Monday, June 30, 2008

Patriotic Baseballs

Study for "Stars, Stripes, & Stitches"
Beth S. Macre © 2008
Prismacolor pencil on Watercolor paper
3 1/2" x 7 1/2"
Wishing everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Arc de Triomphe

End of a busy day...
Day four proved to be an interesting but very busy day of walking, touring, walking, touring, and more walking. As I mentioned several posts back, we started out this day with our early morning tour of the Eiffel Tower, then on to the Musee d'Orsay by way of walking and the metro (or RER train). After a few hours at the Musee d'Orsay, we were able to return to the hotel briefly to freshen up, then meet for our boat ride on the Sienne River. The boat ride was nice but you cannot see a lot from the water but I think everyone was happy to sit for an hour. After the boat ride, we were off to the metro to head towards the Arc de Triomphe. They now have a tunnel under the roundabout, so you don't have to go through the crazy traffic to get there.

France's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is under the Arc, where they have a ceremony nightly to relight the eternal flame. You can pay to go up to the top of the Arc, but there are lots of steps involved, and most of us were getting rather weary from our day of walking and touring. So we looked around from below, then returned to the Champs Elysées and began walking towards our restaurant for dinner. On the way, we stopped to watch some 'street dancers'. They were pretty good after they got warmed up. We had reservations for dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was very good, but everyone was very tired and ready to go back to the Hotel when we were finished eating. The next day we would leave Paris for Tours, France.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Artwork...finally!

"Giraffe Snack Time"
ACEO ~ 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Beth S. Macre © 2008
I will post more about my trip to France later. This weekend I finally worked on some of my own art. I finished up 2 little ACEOs. Both are animals, which is not common for me, but these have been wanting to be drawn, so I caved in. So one is the Papillon that currently resides in my home...and the other is a giraffe having a snack. One of our very talented student photographers took some pictures, one of which was the giraffe, and gave me permission to draw. I took the picture of the Papillon and have been wanting to draw it so I did this little ACEO size one first. The lighter colors of the fur are difficult to get accurate in the scan. But after adjusting it, it looks a little closer to looking like the original. Both drawings were done with a technical pen first, then I added an underpainting of Prismacolor watercolor pencils, then dry Prismacolor pencils on top. For now, I need to get back to the drawing board! Summer is flying by!

"Just Laying Around"
ACEO ~ 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Beth S. Macre © 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Musee d'Orsay

This week has flown by and I have not had time to write a decent post about the Musee d'Orsay, until now. I have been interested in the Impressionists since I started teaching high school students and created lesson plans that would motivate my students to learn more about art history. Of course, Vincent van Gogh has always caught their attention because of his tragic life and his unique style. So I was very excited about going to the Musee d'Orsay to see their collection of Impressionists paintings. I wanted to give this museum a post all by itself. It took me awhile to decide which pictures to include. I went a little crazy taking pictures of the Impressionist paintings so I had a lot to choose from. I've posted them smaller because there are several, but you can click on them to see them larger. Especially the 'Bedroom in Arles' by Vincent van Gogh close up. You can see how thick the paint is in the picture. It was great to see it up close!

Inside the Main Hall of the Musee d'Orsay

So, here is the inside of the Musee d'Orsay in the main hall. This beautiful architecture was originally built as in 1898-1900 as a 'modern' passenger railway station. The site, in the center of Paris, is by the Siene River. Before this site was purchased, it was in ruins with two buildings that had burned down, during the insurrection (revolt) in 1871. The new railway station would be finished in time for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and would be used as a busy railway station for many years. After WWII, its use became outdated and eventually closed. After being used for various things throughout the years and coming close to being demolished, finally in the 1970's, it was decided that it should be preserved and reopened in 1986 as the Musee d'Orsay.

Me taking a break after viewing all of the Impressionists paintings.

Me beside the painting by Vincent Van Gogh ~ "Bedroom at Arles"

Self Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh (close up)
If you click on the image, you will see a close up of the bold color, texture, and brushstrokes that Van Gogh is so well known for! Some of the other Impressionist artists that I love to look at up close are Claude Monet and Georges Seurat (pointillism).

Waterlily Pond, Symphony in Rose 1900 by Claude Monet ~ close up.

"The Circus" Georges Seurat, 1890-91.
Pointillism fascinates me and this was the first Seurat that I have seen in real life.
I think all artists are inspired by other artists, both living and historical. Do you have a favorite style or artist? Have you seen any up close and in real life?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Eiffel Tower

Day 3 in Paris - Eiffel Tower
View from the Hotel
This is what we saw as we left our hotel each of the 4 days that we stayed in Paris! The Eiffel Tower was right around the corner. It was a bit of a walk, but that is what you do in Paris! It really is an amazing sight as you walk towards it. I knew it was big, but it was much bigger than I expected it to be.

Eiffel Tower
On our 3rd day in Paris, we took a tour of the Eiffel Tower early that morning. Jos, our tour guide, suggested that we do that early to beat the crowds, and he was right. We thought it opened at 9:00 am, so we were there in line a little before that, but it actually didn't open until 9:30. So we had to wait a little bit, but we were close to the front of the line. But as we were leaving the tower around 11:00 the lines were very long. So if you want to tour the Eiffel Tower I recommend that you go early to beat the crowds. Note: We also went later on our last day and watched the sunset from the restaurant in the tower! It was an amazing night!

Third Level View

View from the same level, other direction.

You can walk up the steps to the first level, but we chose to ride the elevator. There is a gift shop and a restaurant on the second and third levels. The next level is the top.
View from the top
If heights bother you, you may want to skip the top. Heights do not bother, so I loved it! One lady was having her picture made, and she obviously was afraid of heights, because she would not let go of the steel beam that she was standing beside, and that was on the 3rd level! I don't know if she went up to the top.
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
As you can see, they have wire fencing to enclose the space. I suppose it is to prevent people from jumping. Actually there were 2 levels on the top. There is a set of steps that take to to the very top section where is was pretty crowded. Each level is smaller than the last.

Visit to Notre Dame and the Louvre Museum

Day 2
There is so much to do in Paris alone, but we only had 3 days in Paris. Our first half day, we walked around the Eiffel Tower and visited the Tomb of Napoleon. we spent the morning of the next day touring Paris on a bus that ended at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Our British tour bus guide, Julian, was very interesting and was quite entertaining. At the Notre Dame Cathedral, he gave a very interesting explanation of the frieze on the front of the Cathedral. I couldn't begin to explain everything that he told us about the meaning of those sculptures that are so beautifully created for the West Facade of the building. That would require an entire blog post.

After we finished admiring Notre Dame, we had lunch then moved on to the Louvre. Now that could have been an all-day outing for me, but we only had a few hours to take in what we could. Someday I would like to return for more time there. 

We only went through a small part of the museum. Some of the works that we saw were the "Coronation of Napoleon" by Jacques Louis David. It is quite a large painting and my photo does not show it very well. There is an interesting story behind the painting and the artist. You can read more about the painting here: Wikipedia. I did learn from the tour that there is an identical painting at Versaille, that we saw later in our trip, that appears the same except one of the ladies on the left wears a pink dress!
"The Coronation of Napoleon" by Jacques-Louis David

And of course, The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is a big attraction at the Louvre. The room was so crowded with people around the rope barrier that holds the crowd back from getting too close the glass-encased painting. Apparently, this painting was stolen back in 1911, and was found 2 years later and returned to the museum. You can read more about Leonardo da Vinci's favorite painting here: Wikipedia. And on this site, you can read more about the painting. 

After a long day of touring these sights, we had a nice meal at an "Italian" restaurant! Not French, but I believe most of the group enjoyed the spaghetti and veal.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Eiffel Tower and the Musee De L'Armee Tombeau de Napoleon

Lunch at the base of the Eiffel Tower
After our long flight, we arrived early Tuesday morning in Paris. After we dropped our luggage off at the Hotel, we immediately started our tour of Paris. The group that I was with, consisted of 12 teenagers and 2 adults (including me). We were all tired from the all-night flight, but were very ready to start looking around the city. Our hotel was only blocks from the base of the Eiffel Tower, so that is where we started. We bought lunch in a local grocery store and had a picnic in the park next to the Eiffel Tower. It was nice to sit and relax, but the weather was a little cool and there were alot of small school children at the park. Apparently it was Eiffel Tower day with the local schools.

Museum of the Tomb of Napoleon
After we left the park, we walked to the nearby Museum of the Tomb of Napoleon. Here we looked around inside and out. The tomb of Napoleon was very interesting, but everyone in our group was getting extremely tired from the long flight and lack of sleep. It was finally late enough for us to check in to our hotel, so we returned to unpack and clean up before dinner at the Hotel.

After dinner, some of us decided to take a walk to the Eiffel Tower to get some evening pictures of the Eiffel Tower. As we were leaving the Hotel, it started to drizzle. We went anyway and eventually it did stop raining, but it was very chilly. By the time we returned to the Hotel, we were ready for a warm bed! The ones that did not go on the walk, had already gone to bed. This busy day was only the beginning of our very busy, hectic days to come.

Up Next:  Notre Dame and The Louvre.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trip to France

My trip to France has come and gone!

I'm back from my trip to France. I can't believe that it is already over! It seemed like so long waiting for the trip and our time there just flew by! I had a great time and really hated to leave and return to the 'real world'! Right now I'm trying to recuperate from the lack of sleep, constant walking, and jet lag, so I haven't had time to post anything about the trip yet. Over the next few weeks, I will post some pictures and entries from my travel journal.

Follow the links at the bottom of each journal post to get to the next post.

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