I've traveled and painted through France before but, never in Paris. I had a past preconceived idea of Parisians so I avoided Paris because of my weak French skills. I just spent 1 1/2 weeks painting on the streets of Paris with my partner Anne Schreivogl who used to live in France, therefore fluent in French. It was a wonderful experience and I found the Parisians very engaging and friendly. As it turns out, my language skills were just fine as I provided the Parisians with cheap entertainment. I stayed in the Marais district, two blocks from the Bastille monument in an apartment owned by Rob Horby from San Diego, a nice affordable place with close access to everything.
Paris is about art, food, and love, through and through. It's such a melting pot of cultures. Painting on the streets of large cities tend to draw crowds of people and Paris was no exception but, they were extremely courteous. They would only talk when I would turn and say "bonjour" first. This was where I got in trouble because they would assume I could speak French and they would then barrage me with questions. I then would level the playing field by saying; "Parlez-vous anglais?" That would slow the process of communication and the fun would begin. I know some French and they would know some English and the rest was waving arms, rubbing chins, and scratching heads
I became fixated on sidewalk cafes with their colorful umbrellas. Painting these cafes requires you to be fast and deliberate with regards to your painting. On a sunny day, these cafes are packed with animated conversations and people watching. Every shape and angle is exaggerated, the way they hold a cigarette or a glass of wine, it's all part of the visual show. Down along the River Seine, the city will haul in sand for the summer so Parisians can sun bath, a sight to see. It was along the Seine while I was painting that I happened to look up and spotted Laurie Gere taking my picture. Laurie is a friend from my town of Anacortes Washington, small world. Bicycles, scooters, and mini cars everywhere. Police on roller blades and bicycles maneuver through the streets as if in a carefully orchestrated dance routine, protecting us from what we are oblivious to.
With special permission, artists can still paint and copy the Masters in the Louvre and Museum D'Orsey. As a right of passage, I would have loved to have done this but, no time to apply was afforded me. Instead, I set up my easel in the Louvre courtyard and painted the Arc Du Carrousel from the Pyramid. During my painting of three hours, the Louvre guards would occasionally circle around me on their bicycles taking a look at my progress. When my painting was finished, I stepped back for a look. Two guards approached me and said that the Louvre was private property and I had to leave, ......"are you finished?" with a smile. Art first, then we deal with the consequences, I love it!
This post title, "My Sweet Life In Paris", is inspired by a newly-released book of the same name, that I highly recommend for those who enjoy reading about la vie in Paris. The author, David Lebovitz, was giving a talk in Paris while we were there. We sadly missed it.
For those of you who follow my Blog posts, I'm sure you haven't heard the last of this Paris painting trip. http://www.alfredcurrier.com/