I saw the Hokusai exhibit here in Paris a couple of years ago, and it really stuck with me. I had already liked his work a lot, but both the prints and drawn books were stunning in person. As a landscape artist, I was most struck by the views of Mt. Fiji. The prints themselves were gorgeous, and I also liked that he picked a theme to explore with such variety and creativity. He did 36 views of Mt. Fiji from a wide variety of locations and distances and viewpoints.
Memphis has one office building off by itself away from downtown that is visible for miles, and I've been tempted to try a series of views of the Clark Tower. That, whoever, would involve a great deal of driving around the suburbs, which I just don't enjoy, so it hasn't gotten past the idea phase.
Now, however, I'm staying in a new neighborhood of Paris with Montparnasse, their solo sky scraper, just out my window. I have, as I have mentioned, a gorgeously large two story window, and I've been doing cloud studies and enjoying the solid shape of Montparnasse against the sky. It occurred to me yesterday that I could do view of Montparnasse while I'm here. I won't manage 36, but I did three more today, which brings me to 14. It even has "mont" in the name. So perfect.
I am deeply aware that for buyers at home, the Eiffel Tower would be a much more popular and sellable subject matter, but I just don't feel drawn to it. It's lovely, but it is everywhere, and I feel like such a cliche painting it. I want to do views of Paris that are beautiful but not tourist postcards. Maybe I'll get over there to sketch before the trip is up, but I'm not feeling it at the moment and don't want to feel like a sell out making my art. So, for the moment, Montparnasse it is.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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