Paris in Bokeh
I am dying to go back to Paris, in fact, today I looked at flights for next spring but the airline doesn’t schedule flights that early. I would go sooner but wanted to go at a different time of the year to last time ( it was autumn in October ) and thought spring would make some beautiful pictures and good weather. I have missed my opportunity for this year.
So I will wait a little bit longer, I have been blessed with many trips this year, including Berlin in January and Ibiza in June!
There’s a narrative behind this painting, as required from my BA Fine Art assessment due in on Tuesday. We were given free rein of what we could paint, as long as it was 2D, painted in either oil or acrylic, painted on a canvas we’d made ourselves and had a narrative.
Doesn’t everything have a narrative? “OMG what do I paint???” Was the question I asked myself after the giddiness settled. I could paint anything I wanted and suddenly I stuck and needed some guidance. After complaining the whole first semester of being ‘forced’ to paint particular subjects, I was complaining I had too much freedom.
Where to begin?
I knew I wanted to paint a subject from my own photography and I had the advantage of recently visiting Paris and Berlin.So I went through all 1100 pictures and picked a small selection that stood out. I’ve had the opportunity to see some beautiful, amazing and awe-inspiring, as well as haunting sights but I have learnt on this degree that it’s not about the most beautiful pictures that are the most popular or the ones that are the most aesthetically pleasing. I will come back to this in a later post because I think this word, ‘aesthetic’ is used too often when referring to sight,
For example, Gerhard Richter, one of the most famous living artists, recently sold a painting named. ‘administrative building’. This painting was the highest selling painting by a living painter and sold for £24 million. It’s not beautiful, it’s not pretty, it’s not even emotionally significant to the painter. It’s just a random painting of a picture he didn’t even take.
And yet, I have stood in front of various Gerhard Richter masterpieces and they truly take your breath away. These are the type of paintings that are aesthetically pleasing. They speak to your soul, it’s like I’m drunk in their presence, giddy and want to dance with happiness. I can recognise his work a mile off. In fact, I walked into a gallery recently to see another temporary exhibition, not realising Richter also had some work showing. I was with my 10-year-old niece and we were playing the game, ‘guess the artist’, geeky, I know, but I love it. I remember a lady looking at me as if saying to herself, ‘she’s gonna be wrong’. My niece was pretty impressed as she read the info next to the paintings.
You may like the painting, or you might not. The point is, it’s about method, talent, narrative. Everybody looks for a story in a painting. A meaning, a relationship.
So here it is.
It was my last evening in Paris, my 3rd night there. The next day, I would be flying back to Manchester.. 4 months before, I’d gone through a bad break up, a house move, a new baby, severe depression to the edge of a nervous breakdown and everything around me crumbled. Somehow, I managed to pick myself up. My children kept me going. After the 8 week summer holidays, I needed a break, I had just been through one of the worst experiences of my life and I didn’t know who I was any more. So I booked flights and a hotel to Paris, a city I’d dreamed of going to but for somewhere so close to England, could never imagine it happening. I didn’t want to go with anyone else, didn’t want to put it off to wait for friends to say they couldn’t get time off work, partners couldn’t have their children, couldn’t afford it… I wanted to do everything I wanted to do, visit galleries, the famous landmarks, taste the food and coffee and smell the air. I wanted to forget the pain of the past and discover myself again, enjoy myself, smile, laugh and be me.
So…I was on my way back to my hotel when I realised I had not seen the Eiffel Tower at night and I thought it would make some lovely images. I’d had really bad luck with an umbrella that afternoon on my way to see Notre Dame and was extremely cold and damp. Should I change ans rush back out or chill in the bar and go to bed refreshed for the next day??? I actually had to argue with myself for some time. I was so cold ( and tired from the previous nights partying at the hostel ).
What was I doing??? I was in Paris! So I grabbed a shower, changed, and raced back out. The sun was going down and I had the thought that I may just get to the Eiffel tower in time to see the sunset behind it. Problem was, I took the wrong metro line and ended up no where near it! I could see it, not too far away from me, about a mile and so I began to chase it down.
On the way, I came across some beautiful and interesting sights that I couldn’t ignore, so very quickly, I got my camera out and snapped away.
I was taking pictures of the trees hanging over the path at the time and the church steeple in the background. After checking each image, I noticed this one was out of focus but I couldn’t work out how I had done it. But I thought the way the cars head lights and traffic lights looked great, I tried to replicate the picture but it didn’t work. Eventually I moved on, however, this chase through Paris, even though it was quick, has stuck in my memory.
Here is the church steeple and the pictures I tried to replicate.
So for my first year final piece, I painted this in acrylic. A narrative to the past year of my life. The city of enlightenment.