Monday, June 1, 2015

France, Part 3: Arles

5/23 - 24/15 various inks,
Caran d'Ache Museum
pencils, Pentalic Aqua
(Place de Republique Obelisque,
Famous for being the home of Van Gogh, Arles wasn’t even on our initial trip-planning radar; our intention was to go directly from Sarlat and the Dordogne region to the south of France. Getting there by a series of non-high-speed trains, however, would have meant a very long, grueling day, so we started looking at stops along the way. Small yet full of ancient Roman history, Arles on the Rhône River struck our fancy.

Van Gogh knick-knacks aside (I decided to forego the plastic placemat reproductions of “Starry Night” and coffee mugs depicting Vincent’s self-portrait), Arles is a fascinating town of Roman artifacts like an Amphitheatre Arenes and Theatre Antique. Musee Departement Arles Antique is an especially interesting museum where we spent an afternoon learning about sculptures, pieces of ruins and a remarkable flat-bottom barge from the 50s A.D. that had been discovered in the Rhône in 2004. I was torn between sketching and learning at this museum, but I did manage to sketch a number of very old sculptures.

5/24/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Museum pencils
(detail of Obelisque)
I think I spent the least amount of time sketching in this city compared to others because I spent the most time simply taking in its history. One sculpture that particularly caught my sketcher’s eye, however, was the tall, pointy Place de Republique Obelisque. If you’ll recall from my pre-trip planning post, I was undecided about whether to pack my half-used landscape-format sketchbook. For one thing, I don’t like having out-of-sequence sketches in a random sketchbook instead of included in my main travel sketchbook. I also knew I wouldn’t use it often, if at all, since I rarely make long, narrow sketches. At the last minute, though, I threw it in, and as it turned out, it came in handy three times. The first was for the La Roque landscape. The second was for this obelisk, whose height would have been difficult to capture otherwise. On my first morning there, I sketched the main sculpture. The next day I went back to fill the space at the bottom of the sketch with a close-up of one of the four lions in the corners of the base.

5/24/15 various inks, watercolor, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
(Amphithetre Arenes, Arles)
The Amphitheatre Arenes was an especially challenging sketch subject. I’m not sure how it compares to the Coliseum in Rome, but let’s just say it’s huge. The main difficulty in sketching something like the Arenes is trying to decide how much of it to fit onto a dinky sketchbook page. I don’t think I came close to indicating its vastness, but I have fond memories of actually sweating a bit in the sun as I sketched! Yes, we were finally in the warmer southern end of France!

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

5/24/15 Platinum Carbon ink, Platinum brush pen
(Church of St. Trophime, Arles)
5/24/15 Sailor Doyou and other inks,
Caran d'Ache Museum colored pencil
(Cloitre Saint-Trophime, Arles) 

5/23/15 Platinum Carbon and other inks, Museum pencils
(Arles Theatre Antique)
5/23/15 Sailor Doyou ink, Platinum brush pen
(statue of Neptune, Musee Arles Antique)

5/23/15 Platinum brush pen (Musee Arles Antique)
5/23/15 Sailor Doyou ink (statue of Colossale
d'Augusta, Musee Arles Antique)

1 comment:

  1. I am ashamed to say that when we were in Arles I learned very little about it's history. Most of my time there was spent on Van Gogh related sites and the town market. Having a car had its benefits but it was sometimes a pain to worry about parking the car, walking around, and then getting back to the car. You seem to have been able to do a little of everything. I like the obelisk but the detail sketch of it is wonderful! Great sketch of the Arles Theater. Your lines are perfect for the stonework shape and the view behind it. You have mastered doing shadows!!!


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