Category Archives: street art

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebel Rebel

“Rebel Rebel”
a drawing of an eroded poster.
Coloured pencils, 250 x 300 mm. March 2018

As I take one step after another on the journey towards my goal – a gallery filled with Paris drawings – I never know what the next addition to the exhibition will be.  It is often the last completed drawing which steers me towards my next piece.

The last completed drawing before “Rebel Rebel” was “Still Life”.

It is obvious how “Still Life” (a grungy Beaubourg urban-scape) metaphorically took my arm and drew my attention to a tattered poster I’d photographed when last in Paris.

This is my source photo for the drawing.

Looking at the drawing “Rebel Rebel” (the title I gave it is from a David Bowie song) I am mindful of Russian Constructivist posters from the 1920s and 30s.  I also think of the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, romantic heroines of film and literature, as well as the white face and black hair of both mime artists and geisha.

I wouldn’t have made a drawing of a flawless poster.  What appealed to me was the texture and randomness of decay – and –  the fact that this caught my eye in the first place.  The tattered ripped subject is simultaneously beautiful and ugly; eye-catching and something to be ignored.  These dualities fascinate me!

“Rebel Rebel, you’ve torn your dress/Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess/Rebel Rebel, how could they know?/Hot Tramp, I love you so!”

Today I found an image on-line of the poster as its complete self.  If you google images of Fédération Anarchiste you’ll see that all their posters have gorgeous designs and are clearly influenced by the political art of the Constructivists [an artistic movement that extolled art as a practice for social purposes].

How the poster would have looked once upon a time.

La Fédération Anarchiste

You may like to read Subject 4: Street Art while you’re here.

 

Still Life

“Still Life”
A drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils.
360 x 385 mm. February 2018.

“Still Life” is an arrangement of shapes, colours and textures observed while eating breakfast on Wednesday 19 October 2016 at a Beaubourg café.  I look up from my chocolat chaud and there it is…an abstract collage of ordinary life…patiently awaiting my attention.

In this urban scene on the intersection of rue Quincampoix and rue Aubry le Boucher banality and elegance dance a stationary duet.   My imagination is captured, causing the art area of my brain to flash with excitement.  We have contact!

——————————————————————————————————-

Technical note 1:  “Still Life” is drawn with an undercoat of oil pastels and a top coat of coloured pencils.  Caran d’Ache Neopastels are used for undercoat on the left part of the drawing which is depicting distance (the buildings).  For the in-your-face wall on the right and ‘sens interdit‘ (no entry) sign I have utilized the bold Sennelier oil pastel.  The different qualities of these two pastel brands work together to help create both subtle distance and strong close up texture.

Technical note 2:  On complementary colours:  How did I get the reds in the drawing to stand out?  By surrounding them with green.  While you don’t look at the drawing and say to yourself, “There is obviously green around those reds”, yet it is present; plenty of it, worked subtly into the chromatic colours.

To see the original post on working with oil pastels in combination with coloured pencils, see Brush and Pencil

source photo for “Still Life”

 

 

City Slicker

“City Slicker”
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 flaneuse (a female 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.

 

Once Upon a Wall

“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017

Once upon a wall there was a corroding remnant of street art.  Only a head and shoulder remained.  Whatever the rest of the image was had long gone.  It had presumably cracked up then flaked off, washed and blown away over time in brittle particles.

But look again.  The peeling layers of paint have transformed into tulle!

Once upon a wall there was a princess from a fairy tale; an apparition of Marie Antoinette; a dancer from Les Folies Bergère; a Belle Époque courtesan (maybe Camille herself);  or perhaps Saint-Säens’ Dying Swan.

I was touched by the vision of this tattered graceful wallflower – enough to prolong her life and give her a new audience by drawing her.

During the course of my drawing I searched the internet to find the street artist and see what the paste-up had once looked like.  The artist goes by the name of Sobr.  The original was a head-to-toe paste-up of a woman dancing in bandeau and shorts.  Weather and time have combined to transform the figure from nonchalant female to tragic romantic heroine.

Of course you might simply see a dirty wall.  And you wouldn’t be wrong.  We each bring our own stories and interpretations to that which we encounter.

Here are two more figures by Sobr which I photographed.  The subject of my drawing had been similar stylistically to these.  Sobr made a series of stencils of dancing women which he called his “It’s Time to Dance” project.


Technical note:  I used Sennelier oil pastels (a French brand) to ‘map’ in the colours on the paper before I put any pencils on.  Here is a detail of Sennelier under-colour before pencils were applied.  The addition of oil pastel adds to the richness and saturation of the finished coloured pencil drawing.

How it began:  initial layer of colour applied with Sennelier oil pastels, using a bristle brush to push the colour into the paper.

This image shows the range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.

Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you a comparison). The biggest one only comes in black and white.  So far I have been using the smallest size.

This drawing has won the Drawing Prize at the City of Stirling Art Award & Exhibition 2017.

Visually Conscious in New York

Visually Conscious. A small piece of street art on the Manhattan Bridge.

Visually Conscious.
A small piece of street art on the Manhattan Bridge.

Recently Matthew and I were in America.  One of my favourite days of the trip was an overcast New York Saturday when Matt and I walked across the Manhattan Bridge, through part of Brooklyn,  returning on the Williamsburg Bridge.  Under a leaden sky we enjoyed unrelenting urban bleak and layers of historic grunge.  I invite you to walk with us.  (All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

The expert in concrete walks through a desert of the stuff.

The expert in concrete walked through a desert of the stuff.  I think this was Delancey Street.

Street art on the entrance to Manhattan Bridge.

Street art on the entrance to Manhattan Bridge.

So much noise. Constant deafening trains roaring past.

Constant roaring trains thundered beside us.

Other visually conscious people.

Other visually conscious people.

Matt strides ahead.

Matt strode ahead usually not noticing that I had stopped to take photos.  I had to run to catch him.

This is where the "visually conscious" eye was.

This is where the “visually conscious” eye was.

Juxtaposition of glamour and grunge.

Juxtaposition of glamour and grunge.

textures

Urban textures

New York pigeon

New York pigeon – looking slightly rough

I love a good water tower.

Skyline with water tower

A wide view of the East River and city.

A wide view of the East River and Brooklyn Bridge.

YO. Literally - a YO structure on the Brooklyn side of the bridge.

YO.
Literally – a YO structure as seen from above.

Somewhere

Somewhere

sign of change

sign of change to come

I requested that Matt pose with a couple of fellow Aussies.

I requested that Matt pose with a couple of fellow Aussies.

Residents of Williamsburg.

Residents of Williamsburg.

I felt like I was in deepest Europe.

I felt like I was in Eastern Europe.

Bedford Avenue. Williamsburg fascinated me. It was monotone and there were no shops. Bleakly neat!

Williamsburg fascinated me. It was rather stern and bleak – in a neat way.

I was entranced by the Hasidic Jews who live in Williamsburg. What marvellous clothes!

I was entranced by the Hasidic Jews who live in Williamsburg. What marvellous clothes!

Just before returning to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge I noticed some big street art.

Just before returning to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge – street art grey like the sky.

I am thinking about L.S. Lowry paintings and Dickens novels as I photograph this.

I was thinking about L.S. Lowry paintings  as I photographed this.

Encased within the Williamsburg Bridge.

Encased within the Williamsburg Bridge, we walked back towards Manhattan.

Matthew and I were completely exhausted but it was a great walk and far more interesting, in our opinion, than glitzy Upper Manhattan.

 

Rue de l’Echaudé

Rue de l'Echaudé New drawing. Coloured pencils on pescia paper. 410 x 560 mm.

Rue de l’Echaudé
New drawing. Coloured pencils on pescia paper. 410 x 560 mm.

I have drawn my favourite Parisian street several times since I first found myself standing on it in December 2010.  Today I have finished my latest drawing of rue de l’Echaudé.  What is it about this street?  It is narrow, intimate and so old that the buildings lean at strange angles.  A medieval street, beyond the reach of Haussmann’s renovations, it is safely tucked away in Saint Germain des Prés.  One can gaze up at one of Saint-Sulpice’s towers in the distance, framed between sky and buildings of the street itself.  This street favours pedestrians.  It does not want to be bothered by anything faster, louder or wider than a bicycle.

If ever you want to find this tiny street yourself, here it is on the map. I have coloured it with hot pink. I have circled Saint-Sulpice with pink as well.

If ever you want to find this tiny street yourself, here it is on the map. I have coloured it with hot pink. I have circled Saint-Sulpice with pink as well.  (You will have to click on the map to enlarge it so that you can see.)

The time I like best on this inspirational street is very early in the morning when I am the only person around.  I marvel at the sky changing from night to morning blue.  I study the  electric light reflections glowing on various surfaces; wood and stone walls, plate-glass windows and (usually) wet ground.

Below are several drawings I have made of the same area.  The first is a drawing that I ripped up earlier in the year.  You can read about it on my post “A Time to Destroy“.  Unlike that sad story, the latest drawing simply fell into place.  It was like “PING!  I’m finished”.  I wish they all resolved as cleanly and neatly as “Rue de l’Echaudé” did today.

This is the drawing which didn't work out a couple of months ago. The man is walking up one of the other sides of the triangle, rue de Seine.

This is the drawing which didn’t work out a couple of months ago.

The six drawings below all made it to completion, unlike my comrade in misfortune above, and most of them have sold within the last 24 months.

Quiet I did this drawing in February 2013. It is from the same photo session as for the latest drawing.

Quiet
I did this drawing in February 2013. It is from the same photo session as for the latest drawing.

Blue Dawn From the same photo source that I used for "Paris en hiver" but very much cropped. I had originally called this "Blue Dawn on rue de Seine" until I realised I was on the wrong street!

Blue Dawn
Drawn from the same photo that I used for the drawing below but I used a cropped area of it.

"Paris en hiver" 2011

Paris en hiver – this drawing shows the street on a cold mid-winter morning.

de bonne heure Same street drawn from another trip. You see how it is ALWAYS wet when I go to Paris?

de bonne heure
Same street drawn from another trip. You see how it is ALWAYS wet when I go to Paris?

Matin In this case my companions were pigeons.

Matin
On this quiet morning, my companions were of the feathered variety.

Reflecting on Art Right on the corner of rue de l'Echaudé and rue de Seine is an art gallery. Here is a drawing of the reflections in the art gallery window.

Reflecting on Art
Where the road forks between rue de l’Echaudé and rue de Seine is an art gallery, Galerie L. de Puybaudet. Here is a drawing of the reflections in the art gallery window.  (You can see the same window in three of the drawings above.)

I am sure I will draw this street again.  Rue de L’Echaudé in my mind is “Julie’s Street”.  I claim it as both my piece and peace of Paris.

Postscript:  June 20th 2014.  I DID draw rue de l’Echaudé again, only two months later.  Below is the latest interpretation of this mystical street which I have named “Rhapsody in Blue”.

Rhapsody in Blue 400 x 510 mm. Drawn in June 2014.

Rhapsody in Blue
400 x 510 mm. Drawn in June 2014.

Related post:  Rhapsody in Blue

Return to Contents of Posts page

 

Christchurch Revisited

Beautiful historic New Regent street. Here you can almost pretend that no earthquakes had happened in Christchurch.

Beautiful historic New Regent street. Here you can almost pretend that no earthquakes had happened in Christchurch.

A few days ago I spent two days in Christchurch at the end of a 10 day New Zealand holiday.  I had also visited the earthquake-ravaged city in August last year.  I was curious to see the changes between then and now.  This post is a small photo album of how Christchurch is looking in April 2014.

How wonderful to see that the trams have started again. Also it is incredible that there is so little damage in New Regent Street! It is well and truly open for business.

How wonderful to see that the trams have started again. Also it is incredible that there is so little damage in New Regent Street! It is well and truly open for business.

I enjoyed coming across art in the streets.  This is a different kind of street art; SANCTIONED street art.  Some of it is organized by Christchurch Art Gallery.  Its own building is still closed while extensive repairs take place.  Therefore it has been instrumental in putting copies of its pictures out and about.

A ballerina from Swan Lake is being sprayed onto a wall. You can see the artist working from the cherry-picker.

A ballerina from Swan Lake is being sprayed onto a wall. You can see the artist working from the cherry-picker.

Twisted reinforcing mesh makes a good spot for pigeons.

Twisted reinforcing steel makes a good spot for pigeons. (I couldn’t help noticing the pigeons when I was photographing the big ballerina mural.)

Notice the art works on this building...

Notice the art works on this building…

Here is a closer view.

Here is a closer view.

Another piece organized by the Christchurch Art Gallery. It is lovely to come across these images when you are walking in Christchurch.

Another piece organized by the Christchurch Art Gallery. It is lovely to come across these images when you are walking in Christchurch.

Can you see the subject of this painting? Crazed seagulls.

An enormous mural of sea birds covers a wall.

A striking abstract wall.

A striking abstract wall.

One of the two large knomes who stand to attention outside the Christchurch Art Gallery.

One of the two large gnomes who stand to attention outside the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Dance floor complete with music (which you can change to suit yourself) and disco ball.

Suspended dance floor complete with music and disco ball.

Here is the source of the music - a musicked-up washing machine. Please enjoy DANCE O MAT.

Here is the source of the music – a musicked-up washing machine. Please enjoy DANCE O MAT.  Seriously – you can choose your song!

Sometimes small gardens have been erected but in most cases it is just hard ground and lots of it.

This huge mural (you can see the size of it compared to the man standing in front of it) tells us that this is a strip joint.

This huge mural (you can see the size of it compared to the man standing in front of it) tells us that this is a strip joint.

Public art juxtaposes with buildings and space to make some strange compositions.

Public art juxtaposes with buildings and space to make some strange compositions.

Sometimes it is the traffic sign which inadvertently becomes art.

Sometimes it is the traffic sign which inadvertently becomes art.

There is too much space in Christchurch.  Remember this was a city.  It was hard to find a car park before September 2010.  Now one is so aware of SPACE.

Three walkers through - what was here? High Street, Manchester Street? I forget.

Three walkers stride through – what was here? High Street, Manchester Street? I forget.

Huge spaces around the Forsyth Barr builidng. In the earthquake of February 22nd 2011, the staircases inside this office block collapsed.

Huge spaces around the Forsyth Barr builidng. In the earthquake of February 22nd 2011, the staircases inside this office block collapsed.  Workers had to be rescued through an upper-storey window.

This was a block of extremely expensive and brand new apartments. It is being demolished right now. You can see a hole in the wall? That is where the building next door was hitting it during the quake.

This was a block of extremely expensive and brand new apartments. It is being demolished right now. You can see a hole in the wall?.. (near the top and to the left). That is where the building next door was hitting it during the shaking.

Some of the massive empty spaces have been planted with grass making urban paddocks. Here is Matthew posing for me on one of the paddocks.

Some of the massive empty spaces have been planted with grass making urban paddocks. Here is Matthew posing for me on grass where city buildings used to stand.

More grass with a church behind which I believe will be saved.

More grass with a church behind which I believe will be saved.

We briefly went out to the coast to the suburb of Sumner.

Here is some vertical space which developed with huge rockfalls. Nobody would have expected cliffs to fall away.

Here is some vertical space which developed with huge rockfalls. Nobody would have expected cliffs to fall away.

Not so far from the site of the cliff in the last photo is a landmark which had been known as Shag Rock. Can you believe the forces which shattered an enormous rock? Now it is known as Shag Pile.

Not so far from the site of the cliff in the last photo is a landmark which had been known as Shag Rock. Can you believe the forces which shattered an enormous rock? Now it is known as Shag Pile. (Very droll!)

The Port Hills have some new shapes. There didn't used to be a nipple here but now there is. It is nice to see that Ferrymead Riding School is still here by the way.

The Port Hills have some new shapes. There didn’t used to be a nipple here but now there is. It is nice to see that Ferrymead Riding School is still here by the way.

Back in town, I’ll finish by showing you the new Cardboard Cathedral.  The old Anglican Cathedral is still in tatters in Cathedral Square.

The Wizard of New Zealand - yes, there really is such a character - wants to save the Anglican Cathedral in The Square.

The Wizard of New Zealand – yes, there really is such a character – wants to save the Anglican Cathedral in The Square.

The Transitional Cathedral, better known as the Cardboard Cathedral.

The Transitional Cathedral, better known as the Cardboard Cathedral.

While debate rages about what to do with the iconic Anglican Cathedral in Cathedral Square, there is a new Transitional Cathedral made of CARDBOARD!   It is designed by Japanese Architect, Shigeru Ban who has this year won the Pritzker Architecture Prize.  You can read about his award here – http://www.pritzkerprize.com/2014/announcement

Interior view towards alter. Even the cross is cardboard.

Interior view towards altar. Even the cross is cardboard.

I thought the windows might be perspex but no, they are glass. There is a beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope inside the Transitional Cathedral.

I thought the windows might be perspex but no, they are glass. There is a beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope inside the Transitional Cathedral.

A suspended sculpture of a steeple hangs in Latimer Square. Beyond the trees is the Transitional Cathedral.

A suspended sculpture of a steeple hangs in Latimer Square. Beyond the trees is the Transitional Cathedral.

Matt and I both had the song “(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads playing in our heads while we were walking around the city.  Some of the lines are, “There was a shopping mall/Now it’s all covered with flowers/you’ve got it, you’ve got it/If this is paradise/I wish I had a lawnmower/you’ve got it, you’ve got it/This was a discount store/Now it’s turned into a cornfield/you’ve got it, you’ve got it…” And the final lines are “Don’t leave me stranded here/I can’t get used to this lifestyle.”  (Apologies to Talking Heads as I have only picked out a few of their lines.)

If you would like to look back on my August Christchurch visit click here.  I was told that 70,000 people left since the shaking began in September 2010.  The population is growing again now as the city rebuilds.

Just a New York Conversation

Just a New York Conversation My drawing of Russell King's street art. 263 x 397 mm. March 2014.

Just a New York Conversation
My drawing of Russell King’s street art.
263 x 397 mm. March 2014.

When Matt and I were in New York for a week last August, Matt was going through a busy time with work.  He apologized each morning for having long skype meetings and not being able to come out.  I hope I looked suitably sorry about this.  In reality my thoughts were, “So long Sucker, I’m outta here…” as I dashed out the door each day, camera in hand.  “Call my mobile when you’re done!”  I was delighted to be out with my other companion (my camera).  All I wanted to do was explore the immediate neighbourhood…and I really do get the best photographs when I am by myself.

New York was rather overwhelming and big.  Where was the human scale?  In the street art.  I walked, searching out material by street artists.  A term I dislike is “stable of artists”.  Some galleries claim they have “a stable of artists” (thankfully not the gallery I’m with).  I don’t want to be anyone’s performing pony!  But if there ARE such things as stables of artists, then American street artists are unbroken mustangs out on the range.  They put art where they will.  And some of that art is quite beautiful.

I came across this piece on one of my lone morning walks.  I decided to take a line from Lou Reed for its title – “Just a New York Conversation”.  Who are the speakers?  Artist Russell King started the conversation.  A-trak, ASMA and the decomposing piece of paper piped in.  I, the viewer, am the other participant.  I am having an internal dialogue with the art.  I am thinking about the contrast between King’s work and its banal hard edge surroundings.  His piece celebrates the curvaceous seductive female.  She is a flirt and a tease yet her wistful gaze off to the distance suggests melancholy reflection.  The artist whispers to the passer-by, “pause and look” in the midst of a noisy rushing NY street.

I am not turned off by the other three additions on the receptacle’s surface either.  I am fascinated by their randomness and variety.  I wonder if ASMA is just somebody’s tag OR if the person is meaning asthma and is commenting on the pink smoke?  For if you say out loud “asma” it sounds like “asthma”.

Last week I had a brief written exchange with Russell King.  It was easy to find him on the internet since his name is written within the smoke swirls.  I wrote, “I’m drawing a piece of your street art.  I hope you don’t mind”.  Of course, I wondered what I would do if he replied, “Yes, I bloody well do mind!”  However, being a generous fellow-artist, he replied, “Go for it”.  Wasn’t he kind?!  I found an interview with him at www.powderzine.com titled “classic on nyc streets – russell king” which I recommend reading.

I don’t generally like going into dealer galleries.  I find them intimidating and sometimes snooty.  The art world can be so up itself.  Conversely, it is an utter joy to come across art in the open air.  It is one of the delights of life.  Thank you, Street Artists, for your daring and dialogue.  You have my attention, appreciation and admiration.

“Did you see what she did to him/did you hear what they said/just a New York conversation/rattling in my head.”

Related page:  Street art

Return to Contents of Posts page

Tableau

Tableau 395 x 395 mm Coloured pencil drawing completed in February 2014. A moment captured one evening in Saint Germain des Près.

Tableau
395 x 395 mm
Coloured pencil drawing completed in February 2014.
A moment captured one evening in Saint Germain des Prés.

“Tableau: a group of models or motionless figures representing a scene.” Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary.  What does this scene represent?  To me it speaks of domesticity; the never-ending care of others…especially if one is a woman.   It isn’t a complaint.  It’s just the way it is.

I found this tableau in Saint Germain des Prés on the first night I arrived in Paris in October 2012.  I had come from another part of Europe and was exhausted from long flight delays.  I’d already been away from Australia for a week and I still had another week left of my solo trip.  I felt lonely for my family and Paris seemed aggressive.  Outside my hotel window brakes-screeching buses honked their horns at cars and pedestrians.  Police cars and ambulances raced through traffic with ear-splitting sirens.  My hotel room was tiny and so close to Boulevard Saint Michel that the sirens wailed within my tiny ‘cell’ rather than without.  Good old Paris plumbing; the toilet made wierd gurgling noises every time somebody in another room flushed.  How would I sleep?  It had been a mistake to come back to this city.   Reality contradicted Romance.    But I was here to work so I picked up my camera and went outside.

Though I started out feeling low, my senses were alert and on the look-out in the fascinating Saint Germain des Prés surroundings.  Without realising it, Paris was working its magic on me.  Ever so slowly I began to have fun.  One of the photos I took that evening became this drawing.  When I got back to my room I wrote in my journal “I went out tonight in the worst mood, feeling so hostile towards the crowds and the noise.  Despite all that I did feel some of the charm.  Much of the time I felt that my affair with Paris was over!  It probably isn’t.  Despite my misery at the ‘shock of the new’ ie being back in Paris on a thoroughly swarming-with-crowds Saturday night, and my thinking I don’t like it any more, I still have taken some lovely photos”.

This drawing could have been called “Art Meets Life”, “Life Imitates Art”, or “Strange Days” (the latter from a “Doors” album).  In the end I chose “Tableau”.  It doesn’t matter that only one of the figures is a living human.  The motionless dog waits expectantly for his human.  The paste-up smiling housewife eternally mops while the woman sees to the dog’s needs.  The paste-up head of Sid Vicious has an A (for ‘anarchy’) coming out of his mouth.  I couldn’t have thought this up.  It happened in front of me.  Extraordinary ordinary life.  And … I still hold a candle for Paris.

From my drawing "Aberration" you can see that the chain from the bucket is shackled to the paste-up lady. Whereas in "Tableau" it looks like it might be attached to the dog.

From my drawing “Aberration” you can see that the chain from the bucket is shackled to the paste-up lady. Whereas in “Tableau” it looks like it might be attached to the dog.

Early next morning the streets were silent.  That is when I got the photo for the drawing which became “Quiet“.   I still like Paris best first thing in the morning and yet I appreciate that sometimes one needs people (and dogs) about to get a source photo such as the one for “Tableau”.

Quiet A drawing of Saint Germain pre-dawn.

Quiet
A drawing of rue de l’Echaudé in Saint Germain des Prés pre-dawn.

Return to Contents of Posts page