Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the recovered sketchbook! (MUCH CAPSLOCK ENSUES)

So. At this point I have told this story multiple times, because it's so unbelievable and awesome as to merit repeated enthusiasm. What happened is this: The first few days of the Fontainebleau program -- back in July -- were spent in Paris. We toured around with our instructors and TAs to design and architecturally significant locations and learned stuff about the history, urbanism, development, and (occasionally) the politics of Paris. We ate many sandwich-filled picnics and saw many glorious sites. We also had free evenings and a free afternoon with which to explore.

ALL OF THIS WAS GREAT, EXCEPT that the day before we were going to leave to go to Fontainebleau to start the project part of the program, I LOST MY SKETCHBOOK.


Understandably (I hope) I was PROFOUNDLY UPSET. I tore through the hostel looking for it; it had been in my bag up until that point and I had no idea where I had lost it.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that my glorious sketchbook was gone, bought another Moleskin, and grumpily went about my business.

FAST-FORWARD: Last Saturday my Grandma called me. "I got a piece of mail that I think is yours."

"What?" (This didn't really surprise me, as we have the same first name and last name.)

"Yeah, it's some kind of journal."

"Oh?" (This is me thinking a medical journal or similar magazine, so not too excited yet.)

"Yeah, it's full of sketches and stuff."

"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT." (Much screaming commenced. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. BUT I WAS SCREAMING WITH GLEE INSIDE.)

So: Three months after the fact, the staff of the Musée de Cluny had spent 7.10 Euro (so $10-$11) to MAIL THE SKETCHBOOK I HAD LEFT IN THE MUSEUM BACK TO ME.

If it's any indication of how thrilled I was, I mailed my thank-you note today. I am never that timely.

To the punchline! I have decided to scan and upload the best (well, most of) the sketches from said notebook for your viewing pleasure! AND HERE THEY ARE.

This is Tofuku-ji, a temple known for its rock gardens in Kyoto. It was on the east bank of Kamo River (same as my apartment and place of work), but a few miles south.

The next few sketches are from Kamigamo Shrine, one of the many World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. I got there just as it was closing one weekend and also (if I recall correctly) had forgotten to put the memory stick in my camera. Thus the sketches. 

I have no idea what this large grass circle was, but there was a little sign indicating in what fashion you were supposed to walk through it (one circle to the left and one to the right, I think.) I'm guessing it was for luck in some area.

This is noted in my sketchbook as "the sketch of lies." There are many, many things wrong with the proportions! But, such is the glory of forgetting my camera: YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE.

Definitely my favorite sketch from Kamigamo, showing the capital (is it still called that in this case?) of one of pillars of the main gate. Very fancy, very beautiful. (And bless Prismacolors.)

A later weekend, when I walked back in the area behind Kiyomizudera and finally up Chawan Zaka (Teapot Lane) to visit it again (where I bought a fan! which I have not yet put on display.) This view is just great; I have a photo of it from 2009 that I am equally fond of. I sketched this underneath a gate roof while it was drizzling. (I went to Kodai-ji on the same excursion, and it was lovely, but the docents yelled [and by "yelled" I actually mean "reprimanded me ever so politely"] at me for sketching. So I stopped. Oops.)

And now the Paris sketches! This were the ones I was really thrilled to recover -- I had at least taken crappy photos of the sketches above, but I had no record whatsoever of these sketches.

Hotel de Ville! At the beginning of the summer there was this awesome installation there of these swirling mounds that, when you stood in EXACTLY the right spot, revealed themselves to be a sphere circumscribed on the ground. There were tons of pigeons, so I drew a single pigeon. I also edited out the French preteens on the benches.

This is a series of quick sketches I did at the Musée du quai Branly, which is the museum of non-Western art over by the Eiffel Tower (designed by Jean Nouvel and for which he won the Pritzker Prize.) I dunno. It's actually one of my least favorite museums ever, to tell the truth? The landscaping around it is really nice, but the layout inside is very confusing, and what I could understand of the texts presented a very . . . simplistic view of the art presented.  

This little statuette was much cooler-looking in real life. It was from the temporary exhibit on the Dogon culture in southern Mali (particularly the sculpture.) While sketching this was when I first realized that I could actually pass for a French person, because some guy commented to me in French as though he expected me to understand while I was drawing it.

More from the Dogon exhibit. I think the top object was a head-rest and the bottom one was a knife.

Still in the Musée du quai Branly, but in the regular exhibits. There were some very nice pieces, but compared to the British Museum or the Met or the MFA, the collection was lacking, I thought. Which seemed kind of weird to me, since those are all "comprehensive" museums mainly focused on Western art and this was an enormous building built expressively for this purpose.


Probably my favorite new museum this time was the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, and I regretted not returning there during one of our free Sundays. The lower floor was entirely taken up with plaster castings of famous monuments around France, but the upper floor had a lot of great contemporary exhibits on housing, modular architecture, etc.

My sketches from this museum are loose, but I liked them.

The Saint-Chapelle is the most awkwardly proportioned church EVER. (And not actually this lopsided.) Clearly built for the effect from the interior.)

There was a great display case showing a variety of truss shapes used in cathedrals; sadly, I drew one truss only.

I am DAMN proud of this sketch. I did it in only a little more than ten minutes (though sadly that meant that I wasn't listening super hard to the engineer who worked on it giving us a talk on the structure. Oops.) This is the passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Sengho, a pedestrian bridge that goes to all four banks -- the upper and lower Left and the upper and lower Right.

This is the last sketch in my recovered notebook, which I think is appropriate. I actually went back and re-did this one because I was so angry at losing it. Long live Notre Dame!

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