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!



  1. Terrific sketch of the snoozers, Katherine and what a cute encounter story.

  2. Great sketches and story - the little bulldog is excellent. How very nice of the tired travellers to keep their pose for you!

  3. I've waited and waited to share this trip with you, Katherine, and now the fun begins...Wasn't that thoughtful of the snoozers to keep still for you, and then turn out to be such fun folks to know. Living out of a boat and enjoying the city nearby, as they once did, is my idea of heaven. But here you make a special effort to draw people in a way that gives them anonymity, and they recognized themselves. :) It is indeed a memory picture to treasure.


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