Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole Letter, a work in progress

The last day of May I got the Paris letter in the post📮Everyone loves Au Vieux Paris.  I shot this in April 2017.

Heather suggested I paint the facade for the next Paris letter. I’m always open to Letter ideas by the way. I made a few sketches, thinking why not? A “piece of cake” surely. Not.  

Last week I ran over for lunch (it’s close to Notre Dame)to take more pictures. Too late for their famously lush wisteria.

The lunch formule (22€) was a mistake. Only one choice and no substitutions. 

Chicken curry is not a fav unless in India. All heavy cream and not much curry. Dessert was even more cream—Fondant au chocolat in creme Anglaise + confit d’orange + a dollop of creme fraîche. I cleaned the plate. I’m sure dinner is better. 

The decor is pleasantly medieval-churchy with pew seats, angel sculptures and stained glass reflective of nearby Notre Dame. The building dates from 1512 and is a registered historic monument, one of the oldest documented restaurants in Paris.

Hmm…now to face the music. Not so easy after all. Much trial and error was required.

I gave up drawing the Andrea Della Robbia Florentine relief sculpture. 

Too small and too detailed to do capture properly. 

Next how to draw wisteria? Look on instagram.
Research, research… Japanese woodblock prints are a good source for flowers, design and color direction.

Practice, practice making wisteria marks. So many scraps of paper.

Bonnie suggested adding one lone romantic girl. I considered Gobelin bears, birds, a cat? 

I searched for color reference ideas—pink and green.

Enfin/finally at 5pm on Monday it was finished. I hated it😳 Too many black lines, too much detail, too labored, the paper was all wrong.

Quickly I did a test sheet on heavier paper. Next trace/paint on top of the bad version to sketch ✏️in the main elements, but leave out the details. Simplify!! By 7:30 I raced out the door, (my copy shop closes at 8)took the metro one stop, and got a smile on the face of my copy shop guy(the required seal of approval on any letter art)🤸‍♂️👏😊 What had taken a week plus of “blood, sweat and tears” was completed in an hour and a half. I celebrated with a chocolate madeleine. Please share PB with your friends and visit my Etsy shop for lovely Real Paris mail 💌 in your mailbox 📮  You can subscribe to ParisBreakfasts newsletter here.  
             ✏️ ✏️✏️💌Bonne Wednesday PBers! ✏️✏️✏️


  1. your sketches are absolutely fabulous! do you "draw" with a brush or first in pencil? These look like brush strokes , how amazing. Practice makes perfect. Every day is a new discovery.
    Hope to meet up with you some day!

  2. Hi Sonja, for the finished art I used a Pentel brushpen painting with watercolor directly.
    By that time I had done so many warmup, practice sketches it was easy.
    Prep Sketches are mostly drawn with a UniPin brushpen, so almost no pencil used except for ruled guidelines.

  3. SuzanneS1:54 AM

    Of course you figured it all out. Magnifique!

  4. Suzanne, Sometimes its so hard and then its so easy!
    Go figure

  5. Love the art work.

  6. MarilynP1:57 AM

    Sure do love your little stories and wonderful photos!!! Gives me a lift!!

  7. Love it!!!!

  8. Dorrance6:55 AM

    I like them both…DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!! BEAUTIFUL! Plus you got them in the mail. 💌📮

  9. What?No chickens? The process made me look at the subject very carefully. I love that green and pink dress. Thank you.

  10. Don’t know how you do it all! The end result is always beautiful & exudes all your love & talent.
    What an interesting restaurant. Must try it whenever I get to Paris.

  11. The agony of the creative process! So much work goes into your watercolors each and every month. Your perfectionism shows in the finished product. Great job on the wisteria. Beautiful, Carol!

  12. Love it and your description of the process! I have been painting the wisteria on my pergola. Love wisteria. We are coming to France for a month in September. We will have to check out Au View Paris!

  13. When I labor over something beyond the labor point lol I hate it..Love yours.Do you save your best paper..I.e. Deux Magots silverware?

  14. Of course we are our own worst critics, the bane of being human...and an artist :) I DO love what you have created here, some of my favourite colours. Beautiful!


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