The Artist’s Way

“The Artist’s Way”    Coloured pencils    October 2018

The artist’s way is a journey where sometimes one feels certain about the path ahead only to become thoroughly lost at the next turn.

When I visited rue Quincampoix that night in October 2016 I was in familiar territory and was delighted to see it illuminated so vibrantly.  I took photos and walked in a happy daze.  Continuing home (so I thought) I turned up one street, thinking it was another, and led myself into an unfamiliar area.  Alone.  At night.  Lost in Paris.  After some hasty and intimate time spent with my map, I righted my wrong and got home.

Similarly I went into my most recent exhibition full of certainty.  But over the two weeks in the public gaze I lost my bearings.  Certainty dissolved into a state of trepidation as I experienced the full spectrum of reactions; from praise, through indifference to actual hostility.  (Only one person was truly hostile.)

To be lost, found, and lost again in an endless cycle throughout a life, questioning one’s art and one’s very existence, is the artist’s way.

In the end the thing that you feel is your undoing is also your way back to sanity – art.

Another drawing from the same photo-shoot is “Guiding Lights”, drawn in 2016.

The drawing below shows the way I drew this street back in 2012.

“Conversations at Dusk” 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Post-exhibition post

  • Here I am
  • I exist.  For now
  • What am I going to do with the rest of my existence?
  • What is my relationship with the world?
  • How can I be relevant?
  • How can I fit?
  • How do I fill in time?
  • Void

At the end of every art exhibition I walk off the edge into nothingness…

“Once Upon a Wall” (detail) coloured pencils/oil pastels 2017

Disintegration, then reformation (hopefully) – maybe.  Exposure equals vulnerability.  This always happens.

And I’m floating in a most peculiar way/ And the stars look very different today/….Planet Earth is blue/ And there’s nothing I can do…    (David Bowie)

A normal part of the artistic process.  Nothing special.

“Café des Arts” (detail) coloured pencils 2018.

PS I recovered from my post-exhibition blues.  It took exactly two weeks for me to return to my normal self.

 

Café des Arts

Café des Arts    coloured pencils      35 x 32 cm

Café des Arts” is a true story.

I saw these two couples (one painted and one real) at the Café des Arts, 3 place de la Contrescarpe, near Panthéon.  I had to surreptitiously acquire my source photo by pretending to focus somewhere else and then quickly swing my lens to the desired spot.

I wonder if the absinthe drinkers in the painting “Dans un Café” were aware of being watched back in 1875?  (The painting by Edgar Degas hangs in the Musée d’Orsay.)  My human couple remained oblivious to me.

Artists have to break rules in the quest for a good visual story whether the year is 1875 or 2018. Life imitates art.  Art imitates life.  And sometimes they both end up in the same picture.

Here is the source photo for “Café des Arts”.  If you look closely, you’ll see that I made a few simplifications by reducing details.

 

 

 

Boulevard

“Boulevard”  19.5 x 25.5 cm.  Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.

Bright lights and shadowy figures marching across the boulevard merge to create a lively kaleidoscope at Place Blanche.  This is the final drawing (I mean it this time) for the “Remember Paris” exhibition opening in five weeks’ time.

To view the catalogue of 30 drawings for the exhibition, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exceptional Box

Dancing pencils on the wall of a Caran d’Ache boutique in Geneva.

Exactly three weeks ago today Matthew and I were in Geneva, Switzerland.   We had a special reason for being there; we were to be given a tour of the Caran d’Ache factory!  [Caran d’Ache, in the opinion of this artist – and many other artists – are manufacturers of the best artist-quality light-fast coloured pencils in the world.]  Before the appointed day and time, we had an opportunity to explore Geneva and visit two Caran d’Ache boutiques in the city centre.

First we went to House of Colors Fine on Place du Bourg-de-Four opposite the Palais du Justice.

“House of Colors Fine”, the Caran d’Ache boutique on Place du Bourg-de-Four.

I sought permission to photograph inside the shop…

…and then I bought some supplies.  I was almost light-headed from the treasures within.  What was to be done next?  TO THE SECOND BOUTIQUE….

Walking from one boutique to the other, we never forgot that we were in Switzerland.

Caran d’Ache chez Brachard on rue de la Corraterie 10 was our next stop.  Once again I was given permission to take photographs.

I was stopped in my tracks by an an enormous box of coloured pencils on display.  I had seen this box on the internet and hoped that I might see it in real life in Switzerland – and there it was.  Oh MY!

I bought some more art materials and then we walked in a happy daze beside Lake Geneva while I daydreamed about how the factory tour would be…and I thought about that exceptional box.

The following morning we were greeted at the Caran d’Ache factory in Thônex by Eric Vitus, Fine Arts Manager.  We were introduced to Carole Hubscher, President, and then Eric took us on a comprehensive tour, showing us materials, machines and methods which are used to make pens, pencils, oil pastels, and paints.  It was such a delight to discuss my favourite art materials with their creators and developers that I have no adequate words to convey the absolute joy of our visit.  Thank you, Eric!

We mentioned to our guides, Eric Vitus and Gaby Perrissol, that we had seen a rather amazing box of pencils the previous day, and was this box perhaps available to purchase?  There was one on view in the board room so we had a thorough inspection of it.  Matthew said, “We’d like to buy one if it is available”.  To cut a long story short, arrangements were made.  Huge thanks to Gaby and to Viviane Du at Caran d’Ache for organizing passage of The Exceptional Box across the world.  We have number 62 out of a limited edition of 100.

The box is not only a piece of perfection on its own, but it also reminds us of that day, the factory tour, the alps of Europe, the people we met, and the whole magnificent trip.

This afternoon at the front door.

The Exceptional Box is unpacked on the kitchen bench.

To fully appreciate this box of pencils which is a true work of art, I invite you to watch the two minute video Matthew made.

The Certificate of Authenticity says, “To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Supracolor Soft, Caran d’Ache has concentrated its colour expertise to gather a selection of its legendary products in a luxurious wooden box.  This world most important treasure chest of Swiss made artists’ pencils contains 422 colour pencils, including 30 exclusive Supracolor Soft tones.  The exceptional Limited Edition is a testimony to the history of Caran d’Ache and a tribute to the world of colour.”

Lucy (youngest daughter) admires the Supracolor Exceptional Box.

Related articles:  Art Materials  

Caran d’Ache open stock available in Australia

 

 

Urbane Saint Germain

“Urbane Saint Germain”  Coloured pencils, 208 x 240 mm.  July 2018

A small piece of Saint Germain des Prés I have photographed and drawn many times is a corner where rue de l’Echaudé splits off from rue de Seine.

For this piece I have to wait patiently for a person to walk into my frame.  Who is it?  It could be male or female (perhaps it is you) though I sense my subject has a European air – as urbane as the surroundings.    Having drawn the streets so many times in great detail, this time I seek only an impression.

Below are more drawings of this immediate area, drawn at intervals over several years.

“The Liberation of Art” drawn in April, this will also be in the “Remember Paris” exhibition in September 2018.

“Rhapsody in Blue” 2014

“de bonne heure” 2012

“Rue de l’Échaudé” 2014

Quiet 2013

“Paris en hiver” 2011

“Urbane Saint Germain” is the final drawing for the “Remember Paris” exhibition this coming September.  To view the catalogue of 30 drawings, their descriptions and prices, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Finders Keepers

When I explore with my camera I really have no idea what I am looking for.  But when I see it, I recognize it.  Here are 20 photos, taken with an open mind from a recent trip to Europe.

Innsbruck, Austria:  At first glance I see street art. Then I notice I have been fooled by advertising masquerading as street art.  Still, I like it.

Innsbruck, Austria:  On a dingy railway underpass I am impressed by this abstract composed of ripped posters and graffiti.  Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A huge poster – the spirit of Innsbruck…

…and the setting for it…

Verona, Italy:  A very small car takes my fancy.

Desenzano, Italy:  Sorry, Sandro Botticelli, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this.

Desenzano, Italy: An Aussie on an Italian street.  (Actually it’s Matthew.)

Desenzano, Italy: I am moved by this piece of prose pasted on the outside of a church wall.

Desenzano, Italy: A roasting hot Sunday, an art stall in the local markets. I would like to think the cyclist is looking at the art however she is studying her phone.  (Yes, this is out of focus on purpose.)

On a wall in Ivrea.  This town was once Olivetti’s operations base – hence the typewriter!

Geneva, Switzerland: An eye-catching window display employing the use of the complementary colours of yellow and violet.

Geneva, Switzerland: Looking into the window of a Caran d’Ache boutique.  Divine!

Geneva, Switzerland: Juxtaposition of shapes and textures on a wall.

Geneva, Switzerland: Warning – (curious) guard dog.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, French alps: a rook jumps from his perch into nothingness.  Air and snow.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, France: Soft toys on display and soft dogs to lure you in.

Furkapass, Switzerland: Motoring sedately on a Sunday afternoon.

Approaching Munich, Germany: Shapes as we flash by on the autobahn while listening to  “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk playing on the car stereo.  (Fantastic!)

Freising, Germany: a haunting image on a signpost.

Freising, Germany: I don’t know what this says but I am drawn to it anyway.

I search out images when I walk with my camera.  When I find them, I make them my own.  Some will become drawings.  Finders keepers.