Spring 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.
As 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 as 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 English 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!
So, 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.
Tomorrow, 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.