Sunday, May 22, 2016

why i love paris (10)

The 48th Worldwide SketchCrawl was scheduled for Saturday July 25, 2015 and, as for preceding SketchCrawls, the Paris Sketchers crew planned to do something grand. Joining groups of sketchers who were participating in more than sixty cities all over the world, about thirty of us came together in Paris to spend a day drawing at a chosen location. This location was Parc Floral, a part of the botanical gardens of Paris network, on the southeastern end of Paris. Two weeks prior to the event, I had gone to the park with Agnès, Blandine, Valie, and Estelle to scout for places where we could meet, have lunch, and drink on event day. We knew that Agnès, who was spearheading the effort of planning the SketchCrawl for Paris Sketchers, would not be in town on the big day. As her fellow group co-moderator, I decided to take the reins in her absence. In reality, all I had to do was to announce the already perfect agenda on our website, as well as on the SketchCrawl online discussion forum. Yet I hesitated because the weather forecast website could not guarantee a rain-free day that many days in advance. Chances of rain were slim but still, I fretted. We did not have any backup location. And it did not help at all that the park was a largely outdoor (read: roofless) area. In the worst case scenario that I imagined, the forty or so of us would spend the day inside the park's two restaurants and the few small buildings housing bonsai plants. Moderately comfortable with this idea, I went online and hit Publish. In the words of Seth Godin, I had shipped.

Map of Parc Floral

I started the day of the SketchCrawl quite worried about how the event would turn out, due to the strong winds and rain showers that woke me up at about 6am and that would last until the cold came by. We may have been in the middle of the summer season, but it did not feel much like summer that morning. Undeterred, I got myself physically and mentally ready to go to Parc Floral. It was great to take a bus that was going there directly from my neighborhood ‒ the second time in three consecutive SketchCrawls that I had been able to do that. Even better, the trip was short; it lasted just ten minutes.

It was about 9:30am when I made it to the park entrance. I passed through the door and waited nearby until 10am before advancing further (10am because that was the time of the first rendezvous, in a restaurant inside the park called Le Bosquet). Some minutes later, Pierre and Annie, the latter of whom had just arrived from Rouen, stepped inside the park. I went over to greet them, officially meeting Annie, who I had seen at a SketchCrawl at Cité des sciences et de l'industrie the previous year. I had already met Pierre, also during a SketchCrawl. Besides, I had spotted him fifteen minutes earlier in the cafe where we would all be meeting at the end of the afternoon.

The three of us walked towards Le Bosquet on a beaten road flanked by lush greenery. When we arrived, we settled down at a table inside. Within the next fifteen minutes, we were about seven people at the table. Another fifteen minutes later, we were nine. And during all this time, the sun became more and more present, to the joy of everyone. Delighted, I posted a message online via my smartphone to try reassuring those who were on the fence. I do not know if it worked, but the sun would shine brightly the rest of the day. Like in the summer.

After having coffee, most people went off to different areas in the park in search of something to sketch. I stayed in the restaurant to welcome those who were going to arrive, passing the time on the sketch below. It is a view outside from the central entrance of the restaurant. Fortunately, I was able to finish it some minutes before lunchtime.

We convened at Le Bosquet at 1pm. We were about twenty in number, and the sun was all out. Most people sat at tables outside on the terrace, while a few others had a picnic on the grass a few steps away. Over lunch, everyone naturally took the time to chat a bit and some even showed the drawings that they had done of the day so far. It was a lovely scene.

We all left the restaurant around the same time, at about 2pm. While the rest of the group went off in different directions to sketch some more, I stayed behind. I had another idea: why not go take photos of the other sketchers at work? The park being rather huge (thirty hectares), I was neither able to see everything nor find each group member in the three hours that I spent. I suspected that some were part of the audience in the Espace Delta, where Imani Winds was performing as part of the Paris Jazz Festival, and that others were in the more remote areas of the park that had a forest kind of vibe. As for a couple of "non-sightings", it was just a matter of no luck; we were at the right place all right, but not there together at the right time.

In spite of this setback, I manage to make use of the photos that I did take.

The final gathering was scheduled at 5pm at Le Drapeau, the cafe situated opposite the main entrance of Château de Vincennes and at about five minutes north of the park. A few sketchers were already there and others joined them over time. I was among the late arrivals ‒ by 20 to 30 minutes ‒ and a couple of others arrived even much later than I did. Over two hours in a friendly atmosphere, people shared their sketchbooks and discussed all sorts of things from materials to techniques, including the SketchCrawl itself.

In all, there were about 35 people who participated in the SketchCrawl, or part of it. And given the state of mind that I was in before the event, I was very glad that it turned out well, from start to finish.

This past Monday, May 16, 2016, I organized another Paris Sketchers outing to Parc Floral. It was not for a SketchCrawl; it was Whit Monday (a public holiday in France, but not for everyone), I had the day off work and just thought about returning to the park ‒ before the jazz festival began and therefore entry required a fee ‒ to do something other than take photos. Something like drawing, and doing so the whole day (like at a SketchCrawl). Fortunately, other sketchers were game (about 20) and came along to join in the fun.
Below are my sketches from the day:

Espace Delta

Fontaine monumentale