Thursday, April 28, 2011

Take two

Last night I did a quick speedpaint self portrait, and the morning light today was so different that I gave it another shot just to compare. It was good practice! One thing that I think is really hard to avoid in digital painting is using too many colors. Having just started using watercolor this quarter, keeping a unified palette is something Lane taught me about, and it's much easier traditionally. All you have to do is work from light to dark and never clean your brush! In the digital world, you have literally every color ever - where do you even start? Laying out a palette would probably be good... something I'll definitely do next time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Hopefully there will be more fig-related paintings to come, but this was part of my series for travel portfolio using silhouettes over paintings. There are a good number of fig trees around Lacoste, which I was really excited to find, never having seen a fig tree before!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cicada Heart

Last week we visited Roussillon, a village built on ochre mining. These incredible orange cliffs stood out so strongly against the typical greens of the French landscape!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Paris Finale

And so, on the last day in Paris before leaving, we decided that we should probably swing by the Louvre. There are no words for how overwhelming it was. We almost immediately got absorbed in the classical sculpture gallery, which was a whole lesson in figure drawing by itself. If only we could have stayed for weeks!
One of the highlights at the end of the classical wing was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. At the top of a staircase and surrounded by echoing space, it managed to convey more movement and power than seemed possible in stone. Afterward I got lost for a while, wandering somewhat aimlessly into the Northern European sculpture gallery while trying to find African art. Once we all reunited, we headed up to the Mona Lisa (which was spectacular!) and stood for ages in front of the Raft of the Medusa, which totally blew our minds. In the evening we went back to the Tour Eiffel, this time making it all the way to the top in time to catch the sunset over Paris. Painting in the dark was tricky!
Then soon enough we were back on the train. A little more coffee painting (this time a memory sketch memorializing the gallon-size jars of Nutella that were everywhere in Paris).
It was an amazing trip, but it's good to be back in quiet Lacoste. Although quiet is a relative term, since we've had some pretty crazy adventures in the past week... But that'll be another post :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parisian Days

In Paris we stayed at the Hotel Home Latin, near Notre Dame and the Fontaine Sainte Michel. Lauren's red hair started to become a theme between breakfast and a visit to the fountain...
...and kept on appearing after another visit to Shakespeare and Company, during which the piano was discovered :) Lauren played as I drew. One of the best moments of the trip for sure.

We went back to Shakespeare and Co. later on (for the third time) for a music performance by an expatriate American girl. While waiting for her to start, we got to sit amongst a crowd of interesting people milling about outside the store. The other half of the page was more coffee painting - with the discovery of using cocoa powder for the darks, courtesy of Lauren Duda!

Sainte Chapelle was beautiful, and so so difficult to convey in paint.

After spending the morning at Sainte Chapelle, we took the metro to Gobelins, the famous animation school. After a failed attempt to get in, a kindly student basically snuck us past the desk, and though after talking to the administration we were still unable to get a tour, we did get to walk the corridors and see what their workspace was like. They have these big sunny rooms with tall windows, and each student has a light table and a computer of their own to work at. It was so exciting just to be there! You could feel the energy in the air.

We were all kind of shellshocked by the sheer awesomeness of seeing Gobelins, so after leaving we went to the aquarium to draw some nice calming fish. Instead we got the ugliest and most unsettling horrors the sea could produce. But it was still pretty fun :)

We wrapped up the day with a fancy dinner at the Musee d'Orsay, followed by a visit to the glowing spectacle of the Tour Eiffel. Underneath the arch of the tower were hordes of guys selling cheap junk to tourists. Some were selling these light-up whirligigs which they'd shoot off into the air, creating glowing color trails in the night.

Last of the Paris sketches soon to come!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

de mieux en mieux

Oh, France! These last few weeks have been some of the most inspiring and eye-opening of my life. The countryside here is amazing, and it's a huge challenge to do it justice. I'm not nearly there yet, but I'm hoping that all the painting practice will get me a little closer. The beginnings of my sketchbook have mostly been experiments - with this one I tried out painting with coffee and cocoa powder for the foreground. I drew it near the top of Lacoste, where there's a little path up to the Chateau de Sade, and met a number of fascinating people while working (namely the Irish gardener and a world-traveling French Canadian who regaled me with stories of biking through Romania).

The first Friday in Lacoste, Eleanor (the student coordinator) told us we could hike to the neighboring village of Bonnieux, a forty minute walk of about 3-4 km. It took me, Lauren, Lane, and Rachel over an hour and a lot of wrong turns down in the maze of vinyards that makes up the valley before we made it. Later I went for a run following the main roads, looping around Bonnieux. I had a delicious orange afterwards :)

This one was a later hike to Bonnieux; we went to the top of the hill and looked down on the church below. I liked the delicate trees that blocked the view a bit.

And then...


Even though we hit up a lot of famous monuments and museums, the most magical place by far was this tiny, overflowing English-language bookstore. It was almost indescribable. Crammed with books, full of people from all over the world, creaking with age and babbling with talk and music... If there's one place to make a pilgrimage to in Paris, this is it.

Lots more sketches to come, this is only a bit of what I've done so far! I'm learning so much from watching Lane and Lauren beast it with colors and sketches, and of course Rachel with her amazing draftsmanship, and I get up every day excited to do something new with art or go have an adventure.

Tous les jours, nous devenons de mieux en mieux :)