Thursday, December 20, 2018

on the streets of la butte aux cailles

It took an outing organized by Marie-Christine for me to get out and produce my first "serious" urban sketch following the summer break. The location? The Buttes aux Cailles neighborhood. I have always known it to be a lively and somewhat quaint area of Paris, with its cobblestone streets, colorful building facades, groovy bars and mellow cafés. But on that Saturday in early October, with fellow members of Urban Sketchers Paris, I was able to better observe and appreciate the neighborhood by sketching one of its streets. The experience was so enjoyable that I would return the following two Saturdays to create more "street art".

Rue Buot
Rue Buot

My visual exploration of La Buttes aux Cailles started with the above view from Rue Buot. It had most of the things that I like in a subject : perspective, architectural variety, and just a little greenery. The icing on the cake was sketching on the sidewalk. That is as urban is it gets!

Rue du Moulinet
Rue du Moulinet

The following Saturday, I was back in the neighborhood. Agnès, a fellow Parisian sketcher, had shown me her sketch of a mural inspired by the popular Super Mario Bros video game, and being a Super Mario Bros lover in my early days, it was only fitting that I sketch the mural too. I found it on Rue du Moulinet, and sat across the street from it to get it in whole in my sketchbook.

Rue de la Butte aux Cailles
Rue de la Butte aux Cailles

For the third consecutive Saturday, I found myself in the Butte aux Cailles to draw. This time, the lucky street was the one sharing the name of the district. I set my stool down on the square on the western end of the street, named Place de la Commune de Paris. The view towards the Rue de la Butte aux Cailles offered a pleasing combination of greenery, buildings, and inclines, all in perspective.

Monday, October 15, 2018

outdoors at lunchtime in courbevoie

At a USK Paris outing at Ground Control in early May, I met Stéphanie, a fellow sketcher. There was one particular thing that I learned during our encounter: we both worked in the Courbevoie part of the la Défense area. Our workplaces were barely 150 meters apart. Then came the obvious question: why not meet to sketch at lunchtime in the area?

Square Henri Regnault, Courbevoie
Square Henri Regnault

Our first meeting took us to the park named Square Henri Regnault. Inaugurated in 2013, this park was designed in close coordination with the residents of the three apartment buildings that surround it. Stephanie and I found a suitable spot for drawing on a bench that laid in the shade beside central pathway linking both entrances to the park. In spite of the numerous plum, maple, and ash trees around, what caught my eye was a lamppost along the pathway amidst a background of skyscrapers.

Parc du Millénaire, Courbevoie
Parc du Millénaire

One of my next meetings with Stéphanie took place in Parc du Millénaire. It was summertime, and we got to witness how popular the park was. Between groups of kids taking part in games with ‒ and without ‒ adult supervision and teams of employees having picnics on the wide-open, oval lawn, the park was abuzz with life. While Stephanie took to a sun-drenched bench directly facing the lawn, I took refuge in the shade of trees across the lawn, close to the playground. Branches and trees all over the place, I decided to outline them so that I could focus on the landscape below.

Parc Jacques Cartier, Courbevoie
Parc Jacques Cartier

My last sketching entry into parks in Courbevoie close to work was a solo trip to Parc Jacques Cartier. No stranger to picnickers like Parc du Millénaire, this park affords an equally leisurely vibe, with its installations of musical instruments immediately available to visitors. Among the ensemble you can find five tom-tom drums, an xylophone, and a carillon. Naturally, I resisted the temptation of creating music to sketch a view of the Faubourg de l'Arche neighborhood in the background from a secluded and shaded park bench.

I must credit Stéphanie for this foray into sketching in Courbevoie, as well as for her encouragements in using ink directly without making pencil outlines beforehand. Lunchtime at work has since become a nice opportunity to capture the environment around me through art.