Drawing seemed just right this week.
Been liking the pencils a lot lately, probably influenced by my weekly Drawing New York sessions. Drawing is no less challenging than painting—this subject would be a tough one in any media. The finished image is all about creating an illusion of detail by selective ambiguity. Simplifying lights and darks into shapes, deciding what to leave out and what to leave in: this has been a good lesson in working around an overly-detailed image. My eye easily finds areas in the drawing that make me cringe, but if I decide to paint this later on I hope to have a better understanding of how to improve this in color and in paint.
This view from a cafe in Paris is taken from last summer’s trip, our third, to France. Our plan was to spend two leisurely days in Paris, in neighborhoods we were familiar with, to lose the jet lag before meeting up with an artist group in Rennes. The idea was to be outside as much as possible, just walking streets and visiting parks while checking out the local scene. The Sunday we arrived was two days following the terrorist attack in Nice—a national day of mourning—and an incredibly quiet day. At the airport, on the streets, I observed no visible police or security measures, heard no sirens, saw little car traffic—a little unsettling. Was that typical for a Sunday in July? The people I passed along Boulevard Saint-Michel seemed hurried and stressed, yet no more than I probably appear back in New York City. But this was a city in shock. It could be palpably felt from my wicker chair in the cafe across from Marché aux Fleurs et Oiseaux near Notre-Dame. Come Monday, the sirens and buses and traffic revved up, although I still saw very little police presence except at some park monuments. At a falafel joint in Le Marais, we discussed it with travelers from Amsterdam; we joined in with a pack of tourists gathering to board Bateaux Mouches for a sunset cruise. I was heartened to see lots of people enjoying picnics along the banks of the Seine, while us travelers behaved as tourists do and snapped photos and selfies and got giddy when the Eiffel Tower came into view as if we never had seen it before.
I think this is why I chose this piece to work on this week. Lately, my heart breaks easier and the art makes it simpler to move on. My heart broke for the people of Paris back in July. Being there brought back memories of how NYC felt after 9/11, but there was no way I would have preferred to have stayed home. Our events are rarely isolated incidents anymore. This evening I watched Barack Obama give his farewell speech and my heart broke again.
Pencil on Strathmore Paper, 12″ x 15″