I made some good headway 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:
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 tomorrow 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).]
Sadly, 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.
We 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.
We 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.
After 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.
Joe and Cyd