You Want To Go To Paris, But...

5:53 AM

If you happen to have missed the news, I am going to be doing an Art Workshop in Paris next October with Blue Walk Tours, and I've been talking about it a lot...

Okay, more like non-stop because I am so, so excited for the opportunity and because, well, it's Paris!

I have been thrilled by the enthusiastic and excited response the trip has received. It seems like Paris is on everyone's bucket list even if they've already been there!

Talking about the going to the City of Light to sketch and to explore the city through a sketchbook has brought out a number of hesitant questions from some of the artists interested in going and I thought it might be helpful to address a few of them here in case these same questions are in your mind.

How good of a sketcher do I have to be? Because I'm really not all that good and I don't know if I'm ready. 

Being "good enough" is a minefield of doubt and insecurity and while we've all been there at some point, there's no need to worry. Rather than worrying about being good enough, I like to focus on the incredible learning opportunities that always happen when you're surrounded by like-minded people, a teacher (me!) and immersed in a location with art and sketching on your mind! There will inspiration around every corner, literally!

I'll be with you throughout each day providing on-the-spot demos based on our views as well as to help you whenever you need me. There will also be a workbook full of ideas with tips and techniques to help you with this trip. (I'll also let you in on a secret...another cool thing about this trip is that it will begin long before we ever step foot in France! We'll have time to get started on filling the pages of our sketchbooks well before we leave for the actual trip.)

Part of the success of keeping a sketchbook while traveling is setting realistic expectations. We each know what our skill level is and everybody (yes, everybody!) wants to be able to come home with a sketchbook full of art that's worthy of a spot in the Louvre. Whether this happens or not, isn't really the point of sketching on the location. At least, it never has been for me though occasionally, I have to remind myself of that fact. It's really about capturing more of the experience than I can with just a camera and I assure can you, I cherish those pages no matter what my skill level was at the time!

You will remember so much more than you ever thought possible when you include pieces of art on your pages. Pages that don't live up to your expectations—at the time—become invaluable because they still serve as a portal back to those memories! Even simple doodles can go a long ways towards capturing the memories you will make during your visit.

As for being ready...I suppose it's like most things: even if you're not, you'll find a way because you are a most capable, flexible, intelligent artist and nothing will stop you!

I don't really know how to draw. I do a lot of tracing. Is that a problem?

Because we're going to be out and about and exploring Paris rather than sitting in a classroom setting, it's going to be difficult to do any tracing. That said, the beauty of announcing the trip a year in advance is so that it possible to start learning how to draw NOW long before the trip rolls around next year! There are a number of classes available online that teach you the basics. There are books at the library and you might even check with some of your local groups for opportunities to meet up and sketch in your town.

If not, I have recommended for years to sketch FROM LIFE for 15 minutes a day. It's not so much what you sketch, but that you sketch everyday. Start with a cup or a box. Sketch it each day for 15 minutes. Once you feel you've mastered the view, change it, add an item or sketch a different object. Once this becomes comfortable, trying adding the environment around the object. Rather than just drawing a mug, draw the table it's sitting on. Next time, draw the mug, table and the window behind it.

By sketching daily or near daily, you increase your visual vocabulary and you'll find that the skills you learned drawing the mug transfer to drawing a column or a vase of flowers. The box can easily become a building and so on.

Work in pen rather than pencil to learn faster (if we know we can erase and correct, we tend to not look as carefully or closely). Sketch what interests you to keep going and make it fun. Tempt yourself with images of Paris. If you start on a sketch that you really like, keep going past the 15 minutes and see where it takes you!

I've never sketched everyday for a week before. Don't you get overwhelmed or tired?

It is entirely possible to get overwhelmed when sketching on location but it's not likely to happen on this trip! The wonderful folks at the Blue Walk have set up a variety of activities for us that will include learning about the various neighborhoods in Paris, some fabulous sightseeing along with liberal indulging in coffees, pastries and shopping.

There will also be plenty of chances to look over each other's kits and sketchbooks, learn about one another's favorite tools and to sit together and work on our pages. With this said, if you still feel overwhelmed, there's flexibility built into our trip to allow you some downtime to do with whatever you'd like so you can come back to the page fresh and ready!

How physical is this trip?

There will be walking. A lot of walking, actually, as that's really the best way to see and learn about a new place. When we're driving a vehicle, we must watch the traffic. When we're a passenger, we have limited views and limited time in which to see. When we're riding a bike, we still have to pay attention to our surroundings and where we are going so as not to drive into anyone or anything.

By walking, you're view is mostly unlimited. By walking, you can pause to really see. By walking, you engage all of your senses rather than just your eyes. You can hear the voices and languages spoken by other passersby, you can feel the breeze or sun upon your skin, and you can smell the delectable aromas coming from the restaurant up ahead.

While there will be a lot of walking, the trip is at a leisurely pace with the intent that you enjoy yourself! Our days will be liberally sprinkled with plenty of visits to cafés and stops along the way to sketch the views. Again, due to the flexibility built into our days, there will be opportunities to catch your breath before we venture forth again.

I'm a little nervous to go on a trip with a group of people I don't know. What can I do to overcome this?

It never fails to fascinate me how fast folks bond over mutual interests like art, sketching and a fantastic place like Paris! It doesn't take any time at all before the group becomes a whole with plenty of laughter and cutting up. There will be moments of sheer hilarity that no one else will get (because they weren't there) as well as bonding over similar experiences from our pasts and our visit to Paris. Chances are outstanding for you'll come home with brand new friends that you'll have long past our visit.

In more practical terms, you will also have the opportunity to become acquainted with the other travelers in our group before we meet up in the hotel for the first time. Remember the secret I mentioned above? That's how will start to get to know each other before we go.

What questions do you have?

Do you have questions about going to Paris for a week? You can learn all about the trip here. If so, please feel free to ask in the comments below or drop me an email. You can also contact me via the contact form here. If not, it won't be long until it's time to...

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3 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Laure, this is going to be a wonderful trip! I could feel your excitement during lunch yesterday discussing it! You have a lot of exciting work ahead of you, good luck! Also, your sketches ROCK!

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  2. Dear Laure - your trip to Paris sounds wonderful. I know that everyone that goes will have the best time - you are such an encouraging teacher and for sure everyone will come away with sketches that will live on long after the trip is done. Take care and have a delightful weekend.

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  3. I'm going to start sketching practice RIGHT NOW because I want to be ready for Paris in the fall. Cannot wait for this trip!

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