Sketching at the Musée de Cluny

The Musée de Cluny houses a collection of medieval arts and crafts. The Hôtel de Cluny it self is an interesting building as it is an example of French domestic medieval architecture. You enter the museum through a cobblestone courtyard which immediately triggered my imagination.

Cluny Museum drawingIt has a particularly interesting collection of sculptures some of which relate to Notre-Dame. One series holds interesting history as originally they had decorated the cathedral but were vandalised by revolutionaries in 1793. After being cast aside they were purchased by a builder and he re-cycled them using them to shore up the foundations of a private mansion he was building. They were rediscovered in 1977 enabling historians to understand a lot more about sculpture of the period.

These had such an interesting history I decided to draw one of them. The piece I chose is a sort of triangular formation which proved quite a challenge! Click on the image above and you can see a larger version. This also fills EDM drawing challenge 38 “Draw at a Museum”

This is what the page spread looked like when I wrote in it later that evening.

Cluny Museum page spread I included our 2 entry tickets which illustrate items in the museum and map given to visitors.

Cluny Museum page spread

Cluny Museum page spread The Musée de Cluny owns a famous series of tapestries called The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They are highly acclaimed and many people visit just to see these. They are however undergoing cleaning and restoration before travelling to Japan to be exhibited there. I was aware of this as the information is on their website, so was not disappointed.

There is a lot to see for a ‘small’ museum such as 12th- and 13th-century crosses, some fantastic illuminated manuscripts, and loads of carvings.

A highlight for me was the fan-vaulted medieval chapel and downstairs are the ruins of Roman baths. It was a great afternoon and since it is a ‘small’ museum there were no lines and no crowds.

Here a snap taken by Jerry of me drawing.


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A little park in Paris

I have been sick with a local gastric bug that seems to have taken up residence in my lower intestine and likes living there very much! It’s slowed me down a little, but the other day we decided to pay a visit to Musee Carnavalet.

When ever we go to one of these smaller museums we use the trip there as a n excuse to explore the district a little more. While walking in the general direction of the Musee Carnavalet we found a small park. I spent a pleasant hour seated at one of the park benches in order to  draw a little of it.

Drawing from a park benchWith this page spread I wanted to play with framing techniques in my travel journal so I cut up a local tourist map collected from the tourist information centre. I would have liked a stronger contrast but that is what I had to hand. You can click on the image to see a larger view.

Drawing from a park benchThis is the full page spread in context. As you can see sketching is only one part of my travel journalling as I write a fair bit about the day in the evening. I write as I travel as otherwise little details get lost. The word Paris is cut from the front of the same map and the black tape is washi tape I bought with me. I have been using it throughout the trip and I will probably finish it. The Fleur de Lis is made from a craft punch I have at home. Before leaving a cut a pile to use while away.

Anyway this is one of two page spreads about the day. We had a lovely day at the Musee Carnavalet and it has a lovely garden itself . Jerry will share his impressions later.

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Sketching at the Tuileries

Yesterday we went for  a stroll around the Tuileries gardens before visiting the Musée de L’Orangerie. After admiring the wonderful carousel we spotted a goat! Yes a goat. I think this is an organic way to keep the grass down.

So, people are not allowed on the grass but goats are.

sketch of Tuileries garden urnAnyway as I walked on I saw this urn with goats on the side and decided I just had to draw it. It was a race against time as the sky was darkening. I did want to get the tree behind the urn so I could set it in context but rain prevented it.

This took me about an hour to draw. I find when choosing a subject I am still selecting details to draw because of time. I would have loved to draw more of the gardens but told myself that  my drawings are not the only way we will remember our trip as Jerry would have taken at least 2,500 photos already and he culls and edits out the duds as he travels.

For instance this is his record of the day

Sketching in the Tuileries Gardens

Dealing with visual overload

The Louvre is one of the the worlds greatest museums holding collections from Egyptian, Greek , Roman, Near-East antiquities, European Renaissance Art, Medieval Art, prints, paintings and so much more. As a visitor you are trying to make sense of an aesthetic experience while huge crowds wash all around you. At the same time you need to take precautions and be aware of pick pockets.

For this visit we decided that we wanted to see the decorative arts section as our last visit 2 years ago, only introduced us to this part of the museum. I had my sketchbook and Jerry his camera and we headed  for the Napoleon Apartments.

When I entered the rooms I was assaulted by heavy decoration of ornate gilded gold patterns. I had seen photographs of this type of interior decoration and I had always felt it was too much, too over the top to be attractive but when I saw these rooms I realised that in context, the lot does hold together and work. I think they are one of those things that dont photograph well!

Anyway there I was dealing with visual overload in a crowded museum. What to do as I wanted something for my journal. I looked, and looked at all sorts of objects and details of objects. Part of keeping a visual journal is what you include and what you exclude. Coming to the decision meant I looked a lot more at those rooms than if I was just visiting. As I agonised over what to draw I saw people come in take a snap shot with their phones and move on. I wondered how much they saw.

Sketch at the Louvre

In the end I decided to focus on a detail I saw on a door frame. It is a design that many people will recognise but as I drew it I realised I had not drawn it before. I sketched it and added colour that evening back at the apartment.

sketchbook louvreThis what the finished page spread in my travel journal looks like. As you can see I added ephemera to the page such as the ticket stubs, part of a flyer advertising the museum and I chopped up the floor plan to include a map of the area we explored on the day.

Anyone who has visited the Louvre will tell you there is no way to see everything. We plan on making 3-4 visits this trip and I am sure we will barely see the collection.