Though I was quite sure I’d end up with some shiny new art supplies by this point while in Paris, I didn’t pick up anything yet. In truth, I rather adore the setup I currently have, which is very compact and also currently, extremely messy. I refilled a few colors at the very last minute, which I’m prone to do, and they didn’t have time to dry properly before I tossed everything into my suitcase. Cobalt Turquoise was primary culprit and decided to take a little tour of my paint case, covering half of my Nickel Azo Yellow, but thankfully didn’t entirely spoil it or any of the other colors. I’m also testing out my handheld scanner, which seems to make each image a bit darker, but far closer to the original than my phone. There’s very low light in our apartment here and it would be impossible to get a good photo during my now after midnight and later posts. But, even if my palette is a touch messy, it’s a lovely travel companion to have along with me. And it’s something I can sketch from life, since my time outdoors is always spent with family or friends, so making a sketch is impossible so as not to be terribly rude. Also, it requires every ounce of focus I have to desperately try and make out pieces of the conversations as my French is still woefully inadequate.
My palette, my doodlewashes, and my ability to speak French all share the same bit of clumsiness. I’m just excited to be a part of everything and do what I can as I go along. For my doodlewashes, this gives them a bit of a sketchy energy, which culminates into a bit of a recognizable style. My butchery of the French language isn’t about style, but instead called an “accent” which is roughly the same thing. And my palette hasn’t been wiped down or cleaned in ages, which is probably just called lazy, but it’s typical me, so it fits. I’m not fastidious in my approach to things and prefer to launch into them with glee and fun instead. Some people are quite organized and those folks are likely going into shock while reading this, but everyone has different things that bring them joy. My thing is being a bit reckless, to be sure, but I love not quite knowing what will happen next. There are already so many things in life that come with rules, it’s nice to take a break and savor a life without them.
Tonight, we took Philippe’s mother to see the musical Chicago, which had been translated entirely into French. There was a monitor with English subtitles as well, so the whole culture clash was a bit crazy and super fun! It was wild to hear the French version of some of the silliest bits of dialogue and lyrics from the show. And intriguing to listen to the insanely talented cast attempt to use the same melodic line to cram in all of the necessary French words, or vowels as I like to call them since consonants are so often ignored when spoken. This last bit means that I can read French quite well, but speaking or hearing it is a complete mystery to me still. I constantly ask Philippe to repeat something and then we he does, I frantically say, “spell it!” What I’ve learned is that it’s far easier to remember an entire phrase in French than attempt to make one on my own. So, I’m resigned to being understood only when saying bits of things that rarely apply to the current conversation. The effect, I’m quite sure, makes me sound like a lunatic, but I get charm points for at least trying. Like my approach to art, a perfectionist would be perfectly appalled in these situations, but I just giggle and move on. Returning back to our little Paris apartment to have a bit tea and sit down in a cozy, yet dimly lit space to sketch once again, reunited with my messy travel palette.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Nickel Azo Yellow, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, Terra Cotta, Leaf Green, Indigo, Vermillion, and Aureolin. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!