European Epilogue

To be or not to be a painter? That’s the great question of modern times. There’s an itch to be a painter in every man, woman, and child who has achieved our contemporary level of civilization [Mirbeau, Octave, 1892 May 17, Echo de Paris; as cited in The Impressionists at First Hand, Bernard Denvir (Ed.). 1987. London, England: Thames & Hudson. (p. 170)].

Channeling Cézanne: Aix-en-Provence

Well, I certainly meant to write the epilogue to our trip before now, but the press of professional and academic commitments that piled up while we were gallivanting around the UK and France prohibited such a proactive mode. Better late than never, I suppose. Looking back at Mirbeau’s quote, he initially wrote this passage as a scathing criticism of the Impressionist movement, which he defined as a “social peril” (p. 169) and closed by stating this desire to paint would leave the world in shambles where we all live “in the age of oil paints, and there will be nothing else left to eat, to clothe ourselves with, or to house us. There will only be paintings” (p. 170). Obviously, there is much more to our lives than painting, including working to support a desired lifestyle, but I definitely scratched that “itch” to paint during our trip to Europe and made my best effort to channel Cézanne. Miss Cyd and I had a great time and explored many nooks and crannies across France associated with the Impressionists. Although I did not paint every day, I was able to produce some work that I liked. Next up is a visit to the kind ladies at McBride’s Gallery in Tucson to have them work their framing magic.

Cézanne’s Cupid: Model & Painting

To close out this chronicle of our trip, we left Paris on April 23 and returned to the St. Pancras in London on the Eurostar.We enjoyed our ride over from Paris to London on the Eurostar. Traveling by train, especially in first class accommodations, is a very civilized way to get about. Although this is our last train ride in Europe for this trip, we plan to return in a year or two to take a round trip on the Venice Simplon Orient Express from London to Venice as part of our next stay in Tuscany to paint. More about those plans in a future blog, but suffice it to say, we love to travel by train in Europe. It is very convenient that the Eurostar terminus is at the St. Pancras Hotel, so we just had to unload our luggage, take a short stroll across the train station, and check into our hotel room. We had a couple of days to relax before our flights back across the pond, so we went to the Courtauld Gallery. It was very interesting and we saw many of the Impressionist works that we discussed during our trip. It was interesting to see Cézanne’s little plaster model of Cupid that Miss Cyd noticed was missing from his studio in Aix. In her discussion with Christiane (our tour guide) at the studio, we learned the original figure was in the Courtauld. We found the model in the same room as Cezánne’s painting, “Still Life with Plaster Cupid.” That was rather serendipitous. We also saw Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergére,” which is one of Miss Cyd’s favorite paintings, so it was nice to see that work up close.

Jamil and Joe at Heathrow

After this last museum stop, we indulged ourselves with some high tea at the St. Pancras and generally relaxed on our last day in London. The next morning, we had a great breakfast, packed up and called our trusty driver, Jamil, to take us to London Heathrow to catch our flight home. Jamil is a very interesting person who just got a new Mercedes for his chauffeur service. We hire Jamil to take us to Oxford or other destinations whenever we arrive at Heathrow and always have him pick us up at the St. Pancras to return to Heathrow on our way home. His children are both in grad school, so we enjoy hearing about their adventures in academia, as we make our way across the English countryside.

Matt and Cyd

We had some long travel days to get to Philly, then on to Louisville the next day. We really appreciated Cyd’s son, Matt, watching Maggie Doodle for us, so we spent a couple of days unwinding in Lexington with them, before we loaded up the Beetle and headed back across the country to Tucson. Maggie enjoyed her stay with Matt and her new friend, Bug (the poodle next door to Matt’s apartment), but she was very glad to see us. It was great that we did not have to board her for the whole time.

Bug & Maggie

All told,  we traveled for about two months, but it was a productive two months and truly allowed me to scratch that itch to paint the bridges over the River Seine. Our sojourn in Aix-en-Provence was excellent and I think I did some of my better work there, although most of it was sketching. We have plenty of photos and ample inspiration for studio work this winter when the blustery winds blow and the temperature dips down into the 70s here in Tucson. I hope everyone enjoyed this blog of our trip. Although writing blog posts turned out to be much more work than I initially expected, it was a great way to chronicle the trip and aligns nicely with all the great photographs that Cyd took, as well as her journal entries along the way. In closing, I’d like to suggest that you “scratch your itch,” whatever that itch may be. After all, one never knows the number of days allotted to each of us here on this earth, so as I mentioned in one of the first blog posts, “It’s Now or Never!” Happy Scratching, Joe and Cyd.


Final Day in Paris (April 22)

Staircase_SGdPWell, it hardly seems possible that our time in Paris has come to an end. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here and even have learned to appreciate the 54 spiral steps up to our flat at 3 rue Jacques Callot. I can now take them two at a time (i.e., take two steps, catch my breath, take two more). Not really, I can make it all the way up in one slog now, but I am not looking forward to hauling all of our baggage down this tight set of spiral staircases on tomorrow to catch our train to London.

The main item on our schedule today is our visit to the Louvre, but on the way we stopped at St. Chapelle to see how the renovations went since we were last here in Paris back in 2011. We heard the stained glass was magnificent since it had been cleaned, so now we are going to check it out. The rumors were correct, the chapel is incredible and the stained glass looks like new. Since renovations are constant in Paris, the conservators are working on the lower chapel now. We’ll have to check that out on our next trip. We also stopped next door at the Concierge where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned and executed by guillotine. This was kind of a grisly ending for her, but the building was intesting.

Saint-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité
StChappelle_03 StChappelle_01 StChappelle_02
Left Side The Apse Right Side
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The Rosette The Clock Leaving Ile de la Cité

After our visit to the Palais de Justice and Saint-Chapelle, we walked over to the Louvre. It is so big that it would not be possible to see everything in a week, so we had to focus our stop. We always walk down the Denon wing to visit the Renaissance works, which also leads us by the Winged ViWingedVictoryctory of Samathrace, which was also recently renovated. There was a very good display in the room next door where the conservators worked on the various elements of the statue and the boat. We watched a good documentary of the conservation process. After that stop, we wandered down the Denon wing and checking out favorite pieces, such as the Da Vincis and other Renaissance works. Then, we made our way through the bustling crowds to our usual stop in front of the Mona Lisa. It is pretty incredible that so many people (i.e., the yellow-flower tour groups) plod right past all the excellent artwork in the main gallery without stopping to look at anything else to ooh and aah over a painting, although it is priceless and well-protected, that is ultimately is one of Da Vinci’s minor pieces, even here in the Louvre. I’m sure Da Vinci would get a good laugh out of that irony.

Although we always stop in the Mona Lisa gallery since Miss Cyd collects memorabilia related to the painting, the constant mob scene in front of Mona Lisa and singular focus of the tour guides reminds me of the time in Venice (October 2013) when weMonaLisa_01 were at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Our guide told us at the end of the walk through the early religious works, “oh yeah, there is a Da Vinci drawing exhibition over in that wing, so feel free to walk over there, but if not, the tour is over.” Miss Cyd and I made the walk over to the The Universal Man exhibition, which had many of Da Vinci’s drawings, including our personal favorite, the Vitruvian Man (see also James Earle‘s excellent discussion on how Da Vinci expressed the Roman philosopher and architect Vitruvius’ theory of symmetry and proportion in the human body and how it related to good buildiDimanche_01ng practices).

After our visit with Mona, we worked our way down the Denon wing and across the Sully Galleries, where we saw many rooms decorated in the style of the Bourbon monarchs, including Louis Quinze. Heading back up the Richelieu wing, we stopped at Le Café Richelieu / Angelina, and enjoyed a nice salade poulet du Caesare and some French onion soup. Quite tasty and just the thing to fuel some art expeditionistas for the next step. Swinging through Napoleon’s apartments, on to the Flemish painters.we went. One of the Vermeers (The Astronomer) was out on loan, but we saw the Lacemaker and many other Flemish works.

Ah, another anecdote comes to mind from the same trip to Italy in October 2013. While we Dimanche_02were at the Uffizi, the guide finished up her tour spiel on the Renaissance artwork with a throwaway comment about “those Flemish painters in the other wing.” Of course, Miss Cyd and I had to go see them and found several Rembrandts, a couple of Memlings and some Breughels. Very nice, but these two tales are very symptomatic of regional and temporal biases in Italy and France toward artists. We thoroughly enjoyed our swing through the Louvre, but it can be overwhelming. To finish up our stay in Paris, we had an excellent closing dinner at Un Dimanche á Paris. We ordered the three-course menu and had the lamb with it. After our stop the day before for tea, we had to have dessert too, so Cyd had the death by chocolate, while I settled for a nice Citron Meringue.

StChappelle_04It is true that I got very slack with the blog during the rapid pace of our final days on the trip. I planned to post one more blog about London, and then compose an epilogue that wraps up the trip in a tidy package once we got back. I still plan to do that, even though we are back with our noses to the grindstone and our shoulders to the wheel of our normal work-a-day routines, but for now, here are our last days in Paris.

Joe and Cyd

Walking Through Paris

MdOrsay_01The Paris leg of our trip is winding down, so we are hitting the museums today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday). Today we went to the Museé d’Orsay to see the permanent collection of Impressionists and other notable artwork. Getting an early start, we spent most of the day here. We were very fortunate to catch the Pierre Bonnard exhibition. Getting in way ahead of the regular line of folks, thanks to our two-day Paris Museum Pass, we went straight to the Bonnard exhibition to avoid the mass of humanity heading that way. These paintings were very interesting as was the naMuseedOrsay_03rrative of Bonnard’s life that was interspersed among the paintings. I found Bonnard to be a bold soul, as he did at least one painting (Two Women in the Garden, Bonnard, 1923) that featured both his current paramour and future wife (Maria Boursin, aka Marthe de Méligny) and his mistress (Renée Monchaty). Sadly, his mistress committed suicide a few weeks after Bonnard was married to Marthe. After studying the Impressionists and the post-Impressionists, it seemsMuseedOrsay_04 that most painters of the day had a few character flaws. Ah, those wily Artistes!

There is a new terrace just off the 5th floor galleries, where you can get an excellent view of the Seine and the Parisian arrondissements north of the Seine all the way to Montmartre.  We had an excellent day winding our way through the permanent collection of Impressionists, post-Impressionists, and other works at the Museé d’Orsay. We had an excellent lunch at the new Cafe on the upper floor and strolled back through St. Germain des Pres on our way back to the apartment. It was a very good day, but now we are looking forward to our pilgrimage to the Louvre, which you can see behind us and across the river in the selfie above that we took from the terrace at the d’Orsay, tomorrow to visit the Mona Lisa as well as other Renaissance works. We are also going to 3rueJacquesCallottrack down some Vermeers and other Flemish the Richelieu wing. We closed out the day at the Great Canadian Pub, where we chatted with the locals while we watched the semi-final soccer match between Barcelona and the St. Germaine des Pres team (local favorites, by far). Unfortunately for the local fans, Barcelona won the match, but a good time was had by all. Joe_Cyd_SeineWe walked home after the game, it was right around dusk and we caught a fingernail moon and Venus just rising over the roofline at the end of rue Jacques Callot. It was a magical ending to an excellent day.

Joe and Cyd

An American Painter in Paris

Saint_Sulpice_03We enjoyed the rare opportunity of a lazy day to work en atelier yesterday morning. I finished up Pont de l’Archevêché, while Miss Cyd completed a watercolor of the Moulin Rouge and caught up on her Photo Stream postings. Later, we walked over to the Place Saint Sulpice and had a delicious brunch at Café de la Mairie, where Miss Cyd had a Croque Monsieur and I enjoyed one of the best ham, cheese, and mushroom omelets I have had in quite some time. We shared a pot de Chardonnay with our meal and finished up with some espresso for me and a cappuccino for Cyd. Sated and happy, we went to the organ recital by Ben van Osteen at l’Eglise de Saint-Sulpice, which is just across the street from the café. It was totally amazing to hear classical music from this organ played by a master organist. Mr. Van Oosten, who teaches organ at tSaint_Sulpice_01he Conservatoire de Rotterdam and performs in concert on church organs all over Europe, played pieces by Widor, Boëly, Bach, Mendelssohn, Vierne, and Dupré. All of these musical selections sounded so incredible within the nave of Saint-Sulpice. It was truly an honor and a privilege to be able to sit there and enjoy his artistry. While being swept away by the wall of sound emanating from the organ behind us in this space, I sketched the pillars and the sculptures on the left side of the apse in ball point pen and may turn this sketch into a painting later on.

After the organ recital, Miss Cyd and I strolled through St. Germaine des Pres to the Great Canadian Pub for a couple of cold Kilkennys and met several interesting folks while we enjoyed our beers and a nice plate of nachos with chili. The first person was a Danish lawyer for the European Union who speaks five languages. We had a great chat abJoe_EalyMaysout politics in the EU and the outlook for the EU economy. I am delighted by the strength of the dollar on this trip, which made for a very favorable exchange rate from our perspective, but obviously the folks in Europe have a more jaundiced view of this economic dynamic. The second person was a nice young nanny from New York who was in Paris to meet a friend of hers from Geneva, and the third person we met was a real American painter in Paris. Ealy Mays has lived in Paris for many years since shortly after he married a French woman in Mexico. He and I had a great discussion onNotreDame_01 the political situation in the USA. He is very concerned over the rise of socialism in America as he has experienced that political reality first-hand for many years here in France. It has been enlightening to examine the varying perceptions of American politics from European citizens and media outlets, as well as expatriated Americans, who are not constantly lulled by American media.

The view of the USA  is vastly different on global news shows, like the BBC,  from the perspectives depicted on American television. Ealy is from West Texas and has no illusions about American politics or the current and former administrations. We also talked about an upcoming retrospective that he is planning with the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta this coming summer. I checkNotreDame_02ed out his work online after we got back to the flat tonight and found it very interesting. I hope Ealy’s Atlanta exhibition goes well for him as he is friendly and seems to be a genuinely nice guy. After reading about the Impressionists (Roe, 2007) and the financial and personal difficulties they experienced during their lives, it was very refreshing to find an American who has not only found success, but has enjoyed a good life painting in Paris.

Today, we are planning our trips to the museums for tomorrow and Wednesday. We stopped by the Souvenirs et Services office across from Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité this morning to pick up our two-day Paris Museum passes, which will allow us to bypass the long lines and get right into the exhibits we want to see. While we were on the island, we went to Notre Dame and caught the noon mass on our way to the Paris Bastille Harley Davidson store for our obligatory T-shirts. After theCafe_Panis_01 Mass, we stopped by one of our favorite cafés in Paris, the Café Panis – just across the Petit Pont from Notre Dame – and had a nice brunch with a good bottle of Chardonnay. It was every bit as good as the brunch we had yesterday before the organ recital at the Place Saint-Sulpice.

We took the #4 Metro from St. Michel to the Strasbourg – Saint Denis station and transferred to the #8 to Chemin Vert station, which got us right across the street from the Harley dealer. We got our T-shirts and headed back to town. Since it’s also looking like another shipping box is necessary to make weight on our baggage heading back to the US, we stopped by Le Poste on rue Bonaparte to pick up another Colissimo XL box on our way back to the flat. It took 1o days for the last shipment to travel from Aix-en-Provence to my neighbor’s house in Benson, but it made it just fine, so one more box for souvenirs and paintings and we should be good for baggage on the way back Stateside.

NotreDame_03We are looking forward to our visits to the Museé d’Orsay, the l’Orangerie, and the Louvre over the next two days as we wind down our stay in Paris. We got quite a bit of painting and sketching done while we were here in France, so I am happy with the progress I made on my own personal growth and learning as an artist of questionable repute, now it is time to wallow in the art of the old Masters for a couple of days to carry those memories home with us.

Joe and Cyd


Roe, S. (2007). The private lives of the Impressionists. London, England: Random House – Vintage.

Climbing Montmartre

Sacre_Couer_01From the dawn of time Montmartre has been a place of worship : from the Druids of ancient Gaul, through the Romans with their temples dedicated to Mars and Mercury, to the Church of Saint Peter, the oldest in Paris, rebuilt in the 12th century next to the Royal Abbey of Montmartre by Louis VI and his wife Adélaïde de Savoie… Finally, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, erected at the end of the 19th century. Today, this shrine of prayer remains faithful to its tradition: God is well and truly present!” (Retrieved from Montmartre, the “Mount of Martyrs”)

Sacre_Couer_03Today was another pleasant Spring day in Paris. After our usual breakfast stop for savory café and fresh French pastries, Miss Cyd and I walked over toSacre_Couer_04 the Odeon station and took the Metro to the Abbesses station on the #4 and #12 lines so I could see the Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. It is a bit of a hike from the station up to where the basilica sits magnificently atop the hill, but we took the Funicular up part Sacre_Couer_07of the way, so that saved a few sets of stairs, although we walked back down. The view of Paris to the South from the top was very good today and I got a shot of the Eiffel Tower over the Funicular station framed between the trees and buildings that lined the hill just below the Basilica.

After our examination of the hilltop, we strolled around Montmartre. We stopped in at L’Eglise de Saint-Jean back down by the Abbesses Metro station and caught a 4-Hand piano recital. The pianists were very good and were playing classical music on an old upright pianoEgliseSaintJean_02 that has seen its better days and would have fit in any bar around the world. Miss Cyd said, “That was probably the most elegant music that has ever been played on that piano.” It was very nice, so we sat, relaxed, and enjoyed the entire concert.

Cyd talked with them afterwards and found they play all over France in some very notable venues, but like many dedicated musicians, they like to play in churches to help raise donation funds for impoverished parishes. It was a serendipitous moment in our trip and reminiscent of the violin/piano concert we caught at the church in Oxford last month.

Speaking of musMontmartre_02ic in churches, we are enjoying a lazy day en atelier today, but are going to walk back over to Saint Sulpice this afternoon to catch an organ recital at 4 pm. We are looking forward to that event. We are planning to take a picnic lunch to the Jardin du Luxembourg and enjoy the afternoon in the gardens before the concert.

We enjoyed our day in Montmartre and had a very pleasant meal at the Tapas Nocturne with a carafe of Sangria to wash it all down. After lunch, we strolled around looking at the shops, checking out the offerings at the boulangeries and charcuteries, as well as the fruit a
nd vegetable shops that are locateMoulinRouge_02d all along the rue d’Abesses. We are thinking about renting a flat in Montmartre the next time we come back to Paris. It has a slower pace and more of a French village feel up on top, but of course, but the time you walk down the hill to catch the #12 line at the Pigalle station, you can quickly be back in the fervent life of metropolitan Paris.

The religious nuance of Montmartre cited above flies a bit in the face of today’s wave of cabarets, adult stores, etc. that line the Boulevard de Clichy where the world-famous Moulin Rouge resides. We thought about taking in the show, but the Saturday night show was already sold out and we didn’t feel like hanging around to catch the late show. So we settled for taking some pictures and enjoyed a cold Kilkenny at Sullivan’s Pub next door to the Moulin Rouge before heading back to our flat in St. Germaine des Pres.

Ok, Miss Cyd is busy working on another one of her excellent watercolor paintings of the Moulin Rouge and I neMoulinRouge_04ed to finish up the final details on the Pont de l’Archevêché painting before we head out on our picnic to Luxembourg Gardens, so I better quit writing on the blog, post it up for your enjoyment and entertainment, and audaciously seize the day with my liner brush to wrap that painting up so I can move on to others.  I think I will get up early tomorrow morning and walk down to the river for at least one more plein air session by the Pont de la Tournelle, but I really want to visit the Louvre and the Museé d’Orsay while we are here, so we are planning those visits for Tuesday and Wednesday, as our sojourn in Paris winds inexorably down.

Time really does fly when you are having fun. This whole trip hSacre_Couer_05as been a whirlwind of painting, sketching, sight-seeing, and lots of fine wining and dining, but our Europe 2015 adventure has all been very enjoyable. We have plenty of photos and other material to remember pleasurably, work with en atelier, and continue to enjoy for years to come. We hope you are also enjoying following along with our adventures here in the blog. If so, please feel free to leave a comment.

Joe and Cyd

Springtime in Paris

ShakespeareSpring has definitely arrived here in Paris. I walked by Shakespeare & Company on my way to paint along the Seine today and the cherry trees were in full bloom. After a good breakfast with Miss Cyd (more café and pain du chocolat), she headed over to the rue de Bac Metro station to catch the #12 Metro line up to Montmartre to visit the Basilica de Sacré Couer. She was fortunate enough to arrive in time for the noon mass, where Benedictine nuns were singing in the choir. I’m sorry I missed that as it sounded very nice. Anyway, I strolled down to the Quai de la Tournelle to finish up the Pont de l’Archevêché painting. As reported in last night’s blog, at the end of the painting day on Wednesday, I had the sketch completed, the river and the bridge blocked in, as well as the quay where I was set up painting.

PontArcheveche_06As I arrived at my trusty park bench this morning, I unpacked the painting and my equipment to set up for the day’s activities. Today was also a good day for painting, although it was very windy down by the river, so I had to lash the canvas to the Thumb Box to keep it from blowing away. I started working and put in a marathon day to complete the painting. Just as I suspected, Notre Dame presented several challenges, so I developed it mainly in the abstract as a background element. I made some very good progress today and have – for the most part – completed this painting.

An interesting anecdote occurred asPontArcheveche_07 I was putting a few finishing touches on the painting, including some of the lovely Spring vegetation that is leafing out and blooming all around us this week. A dozen or so young French students were walking down the quay and stopped to watch me paint. One of the boys asked me something in French about taking a picture of the painting. Mustering my limited French skills to the maximum, I replied to him, “Je suis très désolé, mais je parle français un petit peu seulement” The facility of European youth to speak multiple languages never ceases to amaze me as all of them immediately switched to EnglPontArcheveche_08ish and started talking with me about the painting, about where I lived, how long I have been in Europe, and how I liked France.  They took several pictures of me and the painting, a couple stood by me to get their pictures taken with “The American Painter” and one young lad mustered up enough courage to ask me, “Perhaps you will offer this painting to me!”  I said, “Non, monsieur, cette peinture est pour ma petite amie.” All of the girls sighed and said, “Awww, comment romantique!”  and then they wandered on down the quay. Inwardly, though, I was thinking, Joe, you may be old, bald, and fat, but you’ve still got it and a great petite amie in Miss Cyd, to boot ;-). Trés Romantique!

PontArcheveche_09So, for all intents and purposes, the Pont de l’Archevêché painting took two days to complete. Although, once the paint dries tonight, I will put a few minor finishing details that I did not want to put in over the wet paint, but here it is. I packed it all up and headed down to  meet Cyd for dinner at the Great Canadian Pub, where we watched the end of the D-Backs & Giants game as well as the first period of a Stanley Cup playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. I’m sure these games were on tape-delay from yesterday or even earlier, but it’s hard to catch sports in English over here, so any port in a storm works for us. Our bartender is a rabid Canadiens fan and had his t-shirt on to prove it. He and Miss Cyd had a great time discussing the playoffs and various teams’ chances.

PontArcheveche_10Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be cool and windy again, so I think I will spend the day with Miss Cyd and perhaps go back up to Sacré Couer again so I can see the basilica for myself and perhaps do some sketching up on the hill. After all, the Impressionists hung out in Montmartre cafés and other establishments, and I would like to stroll through the streets to soak up the ambiance.

Springtime in Paris is a great time to be here,

Joe and Cyd.

Romantic Day in Paris

I made some good PontArcheveche_01headway on the Pont de l’Archevêché yesterday. After I set up my easel at a nice park bench in the shade (hot day, here in Paris, it hit 36 C), because of the elements in the painting, I took a slightly different approach on this one from my normal practice of working from the distance into the foreground. I started by sketching in the scene with some ecru paint and my liner brush because I added in the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris as a key element anchoring the bridge on the north end. This all took quite a bit of time, so I didn’t get as much painted on it as I thought I would. I worked on various elements as the mood struck me, but this was because I was deliberately trying to develop a different methodology for completing the painting. Since this trip to Europe is primarily a voyage of exploration, I am totally in favor of exploring new painting styles and methods, à la the Derwent Inktense pencils that I am still struggling to master and create viable sketches on this trip (and will probably continue to struggle with for quite some time to come). Here is a quick rendition of my progress on Pont de l’Archevêché yesterday, more to come tomorrow as I plan to complete this picture, then swing around on my trusty park bench and start Pont de la Tournelle, which is roughly equidistant from the Pont de l’Archevêché, from the same location facing east:

PontArcheveche_02 PontArcheveche_03 PontArcheveche_04

One problem I ran into was the shifting light, which moved from morning light on the bridge when I started working to backlighting by the time I painted in the stonework on the bridge, which certainly affected the look and feel of the painting. Plein air painting is not as easy here as it was when I was slapping paint by the seaside and paid little attention to the lighting because I worked so quickly. Adding architectural elements, particularly those like Notre Dame, which is very complex, to my paintings is a bit more time-consuming and creates more work. In the end, I think it will be worth it. Even though I am stepping outside my comfort zone, when I finish this painting PontArcheveche_05tomorrow morning, I am confident it will be a solid representation, not only of the Pont de l’Archevêché, but also the Petit Pont, the Pont au Double, and the Pont Neuf, which lined up nicely around the river bend through the left span from my perspective on the park bench ‘down by the river!’

[Side Note: That was great, I was able to slide a favorite line from Chris Farley’s character, Matt Foley, into the blog and, therefore, I must now add this complementary paraphrase from an excellent English band I saw in concert a few times during my misspent youth, “Sitting on a park bench, eyeing blank canvas with audacious intent!” (Jethro Tull, 1971, Aqualung).]

Cyd_GrimArtSadly, I have been neglecting Miss Cyd for the past few days while I focused on Les Ponts, so I took a day off from painting to wander around Paris with her and enjoy a relaxing day. We started our day with some good café and pain du chocolat, which was excellent. We went to several stores, starting with Grim Art, where Cyd found some Italian leather bags for her and a good pocket size leather journal with hand-made Italian paper for me (just to the left above Cyd’s head in the picture to the left). I can use it for notes and for sketching with my Derwent pencils. The owner, Marie-Laure, was trés sweet and gave Cyd a great deal on the purchases.

CafeProcope_01We went by a Parisian clothier here in the 6th Arrondisement, where I ordered a light summer jacket that the tailors are custom-fitting to my portly frame. I am looking forward to picking up this jacket next week and, in celebration of my new attire, may take Miss Cyd to the Café Procope, an upscale restaurant here in St. Germaine des Pres since 1686, where Ben Franklin often ate when he was plying his diplomatic wiles on the French during the American Revolution. Many other notables, including Robespierre and Napoleon, dined here as well. You totally have to love history over here, because, by God, there is so much of it and it all fits the environment so well. On our way back from the Eiffel Tower tonight, we watched the waiter at the Café Procope serve some coq au vin from a copper pot to a very appreciative group of diners.

PP_Provence_01We bought some olive wood servingware and fig jam at P. P. Provence (olive oil heaven) just down the alley from Grim Art. After that, we went shoe-shopping (oh joy, but Lisa and Jimmy Choo have nothing on Parisians or Miss Cyd, when it comes to shoes) and found some very nice ballerina flats for her at Maud Frizon and some Eau de Florale parfum at Repetto. Très romantique, le shopping avec mon petit-amie, je dis toujours. We also visited L’Eglise de Saint Sulpice and saw a couple of excellent Eugene Delacroix paintings that are being restored in the Chapelle des Saint Anges, including Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.

EiffelTower_05After a short snack of Chablis and salmon fumé at the bistro (La Palette) on the corner of rue Jacques Callot and rue de Seine near our flat, we packed a nice meal of cheese, crackers, a few other delicacies, and some great French wine and took the number 4 Metro to Gare Montparnasse, then transferred to the number 6 train to Bir Hakeim to see the tower and watch the light show. We had an excellent picnic dinner on the Champ de Mars at the Eiffel Tower while we awaited and watched the hourly twinkling lightshow on the tower. The picnic under the lights of the Eiffel Tower was the perfect ending to a romantic day in Paris, the city of lovers. EiffelTower_04

Joe and Cyd