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Aug 042009

This will be the first of many posts I make about the trip my wife and I took to Europe in the summer of 2005. I did A LOT of sketching through the entire trip and learned quite a few things about art and about myself. Today I want to present this little pen and ink sketch I did of Le Arc De Triomphe in Paris.

Man Vs. Art and wife visit Le Arc De Triomphe

I agreed to an ENTIRE morning of non stop shopping up and down the Champs-Elyséeswith my wife Hortencia (I call her Ortie for short) on one condition. I got to choose where we had lunch.

 Ortie in her natural element doing what she does best.  Shopping.

Ortie in her natural element doing what she does best. Shopping.

In true geek form I wanted to pay homage to Pulp Fiction by having a ” Royale with cheese” at the local McDonalds down the block.

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You know that little voice we all have in our heads that warns us when something is a bad idea? Yeah well at that moment mine was out taking a whizz. Eating at Mcdonald’s was a decision that I would soon regret. The fool that I was.

We left Mickey D’s and continued down the Champs-Elysées. Ortie stopped to admire a some shoes on display in Boutique’s window. All of a sudden I doubled over in McPain with a horrible McCramp in my McStomach followed by an uncontrollable urge to McHurl.

The French consider Americans to be uncultured boors. They don’t really like us. And here I am on the verge of committing what the French call a Faux Pas, a social blunder. I was about to “Tarantino” my Royale with cheese all over the sidewalk.” I was definitely not “Lovin’ it.” I made a beeline for the nearest trash can and braced for the imminent onslaught. Then just as quickly as it came, the gut wrenching pain was gone. The royale with cheese had decided to stay put.

I pulled my head out of the trash can and there before me was the perfect view of Le Arc De Triomphe in all its monumental glory. Perfectly framed, complete with a strong light source and no obstructions.

It was perfect! Perfect I tells ya!

It was perfect! Perfect I tells ya!

The entire morning I had stared at Le Arc de Triomphe with the desire to draw it. I just couldn’t find a decent spot to plop down and do it. Now I had this perfect spot to draw from! As an added bonus there was an empty bench right in front of me! Joy!

It was go time!

It was go time!

Half an hour to 45 minutes later I had executed this sketch using pen and ink with  a little wash.

Not bad but it was missing what the french call Je ne sais quoi.

Not bad but it was missing what the french call Je ne sais quoi.

It was okay, but I felt strongly that it needed figure or two in the foreground. Of the dozens of people that walked by me not a single one felt right. I wanted to put someone cool in my drawing.An esteemed representative of Paris you know? Like a wealthy Parisian Dowager walking her poodle,

Hey Frenchie!

Hey Frenchie!

Or a scraggly Jean Reno guy leaning on the street lamp and lighting up a smoke.

 I don't think he's Janet's brother though.

I don’t think he’s Janet’s brother though.

Isn’t Paris supposed to be the friggin’ city of romance for crying out loud?! Well, c’mon Paris do your thing!

It was getting late and we had a tight schedule to stick to. But the blasted drawing felt incomplete. I was disappointed and frustrated to say the least. I sighed and muttered as I gathered up my things to leave. That’s when the miracle happened.

A big white limousine pulled up. Then a really short French guy in a tweed jacket holding a big camera oompa loompaed his way out of the limo. He looked very stressed and the whole time was chattering a non stop stream of French gibberish (to moi) in that comical “short guy” voice. I considered but quickly dismissed the idea of drawing him. The French ambassador of the lollipop guild just didn’t fit in with what I wanted. I could have gone for the obvious Napoleon joke with mini me and Le Arc, but that’s too easy. Only posers and hacks go for the easy joke.

Then, just like movie stars arriving to a red carpet event a young Asian newlywed couple stepped out of the limo and right into the empty spot in front of me. I swear this is true!

The groom looked totally GQ in his Tux. And the Bride? Sweet Tonata! Can you say princess? Mr. Frodo was snapping pictures like crazy and I realized they were having their wedding portrait taken with Le Arc De Triomphe as the backdrop. I remember thinking what a cool idea it was.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. It almost felt like I had willed them to into existence! I know it sounds silly, but as an artist, feelings like this are very empowering and totally conducive to kicking the quality of your work up a notch! With renewed vigor I grabbed my pen and sketched the newlyweds while Harve Villaichez photographed them.

This is how the final sketch turned out.

The wedding Couple was exactly what I needed in  my drawing.  They tied everything together nicely.

The wedding Couple was exactly what I needed in my drawing. They tied everything together nicely.

Folks, I ask you, isn’t that the sappiest, most romantic cornball thing ever? I couldn’t have asked for a better subject. That was certainly a special moment I captured with my pen and I feel very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time. I was the second happiest guy in the whole world. The first happiest guy in the world was of course the groom who was grinning from ear to ear the whole time!

It all happened so fast! I wanted to thank them for giving me my “magical Paris moment”, But by the time I looked up they were leaving. I watched the Limo slowly pull away from the curb and then disappear into the afternoon Paris traffic forever.

I put my arm around my wife and we walked back to our hotel.

Maybe someday the Asian couple might find this blog or podcast. I’m sure they would love to hear this story as well as see the drawing. Heck I’d give it to them. I’d tell them to consider it a wedding gift. Hey. I just realized Art is the gift that keeps on giving! Ha!

This taught me a valuable lesson. Whether it be good or bad a little luck can make or break a work of art. A poser will always fail to take advantage of things like luck, because he fails to act in time. He spends his time reacting. By then it’s too late. It’s what makes poser work look lifeless and contrived. In order to properly draw what you see, you need to learn how to “see” first.

A great artist is aware of his surroundings and is always ready to adapt to any sudden change in circumstances. Part of Art’s appeal, at least to me is spontaneity.

On that day in Paris years ago Man had accepted Art’s challenge, and Man won!
But only with luck.

Thank you Paris France for giving me such a memorable experience.
I hope to come back real soon

Now where is my wine and cheese.

Shameless Plugs!

This Saturday August 8th from 3 to 9 pm I will be exhibiting some new paintings at the Casita Del Pueblo Gallery at
6738 Greenleaf Ave in the city of Whittier California.


I am extending a  VIP invitation to all of my readers and  listeners. There will be food drinks and plenty of art! So come by and say Hi!



Also my good friend and fellow artist Jim Lujan has put together The Edge Of L.A. Comic-Con Animation Fest on Saturday August 15th. at the Claremont Packing house 532 W. 1st street Claremeont CA 91711.

Bring the kids! Admission is Free so be sure to tell the guy that you are a friend of  Man vs. Art and get 1/2 off the price of admission

Following the screenings there will be a Q and A discussion with the creators! So animation students are encouraged to check it out!

You can see more of my work at my official website www.studioraul.com,

Thanks again for joining me and I hope you have an artful day!

Man Vs Art copyright 2009 Raul Aguirre Jr.



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 Posted by at 11:00 am

  6 Responses to “How can a little luck make a big difference in your art?”

  1. Should be fun, can’t hardly wait!!!

  2. Awesome Podcast! Very entertaining. Keep it up. Hope to hear more soon and often.

  3. This is a really well done podcast. Your passion comes throught the airwaves. Great stuff to listen to while you draw or create. Kudos!

  4. so Amazing,..

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