Book a Class

Happy to be Painting in Paris again!

oil painting paris travel sketching Aug 04, 2021

Leaving the US and entering France went smoothly, having uploaded necessary documents for both countries prior to arriving at Newark Airport.  I had volumes of additional documentation printed out and stashed in my bag in case the records couldn't be located on either end of my flight.  There are so many dreadful aspects of the current world health situation that it's a joy to find a positive aspect of the situation.  I had all three seats in my row to myself.  I was able to lie down and sleep for about an hour on the plane! 

Using the automated system to adding the month of August to my Carte Navigo Pass, giving me unlimited transportation on the Métro, Buses and RER trains during the month, took only minutes to complete.  In no time, I was on the RER train headed to the Châtelet station. En route, I passed both new buildings and familiar buildings.  Normally I'd be sketching as I moved through the landscape.  This time, I observed and absorbed all that I could, hoping to grasp a glimpse of what the people had experienced here during the last year and a half.  What was different and what had remained the same? At Châtelet I switched to the Métro, No. 11, to reach my stop at Jourdain.  

When traveling, my top priorities are learning the public transportation system and achieving some sort of communication through the internet which generally begins with obtaining a local SIM card and figuring out which will serve me well during my stay. Fortunately, I now know the transportation options in Paris and I'm prepared. I arrive with my mini-map of the Métro/RER stations and the Carte Navigo Pass I obtained years ago.  The SIM card for my phone is always a new challenge.

In Jourdain, I discovered my optician is on vacation and the store where I've usually purchased my SIM card is closed.  Renovations are now complete on the MONOPRIX grocery store and cafés are busy as normal.  Even more pints of beer have replaced the lovely glasses of wine that used to be seen on the small, round tables.  Plenty of cigarettes still being smoked.

A short walk toward Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and I arrived at my home away from home.  Such a warm welcome from Anne and Lala the cat.  I was fed a delicious vegetable quiche and sent upstairs for a well-needed nap.  When I awoke, I met up with a young man who showed me my studio where I'll stay during the short intervals when Anne is home.  When she's away, I'll stay in her home, across the courtyard, and tend to Lala and the garden.  In the courtyard we met up with Vicky, another neighbor who has become a dear friend over the years.  She joined me in the studio. After a couple of hours of catching up, I headed out to obtain a SIM card.  Eventually my mission was accomplished.  By then, it was already time to meet with Anne and Vicky for wine and nibbles. Isabelle, another friend and artist in the building, would be returning the next morning from a stay at the seaside.

Hmmmmm.  The sun had set long ago and I hadn't yet done my oil sketch for the day.  It had drizzled on and off throughout the day, apparently the normal weather behavior this year.  I opted to paint the rooftops through my open window, forgetting that I didn't have any turpentine to help move the paint.  I'm definitely not using any sort of painting medium this time around.  I want the paintings to dry before I make a stack of them to transport to Wales. I also wanted to pick up a sheet of plastic to protect the wooden floor of my studio.  I would have been able to get away without the turpentine if it hadn't been that everything through my window was extremely dark ... it was 11 pm.  It was also relatively dark in the studio.  I discovered that two of the lights aren't working.  I used my headlamp.  

I set up my easel and did a quick line sketch using a variety of colors.  That was it.  I was tired, happy and needed to go to bed.  I like the effect of the different colored lines and it opened new possibilities for me.  

Slept until almost noon!  Missed going to my favorite outdoor market at Place des Fêtes.  I'll have to wait now until Friday.  A trip to BHV Marais turned out well and I obtained Arches paper for oil painting and a bit of turpentine.  A great deal of walking and observing, sorting through thoughts as I adjusted to traveling again.  While sipping coffee at Café Tabac in Jourdain, I wrote in my journal rather than sketch.  I still am processing my own transformation.  Oddly, for the last year and a half I've hardly written in my journal at all.  It's time to begin writing again to try to make sense of my changed perspective on why I create art and where I might be going with it.

Returning to my studio, I packed my bag and set off for the park to paint. It was already twilight.  I didn't get any further than the courtyard.  Isabelle has returned and it was time for the four of us to enjoy a glass of port in Anne's garden.  My travels, though they are all about painting, sketching and exploring, the people I meet are more important to me and I make time for them.  When I'm a stranger in a city, my sketches and paintings accumulate rapidly.  Once a community of friends and artists is established, my time is split and my experience of the culture and the people is greatly enhanced. 

Fragments of twilight still remained as I finally made my way to the park, sat on a grassy hill and painted ... quickly ... Night fell and it began to drizzle.

I awoke early this morning feeling refreshed and inspired, unable to resist an ink sketch of the rooftops as I sipped my coffee and smiled.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Chris Carter 


Join my mailing list to receive notification of new blog posts and update on the  online courses.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.