09 August, 2008

As the train started moving towards Paris, the fields began to transform into city. People would come in and leave at each stop, and soon the train became very full. I was focusing on individuals, noting what they were wearing, how they were conversing, and it was all foreign. Men and women dressed for work, teenagers with skin-tight jeans, arab girls with scarves, arab boys sporting alternative fashion. I couldn't decipher the code. I couldn't pass off as a Parisian. Not with my luggage anyway.

That was one of my main goals: to be able to navigate the city without seeming like a foreigner. I did not have a list of tourist attractions that I was going to tick off. I was not going to strive to master the French language during my stay. Yet by the 5th day, I had gained that certain confidence, the ability to sweep past the ticket counters and enter the Metro with a flair of familiarity and control, backpack, wallet and iPod in place.

What I saw and visited, I really internalized. There were some things that always remained at the back of my head - like revisiting Montmartre or taking a boat ride on the Seine - but time flew by and I never got around to them. I don't really regret it. They are excuses to revisit Paris.

One such name was that of the Hotel de Ville. It would appear on maps, Metro station lists, and other guides. It was a Metro stop very close to the ones I frequented. Only while looking back at my photography did I realize that I had photographed it without knowing what it was (I had been mapping tower-tops as a friend and I walked to see the Centre Pompidou).

Here is a watercolor of the Hotel de Ville, which I got to know better this time around. This is one of a few I have done recently. Maybe it's time to switch gears again...

08 August, 2008

Sabeen sent me this photograph today, in an email titled "Waqas being a good citizen;)." It brought back memories from that last morning in Delhi. It was such a coincidence meeting her there, at the airport, and I didn't know she took a picture while I helped some Indians fill out their emigration forms. Their professions: mason, carpenter, plumber. They were going to work in Saudi Arabia for two years, not knowing what lay ahead, not knowing how much they would miss their home and family in those 24 months.

06 August, 2008

14 Juillet 2008
11"x17" ~ watercolor on paper
approx. 11"x17" ~ watercolor on paper

Paris, Paris, Paris... the last is a carousel seen from the Eiffel Tower.

approx. 11"x17" ~ watercolor on paper

This is the famous church that Van Gogh painted in his last years. I started this when I was at Auvers-sur-Oise. It got all ruined and now here it finally is. I'll work from this and maybe develop some variations.
approx. 8.5"x11" ~ pastel on paper

03 August, 2008

approx. 8.5"x11" ~ charcoal, pencil and pastel on paper

These mark a transition. I am moving away from Roman sculpture and starting to tackle the other subject that interested me in Paris - the cityscape and architecture in general, and rooftops in particular. I want to tell the story of how this magnificent city converses with the sky above. Hopefully this is something I can pursue in the Delhi cityscape too, and thereby make some sort of comparative studies. But we'll see what happens...

The last of these is one of the lights on Level 1 of the Eiffel Tower - I go behind the scenes to unravel that magic.

Of course, the sculpture theme is far from exhausted! But I'll return to that later.
approx. 8.5"x11" ~ watercolor on paper

This didn't photograph very well, but I'm putting it up anyway before it takes its place in my portfolio. This was done one evening in the studio mentioned in the previous post.
This wall in my college room in Paris (the room i liked to call my studio) served as a sort of record of my adventures in the Paris art world, and beyond. It was a way to add color to this perfect studio with white walls and a wooden floor, a fridge and a desk.

The dilemma, however, was whether I should go out and explore the city or stay in and work. Because I had August to do a lot of the latter, I gave preference to going out.

I so want to go to Paris again - maybe next summer I'll look for an Architecture internship there...
28"x44" ~ pen-and-ink, charcoal, and watercolor on paper

This is (arguably) the largest portrait I've ever done. It started off as a pen-and-ink drawing, and then charcoal was introduced, and then watercolor too found its way into it. It was one of those instances when there's music playing, and you're open to possibilities and you let the drawing dictate its own terms. It was fun.