Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sketching with Pauline Fraisse

I started the first outdoor sketching workshop with Pauline Fraisse. To get into a bit of practice, I looked out our living room and kitchen windows and did a couple of quick sketches of what I saw. The mansard roof, on the left, is out our living room window while the church tower is out the kitchen window. The apartment, itself, is one or two rooms deep from back to front.

 Pauline is a charming, young French artist who has studied at Brown Univ and conducts outdoor sketching sessions as well as multi-day workshops. This session was a 4 hour session starting in the Cafe Austerlitz, next to the Austerlitz train station. The group was made up of 12 people, 6 French and 6 Americans, including a family of father, mother and daughter.

After introductions, we started with some warm up exercises to "se chauffer" (translation, to warm up. How appropriate). We quickly drew one of the other participants at our table paying attention to proportion, shape, position, etc. Then we did the same thing with our other hand, then without lifting the pencil, then with our eyes closed. These were all quick exercises to loosen up and get you to use both your analytical and artistic sides. Then we did one which included two people with background information to get postitionning and depth perception. Most of the sketches were "completed" in 3-5 minutes. They were the kind of exercises that are meant to get our juices flowing so they loosened us up and got us all talking and laughing about our attempts.
All 12 of  us sat at tables in the cafe after ordering just water and coffees. We were there for over an hour and no one hustled us out.

From there we all walked across the street to a large park where we worked on a couple of sketches practicing perspective. We got in a quick sketch but some of the people were too cold to continue on the park benches. The park, Le Jardin des Plantes should be very nice next month. The Museum of Natural History is located in this park.

Across the street is the Mosquee de Paris. This is a major mosque in the city and it has a tea room and restaurant. We all barged into the tea room which was mobbed with people on a saturday afternoon. It was a really series of ornate rooms with Arabic architecture and style. Padded benches and soft chairs around round, hammered gold table tops. Really unique. Waiters walk around offering "the a la menthe", mint tea, for 2 euros. The tea is very sweet, but it tastes great. They also walk around with sweet Arabic pastries for 2 euros. Here are a couple of girls enjoying their mint tea and pastry.

Anyway, here we drank our tea and did quick sketches working on perspective of walls and ceiling meeting as well as the effect of bright light (as in a lamp) on the scene. This setting was very fascinating and I'll be happy to go back again.

This was an enjoyable day. I learned some things, met some people and got the incentive to go back out sketching on my own.


  1. Love this post, Tony. Can't wait to see your travel journal of sketches at the end of your trip!

  2. Not sure what form my journal will take. With encouragement from Pauline and Haydi, I bought a cheap travel water color set today. Frank will have a fit. We'll see how that goes.

  3. Thank you Tony and Judy! I read your blog and started relationship with Pauline. This summer I will visit Paris for 2 weeks and keep contact with her. I have found her on your blog.
    I wish you a creative Happy New Year!


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