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Dessins de Paris: 1

During my annual trip to Paris in January, I try to do as much drawing as I can, using neocolor pastels and occasionally pen. On the last two trips (2017 and 2018) I did a lot more drawing from memory rather than observation. There are so many interesting facial types among the people you see in Paris, so I try to fix the most salient parts of their features in my mind, through a series of brief and intense gazes. Then when I get back to the apartment in Montparnasse, I get out the pastels and begin work.

This is a new series for my blog, in which I post one of the drawings and try to remember the moment in which I noticed the person.

This first one was someone I saw on the Metro, Line 9, when Patty and I went over to the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, near the Palais de Tokyo on the right bank. It was bitterly cold, and this older gentleman entered the metro car having clearly just experienced a blast of the arctic air that was pummeling the city. Despite his wooly hat and scarf, his face was a bright, Matisse pink, blotched with lines of magenta and beetroot colour where the freezing air had irritated the capillaries. He looked extremely miserable and angry, with a pouting mouth very like how I drew it. I think he was with a female companion of a similar age, probably his wife, and whenever she tried to say something to her he would just bark some short-tempered reply. This manner was pretty common, in not universal, among Parisian commuters: I can't remember seeing many smiling or laughing people on any of the Metro rides that I took. Partly that was the weather, partly it's due to the natural inclination of people in tight spaces to withdraw into themselves, but it's also generally a trait of all Parisians to be unsmiling in public.

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