Art lessons from Paris

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
Versailles 6x3_72

Entering the Palace at Versailles








Have you ever been on a trip that you felt really changed your life? I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Paris. Ten days later, I’m still in awe.

I am an artist. As an artist, how can you breathe in centuries of art, architecture, culture and history, and not be changed by it?

Louis XIV 4x2_72

Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’, ruled France from 1643-1715

Paris became the art capital of Europe in the mid 1600s, when Louis XIV of Bourbon decided to ‘make it so’. He was determined to unseat the Renaissance Italians as the culture-makers of Europe. His vision (not to mention his budget) drew master artists, as well as hopefuls, to his royal capital. They flocked to Paris in the hope of lucrative commissions, inspiration, and creative exchange. Louis hired the best architects, designers, muralists, sculptors and painters that money could buy. He and his successors built palaces and hotels to house all this art, and the palaces were art in themselves, through the grant, ornate Baroque period and into the sinuous Rococco. At Versailles, the royal palace until the French Revolution, every piece of furniture, every vessel, every wall, every ceiling was a surface to be decorated. Thankfully, after the Revolution, and through two world wars, the Louis’ legacy was preserved. Through guns, bombs and raids, it is still there and accessible to ordinary people like me. And that, truly, is awe-inspiring.

After the Revolution, Paris continued to be a centre of art and culture. Philosophers, writers, artists, architects and craftsmen met in the cafes and bistros of Montmarte and the Rive Gauche. Through Romanticism, the Neoclassical era, and to the time of the Impressionists, Paris was (arguably) the art centre of the world. And anyone can walk those same streets today. There is so much intellectual capital amassed that surely, by osmosis, or eating and drinking in the same establishments, that some of that talent and inspiration will have rubbed off on me!

Rose motif at Versailles 4X2_72

Motifs above windows in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles


There must be something about the light in Paris too. Perhaps it was the soft blue grey light of winter.  I couldn’t look anywhere without wanting to snap pictures or haul out a sketchbook. The textures of the cobblestones and weathered stone walls, lines of the roofs crowned with chimney pots, repeating motifs of roses and clamshells and trefoils, the shapes of round windows and gabled roofs, and the neutral tones of old stone and slate. It’s no wonder the Impressionists painted here. There is much for the light to play on here, in texture, shape, line, colour.

I am still processing all that I saw. Thankfully, I have many photos to keep the memories fresh, and my own artistic ideas flowing. Over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing photos, looking for ways to interpret sights and feelings as designs in my own art. I’d like to invite you along in my journey. Perhaps you will be inspired to play with me in your own sketchbook or journal. I’d love our feedback if you care to work along with me.




  1. Pat Moore
    May 21, 2015

    Judy I am happy to have found your work through the Alberta Craft Council. I am a wet felted and I am inspired by your art.

    • Judy Weiss
      May 22, 2015

      Thanks Pat. Did you see my work in the Landed exhibition at the ACC Discovery Gallery? (Tomorrow is the last day of the show.)
      It’s helpful to know others who have the same interests. What kind of work do you do?