Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Paris: Day 3

"Paris Cafe Conversation," graphite & ink, copyright Jill Banks 2013
It doesn't seem like it could be our third day in Paris ... but it is.  The city is enchanted, but we have just scratched the surface. Day one we arrived, bedraggled and tired, but were treated to a private tour of the Sorbonne. Saw the auditiorium where statues of the greats slyly looked at students to keep them in line. That same spot is where Nobel Prizes have been announced and awarded.  Pretty cool.  Our very dapper guide must have thought we were a sorry lot, though. I sketched a little that afternoon, in a park behind Notre Dame ... a place I'd love to paint.  The benches were full of couples, friends, family on a base of white sand. The trees were so pretty.

Actually, every spot around me is what I'd like to paint.  I love life carved out everywhere in the city.  There are endless fashionable people and fascinating faces. Sculpture is all around. Buildings are spectacularly ornate.  Shops are pretty.

It's cold out.  So far there haven't been any temperatures out of the 40s.  Not particularly plein air friendly weather.

Day two was spent at the Musee D'Orsay -- a museum that was once a train station. The space was glorious, especially the backlit, monster-sized clock that filled one end of the space to be seen again and again as we toured the museum.  We're on an art historical trip led by Robert Liberace ... and our D'Orsay tour focused on the factional duel between the Ecole des Belle Artes crowd (whose sweetheart was Ingres) and the more energetic/pre-Impressionistic style of Delacroix (and Manet).

Hope I have that right.

Close-Up of Ingres' graphite drawing of Madame Bertrand
Today -- easier to remember since it was just hours away -- was fantastic! We had a private appointment in the Louvre's Print and Drawing Room, where Rob had selected drawings for us to see. This is a ridiculous treat.  We started with four Ingres graphite drawings: a self-portrait, portrait study of Messieur Bertrand, study of Madame Bertrand and portrait of violinist Niccolo Paganini. Rob's favorite of that group was Paganini. I loved Madame Bertrand. She's not pretty -- but what a drawing!!! They were followed by three Rembrandt's: a red and black chalk drawing of a woman, a self portrait (of course), and a drawing of a lion. Then two Ghirlandaio drawings (early Renaissance) including a stunning portrait on a vibrant reddish background.

Next up were two  Jacopo Pontormo (Florence, 1494 - 1557) drawings. Pontormo is a favorite of Rob's -- who is inspired  by the artist's pentimenti (mistakes -- though glorious) lines that show his first guesses to hone in on his drawing.  Those extra first lines lend an aura of movement to the figure.

And, then we were treated to Rubens drawings -- the first great colorist and master of three-color chalk. His women weren't concerned about diets or personal trainers. To say the least.

Fortuny's architectural drawing, my photo distorts it a little.
Last up was Fortuny with a watercolor copy of a Van Dyck painting, a tiny watercolor study of poppies, an academic nude drawing and then an architectural drawing/watercolor that could seemed taken right off of one of these Paris streets.  That was most inspiring to me. It's what I'll be seeking these days here.

My drawing "Paris Cafe Conversation" was drawn today at lunch in a spot close to the Louvre and the afternoon's tour of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  Randy and I have managed to pick two very locally-populated spots (last night's dinner and today's lunch). Both meals were great but mainly I loved being crammed in there with the regulars.  It sure afforded a good view of close tablemates.

There were a lot more adventures in the day ... but no more time to share them.

Tomorrow holds a visit to Versailles.

And probably some quiche or chocolate mousse.

Events and Exhibits
"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.

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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