Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The portraitist's draw - 24th May 2016


A lit diagram at Madeleine Métro station of some of the stations I passed through most days on my way to busk in Montmartre.
Square Jehan-Rictus, Place des Abbesses, Paris
A host of sparrows were pecking between the cobbles for titbits in front of me and as soon as I started folk fiddling, two two-euro coins landed in my case.
The bells of Église Saint-Jean-l'Évangéliste punctuated my set, Irish tunes from which an Italian-looking lady deemed (in her own language) "very beautiful"; an Englishwoman with storm cloud hair referrred to the (what I thought were called) foxgloves in the square behind me as being "Canterbury bells," and a guy with no arse in his trousers took photos of me from every conceivable angle, clapped, then sauntered off without offering me so much as a cent.
Out of the blue I had a coughing fit - probably as a result of hayfever which I often suffer from in this area during the summer, and just as I decided to pack up, the driver of a truck much too big for these pretty streets halted to replenish the Vélib (Parisian bicycle sharing system) station.

This doily-like bird adorned a section of wall between shopfronts at the top of rue Houdon, Montmartre.
Place du Tertre - Norvins bus stop, Paris
I received 20 cents from an appreciative, chivalrous sort, but felt as if I was going to be wasting my time here, so I moved on.
Corner of rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Paris


It occurred to me much later on in my stay that I may have unintentionally stolen the above portraitist's pitch, given that he annoyingly planted himself virtually exactly where I'd decided to play my fiddle. He was friendly enough, though, and told me that my playing sounded "very good." Perhaps he believed that my music would attract more potential subjects for him to draw (the street was relatively free of tourists given that it was the beginning of the week). 
The usual suspects artists-wise were there, together with the sad sight of armed soldiers on patrol, plus I saw yet another Japenese bride. The hem of her white wedding dress was grey with dirt and I wondered if she was the same bride I'd seen here yesterday?!
Rain spots were in the air as a couple I guessed were either Spanish or Mexican (the woman reminded me of the artist Frida Kahlo), listened intently to my performance (it was as if the man was testing me), then made a contribution, as did a blonde male photographer who thanked me. Despite all the positive attention I'd been soaking up, I felt fundamentally alone, and a numbness I'd experienced in the middle finger of my right hand during the winter had returned.

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