a drawing from the Jardin des Plantes de Paris.
22 x 21 cm. December 2017
It isn’t always a bad thing to be a tall poppy, especially when you are festooned in red-pink petals and surrounded by a population of green shrubs. Who would dare accuse you of rising beyond your station? You smile and wave in the breeze – oblivious to all.
When I visited the Jardin des Plantes de Paris in October 2016 the summer festival of flowers was over. A few late bloomers stood in defiance – soon to be hacked away by gardeners clearing the beds for winter hibernation. Such is the lot of a tall poppy; destined to be cut down. C’est la vie.
A glossy raven at Jaures.
240 x 260 mm. November 2017
“City Slicker” – noun – informal, derogatory: a person with the sophistication and values generally associated with urban dwellers.
The opportunistic raven is nobody’s fool. He is sleek, healthy, clever, and manages just fine thank you very much in the heart of the city. Not unlike Fagin from “Oliver“, he is “reviewing the situation” when I observe him. Our encounter is in Jaures – a less salubrious area of Paris than a tourist might want to visit. However not being a tourist, but a flâneur (a person who saunters around observing society) I find myself there.
It is business as usual for this feathered city slicker – while I make a hasty retreat back down the more genteel (and safe) path beside Canal St. Martin.
“Enchanted April” – spring in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
330 x 355 mm. November 2017.
In April 2012 I visited Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Belleville. On that particular spring morning, Paris was hidden under a veil of mist.
I love the poetry of mist – where some objects reveal themselves while others are mysteriously obscured.
Later in 2012 I made a drawing from that visit to the park. It was from the same source photo as the new drawing. I called the 2012 drawing “Après l’hiver”.
Why have I just made another version of the drawing? I wanted to do a larger work, using a less cropped version of the photo. I was curious to see what would happen if I used Sennelier oil pastels as well as coloured pencils. Drawn five and a half years apart, two very different drawings have resulted.
The title of my new drawing is taken from the 1922 novel “Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim.
“Far from the Madding Crowd”
coloured pencils and oil pastels. 330 x 365 mm. October 2017
If you have been to Paris, you know what Cathedrale Notre Dame is like. Its magnificence makes it a magnet for tourists. Endless queues snake towards its doors as people wait to go inside and up the tower. Like all great world tourist attractions, it is a place to steadfastly avoid.
Only five minutes’ walk from the maelstrom of humanity, across Pont de l’Archevêché and down on the riverbank of Port de la Tournelle, all is serene. The view of Notre Dame is sublime, the river Seine quietly flows, minding its own business.
So few people walk by that I have to wait patiently to compose my source photo for the drawing I want to do. Finally a few pedestrians come into view and I have my composition.
I give a prayer of thanks.
A celebration of what was, is, and what will be…
This weekend one year ago Alicia (middle daughter) and I arrived in Paris. I am celebrating the anniversary with a slice of “Opera” cake from Wild Bakery (to be eaten later) and a look at the drawings I have done so far from that inspirational trip.
Here is – basically – half an exhibition. The other half is still to come.
“Alone in the Upper Marais”
“Good Morning Paris”
“On the Road”
“Just a Moment”
“In Town Tonight”
“The Elegance of the 4th”
“Once Upon a Wall”
“Rhapsody in Gold”
I mentally immerse myself in Paris long after physically returning to Fremantle. I don’t wish I was still in Paris now. I am there during the creation of each drawing. Can one be in two places at once? Without a doubt.
A photo of Alicia during one of our unforgettable walks together.
coloured pencils and oil pastels. 235 x 350 mm.
Place Blanche bursts into technicolor life as dusk deepens into evening.
As I have mentioned in past posts, Place Blanche is decrepit during the day. (Perhaps it was always so, even in the late 19th century.) Iconic Moulin Rouge in daylight hours is clothed in a dreary red – a courtesan well past her prime.
However, linger until the sun goes down. Eventually the windmill’s blades start to turn. All the lights pop on and the area becomes a roaring kaleidoscope of colour. At dusk Place Blanche is transformed into an artist’s fantasy.
Surely this can’t be real?!
“Irresistible Blanche” on the easel.
“High Noon in Pontocho”
coloured pencils and oil pastels. 22 x 27 cm. September 2017
To each of you who came to my art exhibition “Entranced” this month, thank you so much! Many of you saw me working on this drawing and some of us discussed techniques together.
The drawing as a work-in-progress at the gallery in September 2017.
Once the exhibition closed I finished the drawing at home. It is titled “High Noon in Pontocho” because when I checked the source photo information I found that I’d taken it at precisely 12 o clock.
People who came to the exhibition saw that looking at my blurry drawings close up and far away were two different experiences for the eyes. So for this post I have taken a photo of the drawing from a small distance. The blurry drawings make more sense from a wall across a room (as they are designed to be viewed) than they do as a close-up computer screen image.
High Noon in Pontocho on the easel.
Finally, who were these two maiko? They were Taka and Hisamomo of Pontocho.
The two maiko in the drawing