A blaze of juicy colors at Les Folies Bergère in Paris

SBS Juicy ColorsI am teaching a klass at Sketchbook Skool, a really great online drawing University with a Fakulty of outstanding teachers, I’m really proud to be part of. There is also a huge crowd of amazing students who produces an never ending flow of great pieces of art, even among beginners. I love it so much that I am also following the Bootcamp track just for the sake of it, with 3 quick demos and homeworks a week.

But let’s be honest, sometimes there are assignments you feel less inspired by. That was what I thought, looking at the Juicy colors demo from Koosje Koene. Not that I did not like it. On the contrary, I was fascinated by the vibrant process and its colorful result. No, I think it came right back from my childhood. As a matter in fact, I am not comfortable doing large color spots on a sheet of paper. It reminds me of awful times at primary school where my teacher used to yell at me each time I was doing an ink blot (I can even recall the smell of this wonderful purple ink) in my school notebook.
Plus I’m a kind of guy who loves to be in control of his drawing and therefore don’t feel comfortable with blots or colors deciding by themselves of their destiny. And last but not least, I wasn’t satisfied with my last so-so drawing on “making money” – though it was a very clever one brought by my friend Danny Gregory (also cofounder of Sketchbook Skool) – and I was afraid of having one more lousy drawing in my sketchbook.
But, by joining the kourse I made an initial commitment of tackling every assignment, whether I feel inspired or not, because I found out that, sometimes, wonderful things can pop up out of an assignment you don’t feel at ease with, simply because you’re pushed out of your comfort zone.
And finally, I also wanted to be sure ‘d’en avoir pour mon argent’ …I mean…get value for my money even though Bootkamp is a free lunch (Btw TINSTAAFL).

So I was ruminating for the past 48 hours on what I could draw for this assignment…until lunchtime yesterday.
I was having lunch with my wife, in what we call in French a ‘boui-boui’, a little shabby bar where to shelter illicit love. Oh Yes… I must add I have made up my mind long time ago to also select my wife as my mistress, mostly because I was said it was the best solution to avoid family affairs.
So we were having a clandestine rendezvous in that boui-boui to discuss private highly important matters, like scrutinizing our sons’ last marks at school in order to define our evening strategy… when… I suddenly I saw it !
My drawing assignment …
It was standing right in front of me…
The rain that was falling for the past 24 hours has suddenly stopped. The dark clouds parted to let a ray of light illuminate the facade of the building in front of me, a wonderfully refurbished theater with a pure Art deco architecture, les Folies Bergère.
I was contemplating with fever the central motif bathed in a golden sunlight.
There it was… my juicy SBS assignment, right in front of me in its vibrant blaze of joyful colors.
– “Jean-Christophe, Are You listening to me?” asked my wife.
Holy Ghost! Why do women always picked up the worst moment to ask embarrassing questions ?
I smiled and dishonestly answered ‘Yes!’
– “And what did I just asked you” she smirked ?
I smiled again, like a shameful naughty boy trapped with his hand in the jam pot.
– “Huuu…Yes… I mean Yes I agree with you. As always !”
-Oh No ! She answered. You’re still lost somewhere in one of your drawings. Anyway, we’ll finish this conversation later. Time for me to go! Next business appointment in 10mn ! Talk to you soon and give my Bonjour to your SBS friends, she growled !!!
She just left. Let’s be cynic and say the timing was a perfect one for me! I still had half an hour before my next meeting, far enough to tackle this delightful colored silhouette dancing amongst geometrical patterns. I pulled out my sketchbook and my Pelikan fountain pen. I draw feverishly for 30 mn, botched my afternoon appointments ‘en moins de temps qu’il ne faut pour le dire’ (in less time than it takes to say it) and rushed back home.
I then took my small Winsor & Newton watercolor, melted Aureoline, Yellow Cadmium and Carmine. I reminded having seen, long time ago, Ralph Steadman drawing in a TV documentary, swinging like a conductor in a Wagner Opera, sending blots on his sheet of paper.
So, I tried to mimic him, swinging violently huge sets of color blots for the next twenty minutes. I stopped only when my paper started to look like a psychedelic leopard fur….
…And so was my whole desk, the carpet of my living room and my white shirt. ☹
But I was happy to have ventured out of my comfort zone.

Clermont-Ferrand as seen by Parisianers

Clermont Basilique ND du PortFrance is a very centralized country, where people living in Paris (like me) have a strong tendency to think their town is the world center, when other places like Clermont-Ferrand are no more than a..holes of the world, filled with ‘culs terreux’ (I’m pretty sure you can get the meaning of this not-that-delightful french expression).

Actually, there is some truth beneath: you can’t really go to Clermont-Ferrand by chance. If you’re there, it’s probably because you came to strike a deal with Michelin,you work for Banque de France or more probably you’ve simply lost your way in the middle of nowhere.

Now you get one more reason to go there: attend the Carnet de Voyage yearly meet-up. And it’s a very good thing, because this place is not exactly filled with ‘ploucs’.
This is where our ancestors ‘Les Gaulois’ took their roots and it is aa area that deserved to be better known. It is delightfully nested below the old chain of French vulcanoes (Puys) and has incredible hidden treasures, like this wonderful Roman Basilica.

And, oh yes… surprisingly, they even have wifi in the hotels for posting.
Arrogant ? Who said Parisianers are arrogant ?

I should say London is in black and reds

London 001In a former post, i said i liked the idea that a town could be synthesized into a very limited set of tones, in which case London would surely be in black and red. Actually i should have said in black and reds. Last week i enjoyed a bright and sunny spring weather in London and was struck by the variety of colors of the facades in the street. Bricks colors range from red vermilion to burnt sienna or even charcoal brown: a festival for a watercolourist !

J’aurais du dire que Londres est une ville en noir et rougeS

Dans un de mes précédents posts, j’ai dit comme j’aimais l’idée qu’une ville pouvait se résumer à une palette très restreinte de couleurs, auquel cas, Londres serait sûrement en noir et rouge. En fait, j’aurais du dire en noir et rouges. La semaine dernière, à Londres, j’ai goûté un temps printanier ensoleillé qui faisait resplendir les façades et j’ai été frappé par la variété de leurs couleurs. Le rouge brique s’étage du rouge vermillon à la terre de Sienne brûlée à l’Ocre jaune parfois ou encore un brun un peu charbonneux: un vrai festival pour un aquarelliste!

The best souvenir i found in Brittany is this gorgeous Blue Lobster.

T&G 4 - Homard Color lightI have been silent for way too long on this blog, but I have a good excuse: I took a few days of vacations in Brittany. Early in the morning we went to the tiny town uphill, from which you can see the ballet of fishing boats ballet escorted by swarms of seagulls.

Some headed gulls were flying above us with their laughter so characteristic, as if they were laughing at you.


The weekly market was in full swing and I suspect the seagulls circling above our heads were expecting an opportunity to raid dive on the fishmonger stall.
And that’s when I saw him: a beautiful blue lobster from Brittany sat on the shelf, the only survivor of the morning rush of lovers of fresh seafood. The opportunity was too tempting.


Fortunately, I had my notebook with me. I made a quick sketch on my moleskine and added some brief notes on the colors. Back at home, I redesigned this strange animal and watercolored it.
Only then I realized that I was really hungry and should have bought this gorgeous lobster rather than simply drawing it. Silly me !!!


Le meilleur souvenir que j’ai rapporté de Bretagne est ce homard bleu magnifique.


J’ai déserté ce blog pendant trop longtemps, mais j’avais une bonne excuse: j’ai pris quelques jours de vacances en Bretagne. Tôt le matin, nous sommes allés à la petite ville voisine, juchée sur une colline d’où l’on peut voir le ballet des bateaux de pêche escortés par des nuées de mouettes bruyantes.
Quelques une d’entre elles volaient au-dessus de nous avec leurs ricanements si caractéristiques, comme si elles se moquaient de vous.


Le marché hebdomadaire battait son plein et je soupçonnais les mouettes rieuses de tournoyer au-dessus de nos têtes en attendant l’occasion d’un raid en piqué sur le stand du poissonnier.
Et c’est là que je l’ai aperçu : un superbe Homard Bleu d’Armorique trônait sur l’étalage, seul rescapé de la ruée matinale des amateurs de crustacés frais.L’occasion était trop tentante.


Heureusement, j’avais mon carnet de voyages avec moi. J’ai fait un rapide croquis sur mon moleskine et rajouté quelques annotations sommaires sur les couleurs. De retour à la maison, j’ai redessiné ce superbe et étrange animal et l’ai aquarellé.
C’est seulement alors j’ai réalisé que j’avais vraiment faim et que j’aurais mieux fait d’acheter ce homard plutôt que de le dessiner.
Quel Imbécile je fais !