“A Break From The Heat – Jardins du Luxembourg”

“A Break From The Heat - Jardins du Luxembourg”, by Robert Leedy, 2003, watercolor on paper, 9.75 x 15.375 in., Collection of the Artist
“A Break From The Heat – Jardins du Luxembourg”
by Robert Leedy, 2003,
watercolor on paper,
9.75 x 15.375 in.,
Collection of the Artist

During the summer of 2003, Paris saw one of the worst heat waves in history. Vicky loves Parisian Augusts and she somehow talked me out of going to Maine. She loves the fact that there is barely any traffic and the city almost takes on a sleepy state. I groan about the fact that many of the restaurants shut down and it is often difficult to find a boulangerie that is open for business. Just about all Parisians decide to go to the beach at the same time. And the worst part is they all get on the Autoroute at the same time. I reluctantly agreed to stay. We had no idea how horrible the coming weeks were to play out…

Two artist friends from Puerto Rico – Gary Ahrens & Monica Laird – were visiting us. They are used to intense heat but even in Puerto Rico – air conditioning is common. Not so in Paris! Days were tolerable but the nights were sleepless and miserably hot.

Sadly, thousands of French people died – due to the heat wave – over the span of several weeks and government officials were busy pointing fingers at one another. In the meantime, I haunted BHV (the Parisian version of Sears) daily – searching for electric fans, which were promised but never delivered. We were so hot we even considered checking into an air-conditioned hotel.

But the heat didn’t stop Monica, Gary and me from painting. “A Break From the Heat – Jardins du Luxembourg” was created on one of those stifling hot days. We sat and sketched people in the retreat of the park’s shade. The Jardins du Luxembourg has plenty of subject matter in that respect. I liked the silhouetted views of various people relaxing, sleeping, reading and people-watching. The best part was that my subjects were all sitting very still. The painting shows a counterbalance of hot and cool as well as a repetition of figures and tree trunks, which echo the repetition of the balustrades in the background.

That summer was incredibly hot and this painting will always bring back those memories of drawing a cold bath at 3 a.m….


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