Not Such a Good Day for Sketching

Every time I took out my pad and pencil, it seemed to start drizzling. If you happen to wonder how I choose my subjects, my method is really simple. I look for a convenient place to pant my butt.

I walked down to the Seine hoping to find a location with where I could get a bit of perspective. It the tip of the Ile de la Cité has a small park where I was able to sit down. A weeping willow tree framed the pont neuf in a way that was decidedly picturesque.


However, it started to rain before I could get very far on my sketch. So I got up an walked along the river. The rain stopped as I was passing by a bench. I started to draw the bridge from the other side.


Then, of course, it started to rain again. So I packed up my pad and pencils and headed for a cafe.

There was a very pretty young woman at another table and when she wasn’t looking I tried to sketch her. When she looked back my way, I put the pencil down, not noticing a slight slope to the table. The pencil rolled off and I lunged to get it, knocking over my coffee. The waiter was kind enough to bring me another.

I’m afraid my sketch doesn’t do her justice. She was exceedingly pretty.


After finishing my meal and my coffee, I headed home.

In part because I am keeping a blog this year, I’ve been photographing far more obsessively than on previous trips. However, it makes a person look at things differently, often less intensely. Your experience is mediated by the camera even when you are not looking through it. I realized that this evening when, shortly after sundown, I was crossing the pont Louis-Phillippe. It had stopped raining and the sky was just starting to clear. The sky was a blue-gray and the river was a blue-gray, reflecting the sky in the distance, blending into a brown or greenish gray in the foreground. The buildings appeared pale, gray, yet almost pink. The towers of Notre Dame loomed to my left and, in the distance, the slate gray roofs of the turrets of the Conciergerie poked into the sky. Over them, spots of pink and orange dotted the sky where the clouds had moved away revealing the day’s last bit of sun. In the meantime, the street lamps were illuminated with their odd orange light and reflected as inverted exclamation points in the Seine.

Taken by the harmony of the colors, I thought momentarily if I only had my camera, then I realized it was better that I didn’t because I could enjoy the evening as an evening rather than as an image of an evening.

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