Today, I didn’t feeling like sketching a child’s playground for our prompt, and then it occurred to that Paris is rather a bit of playground for adults. This made me think of a very adult-oriented street here that contains the famous Moulin Rouge. I’ve never actually been to a show there or indeed been brave enough to venture into any of the nearby shops, but it’s fun to pass something so iconic. I had only had a few short minutes today for a sketch so this one is fast, loose and very rough. More impressionistic than my usual fair, entirely due to time constraints. Yet, we did visit the Impressionist exhibit at Musée d’Orsay this afternoon, so perhaps it’s a fitting approach for the day after all. This is actually my first time to visit the museum as the last time I attempted it, the line was so long I couldn’t stand the idea of waiting an hour to get inside an overcrowded gallery. Today, wasn’t very crowded at all so Philippe and I had a lovely tour. It’s a bit overwhelming to see so many master works by a single artist in one room and so many rooms filled with various masters. And as much as I adore museums and galleries, I get exhausted rather quickly so we just head straight to the artists that we know we want to see most as soon as we arrive.
There were far more people taking photos of each painting than I ever remember seeing do so in the past. We would be standing and admiring a piece and I could feel the breath of someone standing eagerly behind me. When I moved out of the way so they could get a better look themselves, they shuffled forward hurriedly to take a photo. I thought they would then stop and admire the art, but they shuffled onward to the next one. This was so bizarre to me. Hundreds of people today were only viewing art through their camera phones and not even bothering to appreciate the pigment on canvas that with their own two eyes. It was incredibly sad to see. In some cases, I knew the primary goal was to create a popular Instagram post when a selfie was the output, while in other cases, it was a complete mystery. Philippe and I just looked around a bit shocked. One has a rare and wonderful chance to see a master artist’s brush strokes up close. To examine the color combinations and shading. This is all worthy of admiration even if you yourself aren’t an artist.
In truth, I’ve only snapped a few photos while I’ve been here, but this is mostly because I’ve already photographed most of the city on previous visits. I thought, at the gallery, I might see art students sitting down to sketch copies of the famous paintings. But, instead, I just just saw people using their phones like they were part of their anatomy. Perhaps, I’m just getting old, and there’s a new way of living that I can’t possibly understand. But, that doesn’t mean I have to like it, of course. I remember being in art school and spending hours in front of a favorite painting, studying each line, color, and brush stroke. And I remember making little sketches that looked absolutely awful of those paintings to practice my skills. Granted, smart phones didn’t exist back then, so I didn’t have another option. To me, life is best experienced when I simply let myself play and have fun, exploring things with my own eyes and looking at them as though it’s always the very first time. Here, miles away from home, across a vast ocean, I’m that kid again more than ever. And it makes me happy to wake up each day, ready to explore and experience new things, thrilled by the fact that Paris is my playground.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, Quinacridone Red, Vermillion, Aureolin, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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!