Location | Paris: Meet Field School Blogger Deanna Welters

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

Bonjour mes amis. Moi, je m’appelle Deanna Welters.  As I am not fluent in the French language that is as much as I will venture in a language other than English.  Why risk poor spelling in two languages.  An amusing rhetorical question, n’est pas. My affiliation with the Paris Field School group is as an undergraduate in the Fine Arts Bachelor program. Continuing my Fine Art studies arrived 2010 after a substantial distance from initially completing my Diploma of Fine Arts in 1997. Attending this field school is for me another chapter of discovery in my life that has thus far always been open to learning and adventure.  Although not my first visit to Paris, I did visit here briefly in 2005, this is a more art focused challenge that involves many more or possibly different dimensions than did my previous visit.  In terms of having the company of several art students, a planned itinerary and an extended length of the time staying, this trip is unique.

Deanna sketching at Versailles.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris so far?
What impresses me the most about Paris is the sheer enormity of the city in terms of the physical layout.  Since the predominant style of architecture is of a mid-height high density scale, sharing uniform colour and several aspects of design, that uniformity radiating from central hubs imparts a ubiquitous sense of place more than a distinct one.  When exploring districts away from main corridors it is easy to stray in a direction different from the one intended.  Different from our grid system of roads and our varied building height/size and style that can allow for lengthy or distant clear views, the curved roads and tightly compressed ‘built spaces’ don’t allow for distant views that are most helpful for navigation. As much as I adore the quaint charm and the fine details of the buildings and compactly structured village style neighbourhoods, the limited range view is at times frustrating and claustrophobic. That said, it is for me the pleasant, helpful and at times outwardly friendly Parisians that give warmth and grace to this city.  As the steady flow of visitors to this destination must at times cause indifference towards non residents, there is by far a greater amount of eager, appreciative and kind residents here.

Give us some insight into your assigned art work from the Muse d’ Orsay.  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?
Alfred Sisley, Boat in the Flood at Port Marly (1886)
What struck me was the actual size of the piece.  In my research of the art work I found that Sisley had painted seven scenes from the flood of Port Marly in 1886.  I had mistaken the dimensions of my assigned work for another of the flood paintings.  As I entered the area where the work was located I did observe several of Sisley’s works and that of his contemporaries, some stacked in pairs of two.  There directly opposite another landscape of Sisley’s works and a vertically stacked pair of Monet’s paintings was the Boat in the Flood at Port Marly.  The painting was hung under another larger painting of the flood series.  For the most part the painting was as I had imagined it in terms of colour and content.  His style of painting was also consistent with my understanding of the work.  From observations made of the collection of Alfred Sisley paintings on display, he affects a shimmering light that is often quite atmospheric sharing an intimate view that might take you to a rural place that he holds dear.  His brush strokes are carefully placed, using thin to medium thickness of paint, his palette simple, sometimes pastel and he combines these effectively to create a gossamer radiance.

Today’s activity was at the Louvre and also the Arc d’ Triumph.  What were your impressions?  What will you take away of the experience?  What, if any are the memorable moments for you?

The spectacle surrounding Mona Lisa is quite a sight.
Day four of museum touring we are at the Louvre.  In my previous visit to Paris this was the lone museum that I visited.  This museum is massive in size and content.  We are forewarned not to attempt to take it in all at once.  Good advice, think I.  Today I must select and review an artwork that has some significance to me and was discussed in our art history lessons.  With tired limbs and eager spirit I advance to the Denon section of the Louvre. Within are the Italian Renaissance paintings and the poster girl for the museum, Mona Lisa. What I recall from my first visit is the enormous popularity of De Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  Humorously-minded I reflect of how on my previous visit I and my companion sought her out and wondered in circles for some time before locating her besieged with visitors. I recall the short time it took to agree that we could forego wading in for a closer view. The signage has changed since then and Mona’s face with directional arrows makes it near impossible to miss. Determined not to snub the Renaissance icon this time I am willing to approach the crowd.  See up-close and personal what all the fuss was about. Honestly, her smile says it all, slightly amused or bemused, not exactly sure which, her gaze speaks of a placid tolerance for all she surveys. Got it Mona, thanks.   

Part of our group posing in front of David's Oath of the Horatii at the Louvre, which in itself drew a large crowd!
(photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
Upon leaving the Louvre I spy a bus destined for Montmatre. Inquiring as to the use of my metro pass with riding the buses I speak with a local woman of senior years standing at the stop.  We get to speaking of the Mona Lisa.  This woman informs me that Saint Anne is the French’s preferred painting of De Vinci’s great works, not Mona Lisa and that I should be sure to view this other paining.  This I decide to do before departing Paris. Later this same day the group is invited to attend a tour of the Arc de Triomphe and a walk along the Champ Elysees. Back on the Metro we train it to this destination. We tunnel under the street to make our way safely to the centre of what must be the largest traffic circle in Paris. Navigating traffic safely in Paris is a serious concern, but I digress. The ascent to the top is via a narrow spiral staircase.  I think I am still dizzy from this tight turning through several stories on that two way journey, but again I digress.  The view from the roof platform is expansive. This is a refreshing change from the often limited ground level perspective.  A particularly striking sunset is progressing.  Much merriment abounds in photo taking and chatting atop the architectural Icon in this world of Paris.  Before we are to arrive home the weather shifts and I am caught in a downpour, oh mon dieu, my new shoes!  C’est le vie! 
View of Paris from top of Arc de Triomphe
(photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
Arc de Triomphe at sunset
(photo courtesy of Dorothy Barenscott)