Thursday, October 29, 2009

A day in the Musee d'Orsay - tips on sketching

Sacré Cœur and the butte Montmartre from the roof terrace of the Musée d'Orsay
(aka the sketch I wish I'd done while I was there! - see below)

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On our second day in Paris I visited the Musée d'Orsay and the Sennelier shop at Quai Voltaire (on the Left Bank, opposite the Louvre). Click this link to see a Google map of the places I visited - also shown below.

View Musée d'Orsay in a larger map

You can read blog posts on my two other blogs about:
As you will see from the above posts you can take photographs and video the work in the Musée d'Orsay - within limits (see The Musée d'Orsay). You can see:
Feel free to leave a comment!

Sketching in the Musée d'Orsay

You can also copy works in the museum as follows. The museum makes a distinction between freehand drawing (including sketching) and people who want to set up an easel and copy paintings (by sight-size methods presumably).

An artist copying a painting in the Musée d'Orsay
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Freehand drawing
Freehand pencil sketches, not exceeding 30 x 60 cm, are allowed in the museum. However, for groups, previous authorisation must be requested when the booking is made.

Copying museum works of art, by professional or amateur copyists, or by art school students, requires an individual authorisation. This is issued to one named person, and for a single work. The request must be submitted at least one month before the required date of entry to the museum. The permission is valid for three months, and may not be extended.
The main issues for those wanting to sketch are as follows:
  • you can only to enter the museum with a handbag. So my sister's very large shoulder bag got in but my sketching backpack had to go in the cloakroom. I'd pared it right down so it wasn't in any way bulky as I've had this problem before but they were still adamant that all backpacks had to go in the cloakroom. (If I'd had a handbag inside the backpack I would have been able to take a basic kit in).
  • the museum can be incredibly busy in certain areas - which means a lot of potential 'visual interference' while sketching. Plus you need to get yourself set up somewhere where you aren't in the way of other people as otherwise you'll be jostled on a fairly frequent basis as people tend to look at the pictures rather than where they are going!
  • there aren't a lot of places to sit down. Fine if you can stand - but people like me who have a limit on standing still will have a problem. I also didn't see any sketching stools in use, nor did I see any store of them. You also won't be able to take in your own. (Has anybody ever used a museum sketching stool? If so, where did you get one)
I have to confess! This sketch the top of this post is a total cheat by me! It's the sketch I would have done from the roof terrace of the Musée d'Orsay - if I'd just had my backpack with me! Instead it was done back in London from a photo I took from the terrace.

The terrace is reached a door at the side of the cafe at the top of the building. The door to the terrace seems to be locked after summer is over. I've visited on a fine day at the end of October and was unable to get out on the terrace. However it was a fine warm day at the end of September when I visited. The door was unlocked while I sat eating lunch in the cafe and hordes of people immediately poured out and on to the terrace!

A visit to the Sennelier shop

Art shop review: Magasin Sennelier, Paris provides my perspective on the Sennelier shop I visited after leavingthe museum. I've also got a Flickr set of photos taken in the Sennelier shop.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Columbia Road Market on a Sunday morning

This is what I was doing last Sunday morning - sketching the people, plants and flowers around the stalls in Columbia Road Flower Market just off the Hackney Road, on the borders between Bethnal Green and Shoreditch.

Columbia Road Flower Market
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Every Sunday morning, at 4am a street market starts to be set up in Columbia Road. What's very special about this one is that it totally devoted to plants and flowers. The website has a page devoted to some of the Columbia Road Flower Market traders and what they sell.
Every Sunday for over the last 100 years an array of flower sellers have had pitches on both sides of columbia road. They are specialists in plants, bulbs, trees, herbs and flowers. It is a unique and amazing place and is cheerished by all who visit...
Flickr group - Columbia Road and Flower Market
Columbia Road is also lined with some interesting shops selling all sorts of things, many of them art and craft replated. This is a map which allows you to locate individual shops and galleries.

The shop exteriors are certainly more interesting than many seen in a modern shopping street - it's one of the few streets I know in Tower Hamlets which still has old shop fronts - complete with shutters. See their background on their Twitter page to see what I mean. Which means it's a great place to sketch even when there isn't a flower market!

The Columbia Road Shops and Flower Market also have a Flickr group - and I need to get my photos uploaded so I can join it!

I find it ironic that I am writing this post at a time when I'm also spending a vast amount of my time working on a representation to Tower Hamlets Council explaining why their ideas about development and regeneration don't accord with those of the local population in the area where I live. This particular market would have been obliterated if the Planners had got their way! Now it is famous all over the UK (it gets featured on television programmes) as being a wonderful place to buy good quality plants and flowers at very reasonable prices. People come from all over London to visit it - although it's not the easiest place to get to (how to get to Columbia Road)!
The whole area went into a decline in the 1970’s. Indeed demolition was mooted, but the locals fought back and the area and market were saved.

Since the 1980’s the market has grown into one of international repute. Today a wide range of unusual shops complement it, turning the whole area into one of the most interesting shopping experiences to be had anywhere.
History of Columbia Road
"A big armful of sunflowers for a fiver!"
(the constant refrain to this sketch while I stood next to the chap holding the bunch of sunflowers)
10" x 8", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've included a sketch where the coloured pencil work is less developed (mainly because this was a standing sketch and the disability in my feet dictates a strict limit on how long I can stand still).

This shows a bit more of the sort of pen and sepia ink structure which frequently underpins my sketches. I have two methods with pen and ink. One is mapping out the shapes and line design of a sketch - as in this one - and the other is a more definitive pen and ink sketch (as in my recent sketch Sunday afternoon in the Jardin des Plantes)

Tips for those wanting to sketch in Columbia Road Market
  • it's exceptionally crowded from when it opens to when it close; the bulk of visitors arrive in the morning.
  • sketching from either end gives you a view of the market without getting in people's way
  • standing inbetween stalls means you're out of the traffic flow either side of the stalls and should be OK so long as you don't take up permanent residence!
  • look for spots where a stall holder hasn't turned up where you sit on a stool without getting in anybody's way
  • make sure you leave space for people to get around you
  • try getting there very early or late when the crowds are thinner on the ground!
  • or visiting in the week when you can see the shp fronts more easily.
  • come with a big bag if visiting on a Sunday as you won't be able to resist either plants or flowers!
While being green and using public transport is a good thing, getting home with masses of flowers and/or a six foot banana tree can be really rather difficult. The good news is that there is now a new car park for 200 cars in Haggerston School playground off northside of Hackney Rd.

PS Sketches from my travels with a skdtchbook in France return soon - it's just I need to get a bit more work done on the content of the posts - including links to my videos!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Musée de l'Orangerie, Tuileries, Notre Dame and St Germain

On Monday morning, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and we set off to walk across the very centre of Paris so we could visit some of the places my niece wanted to see.

Here's our route (which seems to be misbehaving at the moment) - I said we walked a lot ! This is a link to a larger version of this map (where you can see the route!) of where we went - starting at the Place de La Concorde and finishing up at the Boulevard St Germain.

View Place de la Concorde to Saint Germain in a larger map

After getting a good look at the Place de la Concorde and the view down the Tuileries in the morning haze, we started with the Musée de l'Orangerie. This is where Monet's famous large panels of waterlilies are located in two oval shaped rooms which were specially built to house them. You can read more about them in Gardens in Art: Monet's final Nympheas.

The Clouds by Claude Monet
200 x 1275 cm, (three adjoining panels 200 x 425 cm)
Salle 1, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I wrote about our visit yesterday on Making A Mark - see Monet's Nympheas in the Musée de l'Orangerie

You can also view a video of what it was like to be in the two rooms viewing the Grand Decorations on my YouTube channel. I've also got two slightly different slideshows - which provides close-ups of the brushwork and way he painted - which you can view either on Flickr or YouTube

After the waterlilies we visited the paintings collected by Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume

I'm skipping fast through the rest of the day because if I don't I'll never complete it. (I'm completely inundated this week with trying to prevent my council ruining my neighbourhood with some thoughtless proposals!)

I should also explain that I'm very bad at sketching when I first get to a place in terms of the wide open spaces and big buildings. Small stuff - what's on my plate - I can cope with (hence what I sketched on Sunday). However big urban scenes need some time for my eyes to accommodate the different visual language of my surroundings. Even the parks and gardens look different in Paris. However for those of you who would like to go on a virtual journey I can provide you with sets of Photos on Flickr which I'll be linking to in my bullet point highlights below.
Two ladies in the Tuileries
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • After lunch we walked through the Gardens towards the Louvre. We decided that the practice of having very comfortable but movable metal chairs in the parks was an admirable practice. Mostly because it enabled you to sit where you wanted to rather than where the park planners wanted you to.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is at the easternmost end of the so-called Axe historique ("grand historic axis") of Paris, a nine-kilometre-long linear route which dominates central and western Paris. Looking west, the arch is perfectly aligned with the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe and (although it is not directly visible from the Place du Carrousel) the Grande Arche de la Defense.
Wikipedia - Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
  • past the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and into the coutyards of the Palais du Louvre with its glass pyramid main entrance to the Louvre Museum (of which more in later posts). I stopped to do a video which you can see here Panorama: Louvre and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. For those who have not visited Paris, bear in mind this video only shows the exterior of about half of the Louvre - which sort of explains why people can get lost in it and you can spend days in there and still not see everything! (I'm interested as to whether my filming is improving!)
  • then through the next courtyard of the Louvre and out on to the road that runs alongside the River Seine. We dropped down to the riverside but discovered you can't walk along it in the same way as you can walk alongside the Thames in London
  • over the Pont Neuf, the "new bridge" that is now the oldest bridge in Paris and on to the Île de la Cité - the larger of the two islands island between the left (south) and right (north) banks of the River Seine
  • we then had a debate as to whether to queue for Saint Chapelle and decided to go and see Notre Dame first and then return and see whether the queues had improved. This is my Flickr set for Notre Dame de Paris. I'd been reading about the carvings on the west front and took rather a lot of photos! Notre Dame also started a bit of a Joan of Arc trail we followed across France.
  • Back outside Saint Chapelle the queues were exactly the same - was it ever thus! At which point I rememberd that I've always seen it first thing in the morning! I'd already decided that my feet were not going to hold out if I shuffled in a queue. So as I've seen it twice before (and it is STUNNING!) I decided to join Parisian cafe society and wait over the road at the Les Deux Palais where I sketched what looked like important men in grey suits in the later afternoon and sipped a Citron pressé (no sugar!)
Cafe society at the Brasserie Les Deux Palais
11.5 x 8.5, pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • after which we walked over the river to the left bank and in to the Latin Quarter of the sixth arondissement.
  • Time for a little shopping followed by dinner at the Relais de l'Entrecôte Saint Germain - that's entrecote, frites and the famous 'green gold' sauce! By this time I was too tired to sketch plus although I got my sketchbook it out the service was too fast!
Addicts of a "mythic entrecote", "crip, hot frites" and "secret-magic sauce" "stand in line" (no reservations taken) and sit "on top of each other" at these "outstanding" steakhouse "staples" in Saint-Germain and near the Champs; when ordering from the "friendly but no-nosense servers","rare", medium or well done are the only words you need to know" because the "reasonably priced" beef’s the only game in town here; but "when they have perfected this so well, why serve anything else?"
Zagat Survey
Then back to the hotel via Metro -
Châtelet where I really could have done without the massive underground hike to change lines - and so to bed to read my new book about Monet's Nympheas!

Sketchercise: probably about 4+ miles altogether with more exercise than sketching!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Petit déjeuner @ Dolce e Amaro

I don't like conversation at breakfast time so we took breakfast separately each morning. I found a delightful Italian cafe called Dolce e Amaro in the Rue Bourdaloue just around the corner from the hotel and right next to the entrance to the Notre Dame de Lorette Metro station. Lovely people and a peaceful breakfast. A petit déjeuner of a hot drink (Earl Grey tea), orange juice and a croissant was €4.50 - which was cheaper than the cafe opposite Hotel France Albion where I was staying. They also do very nice filled Italian breads for lunch.

The view of the Rue de Châteaudun and Notre Dame de Lorette Metro from my stool in Dolce e Amaro
8" x 10", pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Naturally I took my sketchbook with me
  • on Monday I sketched the view from my stool - a contre jour view looking out the door to people making their way to work
  • on Tuesday I sketched my breakfast
petit déjeuner
8" x 10", pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • and on Wednesday I sketched the arrangement of confiture on the top of the counter
Les Confitures
8" x 10", pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I also had to pass this boulangerie on my way to it each morning. One of the things about groing to France is seeing proper 'baked on the premises' bread shops again. They've virtually disappeared in the UK.

  • Dolce e Amaro, 1 Rue Bourdaloue, 75009 Paris, France (+33 1 48 74 3188)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sunday afternoon in the Jardin des Plantes

Après repas, dimanche (Jardin des Plantes) - 27th September (pm)
8.5" x 11.5", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I wanted to see the Jardin des Plantes which is the botanical garden in Paris. So after Sunday lunch my sister and niece headed off to see some of the landmarks of Paris while I journied east of the Latin Quarter to the Jardin des Plantes.

En route I spotted the Grand Mosque in Paris just as a lot of people of North African origin were arriving in their best 'going to mosque' clothes - which made for a very colourful scene. However not one which I felt was appropriate for sketching given Islamic thinking about the portrayal of people.
Minaret of the Grand Mosque, Paris

I'm maybe spoilt by having the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew for my local botanical garden but I couldn't help thinking that the Jardin des Plantes wasn't a patch on Kew. There again I guess a very large number of botanical gardens would struggle to compete with Kew!

It did have a nice little potager and I loved the walks under the trees which seem to be a required feature of all the parks and gardens in Paris. The white (limestone?) shale covering of the ground makes for magical shadows!

Views of the Jardin des Plantes
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The flowers and other areas of planting were somewhat less impressive - although as Laura (Laurelines) predicted there were lots of dahlias around. However I kept reminding myself it was very much the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. That said, when I got to Villandry later in the trip I saw an incredibly impressive French garden and what can be achieved with a bit of effort!

One of the things I like about sketching is that you get to meet nice people!

I sat on one of the seats under the trees and looked round for something to sketch. I spotted some people sat opposite me who seemed to be dozing and decided to limber up by seeing how far I could get before they woke up. Little did I know that they had spotted me sketching them!

One of the gentleman came over to look and turned out to be English - so naturally everybody then came to have a look at the sketch. What was very funny was that both couples had been on the same Eurostar train as me and, just like me, were experiencing that dozy feeling in the middle of the afternoon when you've got up at 5.00am to catch your train! Having spotted me sketching them they decided not to move until I'd finished! It's not often I get such cooperative models! ;) The general consensus seemed to be that anybody knowing them would immediately recognise them from the sketch - despite the fact the sketches are about posture rather than faces!

It turned out that two years previously they had rented a boat for accommodation when the 2007 Rugby World Cup was held in France and had moored it on the Seine not far away. They had used the Jardin des Plantes as their local garden! This time they were back to celebrate a significant birthday.

So Jock and Jenny - here's your sketch and a larger copy of the original is about to be emailed to you!

The afternoon was very warm and I made the mistake of forgetting to carry enough water with me. So before leaving I stopped at the cafe in the grounds and had a very expensive bottle of water. However I did get to sit down and sketch a super active dog at a nearby table which I thought might be a pug but I'm now inclined to think he was actually a French bulldog.

These very quick sketches took as long as it takes to drink a demi-bouteille!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eating international in Paris

Tapas at La Family Restaurant, 20 Rue des Martyrs, Paris
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We didn't get off to a good start with French food on our first day in Paris - but that was partly because it was a Sunday.

After we had left our luggage at the hotel, we walked up through the Sunday morning food market in the Rue des Martyrs - and I admired and photographed lots of the food as we walked. Thinking all the time that one of the huge bonuses of a holiday in France is the French food!

pasta, chanterelles and plums in the Rue des Martyrs, Paris
photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

However when we spotted a restaurant that we liked the look of we also discovered that their particular theme was international food - or as they put it "Le restaurant des cuisines du monde".
Côté cuisine, toutes les recettes et les pâtes sont faites maison à partir de produits frais, naturels et de qualité, favorisant l’agriculture raisonnée voire biologique.
What I liked was its emphasis on natural fresh and responsibly sourced food and what my niece liked was that it had a good range of pasta and noodle dishes - so with a hungry fifteeen year old to feed in we went!

I got stuck into sketching as soon as we had ordered. The sketch below was done during lunch as we sat near the window and ate our Pad Thai. Note the doggy participant! My sister (the dog owner) was amazed at dogs we kept coming across in restauarants in Paris. This particular one was sat outside beyond the huge open window doors. I got about 10% of my sister into this sketch!
Thaïlande - Pad Thaï 14
Noodles sautées au poulet et aux crevettes, Thaï chili pepper, pousses de soja, citronnelle, cacahuètes pilées et nuöc màm.
Dog and people watching at La Family Restaurant, 20 Rue des Martyrs,
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Another bonus of this restaurant (for anybody familiar with trying to eat in France on a Sunday evening) is that it is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (midi 12:00-15.00; soir: 19.30-23.00). Which explains why we were back there again in the evening for our second meal! We did look for an alternative - honest! Being a couple of minutes walk from the hotel also swayed in its favour.

The sketch at the top of this post was done that evening when I tried the La Planche de 6 Tapas.

Seriously it's a great little restaurant if you like places which lean towards organic and it can also be found in three other locations in Paris (addresses on the website).


Travelling to Paris

Last time I tried to catch an early morning Eurostar I managed to oversleep and leave myself with just 35 minutes to get from bed to the platform!

This time - with two alarm clocks and an early morning wake-up call - I managed to get up at the right time to catch the train to Paris and everything was going swimmingly...........until we were locking the door and I realised I couldn't find the car key for "he who must not be bored while I sketch" ! You can imagine what happened next. Suffice to say key was found in a "really safe place" - in my purse - and I was driven to St Pancras International Station in recovery mode - heaving huge sighs of relief.

My trip companions

My trip to France is with my sister and niece and the itinerary in terms of places has been largely devised by my niece. They're going to remain nameless as they're not huge fans of being online - just like 'must not be bored'. I'm going to have to come up with 'names' for them or else they'll end up being called sister and niece throughout all the posts!

The journey

We caught the 7.52am Eurostar from St Pancras International Station to Paris Gare du Nord. Neither sister nor niece were enthusiastic about tunnels under the channel but the combination of time and money saved proved to be a considerable incentive - hence why we were on the Eurostar and why they spent a great deal of the journey with their eyes shut. Getting up very early might also have been a factor!

It did mean that I got to chat with a very nice couple who got on at Ebbsfleet in Kent who were on their way to the south of France to meet up with their son who has a very interesting job as skipper of the The Who's classic sailing yacht! Who knew Pete Townshend was a big fan of yachts and yachting?

Early morning balloons in Northern France (27th September 2009 10.15am)
pen and coloured pencils
in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrel

I did another one of my composite sketches of northern France from the train - flat, fields of different colours interspered with trees. However this time the sketch gained an additional feature - low flying balloons!

I also sat there trying to work out how to twitter with my mobile phone which I've not done before.

Paris Gare du Nord makes for a bit of a contrast with the shiny new and gleaming St Pancras. The main difference being that Gare du Nord is the busiest station in Europe. Once you get off the Eurostar platform you are confronted with 'stuff' and signs everywhere. I don't think I've ever seen a more cluttered station in visual terms.

We walked 15 minutes (downhill) to our hotel - the Hotel France Albion - which I can recommend. Although only 2 stars it was satisfactory and competitively priced for its location relative to central Paris. That said the twin room occupied by my sister and niece was small - but then that's the common theme to Paris hotel rooms!

It made a particularly good base for exploring Paris as it's a very short walk to two metro stations (Line 7 (pink): Le Peletier and Line 12 (green): Notre Dame de Lorette) which both gave easy access to key destinations in central Paris. I also liked that it was in a 'normal' non touristy district.

Postscript: The really odd bit of all this was I loaned "must not be bored" an anorak which I haven't worn for ages - and while I was away he found my second car key (which has also been officially 'lost' for ages) in the pocket. Weird or what?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Travels with a sketchbook in France (2009)

I've done long trips before and know that it's difficult enough trying to fit in all I'd like to see and do without taking time out to post what I'm up to - even if I could! I've tried to resolve that problem this year by
  • posting about where I was going before I went.
  • Plus today I'm starting my sequence of posts about what I actually did on my recent trip to northern France.
I always start my record of my trips with a summary of the posts I'm expecting to do about my travels with a sketchbook (and camera). It keeps me organised and helps me to avoid missing anything out. Plus I get to work out how many sketches I need to scan! I'll insert the hyperlinks to the blog post titles and hyperlinks in this summary as I post them and this post will go in the summary of trips in the side column for easy reference.

I'm also going to be posting photos and videos to my Flickr account - so you might want to keep an eye on France - which is going to be the home of those photos and videos from the trip which i publish for people to see.

This was my actual itinerary in Paris, Normandy and the valley of the Rivers Loire and Cher.

Sunday 27th September
- there are going to be three small posts

Monday 28th September - two posts
Tuesday 29th September - two posts
  • A day in the Musee d'Orsay. No sketches because this time I actually had a camera which took decent photos but didn't flash indoors which gave me the opportunity to record masses of paintings on my camera - so long as I didn't flash(!) and I spent the whole day here - apart from a quick trip to the Sennelier shop!
  • Dining out in Paris - Montmartre and Saint-Germain-des-Pres - Two sketches from dinners in Montmartre (Tuesday) and the Latin Quarter (Wednesday) plus photos.
Wednesday 30th September - Another day spent in a museum. This time it was A Day in the Musée du Louvre followed by a walk through the Jardin du Palais Royal. I've got two sketches of self portraits by Rembrandt two sketches of people taking a break.

The Water Garden, Giverny
11.5" x 17", coloured pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Thursday 1st October - Off to Normandy in our hire car. First stop Giverny (one sketch of The Water Garden at Giverny, masses of photos and a video of walking around the water garden); next stop overnight in Rouen. (See also The garden behind the paintings - Giverny on Making A Mark)

Friday 2nd October - Two sketches of Rouen Cathedral - at midnight and break of day. Both were done from my hotel bed (right next to the cathedral)! See Sketching Rouen Cathedral - from my hotel bed!

Plus a sketch of the Auberge du Terroir, Servon (near Mont St Michel) where we had the best restaurant meal of the trip.

Saturday 3rd October - a sketch of Petit déjeuner at the Château de Boucéel followed by a sketch of Le Mont-Saint-Michel (done from the back seat of the car in the car park!)

Sunday 4th October - lots of laundry and settling in - plus a sketch of the view from the dining room in our cottage at Chateau du Plessis and a visit to Ronell and her atelier in Montlouis-sur Loire

Monday 5th October - a visit to Château d'Azay-le-Rideau and two sketches of the gardens at Château de Villandry

Tuesday 6th October
- a visit to Chinon and a sketch of people lunching in the sunshine under the trees in the town square in Dejeuner sous l'arbres. Followed by a visit to The Château d'Ussé which is the castle which apparently inspired Perrault's tale La Belle au Bois dormant (maybe better known as Sleeping Beauty)

Wednesday 7th October - a visit to market and medieval part of Tours in the morning, sketching over lunch with fellow Sketcherciser and Watermarks member Ronell van Wyk and another sketch of the chateau garden. You can already read about Ronell's post about this on her blog in Katherine in Touraine

Thursday 8th October - a sketch of the Château de Chenonceau

Friday 9th October - we travelled back to Paris, dropped off the car, my sister and niece headed off to L'aeroport Charles de Gaulle and I took the metro to La Mouette to visit the
Musée Marmottan. Two sketches of Monet paintings of the water garden and one sketch while having a quick snack before boarding the Eurostar to come back to London - to be met by "he who must not be bored while I sketch"!

I'd just like to record before I get started that I actually finished the trip weighing less than when I went. Which means that Sketchercise very definitely works! I relaxed the diet just a little bit (odd glass of wine and a bit of cheese now and again) but did lots of walking as well as sketching.

So - I better get started!
Sketches will be posted to accompany this post as I get them scanned. You can also see a gallery of all the sketches in France in Katherine Tyrrell travels with a sketchbook in France on my portfolio website.

Friday, October 09, 2009

9th October - the end of the Grand Tour!

Today we'll be leaving Tours and the Loire Valley to begin the journey home.

I'm not sure whether or not we'll have time for any sightseeing en route - but I'll be travelling with my sketchbook to hand!

We're driving north initially alongside the River Loire to Paris via Orleans to leave the car at the Gare du Nord.

My sister and niece will then catch the metro out to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) for their journey home.

I'm anticipating I'll have a little time for a last look round Paris - or maybe a nice dinner before I catch the 8.00pm Eurostar back to London
Tip: If using the Eurostar do inspect the prices for different times of day. By leaving a little later in the day you can save an awful lot of money!

For those of you following my journey I hope you've enjoyed a virtual tour. When I get home I've got to go and log on and see how many comments I need to moderate!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

8th October - Azay le Rideau and Chinon

The last two chateaux we're likely to be visiting are the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau and the fortress of Chinon

château on the Indre and the Loire.
Here you arrive at one of the most beautiful gems of the Renaissance. Built under the reign of King François I, the Château of Azay-le-Rideau stands out in its watery setting, encircled by the Indre River, in which its beautiful facades are reflected. The Château is also surrounded by a park forming a screen of greenery around it.

As to its architecture, Azay-le-Rideau offers the classic example of how Italian Renaissance influences were adapted to French styles. The grand staircase by itself is considered a masterpiece of design and construction.
Azay-le-rideau website

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

7th October - Villandry

The Château de Villandry is renowned for its gardens. Completed around 1536, it was the last large chateau to be built in the Loire Valley during the Renaissance.

You can:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

6th October: Château de Chenonceau

We will be visiting the Château de Chenonceau. It has a quite stunning design and location!

You can:
I'm hoping to get the opportunity to do a sketch - but I rather suspect there will be an awful lot to see!

Monday, October 05, 2009

5th October: Tours

I've run out of time for blog posts so the rest of these - relating to our stay in the Loire Valley are going to be very brief.

We're staying north of Tours which is the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department of central France.

It gives it name to the Touraine - the region around Tours - which is well known for its wines. I feel a visit to a vineyard at some point might be a good idea.

It has an interesting claim to fame!
The inhabitants of Tours (Les Tourangeaux) are renowned for speaking the "purest" form of French in the entire country. The pronunciation of Touraine is widely regarded as the most standard pronunciation of the French language, devoid of any perceived accent (unlike that of most other regions of France, including Paris).
Wikipedia - Tours
You canpractice your French by taking a look at the official Tours website!

Or maybe just read the English version!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

4th October: Meeting up with Ronell

I'm hoping that this morning we can meet up with fellow Sketcherciser and Watermarks member Ronell van Wyk.

You may know Ronell from her popular blogs African Tapestry, My French Kitchen and more recently Coin perdu, a mountain home.

This means of course that I also get to see Ronell's french kitchen, her pantry, her herb garden and her atelier in Montlouis-sur Loire just outside Tours.

Ronell's kitchen
My French kitchen

Ronell is promising to give us tips on what to do and see while we're in the Loire Valley - although my niece already has a schedule of what she wants to see of which more later this week. I think we're hoping to get a sketching trip organised plus I'm hoping we might be able to taste some of the food which looks absolutely delicious on Ronell's blog.

I think, given our status as two Sketchercisers and Watermarks bloggers there may be a good chance that take a brisk walk up the River Loire and then sketch it!

However you're more likely to see what happens next if you visit her blogs!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

3rd October: Mont St. Michel

A view of Mont St Michel - aerial photo
Source: Uwe Küchler and Wikipedia

Today is our third day in Normandy in northern France.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel
is a rocky island off the coast of Normandy connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land which used to be covered at high tide. A Romanesque Abbey sits on top of the 'Mont'.

It has an interesting story and an amazing history which you can read about on:
I think we'll probably be visiting Mont St Michel again in the morning.

In the afternoon we'll travel 156 miles through Britanny - via Fougères and Laval - to just north of Tours.

We're going to be staying in a self-catering cottage at Chateau du Plessis which we'll use as a vase for seeing various chateaux in the Loire Valley.

Just got to work out where and when we buy breakfast for tomorrow!

Friday, October 02, 2009

2nd October: Rouen and Normandy

Three of the paintings of Rouen Cathedral by Monet
(images from The Atheneaum)

This morning I wake up in Rouen and with a bit of luck, look out my hotel window and see the facade of Rouen Cathedral - that I'd last seen in Monet's paintings in the Musee d'Orsay (see post re 28th September)

Rousen is famous for:
I'm actually planning on getting up early so that I can spend some sketching Rouen Cathedral. However I'm very mindful of the fact that Monet found that painting the cathedral's facade was extremely difficult.

We're staying right opposite the cathedral in the Cardinal Hotel at 1, Place de la Cathédrale and if I'm really lucky I may be able to do all my sketches from my room! I do know that Monet took rooms opposite the cathdral while he was painting in Rouen.

This morning we motor down through Normandy our next overnight stop at the Château de Boucéel so that we can visit to Mont St Michel.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

1st October - Visiting Giverny

Couleurs de Septembre
16.5" x 14.5", Pastel on Rembrandt pastel board (NFS)

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Today we're picking up a car from the Gare du Nord and driving to Giverny.

The aim is to visit the Foundation Claud Monet which is where you can see Monet's house, his enormous water lily studio, the Clos Normand (the flower garden) and the water garden, the Japanese Bridge and the Japanese Prints. I first saw the house and garden after a morning spent in the Musée de l’Orangerie viewing the huge panels of waterlilies which were of course based on paintings of his water garden - and it's in certainly in my top tend of best days ever!

There are some posts I've written over on Making A Mark are relevant - see
Giverny is also the place where Monet painted his series paintings of stacks of wheat which I wrote about in October last year on Making a Mark.

Fortunately I constructed a list of links about Giverny and visiting Giverny two years ago when I was doing my Gardens in Art project on Making A Mark..
Links to information about Giverny include:
Making A Mark (04.09.07) - Gardens in Art continues - with Monet
Giverny - a great garden is the site I created as home to information about the garden.

I'm hoping we will also get to visit the The Musée d'Art Américain in Giverny. It's open from April 1st to October 31, 2008 every day except Monday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Then on to Rouen and the cathedral there which Monet painted several times (see a photo of some of these paintings in the Musee D'Orsay in Monday's post). Read about the paintings in the post I did on Making A Mark - Monet's series paintings - Rouen cathedral