Drawing at the Alyscamps Arles

The midgies were biting the afternoon we went for a walk a little way out of the old town Arles to the Alyscamps. In Roman cities roads just outside a city were often lined with tombs and mausoleums as burials inside the city limits were forbidden. At Arles the Alyscamps was the main burial ground for nearly 1,500 years.

sketch at ArlesNow I know a visit to an ancient cemetery sounds a bit grim but it is basically a walk down a corridor of trees. The road is edged on both sides by sarcophagi and there are also a couple of chapels. The Alyscamps is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group so it is worth exploring.

I stopped at one of the chapels to draw. As regular readers may spot I am using a smaller sketchbook. This is because my last travel journal, the large landscape format one is full. So this is the third notebook this trip. Anyway as I said the midges were biting and I have to admit my focus was not as good as could have been. That said I hope people enjoy seeing it.

Sharon at Alyscamps, Arles, France

Drawing at the Pont du Gard

Jerry’s last post amusingly describes the experience of driving in France but, he did not say where we were driving to! We were tootling all over the place. One of our destinations was the Pont Du Gard a UNESCO world heritage listed site which amazes me. The Pont du Gard was built just before the Christian era so that the aqueduct of Nîmes could cross a river.

As an Aussie who has seen fire, flood, earthquake and drought in my life I am always a bit dazed at how Roman engineers and architects controlled nature. In the case of Pont du Gard they are controlling water to meet the need of a community. I appreciate the achievement but there is always an irrational feeling that nature can not be shaped to our will as it goes counter to my life experience. So when ever I encounter Roman engineering that accomplishes something like this I am always in awe of the fact that they did it but also it has stood a couple of thousand years. I know that is what humans do, but the child in me is always surprised to encounter it.

sketch of Pont du Gard bridgeAnyway while Jerry scrambled over rocks to take photos of it I did some sketching. These thoughts filtered through my mind as I drew one section of the bridge in my travel journal. I chose to do a section as the structure is large and I need to realistic about time. This took me about an hour and half . This drawing is of part of the top section. If you click on the drawing you will see a larger version.

page spread of travel journalI added a postcard to the page spread of my travel journal to remind me of the monumental size, as this bridge stands almost 50m high and has three levels of arches.

If you are interested in this site there is very good article in Wikipedia about The Pont du Gard

Drawing in the Roman Theatre in Arles

Sketch of Roman theatre Arles in FranceArles is dotted with ruins and I have decided there is nothing like a good ruin. Actually flippant attitudes aside, many of the monuments at Arles are UNESCO world heritage listed.

The other day we visited the Roman theatre and off to one side is a collection of carved and plane stones.  I had a delightful time sitting in the shade of  a tree, drawing the image above. Click the image to see a larger version

This is what the travel journal page spread looked like. The green half disk is a paper patty that held a lavender  cake – yes that is right a a cake made with lavender. It was lovely.

photo of travel journal page spread