Sketching The Art of Fernand Pelez

I rarely sketch from art unless I’m trying to learn how DaVinci did it, or how my buddy Yvan Breton does his people sketches.  But the Paris exhibit at our Musée de la Civilisation has a couple of large that just say “sketch me.”  I think it’s because of their size and content.  One is a 21-foot long mural of the Parisian open-air market in 1900.  The other is an equally large circus mural titled Grimaces et misére by Fernand Pelez (1888).

Grimaces et misére depicts circus performers, including dancers, musicians, clowns and others, but unlike most circus art, these figures are depicted in what was probably a more realistic state.  The faces and body language of these characters are sad, tired, and suggestive of their overworked, day-by-day lives.

I, along with my buddy Yvan decided to meet Tuesday morning to sketch the musicians who represent about 25% of the mural.  He drew in pencil; I used my Wahl-Eversharp pen and Noodler’s Lexington Gray.

The paper was Canson Ingres (6×9).  I like the lightly toned versions of this paper for pen drawings, though it would be quite useless for watercolor.  The bit of added tone came from dilute Lex Gray in a waterbrush, while the white was done with a Stabilo “paper-glass-plastic-metal” pencil.  I think Prismacolor pencil does a better job but it was worth a try (grin)

2014-01-28OrchestreFrancais_72For those asking “What the heck is that instrument on the right,” I was equally curious and so I did some digging.  Turns out it is an ophicleide, a precursor to the tuba.  It’s actually a U-shaped tube but the downward part of the tube is behind the upward portion so you don’t see it in the painting.  But you can see the mouthpiece which is very tuba-like.


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  1. Pingback: Clowns In Paris | Larry D. Marshall

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