Sunday, May 13, 2012

Visiting (and Sketching) St. Emilion

Hot enough for this long (Gap) tank dress -- so long that I have to belt it or I'd be tripping continuously -- and my trusty Birkenstocks. . . . we took our first car outing out of the city to St. Emilion on Friday after picking up our rental at the Gare. . . Pleased to be able to conduct the entire transaction en fran├žais, although that meant the usual minor confusion, which we managed to work through. Also managed eventually to get ourselves off the Rocade (ring road, a brilliant invention, really) and headed East. . .
Found easy pay parking, the all-important clean toilets, and then headed off to explore the city. . .
Found a perfect little courtyard for lunch . . .

Then headed up to the Tour du Roy, a 12th century fortification that provided a pas mal view of the pretty roofs. . .
We sat in this courtyard and sketched . . this has become such a pleasant and companionable way to pass time absorbing a new place

But I decided I should go to the top of the tower, so I twirled myself round and round inside that narrow medieval staircase, while Paul stayed sketching on the bench below. Look waaaaay down, and see him there in his white shirt . . .
while I was imagining life within these cool dark walls
Something about that life gave this sculptor a sense of the surprising lushness of stone -- isn't this detail wonderful? Surprisingly modern, to me, a bit Art Deco. . .

Some of you have wondered about my sketching, having read my posts about the Illustrated Journal course I took (under the excellent tutelage of my good friend Alison. Before I show you a page from my journal, let me remind you that I am brand new to this, and that I am only gradually overcoming the inhibitions I learned in elementary school, a lifetime of conviction that I am not capable of drawing. And let me also preface the presentation by saying that I know my colours are not true -- I've far overstated the yellow (although the buildings, in the sunlight, are noticeably blond). Most importantly, though, I've had such fun, first in the sketching itself, on-site, and then again back in our home away from home, mixing up a watercolour palette to suit. Here it is . . .

I'm not looking for reassurance or (false) praise here, but am sharing the results of a process that is giving me much pleasure. Imagine a whole new activity opening itself to you at the ripe old age of almost-59! And all it takes is to stop listening to old, annoying voices from one's past . . . .

26 comments:

  1. St.Emilion is beautiful isn't it? Lovely sketches too - looks like you're having fun.

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  2. If you are like me, when you go back home, every time you look at this painted journal entry you will recall the scents, colours, and atmosphere of that place in crystal clarity. This is an exciting thing you're doing!

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    1. This morning, it was the hammering on a construction project behind me . . . and the sense of so many holidayers walking past me on the promenade . . . thanks for the encouragement.

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  3. Oh, enjoy - I know that area quite well. Once you get off the main road, there's so much to explore. Looks like you're getting excellent weather too. I love the idea of an illustrated journal - maybe I might steel myself to try the idea too one of these days.

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    1. It's really lovely -- so many tempting side roads, an easy pace. . .and do, do, try an illustrated journal of your own. So rewarding!

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  4. It looks like an amazing place to spend time with your partner in crime and to do some sketching. I always have to climb up those towers, too, even though they make me feel slightly claustrophobic.

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    1. As a historian, I can imagine you'd be peopling the towers as you climbed, in your imagination . . . and they really are claustrophobia-inducing!

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  5. It's so wonderful you both enjoy sketching and painting. Paul looks very "in the zone" sitting on that bench! We took our girls to London and Paris when they were 9 & 6, knowing churches and museums would be a challenge I bought them sketch books. They lasted much longer drawing what they saw and I have a priceless souvenier.

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    1. Such a good idea for travelling with children -- I came across such a journal just the other day that my daughter had made when we were in England almost 30 years ago (she was 6 or 7) -- such memories!

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  6. "We sat in this courtyard and sketched . . this has become such a pleasant and companionable way to pass time absorbing a new place" is a sentence that belongs in a wonderful novel - and how wonderful that it isn't fiction at all!

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    1. It's a sentence I feel privileged to have written -- how lucky I have been! Thank you!

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  7. Your eye suffuses the sketches and vice versa; what a rich way to capture your travels. I so like this slower way of seeing and being somewhere. (Sometimes when I see people with their eyes glued to a videocam I wonder if they are really 'there'.)

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    1. I do think eventually my personality will show up in my sketches, despite my lack of artistic competence, and it's such a different way of perceiving than with the camera. (I've seen those very people, videocam-stuck!)

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  8. big smiles! you guys are free and fearless. I love this post. So much beauty...**sigh**

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    1. One day you'll have to share it with us, sweetie! Happy to see you visiting here.

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  9. It is not false praise to say your sketching is TERRIFIC! You've got so far in such a short span of time. What lovely paintings.

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    1. Thanks! I certainly enjoy putting them together.

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  10. But mater, your little paintings are LOVELY!

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  11. I love that you share your sketches with us. Such a beautiful memory of this day.

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  12. Oh, your sketches make me want to take the same course--what a fabulous way to document a trip and how wonderful to hear that you BOTH enjoy it.

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    1. I'm surprised how quickly it's become part of our shared experience -- Paul sticks to pencil sketches while I have fun with colour . . .

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  13. Lovely, just lovely. No faint/fake praise here - I've just finished catching up on your recent posts. I love to imagine that I can feel the heat, smell the blossoms and that other smell that doesn't exist here but is everywhere in France. I can't describe it beyond noting that it's part cinnamon, part coffee, part diesel fumes, part (tiny, but significant part) sewage and part 'old building'.
    I can't wait for September, when I'll be in Belgium and the UK for a month - how can I learn to sketch in time? :)

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    1. Your description of that smell is spot-on. And as for learning to sketch -- for me, that one-weekend workshop was all it took to release my inner sketcher. . . and so much fun!

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  14. I am so impressed with your sketches! We adored St. Emilion (2009 trip). Lovely seeing it again. I'm so glad you're enjoying yourselves.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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