mercredi 27 février 2013

dimanche 24 avril 2011

Bar du Marché, pt. 3

Bikers. Spotted @ Bar du Marché on a different day. It was not uncommon to see a group of men grab a few tables and sit for a long stretch, enjoying a drink and what looked like intricate conversation. Often multi-generational. Fathers, sons, nephews, etc. Or just bikers on a break.
You don't see that much over here, do you? Seems like over here, any group of adult males spotted congregating at a coffe shop/café are either having a business meeting, or a bible study. Seriously! I see bible study gatherings, men in bike shorts who've just worked out together, men on their lunch break taking group sustenance. We American men need a purpose-driven reason to gather. No whiling away the hours with idle chit-chat for us. This ain't some kinda socialist country!
(The real meanings behind "socialism"--having the time to be social?)

I could be wrong about this.  But that's how these man-gabs always struck me in Paris.

Sometimes the group looked shady, and the business questionable. But that might just be my own...projection.

Shady or not, often it seemed familial.

We're less reliant on public spaces for our own, American get-togethers. In our own families, I guess we see plenty of ourselves, our friends, when they come over to watch, say...Kings vs. Sharks!

mercredi 20 avril 2011

Bar du Marché, pt. 2

When I returned to Paris a few years after our long stay, I was surprised to see that the Bar du Marché had hired a new, almost Chaplin-esque waiter--and he was Chinese. He's the one you see here. I'll put up some more studies of him.

I loved this guy.

Winter was coming on the day I drew these. When he wasn't running the tables, he kept his hand inside his overalls.

Unfortunately I didn't get either of his co-workers into the big drawing--they were big strapping lads the ladies could swoon over. Total opposites of this guy.

It's still rare to see non-white faces working as waiters at any of the middle echelon restaurants, (though diversity continues to improve in just the few years since we first arrived).

In his over-sized cap and baggy overalls, he definitely looked ready to star in a Mack Sennet comedy!

UPDATE: The staff here at Brush Pen Paris screwed up--this post has been up for nearly a week sans artwork. Oof!

Heads will roll.

In the meantime, here's an extra shot of our hero (we won't call him a little tramp...).

mardi 19 avril 2011

Bar du Marché

Here's the view from my favorite place to sit and draw in Paris.

Just off the Boulevard St. Gérmain sits a cozy and inexpensive café called Paul. It's a not very hip chain bakery/café where we loved to eat. The staff got to know us and after a while became very protective. I could sit and draw all day.

Across the street was the still touristy but much hipper Bar du Marché. The Marché made all their wait staff (all male) dress in overalls and wear a puffy cap meant to evoke workers or artistes of the neighborhood circa 1900. Either that, or they were huge fans of Dexy's Midnight Runners. Most of the guys were very hunk-y, and it was funny to watch them work the crowd that would inevitably flock to their outdoor tables. But notice the waiter here--I'll have to tell you about him in the next post. He was like a Chinese Charlie Chaplin.

This drawing was started over there, finished back home as a gift for our friend Tara. If you look down the street, you can see the angled roof line of the Institute de France. This is where Dear Wife spent most of her days researching her dissertation.

samedi 16 avril 2011

Closerie des Lilas, pt. 3

A final collection of source sketches. See if you can match the faces.

Here is my "key" drawing--it's just the briefest sketch of the room. You can see the blonde girl and her two interlocutors. Very sketchy.
There was this bartender and a bigger guy--I combined the two. I like the Mike Hammer look of him in the final. Like he's about to pound the leering man, who you can see here in a less covetous pose.

But I see these original pages, and I wish I could have fit double the amount of people in the final! So many characters....

When I got around to concocting the big image, I realized I needed more details of the room, so I hunted down a few pix from the internets. But they were very lo-res and rudimentary--which is probably all to the good. Made me rely on my memory, and the "feel" the room left with me.
p.s. I hope it is noted that I stole no faces or poses from the above photo least, I don't think.

vendredi 15 avril 2011

Closerie des Lilas, pt. 2

Another section and its antecedent sketch. I wished I could have fit the glamorously windswept lady into the final. When out drawing from life, you only get the briefest glimpse of these people--I sketched half of them while they paused before the maitre d'. If an interesting pose is struck, I try to take a mental snapshot, but it's tricky.

The conversing couple were seated just across the banquette from me, and here I had the opposite problem drawing them: not letting them see me staring at them. They were one of the first things I drew in this, (they're a little tight, but not as much as the two older men from the last post--the Donald Sutherland-ish guy was the first character I drew, the maitre d' talking to him the second--and beside them, the Velasquez-cum-Reubenesque girl was the very last! I don't know if that shows much improvement!).

In the case of the conversing couple, I think the final ink is a big improvement over the sketch--it really captures their vibe. In the sketch the man seems a bit serious, a bit disengaged, and the woman has a kind of polite interest--whereas in reality he was really on the make, and she looked like someone who'd spent all of her life comfortably plain and unnoticed, and had now decided, at age 35-45, she was ready for male attention. An interesting wrinkle was that she  projected the air of real money; and this is what seemed to fire her suitor's interest. Now I'm not a cynical man! But this guy, who looked every inch the aging gigolo, had fixed her with a kind of ruthless focus that she seemed both entertained by, and drawn to. Like she wasn't sure whether she'd give in, or just enjoy him from a safe distance. Like she thought of the evening primarily as a way of getting used to being the object of intense male attention.

Very compelling scene!

The ink may not be as compelling as that, but I think it captures a teeny bit of the suspense.

I loved that narrow-eyed fellow on the right in the sketch; he makes a veiled appearance in the left side of the big ink, but I'm really disappointed that I didn't get his whole face into it--I loved his swarthy suspicion, and tried to get it across showing just his eyes, but it doesn't quite come off. Also, you can see the "artiste" in the lower part of the sketch, with his peasant's blouson, his black vest and tightly braided pony-tail. I wanted a more frontal view of him in the final. He had a great Diego Rivera look, but I didn't get enough of that in the final. I want to go back into Photoshop and rearrange his features....


mercredi 13 avril 2011

Closerie des Lilas, pt. 1

Click on the pic to see its BIGNESS
On my last night in Paris I took a small sketchbook and pencil to the Closerie des Lilas. The Closerie is a romantic/slightly sleazy old bar/restaurant made famous by Hemingway and his ilk during the '20's. He wrote most of the Sun Also Rises on the Closerie's terrace...the Closerie's closerie, (originally an enclosed garden that bordered a house).

The restaurant's closerie roots live on in the large dining room, (not pictured here), which is situated beneath a slanting greenhouse glass. This drawing is of the bar area, where a vibrant crush takes place on a busy Saturday night. This captures a moment at about 1/3 crush capacity, when hopeful diners are just beginning to congregate, waiting for their tables. Back in the Lost Generation's day it was a not very fancy place, but now it's fancier--tho' not really fancy by fancy restaurant standards. And it's raucous. I took a little table in the dim and with my purple pencil tried to capture as much as quickly as I could.

Now I've gone back and knitted together a bunch of these likeness into a large composition. I tried to get a much more finished drawing than my typical, from-the-hip, captured-from-life brushpen sketches--but without losing the brushpen spontaneity. I learned it's not an easy mix! As you can see, my method is still under development.

Here's a sample of a sketch made from life...

And those same faces in the finished composition (just a small section of a larger piece). I'm esp'ly bummed that the Donald Sutherland-ish man on the left, and the almost Velasquez-esque girl on the right fail in the finished drawing to capture their sketch-essence, (the poor girl went from Velasquez-esque to Reubenesque).

Reproduce: that's the tricky part.

I find it much easier to look at a stranger and make a very quick sketch than to redraw that same likeness a second time without the stranger.

Tho' I'm disappointed with these particular faces, my goal with this piece wasn't individual likenesses, it was linking a bunch of separate sketches into one big cohesive scene.

Oh well, it's a process!