Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Alison MacDonald

Meet Alison!

Tell us a little bit about yourself—school, background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you want to share.

Hello! My name is Alison and I am a student of the BFA program at Kwantlen University in my third year. I have returned to Kwantlen again after taking several years away and completing my Diploma in Make-up artistry. I have a passion for Art History and hope to get a minor in it. I thought that being able to see some of the artworks we have studied in class would be an amazing opportunity. It is completely different to see the paintings up close than looking at them on slides. I felt that I would be able to grow from this trip both in an educational and personal way, as I would get to experience a different culture. I have previous travel experience from working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and I also lived with a family in Mexico when I was a teen for a rotary exchange. I love to travel and see how other people live. I know a little bit of Spanish and French but I would love to have a second language that I could speak fluently.

The Eiffel tower seen from the L'Orangerie
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far? I am surprised by my reaction to some of the art works that I have seen so far.

Today at the L`Orangerie museum I got to see the fantastic Water Lily paintings by Monet. Previously I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be so excited to see these paintings, as the image of Monet’s water lilies has been reproduced on so many things in our visual culture that I saw it almost as a mainstream commodity. Seeing the images in person was completely different. The way they were displayed added to the beauty; the paintings were in large panels that curved with the shape of the wall and they were lit from above. The colours used and paint strokes were amazing- the blues, purples and greens worked beautifully together. I felt like I could spend a very long time standing in front of these works, being totally captivated by them. Also, getting to see the Eiffel tower today from the Architecture museum was a wonderful experience. The Eiffel tower is another image that is so ingrained into our visual culture that I have probably seen it reproduced hundreds of times before. Again, getting to see the “Iron Lady,” as it is sometimes referred to, in person, is a totally unique experience. I had the opportunity to sit in the gardens of the Architecture Museum and sketch the tower. The amount of detail in this cultural icon is fascinating. I’m sure I will never forget the experiences that I had today.

Give us some insight into your assigned art work from for the Orsay Museum. After seeing the work in person, what struck you most about it and/or how did the art work’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it?
Pissaro, The Seine and the Louvre (1903)

My assigned art work from the Orsay was The Seine and the Louvre by Pissarro from 1903. This soft and misty landscape was painted the same year the Artist died, from a window in the second floor of a house. Pissarro placed increasing importance on sky and water in his compositions in the last ten years of his life and had an interest in observing the light. This image shows the atmosphere of a winter’s day in soft light. By painting this view of the Louvre, Pissarro pictures himself as away from the Louvre, both pictorially and symbolically. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see my artwork in the Orsay (it was not on exhibition), which was a little disappointing. I did, however, get to see a few other works by the artist. I stood in front of another painting entitled Vue sur la cote des Mathurins, Pontoise, from 1873, and quickly drew it in my sketch book and took notes. This work is different from the one I was assigned. It contains a different palette of mostly earthy browns, yellow and greens, but it’s not as muted as The Seine and the Louvre and includes some vibrant shades of green. The scene in this landscape is of a man gardening in the foreground. Some plant beds are painted on the ground in repeating squares, and behind that is a brick wall and brick houses, painted in similar colours to each other- white with hints of brown and yellow. I found the image slightly hard to read because I think the perspective is off. Behind the houses there is a curved hill painted with stripes of different greens and yellow. The background consists of a light sky with a few quickly painted trees. This landscape has a totally different feeling than the one I was assigned. It doesn’t convey the misty softness of a cold winter day but more an energetic feeling of Spring.
Interior shot of Architecture Museum with view of Eiffel tower.
Today’s activity was also at the L’Orangerie and the Museum of Architecture and French Monuments. What were your impressions? What will be your take away of the experience? Any memorable moments?

A Soutine painting Alison especially liked at the L'Orangerie.
As I said in my earlier response, I was very impressed by Monet’s work that was displayed at L’Orangerie. I think that this museum has been one of my favourites so far. It held so much beautiful work by artists like Derain, Cezanne, Picasso, Gaugin, and one artist- Soutine, that I had never heard of. There were a number of his portraits displayed that I found to be quite interesting. Visiting this museum was a good learning experience for me as it further established my admiration for certain artists like Cezanne and Gaugin and allowed me to become aware of other artists.I am not as passionate about architecture as I am about paintings but there were some great things to be seen at the Architecture Museum as well. Seeing all the sculptures of Angels and different religious figures like the Virgin and Child brought me back to the Renaissance Art History class that I took years ago and reminded me of the Catholic Church that I used to go to when I was younger. I think what I will remember most from being at the Architecture Museum was spending time in the surrounding gardens with a gorgeous view of the grand Eiffel tower, peacefully sketching in the sun. That for me was a moment that will last a long time in my mind! J