Drawing In The Dark

Today was a very full day.  First I went to a four hour life drawing class at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

image imageMy drawings at the Académie were kind of hard work today. As is often the case when I have a day like this, the quick five minute poses turn out the best. I horribly overworked everything else.

I hurried home after class, and had a half hour to put my feet up, grqb a bite to eat, and get ready for the ballet.


The sun was starting to set when I arrived and the light was catching the golden statues on top of the Opera Building. There are always a lot of people milling about, taking pictures, or just sitting on the steps soaking up the atmosphere. It was pretty neat getting to walk up to the big front doors, gain admittance, and walk up that grand staircase.

imageIt wasn’t all that easy to find my seat.  Turns out it is behind a locked door with no door knob, that needs to be opened by an attendant.  I am sitting in a beautiful red plush box seat!


That was a surprise.  I knew I had a railing in front of me, but I assumed it was just a wooden railing because there would be a walkway in front of it, or something similar. I feel rather regal, I must admit. I wonder who else has sat in that very same seat over the years?


The painted curtain rises to reveal a red velvet looking curtain.


imageThe Opera Garnier,  also known as the Palais Garnier,  was completed 139 years ago in 1875, and is now the home of the Paris Ballet.  It holds about 2,000 people and is pretty much sold out most for every performance.  I was very lucky to get such a good seat the day before the show, there were only a few seats left.  There are benefits to travelling solo!


The Chagall Mural and crystal chandelier are stunning!  Actually the entire place is stunning.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.

I took my pen and sketchbook with me and drew in the dark.  I couldn’t see a thing so I had no idea what I was doing until I could take a look when the lights came on at intermission.image

The first half of the performance was very traditional so there were often dancers posed in the background for a few seconds, which made it a bit easier.  Although I was fairly close to the stage, about a third of the way from the stage, the dancers still looked  still fairly small.  I am so glad I didn’t get a  seat further back.  Sometimes during this performance all the dancers were on stage at  the same time, quite the spectacle!

image The second half of the performance was very contemporary, and the dancers didn’t stop moving for a second! I was pretty sure these drawings were just going to end up as scribbles, but I think they actually still give the feeling of dancers.


imageIt was a great evening, watching the ballet and trying to interpret what I was seeing on paper, in the dark!


The Opera Garnier  was very beautiful by night.  I think I am going to have to take a bus ride at night just to see the lights of the city.

I also managed to do some more metro drawing today too, but people kept getting up and leaving.


I was a bit nervous about taking the metro home so late and thought for a while about the best route to take, but it was quite all right. I didn’t get home until 10:45, definitely the latest I have been out so far.  I may even try going to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, now that I know I can get myself home after dark!

Guess Who is Going to the Ballet?

Nothing really went according to plan today.  I went to the Opera Garnier first, as I wanted to do a self guided tour of the building.  It is supposed to be amazing.


When I got there, I noticed a message board saying that the auditorium was not available for viewing, so I decided I would have to try to come back another day.  Then I started thinking, decided there must be a performance and went to the ticket booth to see if there were any seats left.  I got a seat for tomorrow night to see the Ballet! It is a Harold Lander, Wlliam Forsythe production. (If there are any ballet aficionados out there).  Here is the blurb if you are interested. 

“Etudes transposes a dance class to the stage. Conceived by Harald Lander who was a choreographer, ballet master and director of the Opera’s Ballet School, this ballet can be seen as a manifesto of classical technique, of its purity, rigour and exactingness. In contrast, two works by William Forsythe, created especially for the Company, shed new light on this academic heritage, deconstructing and reconstructing its vocabulary. In Pas./parts and Woundwork, the choreographer shakes up the codes and boundaries, pushes back the limits and accelerates the pace. Three fundamental works from the repertoire that interact with each other, contributing to the study of the history of a technique which continues to evolve both as an intellectual discipline and as a living art form.”

I purchased  a mid-priced ticket, 77€ and my seat has a railing in front of it, so hopefully I will have a good view.  That accomplished I decided to head over to L’Orangerie  to have a look at Monet’s paintings but on checking the time I realized I would only have an hour or so inside before it closed and I didn’t want to feel rushed, so decided to take the metro to Notre Dame and maybe climb the tower.


I stop to listen to this fellow and do a quick sketch.  When I showed it to him he was very pleased, he thanked me several times and asked if he could take a photo of the drawing.

Soon I arrive at. Notre Dame. The square in front of it is jam packed with tourists, including me!


Notre Dame in the setting sun.  Well, the line up for the climb up to the towers was very long and it had been cut off for the day.  Maybe not a bad thing as I am fighting a cold that started yesterday and it is over 400 steps to the top!


I love gargoyles!  Part of the reason why I want to do the tower climb, is so I can get a closer view of these curious sculptures.  I wander through the gardens behind the Cathedral, take a couple of pictures and decide to go inside.


There was a bit of a line but it moved quite quickly, and soon I was gazing at the magnificent pillars, arches and stained glass windows.  A mass was just starting so I decided to stay for that.  A lot of it was sung by a young woman with the most amazing voice.  At first I thought it was a young boy singing, but when ‘he’ walked by I realized that it was a young woman.  I only understood a little bit of the service, but it really didn’t matter.  Sitting quietly in this place of worship during a service was a very special and beautiful way to experience Notre Dame.  I did a couple quick sketches in Notre Dame but I was quite far away, so…

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By the time the service was over I decided I needed to go home, which turned out to be a bit of an adventure.  I found the entrance to the Metro without too much problem but after only a couple of stations, there was an announcement and everyone got up and off the train, which then reversed and left the station!  I had no idea why this happened but managed to catch the words Barbes Rochechouart in the announcement, which is the name of the station I transfer at to get home.  Turns out there was a suspicious package so the line was shut down.  I figure out an alternative route and after two very packed trains I am home.  I am hoping for a bit better rest tonight, as I have a four hour drawing class tomorrow and then have just enough time to come home, eat, change and go to the Ballet!