Saturday, March 30, 2013

Close Encounters of the Gypsy Kind: Paris Day #6

Each time we've entered a museum here in Paris, there are signs going in to Beware of Pickpockets.  That became up close and personal on the Metro this morning ... on our way to Le Petit Palais museum.  Into the Metro went our group, and right as the doors were closing ... in shoved, with gusto two young girls, soon to be swarmed with more -- way too close to all of us to be warranted.  I've been carrying around a satchel full only of art supplies. They pulled a bag of those from mine and then pointed to my dropped objects.  Meanwhile, Randy felt something strange ... reached into his pocket only to find another hand and his wallet halfway out.  Nothing was lost. (Or so we thought.) The girls ran when the doors opened seconds later.  Randy and I didn't lose anything -- but another in our group had mega dollars and euros stolen from that same troop of girls. 

"Le Nouveau-Ne," oil on cavas, Andre Gill 1881
By about lunchtime here I'm having difficulty just remembering what we did that day.  Pretty bad, right? Today, we toured the museum at Le Petit Palais which might just have been the highlight of our trip for me so far.  What a wonderful place ... and a quiet, uncrowded spot to enjoy the art, gardens and architecture.  The artwork on permanent exhibit includes some extraordinary pieces including, tied for my favorite: Le Nouveau-Ne (1881) by Andre Gill (Paris, 1840 to Paris, 1885).

That painting was tied for favorite with Portrait de Leon Ohnet (1841) by Thomas Couture (Senlis, 1815 -- Villiers-le-Bel (Val-d'Oise), 1879).  This was just ridiculously well painted and the subject, stunning.
Thomas Couture's Portrait de Leon Ohnet (1841)

But best of all for me was the temporary exhibit at the museum of Felix Ziem's (Beaune, 1821 - Paris, 1911) work.  I'd never heard of him -- as is the case with many of the artists whose work we're seeing.  A son of a Polish tailor who migrated to France, Felix took up architecture studies at the Ecole des Beaux-arts in Dijon but soon had a change of heart, beginning painting in the 1840s when in fell in love with the Mediterranean and later, Paris.  The exhibit was filled with his sketchbooks rife with ink washes of familiar scenes in Venice as well as small plein air sketches and larger studio paintings. This so made me want to get out there -- everywhere -- to paint.  Those little sketches were mainly unframed, tilted in glass display cases alongside those sketchbooks.  I
One of Felix Ziem's oils shown above. Crédit : Crédit : © ZIEM Petit Palais / Roger-Viollet
wonder if Randy would want to build some of those for me?   Somehow those displays made each of those works shine like the gems they are. 

"Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse," sketch & wash pencils, Jill Banks 2013
After visiting Le Petit Palais, we went to Orangerie Museum. Not as exciting for me or our group. But right outside those doors were the Tuileries Gardens. Walking around there felt like walking through time.  Don't know why ... but it was romantic and wonderful.

The trouble with Paris is knowing when you're enjoying yourself most.

We headed next to Montparnasse for a tour to take place later in the afternoon outside of famous artist studios (like John Singer Sargent, Whistler, William Bougereau, Paul Cezanne, Gerome, Lauren. But, before that we had drinks on the top floor of an office building in Montparnasse that at the 56th floor is the the second highest spot in Paris.  The Eiffel Tower and the parts of the city yet to be seen were laid before us ... in the mist.  Reminded me of the time my Dad took me to the top of the John Hancock Building in Chicago to celebrate my birthday. Lots of planning and expense to sit among the clouds. Except this time we could see and that mist and those clouds made the city all that more magical.

Tonight is a special dinner. Tomorrow's Easter ... maybe to be celebrated at Notre Dame.

Happy Easter.

100 Faces in 100 Days Project
Phone: 703.403.7435

Events and Exhibits
LAST DAY For Voting: Easter Sunday, March 31: "Rainy Day in NYC" was chosen as one of 15 finalists in the "You Be the Judge" Online Art Contest #3.  You can vote for it: #13 at: to cast your vote ... until March 31, 11:59pm EST. It's easy and free. Enough votes cast and it will be part of the Grand Prize round eligible for over $10,000 in prizes. Judging closes SOON -- vote now!

Don't miss out. Sign up now for Spring Classes that start April 9 (Still Life in Oils -- but you can work on your own projects from reference materials in this class as well, Tuesdays, 9:30am-1:30pm, $375) and April 10 (Painting the Landscape, Wednesdays, 9:30am-1:30pm, $375 -- full of plein air adventures) offered through the Great Falls School of Art, Great Falls, VA.  Go to my web site:, click on Classes for supply list and registration info.  You need to be pre-registered for classes -- especially for landscape -- to know where each class will be held. Class size is limited.  I hope you can join us!

More events and exhibit info available through my web site. 

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