I'm hitting my stride on watercolors. I had several requests last year for paintings of the Eiffel Tower. It's off a bit by itself and isn't anywhere I get to often, but a sunny day made me think I should revisit it.
I got out of the metro and first saw Les Invalides with its wonderful conical topiary and the morning light playing across the facade, so I painted it first, since the light effect would be fleeting.
I painted the Eiffel Tower from the same spot. I really like the topiary, and also I was settled comfortably on a wall with my paints already out.
I once disappointed someone with a romantic notion of painting who asked how I choose my painting spots. My answer that first I check the shady and/or comfortable spots and branch out from those only if necessary for the view I need was clearly not what the questioner had in mind for the artistic process. I've definitely done my time hunkered on rocks, in direct sunlight, even (for one marvelous scene in Greece) right next to the public toilet with all the smells that go with such a location, but comfort and convenience are a good place to start.
I passed a bakery as I walked around to the park that houses the Eiffel Tower. Many of them here have small quiches and tarts that they will heat up for you to carry into the nearest park. I love that. So I treated myself to a salmon and spinach quiche to go with my apple and had a very Parisian looking picnic before painting again.
I finished the last piece as rain started to come down. I've lost track now of how many sketches have been interrupted by rain, but I may well be into double digits for the trip by now. I did the last bIt under my umbrella and packed up huddled underneath a sycamore.
Then, of course, I needed sunglasses for my walk home. Every half hour I seem to switch between my umbrella and my sunglasses. It makes for occasionally challenging painting conditions but really marvelous skies.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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