive life drawing experience has convinced me that  I need to do this more than once a week when I am home.  I often  didn’t even manage to go every week, but I am determined to change that.

I made my way to the Musée d’Orsay, which used to be an old train station and now is the home to an impressive collection of art, especially the works of the Impressionists and the Post Impressionists.

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The museum is open till nine tonight so I have almost two and a half hours, which isn’t all that much time.  Two of the floors of the museum were closed for renovations, which in a way was good, as there was less to see!  There are a lot of Monet’s paintings here.  One of the things I realized as I walked around was the sheer number of paintings these artists produced, and this is just one museum, their works are in so many other museums around the world.  It shows that it is essential to actually make art if you want to get good at it.  Completing two or three pieces a year just isn’t enough to make a difference in the quality of your work.

imageimageSome of the paintings are surprisingly small and then there are those that are vey big! I managed to see most of what I was interested in, but realized I could easily spend at least a couple of days here studying the work more closely and doing some drawings as a way of studying as well.

My focus this trip was life drawing, but I am thinking that I could very easily come back and spend more time in the museums in addition to the life drawing.  Maybe one day in the not too distant future….

I discovered that it is possible to go out on the roof of the museum and take some pictures.  It was getting dark but they give an idea of the view.  Here is the Louvre across the Seine, and Sacre Couer in the distance. You can see that it is definitely on a hill!

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I asked someone to take my picture, so here I am with the Louvre behind me.

All too soon it is nine and the museum closes, so I head home.  It is late and I am busy drawing on the metro and I miss my stop!  I have to go quite a bit further to connect with a line than will take me home and it meant many more flights of stairs and a long walk, probably two blocks at least, through underground tunnels until I got to the station I needed. I counted stairs today and on the trip to the Academié there are over one hundred stairs to climb or go down, and that is just one way!  And it is also probably the least number of stairs of all the trips that I make on the metro.  No wonder there aren’t many overweight Parisians!

imageI took this picture in a mirror on a corner, (so people don’t crash into each other? ) and didn’t realize there were lines all over my face till now!  It is after midnight, so I will post the last of my drawings at the Académie tomorrow  morning when I am not so tired and there will be better light to take the pictures.

Scary Metro Ride Home

Tonight coming home on the metro about 8:00 I had an rather unsettling experience.  I could hear someone speaking very loudly and than a series of loud bangs. Soon I see what it is all about, a very large, very upset man is walking through the metro cars yelling and slamming shut all the vents at the top of the windows.  He is either drunk or deranged, perhaps a bit of both, to judge from his appearance.  He is strangely dressed with all sorts of things tied into his hair and his pants appeared to have not much of a bottom in them, his bottom was quite visible.  To make matters worse he stepped into the area between me and the passengers facing me and almost fell on the lady beside me!

I was worried he was going to stay here, but he moved on, slamming more window vents. Everyone looked a bit upset, people were looking at each other with raised eyebrows or other facial expressions that clearly showed they did not like the situation.  A few minutes later he is walking back the way he came from, still slamming windows, as some people had opened them after he passed by.  This time no one reopened the windows!

He disappeared towards the back of the train and then a whole lot more people got on, so I figured he would not be able to make his way back to where I was sitting.   This is honestly the first time in Paris that I have felt uncomfortable, or worried about a situation.  In hindsight, I think the best thing to do would have been to get off the train and wait for the next one, but I was rather shocked by the situation and didn’t think of this until after it was all over.

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I did do some drawing on the metro today, but wasn’t able to do any after this incident.  I actually got a terrible headache, just the stress of it all I guess.

Then when I arrive at the metro station at the end of my street there are a whole lot of metro security and they are in a semi-circle around a man who is wearing an old jacket that says ‘Security’ on the back.  He has a very big muscular doberman and it appears that he wants to take the dog on the metro?  Not exactly sure, but the dog is wearing a muzzle and he is getting agitated, as is the man, who appears to be trying to explain something to the metro police.  The man ties the dog to the exit booth, so the metro people have to open a special gate so people don’t have to go through the booth.

I decide that I need to get home and shut the door on all this!  I even checked the internet to see if it is a full moon, but it isn’t, so can’t blame it on that.

There is a soccer match on tonight that Paris is playing in and they appear to be winning as there is a lot of cheering and noise periodically.  I couldn’t figure out what all the noise was about but when I went out to get a few groceries I saw a bunch of men standing outside and inside the cafe on the corner.  I go see what they are watching on TV,  turns put to be soccer, and I ask who is playing.  A man tells me, and says Paris was up by two points.  That was almost an hour ago and there is still lots of noise every now and then so I assume they are still in the lead.

Anyways… I attended two life drawing sessions today and then went for drinks with my two new friends and met a friend of theirs as well.  This gentleman is an American who came to visit Paris with his wife for three months and is still here, more than a decade later.  That seems to happen to people when they visit this city!

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Here are a few of my drawings from today.  The first model was older, probably at least my age, and very thin, so interesting to draw.

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I could see bones and musculature very clearly, so I concentrated on trying to sort those things out, especially in the neck and collarbone area, trying to sort out the shapes and shadows in this area.  They are over emphasized a bit in these drawings but I was concentrating on a study of bones and muscles.  This model was wonderful for that.

 

Our second model was rather voluptuous, so quite a contrast from the first session.

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Sorry for the long rant about the trip home, I think I just needed to talk about it.  Thanks for listening.

 

Montparnasse Cemetery and the Catacombes

An interesting day but also a day of of reflection.  I walked to the Gare de l’Est and caught the number 38 bus which took me all the way across Paris to Denfert Rochereau area.  This is a bit past where I go to draw and is the location of the Paris Catacombs.  There was a very long line, down the block and around the corner.  I ask one of the attendants, in French, if the line is better in the afternoon, and he tells me to that 4:00 is good so I decide to go visit the Montparnasse Cemetery first.

It is smaller than Pére Lachaise, where Bob and I visited several years ago, but it is still very large.  I spent a couple of hours just wandering about, taking lots of pictures.  I was hoping for angel pictures but there were very few angel statues.  That kind of surprised me.

imageThe cemetery is such a mix of old and new.  There are lots of the little house like structures that are very old, and sometimes right beside one of these there will be a modern tomb, where someone was very recently buried.

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There was a funeral today, the hearse driving slowly down one of the cemetery roads with a very old man in the passenger seat, and the mourners all walk following the hearse.  I wondered if it was his wife that died?

imageIt actually was the small personal touches that affected me the most.  A group of angel figurines on the tomb of a young boy named Luca who was only here for eight years, and flowers left on a tomb, even though the last person buried there was in the early 1900’s.

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I wonder about the ‘sepultures’, the little houses, some of them are so old that their doors are rusted shut, and the insides have not been cared for in many many years.  Who still has the keys to all these doors?  Does anyone come to visit anymore?  I wonder about the stories behind these tombs.

imageMany of the tombs or sepultures have several people interred in them, quite a few I saw had ten or twelve plaques with names and dates.  These tombs have been in families for hundreds of years.   There is no grass here, the plots are side by side with just enough room to walk between them, just as densely populated as the rest of Paris!  Some of the tombs are so old they have moss growing on the them and their words have been obliterated by time.

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I look for the tombs of some famous people, but no luck other than this one.  I tried to find Brancusi’s but it just wasn’t where it was supposed to be!

I had a bit of a picnic here, some tea and snacks and sat for a little while.  I saw a young man enter the cemetery carrying a big bouquet of white flowers. He stopped to fill a watering can and then headed down one of the cemetery roads.  Was he going to visit the grave of his wife, or mother, or perhaps even a son or daughter?  Seeing him made me feel quite emotional.  Cemeteries tend to put one in a pensive mood.

But then there were the tombstones that made me laugh!

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The only inscription was ” Il fait son choix d’une anchois et dine d’une sardine”. And was signed Berdal.  As near as I can make out, something like ” He made his choice of anchovies and dined on a sardine” The really funny part was when I walked around  to the other side to see if there was anything else written.  What does this look like to you?  I know I have been drawing the nude model a lot, but am I the only one who sees breasts?

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This one was quite strange.

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And then there was this fellow in bed with his wife and child!

I headed over to the Catacombes around three but there was still a long line so I wandered up and down a few streets, just looking at all the shops and people.  I have no urge to actually do any shopping, peering in windows Is quite adequate, at least for now.

I decide to get in line at 4:00, and although the line is considerably shorter than it was at noon it still takes 45 minutes before I am at the entrance.  I chat with a couple of guys from Georgia, who are visiting Paris for a birthday as well, while waiting and the time passes fairly quickly.

It is pretty hard to describe the Catacombes.  After walking down 130 steps and through long galleries I reach the ossuary.

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Although I had seen pictures and read a bit about the Catacombes, they really didn’t prepare me for the actuality of corridor after corridor and room after room of human bones, stacked on all sides, deep beneath the streets of Paris.

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I used a an attendant’s chair to take this photo.

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A barrel shaped pillar made of bones.

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Over 150 cemeteries in Paris and the surrounding areas were emptied and the bones brought here.  At first they were just dumped in huge piles, up to 11 meters high but they were later organized into the displays I saw today.

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There are the bones of over six million people in these catacombes.  I spent almost an hour and a half walking past their remains.  It was impossible to not be deeply affected.  We all die sooner or later, it is one of life’s few certainties. Of course I realize that, but seeing the physical remains of six million individuals was staggering.  I think that is something I kept thinking about, that these are not just piles of bones, they were people with families and they each had a story, a life.  Now they are a tourist attraction.

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Most people were very quiet and respectful but of course there are always some who are not.  I even overheard one girl ask her friend if he had pen as she wanted to write her name on the wall, hard to believe how some people think.  Luckily he didn’t have one, although there was some graffiti written on a few skulls….

On  the way hime saw more metro police.  Not sure if something has been happening.  I didn’t see any of these police the first ten days or so I was here, but have been seeing groups of three or four and up to ten at a time every day since then.

 

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I am really quite tired tonight, both physically and emotionally as well.  I didn’t get home until after 8:00, it was a good day, just a different one.  This ended up being a very long post, but considering I took over 250 photos today it was hard to whittle it down.

imageI also managed to get some drawing done today, I drew people on the metro.  It is a challenge, usually there are just a couple of minutes to try to get them on paper, they are often moving and sometimes my subject gets up and leaves just after I begin to draw!

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Six Hours of Drawing!

Stools and more stools, all heights from about 15″ to 48″.

imageI was able to stay for the 3:00 drawing session as well as the 12:00 one today.  Six hours of drawing and it went by so quickly.  Not noticing the  passage of time is a good indicator that a person is in a creative zone or space.  That was certainly the case today, it did not feel like I was drawing for six hours, the time flew by and before I knew it we were on the last pose.  I  didn’t even notice how sore my bottom was until I put down my pencil and brushes!  I will post some drawings tomorrow, it was dark by the time I got home and I need daylight to take pictures of drawings.

This interesting cage is in the corner of the little courtyard just outside the studio.  No occupants today.

imageI went to see the Osteopath again today, and I took these two pictures on the Metro going there at 6:30 pm, looking in both directions, before it got so packed that I couldn’t even get my arms up in the air to take another picture.  Yes, even more people piled into the train at the next station!

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imageIt was almost 9:00 by the time got home so a long day but a very satisfying one.

An Interesting Model

I attended another life drawing session at noon today.  Quite a different model from the one we had yesterday.  Not exactly sure how to describe her, perhaps ‘earthy’?  She made me think of some of the descriptions of models from the Impressionist’s time, many of them were dance hall women, or women of the street.  She had that bit of crudeness to her, an awkwardness almost, and she scratched and shifted her body about in a way that most models do not. Even her wrap was rather tatty and not all that clean, and she wore big black boots with her flimsy sarong wrap during the breaks, quite the combination.  Interestingly, she also seemed to be carrying on some sort of quiet conversation with herself, and would make rather strange facial expressions, as though in response to someone or something. She was certainly interesting to draw though. The first drawing is a 20 minute pose, the other three poses were 5 minutes each.

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These stone steps at the Académie have seen countless footsteps over the years, wearing the stone away.  I love this evidence of the past and all the artists who have been here before me.

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I didn”t have the best drawing session today though, my body has been giving me a bit of grief and it was being particularly bad today.  This morning I found an osteopath who speaks English, with the help of the internet. I used my new phone (for the first time) and made an appointment with her for later today.  She was very nice, and has her Canadian citizenship, as she lived in Canada for ten years before deciding that she missed Paris and her friends and family.  She worked on me for about an hour, so I am hoping to feel better soon.   I will likely go back towards the end of the week for another treatment.  I would love to be able to do two drawing sessions back to back, but have not felt up to doing so yet.

Coming home on the train from Giverny the other day,  I actually got up the courage to draw one of my fellow travellers.  The guy sitting beside me kind of watched what I was doing, and gave me a little smile when I finished. image

The train ride was very smooth and quiet, a nice way to travel.  While waiting on the train platform in Giverny,  one of the high speed trains came flying by, and I do mean flying!  It made me and several other people jump. I didn’t even hear it approaching it was moving so fast and by the time I figured out what it was, it was out of sight!  Wow!  I can’t even imagine travelling that fast.   It was mind boggling, and there certainly was no chance to get out my camera for a picture!

I want to draw on the Metro too, but it is bumpy, and very busy, so I haven’t been brave enough to try.  It is amazing how many people ride the Metro and how often the trains run. The most I have had to wait was three minutes, when I had just  missed the previous train. Imagine, a train runs every two or three minutes on every Metro line in the city, and they are all full of people!