Wednesday, October 26, 2016

More Street Art, More Journal Illustration, and a Challenge Met, Finally. . . .

 As it turns out, when I go through my photo files, I don't have as many photos of street art as I thought. But I do have a few more here to share, mostly from our day enroute to, and in,  Paris' Belleville neighbourhood.
These murals are all sanctioned, presumably, by the municipal powers; they all contribute to the magical ambiance of the viewpoint atop Parc du Belleville.  (On the lawn just below us, a group of women of Asian heritage, mostly middle-aged and older, worked through their Qigong moves to calming music, all of Paris as backdrop.)


Moving back down the slope, not so tranquil, this political poster, but succinctly and effectively graphic, I thought. . . Austerité, indeed. At whose expense this artist makes clear...
In Saint Germain the next day, this tale of woe. Is it love and heartbreak -- distance? death? The images suggest narrative, évidemment, but leaves the story to our imagination and empathy.
And here's the sketch I made of the view from our room at the Hotel Sèvres Saint Germain where we stayed one night between our train travel from Berlin to Paris and from Paris to Bordeaux.  I started sketching this page in my journal after a long walk in the early morning while Pater slept in, then a breakfast we met up for, and then some quick individual errands we both did. We had about half an hour left before heading to Gare Montparnasse, and to head off impending Want-iness (Paris! the city that stirs up the Desiring Machine like no other!), I thought I'd try to do something creative, something much less expensive. 

As well, it was beginning to rain, and I wasn't keen to go out again, but I felt a bit ashamed of myself, having half an hour in Paris that I was on the verge of "wasting." Pater had no such compunctions about reading Le Monde in the room, so I grabbed journal and pencil, sat at the window, and thought I'd try to be loose and quick about grabbing the architectural details across the street.

I have to say, though, that after ten minutes, what I had on the page made me feel very much the way I did in Grade School, and I was giving in to that "I'm Not Artistic!" voice of my Noisy Inner Critic, the original Mean Girl. I closed the book before I took a big eraser to the whole page, and a few days ago, I decided that I'd at least see what happened when I reinforced the pencil lines with ink, trying to maintain that same looseness.

I didn't hate the sketch quite as much by the time I finished, and since it was now permanently on the page, and I've been playing a bit more with the paints, I added the red canopy, and then gave those scribbled trees some colour. The building colour isn't quite right, but by the time I finished -- I cut and glued in the hotel information from the little notepad they provided -- I had another page to remind me about a Paris moment. . .
Oh, and the Challenge we finally met? We've promised each other for years that we would take a yoga class in France, but procrastination has always been an ally to our fear of embarrassment, the shyness that I always feel joining something new compounded significantly by the Second Language Factor. But there's a studio just around the corner from here, and their website looked very welcoming, and yesterday morning, there we were, with 6 or 7 other yoginis, meditating and stretching and, finally, Shavasana-ing, tout en français. . . And we're planning to take a few more, perhaps once or twice weekly, a nice way to add structure to our routine here.

Right now, we've just returned from a language lesson taken after a long day cycling to the market in a neighbouring town, about 55 kilometres return trip, and I'm honestly too tired to come up with any questions for you. Perhaps you have some for me. Perhaps you have a comment or two. Perhaps you're waving silently across some ocean or continent or other.

As for me, I'll end with one last example of Street Art, Graffiti, at least. . . . Bonne nuit, les copains....

30 comments:

  1. I am loving all the street art, and your pictures! I'm so glad you persisted with your view - as you say, even if your Inner Critic is discouraging, think how wonderful it will be to look through your paintings and drawings when you're back home ... I took my watercolour kit with me when I was housesitting in the Tasmanian countryside recently and I DIDN'T do anything and now I'm very cranky with myself :)

    On a completely different note, my 19-year-old is in France right now (on his big gap year trip) and I'm pretending he's seeing the same things as you (as he refuses to take or send photos). I know he'd be loving the street art ... So thank you :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Tiffany - nice to have some reinforcements against that bully Critic voice.
      Can't believe yours is 19 now! We've been Social Media friends that long? And I'm sure you're right, he's probably out looking at Roman ruins and street art all day long -- probably sleeping from about 10 at night as well, too, right?
      As for carrying the watercolour along and then not using it -- it's good for me to know that more talented and experienced painters, with better entrenched habits, do this as well. I'm still finding it tricky, making the time, being in the right mood, trying it anyway even if I'm not in the mood. . .

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    2. I just have to add that apparently he is in Bordeaux right now :) And yes, I believe I may have discovered your blog way back when he was still in primary school ... So amazing to watch lives change/life changes.

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    3. I was going to respond that you're welcome to give him my email (I check it fairly often) should he need anything, but if he's like mine were, the chances of him contacting a blogging friend of his mom's when he's busy with his peer group is pretty slight. . . Hope he enjoys Bordeaux -- it's looking pretty good at the moment, I must say.

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  2. So brave to take a yoga class - I find a new studio/teacher very daunting in part because its hard for me to hear soft yogini voices....so adding another language, wow. On the other hand as my uber confident husband says "its a yoga class, what's the worst thing that can happen?" So maybe someday.....

    ceci

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    1. I love this! Oh to have that sensibility. So obviously true, and yet. . . the potential for serious embarrassment!
      I had to remind myself that if anyone was judging? Bad Yogini! ;-)

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  3. If I could produce any sketch half as good as yours, I'd be very happy! Not sucking up, just know my limitations. Speaking french, however, holds no fears for me, since I've been learning for 53 years. We're all good at something. Enjoy your adventure, I'm enjoying it too, Jules

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    1. Kind of you to say so, Jules, but really, if you're the least bit tempted to sketch, you should take a class or two. I was shocked and thrilled to see what I'm capable of.

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  4. Loving these glimpses of Paris through your eyes and words. I think your sketches capture some of the essence of the city and admire the way you pushed through.

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  5. Oh, and the song sparrow photo on my post - yes, I used my telephoto lens although it's not that powerful. The bird was shy, but unafraid.

    I need to reset my comments on my blog so that I can reply there.

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    1. Thanks, Lorrie!
      and I do love that photo -- debating treating myself to a telephoto, although now that we're not on the island. . . .

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  6. These photos of street art are very interesting,I'm loving it but am also ambivalent about it in general-here you could find a lot of grafitti,some of them ugly,not allowed and they actually ruin the house. But,we have also some street art artists, who are very good and add a lot to the beauty of the city.
    Please,keep with skeching-the three human figures remind me to chinese art,don't you think?
    Bravi for the yoga!
    Dottoressa

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    1. I do understand the ambivalence,
      Not sure if I see the Chinese aspect -- hard to get a perspective on what I've done, but thank you!

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  7. I agree with Dottoressa . You have found some clever grafitti by talented artists . if only that were always the case . Recently in Barcelona I was saddened by the beautiful old stonework & carved doors which were daubed with non artistic squiggles. Such a shame . I am following & enjoying your trip though .

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    1. As I say, I understand the ambivalence. But a city speaks many voices. . . part of its energy, the mix of chaos and order . . . the beautiful old, the aggressive and disturbing new. . . thanks Wendy (assuming I'm putting the following comment together correctly with this)

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  8. Sorry - forgot my name
    Wendy in York ( some grafitti problems here too )

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  9. I do enjoy your wanderings. The best way to see anywhere is on foot and off the beaten track is even better. I am quite pro-grafitti, especially when I see it in really ugly places. I rather like it on tube trains too. Sort of brave, up-yours attitude. The older I get, the more I appreciate up-yours.

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    1. I've come to it grudgingly, I'd say, but increasingly, I'm sympathetic at least and admiring or even in awe at some. . .

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  10. Hello, Mater - I landed here some time ago from Passage & Une Femme's blogs - must say I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. I find it literate, adventurous, daring at times. So focused on LIFE and all it has to offer.
    This trip of yours - a dream! To spend a month in another country! I adore the journal sketches you've included & wish mine looked as good. The fact that you're taking yoga and language classes is amazing. Oh for time to "waste" somewhere far from home.

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    1. Such kind words -- thank you!
      And yes, it's a true luxury, this time to squander. My first year of retirement was so fraught and busy with selling the house and moving to another home--I'm so glad I insisted on this time away just to be. . .

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  11. I LOVE your sketch! Really love it. Something about it definitely captures my imagination. I also love how you attached the hotel stationary. I'm sure you'll recall this scene with all your senses in years to come when you look at this sketch.

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    1. You are so encouraging, thank you! I imagine you'd be a great teacher -- so very positive.

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  12. Street art is not in my appreciation zone, so you're definitely making me think. I've always dismissed it grandly as vandalism. Perhaps because I live in a UNESCO World Heritage city with a large medieval area. However if you consider that our status is under threat because of a decision by the city council to allow a bizarre commercial redevelopment slap in the city centre, complete with an 'iconic' hotel already dubbed 'The Turd' by Edinburghers, then the effect of street art is minimal. http://www.edinburghstjames.com/thevision.html You've made me question my concept of the city - is it a museum, 'figé dans le temps', or is it a dynamic environment where its citizens can express themselves individually as opposed to corporately?
    Your sketches do look publishable to me. So impressed!

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    1. Well put, Linda! And really? The Turd? Oh dear. . . .

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  13. Street art's fun and our town hall even has a guided tour ... but tagging is just a pain , witless and messy .
    Maybe it's all in the eye of the beholder ?
    I could ,though, have done without les copains . Sylvie Vartan has now taken up (temporary) residence in my ear . It's just like being 16 again ...

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    1. Yes, there's a huge and important difference between street/mural art and tagging -- I think an argument might still be made, though, for the way disenfranchised voices erupt through them. . .
      Ha! Off to Google/Youtube Sylvie Vartan, although a bit nervously -- don't really love an earworm.

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  14. We were in Bristol looking at Banksy - street art that I enjoyed and thought about.

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    1. Oh yes, Banksy! So pivotal in getting people to rethink the distinction between street and art. Lucky you.

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  15. The time you 'wasted' sketching the view in Paris was well spent. Such an original way to ensure memories are not lost. Street art, yes we have official, and plenty of unofficial graffiti in Glasgow, noteably some 'super real' paintings which take up whole gable ends. I like them. I dislike the ugly, scribbled obscenities that appear elsewhere, but for the people who leave their mark in this way they must fulfill a need, and as I don't understand the need, I cannot conscientiously object to the marks. Yoga in a foreign language, wow. Totally impressed x

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    1. Penny, this is such a thoughtful, generous response. I think the fierceness and the ugliness and the vulgarity and profanity can be intimidating and alienating, but to recognise a need, if while not understanding it, means that at least the potential for some kind of communication has been opened. So I'm the one who's impressed. xo

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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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