Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sketching in Parisian Art Museums

Sketching in museums is way I can make sense of the visual richness that has the potential to otherwise overwhelm me. My body & brain work together with the intense energy that comes from being surrounded by so much magnificent art.

It's a different experience for me than just looking. This woman at Musée d'Orsay spent a long time with Cezanne's Le golfe de Marseille. During one visit to d'Orsay I heard a Mom say to her family: "Hurry up! We still have 3 more floors to see!" An opposite approach from mine, I'm happy if I only see a few works each time. But, when you're far from home, you do want to see as much art as you can...
 At d'Orsay, during my first visit to the Van Gogh paintings, I not only got to see & sketch, but I heard 2 lectures: for elementary & for high school school groups. Having been an art teacher & being a French language student, I was in a state of bliss. An Asian woman tapped me on the shoulder at one point & said: "You~ charming. You~ happy." Taken out of my reverie, & having been witnessed, I burst into tears (of joy) & I thanked her. (I admit, not the first time I have cried happy tears in an art museum.)

 "Magnifique! Magnifique!" said a senior Frenchman looking at Cezanne's Mont Sainte Victoire. J'étais d'accord. The brush strokes took my breath away.

 A mother & daughter spent a long time in front of one of five Monet's Rouen Cathedral paintings. They were very serious. The daughter was reading a pamphlet describing the painting.

The people at museums are their own works of art. Magnifique!

 One time I was in the Louvre sketching Renoir's Portrait de femme assise. A fellow sketcher, a Parisian, sat down next to me. From sketching to conversing, it was a memorable experience. I'm grateful to him to this day for all of the information about Paris & art that he shared. Lately I'm getting messages from different sources: Copy master works in order to see them better & to learn from them. Above you can see how my sketch missed so many subtleties that are in the painting. 

Centre Georges Pompidou & the Musée d'art National Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe is also magnifique. Kandinsky, Matisse Miro! This collection pushes edges more than the other museums do. It has humorous, provocative & disturbing art, along with lovely abstractions. Centre Pompidou, as well as the other Parisian museum buildings & spaces are also masterpieces...There is so much, so much to discover! I would love to live in Paris for the museums alone! 


  1. Rita,

    I just forwarded this post to Daniel. He's getting ready to teach in France again in January for two months and he can't wait to see all the great art again. He's going to love your post!! As do it!

    Hugs, Silke

    1. Oh, Silke, in France for 2 months! Will you go with him?? Thank you for your visit, Rita

  2. Hi Rita
    I admit I'm ignorant to be able to put a name to the works of great artists. However I admire sketchs,& paintings from people like you who have such talent & are unknown. I enjoy your journal sketchs so much, they tell a story with out the need for any words. I love them all.

  3. I love your studies of the people studying the works of art. I must agree about seeing just a few ...ça suffit! :)

    I would love to watch you at work. I"m fascinated at how quickly it appears that you are able to capture an image with your pencil. I would be plodding, erasing, plodding, erasing, erasing...and would finally burst into tears at my ineptness. That is why I'm in love with M. Canon! LOL

    PS Prints yet??? :)

    1. Prints on my mind, I so appreciate your encouragemet. The quick sketching is much more natural for me than slow, deliberate work, so I'm trying to work in that mode as well...But no matter what the medium, YOU have a magificent artist's eye, you do!!

  4. Wonderful sketches and sketchbook Rita!
    Looks like a fun book to read.
    Sketching onsite is not so easy and does make you look more carefully
    Love the '3 floors to go' comment I have to edit too when I go. -there's always too much to look at.

  5. In a way, for an art-lover like myself, decorating our home is quite easy. I just please myself mostly, with my poor husband going along with most of my choices. I am always collecting beautiful things, like handicraft decorative pieces, little sculptures and hangings.
    And I simply hang lovely paintings in all our rooms. Not all are originals of course, as who can afford many of those.
    I order many prints on canvas from who have a vast collection of images from Western art, that you can choose to make economically-priced prints like this Interior in Aubergines, by Henri Matisse,, from there.
    I can choose the frames as well and my orders are delivered quickly to my home.


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