I don’t know how Paris can not rub off and make someone artsy. Everything about the city screams artistic inspiration. As you walk through the streets you walk among art, among buildings that testify to centuries of changing artistic styles and cafés who housed artistic discussions of the great masters. To be a lover of art in Paris you have but to open your eyes. This might not actually make you a connoisseur, but it will at least teach you to love beauty. Plus, there are all number of ways to get entrance fees to museums, concerts, etc, for free or discounted, so everyone has the opportunity to appreciate the artistic heritage of the city they are in.
When I first came to Paris to study at La Sorbonne in 2007, I became close friends with a student pursuing a masters in Art History. We would spend hours wandering museums or sketching flowers or talking about art. I think it was then that I really started to enjoy drawing outside of the classroom, to realize that it opens up a door to participate in this city of art in a whole new way. For the first week of my stay this summer I stayed with her and one night we bought some flowers and stayed in for a night of sketching.And here are the results, although the shot is a little blurry.
Last week I went to the Louvre to sketch. I love sketching master copies because in a way it doesn’t matter if you are good. You can never be as good as the original, and knowing that you have already fallen short is actually comforting to me because it takes the pressure off. But as I stood there sketching, I couldn’t help but notice the people passing. Endless streams of tourists passing, taking photos without even stopping, listening to a constant ramble of an audio-guide. This is certainly the way that you have to tackle the Louvre if you want to get through it one day, but it is a sad way to go about it. The magic behind all of these painting is in their creation, and to have a sense of it that you have to sit still and just look at them for a while, or even moreover, try to sketch one. Here is my sketch from earlier this week, though it in no way does any justice to its subject.
But at heart, being in love with analyzing and trying to represent the world around you means that you will always take with you the gift of loving where you are. I love the quotes by Winston Churchill to this effect: “Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot ‘have several days on one’s hands. . . . Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost the end, of the day.”
And what a pleasant company it is.