Saturday, May 30, 2015

France, Part 1: Paris

5/16/15 Platinum Carbon and mixed gray inks, watercolor,
Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencil, Canson XL 140 lb.
paper (Eiffel Tower)
Long before we began planning our trip to France, perhaps even before I had started sketching, I had looked at paintings and sketches of the Eiffel Tower with complete awe of whomever had attempted its image. How intimidating it must be for any artist to stand before such a classically elegant structure, one that has been so overly depicted by the media in the past couple of centuries that it may be one of the most easily recognized icons in the world. Its proportions and shape are well-known even by people who have never been anywhere near Paris. What reckless chutzpah must be required to pull out a sketchbook in its shadow!

On a cold, drizzly day two weeks ago, after first making a small “practice” sketch from the front window of our airbnb-rented flat (chosen primarily for that view), I stood in that very shadow of la tour Eiffel. Reckless chutzpah? Maybe. Or maybe it was just that there was no way I was leaving Paris without it! The drizzle was threatening to turn to solid rain; I had no time to dawdle. I simply opened my sketchbook and sketched it. (Yes, the practice sketch I did from a photo last month did help!)

Whew! With that out of the way, I could proceed to sketch as much of the rest of Paris as I could in four days (as well as make several more sketches of the Eiffel from our flat at various times of day). The sketches I had the most fun making were of the elephant sculpture in front of the Musee D’Orsay, gargoyles at Notre Dame Cathedral and a busker outside Notre Dame.

5/17/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor (Pont Alexandre III)
By far the highlight of my short stay in Paris was getting together with Urban Sketchers Paris at Les Berges on the Seine River for an afternoon of sketching. After I had posted a message on the group’s Flickr page a few weeks before my visit, Kim Marohn graciously organized a picnic to precede the sketching, which would be followed by a drink-and-draw at a nearby bar. The event turned out to be an international one: Participants included Sigrid Albert from Vancouver, B.C. (whom I had met previously when she visited Seattle a couple years ago), and Brinda from India, both of whom happened to be in Paris, too. (One thing I love most about being part of Urban Sketchers is the international network you automatically join and can connect with anywhere in the world!)

As the day drew near, we all put in our requests for favorable weather – the weeks before my visit had been pretty wet – and we got it! Under a lovely clear blue sky and temperatures warm enough to take off a layer or two, I sketched Pont Alexandre III, the wildly ornate bridge that spans the Seine.

With so much more we wanted to see in Paris (we’ve saved a long list for next time!), it was on to Sarlat-la-Canéda!

To see photos from our trip, please look at my Flickr photo album.

5/16/15 various inks, Museum pencils
(Musee D'Orsay)
5/18/15 Platinum brush pen, various inks (Notre Dame)

5/18/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Museum pencils (busker outside
Notre Dame)
5/16/15 Sailor Doyou ink, watercolor, Museum
pencils (my first Eiffel Tower sketch
from our flat window)

5/15/15 Sailor Doyou and other inks, Museum pencils (train bridge)
5/16/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Museum
pencils (cafe musicians)

5/16/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor,
Molotow white acrylic pen (Eiffel Tower
at night)
5/17/15 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Museum pencils
(Saturday farmers market)
5/17/15 Sailor Doyou ink (Paris sketchers during drink-and-draw)
Martine and Tina sketching Pont Alexandre III
Paris sketchers
More Paris sketchers!
Picnic sketching on the Seine
5/19/15 Platinum brush pen (my last sketch in Paris)


  1. How wonderful! I was wondering whether you saw Sigrid as I've been also following her Paris sketches!

  2. Great sketches. Great memories. Glad you're back. --- Larry

  3. I am so impressed with your sketches of the Eiffel Tower!!! How great that you were able to sketch and picnic with the Paris Urban Sketchers. Looks like you had a wonderful time in Paris...but how could you NOT have a good time?


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