A Writer's Paris

monmartreDr. Eric Maisel is a psychotherapist who works exclusively with artists and has written many terrific books like The Creativity Book, Staying Sane in the Arts, Fearless Creating, Deep Writing, A Life in the Arts and other inspiring guides on the creative mind and process. Recently, Eric invited me to illustrate his new book, A Writer’s Paris, which will be published in a year or so.
On Wednesday afternoon, Patti and I will be skipping turkey and heading across the Atlantic; over the next four days, I’ll make as much progress as possible on the 30 full-page illustrations I’ve promised Eric for his book. I’ll be working in black, using a pen and ink wash.
The sketch crawl will be good preparation. I’m going from the 10K of the Met to the marathon of the sketchcrawl to the Iron Man triathlon of Paris. I’ll be dealing with possible snow flurries, temperatures in the 40s and jet lag but it will be a great adventure.

We had a terrific visit to Paris over Thanksgiving. We arrived (via Frankfurt) on Thursday morning and spent the day in a bit of a jet-lagged fog (I can’t sleep on planes) but did quite a lot of drawing. We had Thanksgiving dinner of escargots, foie gras, biftek, and lashings of bordeaux at a bistro in the Latin Quarter.
We started Friday at the Musée D’Orsay. I’ve only been there briefly before but this time we made a bee-line for the Van Goghs and Gaugins and then I spent an hour drawing the beautiful old clock in the main room. A wonderful museum.

paris-roofs I had a check list of more than thirty things to draw and, by Sunday morning, Patti had checked off about 80% of them. I had taken reference photos of the remaining subjects and will finish the project at home.
We were very lucky with the weather. One day of blue skies, two overcast, and the first raindrops fell on our cab’s windscreen as we got in to travel to the airport. The mercury hovered in the mid 40s most of the time so it was quite comfortable sitting outside most of the time. We would duck into cafés or shops for periodic refreshment.
This sort of three-day drawing trip has a lot to recommend it. We were on the go all day, saw every corner of the City, really studied the sights, and came home with a wonderful souvenir without spending much money. Though the dollar is weak, you can do a trip like this for just over a thousand bucks per person and you will remember it forever.

I drew on heavy bond either with a Rapidoliner (.25 and .50) or an Art (fountain) Pen . I then pulled out a Niji waterbrush loaded with black Dr. Martin’s transparent water colors . I colored in the darkest bits and then, while the color was still wet, I used a Niji filled with clean water to slosh things around, mixing various shades of grey right on the page or on the knee of my jeans or on the nearest surface (park bench, Rodin sculpture, whatever) using the clean brush to dilute it and then my Welsh pub towel to clean things up.
When I got home, I made photocopies of the drawings and FedExed the originals. The images I’ve posted are scans of the copies.
My aim, and I think I fell far short of it, was to emulate Ronald Searle’s 1950 Paris Sketchbook.


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