This morning I walked out early to get downtown for the morning light. I'd had to abort the painting above when the sunlight vanished a few days ago, and I wanted to get it done today since I still had sun. This view is right on the edge of the Tuileries, conveniently the gate closest to Angelina's, which makes the best hot chocolate in the world. Which is why I was there to spot it in the first place. Paris is such a different landscape with it's tall buildings and delayed sunlight getting down to the ground. It's one reason the parks are so important here. They're open enough to catch the sunlight all day.
Afterwards I went on in the park proper, a bit unsure of what to paint next, but the red umbrellas caught my eye.
I had lunch there in the sun, touched up a little more, and then was drawn toward the west end of the Tuileries by some bright green new foliage on trees. There's a higher plaza there where you can see off toward the Eiffel Tower, which is often obscured by the buildings reaching up. People love it and associate it with Paris, so I often feel I should include it in my Paris painting. Then I sit down to try and feel like such a cliche. So this is probably it for this year's effort unless I just stumble on a view that calls my name.
In addition to the watercolors at Luxembourg gardens, I did three journal sketches on Monday as well. It felt great to have good weather and be on a roll. I started the day saying hello to the lions at St. Sulpice. I seem to sketch them every time I come to Paris.
Then I did a couple of serious watercolors, and after I had lunch with St. Genevieve, my favorite of the statues of queens up on the terrace overlooking the gardens. I love the line of women statues there, and she is particularly beguiling. I did a quick sketch of her after lunch before going back to do another more finished watercolor.
Finally I headed towards home. I sat in the sunshine on a bridge over the Seine for a bit, just drinking in Paris. And then I sat in the Tuileries and sketched the Louvre. It was my favorite building to paint my first year here. I haven't sketched it as much lately, but today I was drawn to the fountain and the trees framing it.
Had a long, lovely walk back to the north of the city after mostly sitting all day. I enjoy the rhythm of walking and sketching and walking again, always seeing new things I'd like to paint.
It was sunny today! I could not have been more delighted. I spent almost the whole day in Luxembourg Gardens making the most of it. I did three finished watercolors there (this blog post) plus three journal sketches that I'll post later.
One watercolor was of a spectacular tree that I have unaccountably walked past without pasting proper attention in years past. I enjoyed spending time with it today. And also with a kind gentleman who saw me painting it and also does watercolors. I told him about Urban Sketchers and also spread the gospel of my water brush, which is such a quick and easy sketching tool to have. He shared his strawberries with me, and I enjoyed a little friendly conversation since I'm traveling solo.
I had a gorgeous walk home in the sunshine. It's funny how ridiculously happy I feel just for being able to paint all day. I've been looking forward to this so much. I hope the weather holds for a bit.
Dancing with Rain
I feel like I am doing a complicated dance with the weather patterns trying to paint this trip. I've had to stop two different paintings partway finished due to weather in only three days. The good news was that I got sunshine long enough this morning to finish the one above of Notre Dame. I was so happy to see the cherry trees blooming when I got here, just like my first trip to Paris three years ago.
Then I laid off working while it rained again and sat in a cafe with my friend Rene having a lovely catch up of the year's news since we'd seen each other.
It was colder than I had expected today, and I got pretty chilled, so I headed home for tea and a late lunch. I had an argument with myself about going back out to work, since I'm in Paris and should take advantage of that. But cold feet won out. My compromise was doing a sketch of the rooftop view from underneath the duvet. I love this view and feel so lucky to get to revisit this place. I'm grateful to the friends who trust me with their cat and their home while they travel.
As I finished the first window sketch, the moon rose beautifully above the rooftops, and I couldn't resist a second. As with the Grand Palais, once you've drawn something once, you've learned it to a great extent (although there is always more to see), so a second sketch at the end goes much more quickly. Also I just did a half one, to get the moon.
I now have two half finished watercolors, abandoned temporarily for weather issues. I have it on reliable authority (a busker friend who has made a living playing on the streets of Paris for 20 years and therefore pays close attention to the westher) that it will be nice the next two or three days. I hope to get back around and finish the ones I've started as well as do a couple more. I'll also take time to hang out and hear Rene play tomorrow. With luck he'll be playing somewhere with a view so I can both listen and paint.
In the meantime, I've been sketching my food a little. I think about food a lot in Paris. I hit two of my very favorite bakeries today, one with fig bread (makes amazing toast) and one with a chocolate "fondant," a sort of brownie with pear slices on top. Just amazing. Dinner was lovely.
I also took time to hit the brocantes. A brocante is anything from an antique store to a garage sale that sells second hand goods. This is, hands down, my favorite French word, with the treasure hunt it implies. I went to the Marche Puces this morning (only open on weekends), and on my way home later I stumbled on a five block brocante, with tents lining both sides of the street. I had been intending to find a cafe with some shelter in case of further rain and paint, but I surrendered to the siren song of the brocante instead. I bought silk scarves made from old saris, soft gray leather gloves, and a French art book on Constable, my favorite painter, with the best reproductions I've seen of his paintings.
After all, it was a Saturday. And I'm in Paris.
Painting and Sketch
This is my first finished watercolor from the trip. I sat out on a bridge across the Seine and painted in the sunshine. Since it was my first full day, and a lovely moment to boot, I also wanted to remember it in my journal. I did a very quick sketch with a light blue ballpoint, since I now knew the scene pretty well from doing the watercolor. Then I slapped a bit of paint on top. Not full shadows and depth, but enough to give the impression.
Weebly, which hosts my website, has apparently stopped supporting the app on my phone that lets me upload photos onto this blog. Apologies first to the people who have subscribed and gotten several emails saying there's a new blog post that I immediately deleted because it wasn't working.
Today I spent my morning finding an Internet cafe and making the changes tech support told me to make. It's still not working. They have other suggestions that involve hunting down other tech support in a foreign language, but I don't want to spend all my time in Paris trouble shooting my website that they've stopped supporting.
So please check out my Facebook page for Martha Kelly Art instead. You should be able to search for and access it even though you're not on fb. (Again the limitations of having just a phone -- I can't seem to pull up the web address to link to without a desktop.)
One kind friend is offering to update my blog for me if I email photos, but he is off having a well deserved dance weekend at the moment, so it will be a few days. I'll have things here sporadically, but not as often as I would like. Thank you, Weebly. They've been busy making the interface less easy to use over the last few years instead of keeping it working. I'm going to go drown my frustrations in chocolate mousse now. Thank you all for reading my blog. I'm sorry I can't get it to work as I would like.
Addendum: fueled by some chocolate mousse, I managed to make the browser version in my phone work after a fashion. It's not great, and it's very slow, but I may be able to get some work up.
I sat at an outdoor cafe today during sun, rain, and, and sun again while I did this sketch. I'm trying to do at least one full watercolor a day and hopefully come home with a show. If I get enough sun, I should be able to do more than that and still have some time to enjoy Paris.
First day in Paris
I got to Paris yesterday feeling good enough to take a walk and do some light sketching. I headed to Abbesses, not too far and one of my favorite spots, and wandered over to Sacre Coeur. I emphatically did not climb up the whole hill. Instead I sat in the sun and sketched a bit.
On the way home I sketched the public water fountain in Abbesses. You see these all over Paris, and they are not only gorgeous but sometimes very welcome for refilling one's water bottle.
I got to go do an illustration of the Redbirds game for the Memphis News, which won't be published till next week, so I can't show it. My editor gave me the press pass, though, and said I could also go up to the press level and sketch from there. So after I did my main illustration, I decided to enjoy myself by doing a little sketchbook work from the press box. So exciting to be up there watching the announcer work. Plus they had cookies. And a great view.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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