Thursday, March 3, 2011

Leave him alone. Let him paint.

Walking out of my hotel in Montmartre, I take a deep breathe and look around. "I am soooo in Paris." That's all I can think. I start to walk to my right and realize that today is going to be a day of decisions and will hold the potential for getting a bit lost. Within one minute of being in the morning, Parisian air I realize that this city is reflective of a spiderweb that's been through a storm and is no longer a simple, circular pattern.

I make my decision and proceed down a narrow street, no map in hand, no plan in mind. The quiet street quickly changes and I discover that I am walking through the fabric district. That's right, I didn't mean fashion. There are men carrying bolts of fabric, throwing them to each other. There are undressed mannequins sitting in the back of a van. There are stylish women...smoking. Yes, this is the Paris I was expecting existed beyond the Louvre.

I continue on, not sure where I'm heading. I move my way through either a Turkish or a Kurdish neighborhood, I'm not sure. It is quite mixed and it is, so far, the loudest place I've experienced in Paris. True, it's only day 2, but still, the cacophony of languages and clattering knick knacks is more than I can process at once. I will say that it smelled amazing, like roasting nuts and spices, with a twinge of city odor.
Moving out of the little pocket of the East, I cross Boulevard de Magenta. There in front of me stands a church in desperate need of either pressure washing or baking soda. It's amazing. Eglise St Laurent stood before me. Black spires, tarnished roof, dirty stained glass: it is the perfect Parisian church. I have to capture it. It must be painted. I sat on a bench, blue sky above, and started dabbing my watercolors.
Not long after I began, a little girl stopped dead in her tracks. She looked confusedly at my flip book of paintings then put her finger in my wet watercolor palate. "Laissez-le tranquille. Il est la peinture" her mother said (Leave him alone. He is painting.) I told her not to worry: "Ne vous inquiétez pas. Elle est bonne." She smiled and walked away with her daughter. Others walked by and glanced down, smiling slightly. It was as if they knew that the purpose of Paris is to paint.

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