2022/01/08

Drawing the Magic Moment

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Magic Moment watercolor drawing in the book City Of Light

Twilight time is always my favor moment wherever I am, the mysterious blue is stunning and attractive, it's the perfect time to enjoy before dark.

During the trip, I rarely took photos at night. There are some reasons behind such as Tired - after walking a whole day long, sometimes without eating enough (to save time especially during visiting museums :P); it will killing me to bring along with a tri-pot for shooting night scene. Well, I can increase the ISO of course as an alternative, but I have to confess I am stubborn, I don't like the noise resulted of high speed. How about to use my light weight titanium tri-pot? it’s a bit small for my D300…the one that fits, my Manfrotto, sooooooo….heavy! I quit :P

Temperature - it’s quite cold at night, usually in single digit or even 1-2 degree only, it takes time to explore stunning scene, not knowing for how long to discover one, because my target are definitely not the tourist spots; so, the cozy and warm hotel room always win.

Safety - I should be pretty safe at night in the tourist zone such as 1er of where I stayed, and most others zones up to 8er. But photo shooting is not “safe” sometimes, the desire of chasing a perfect scene makes me lost of my way, it happens often in Hong Kong (but it’s never a problem because H.K. is small & familiar to me). 

An exhausted normal height Asian with a camera getting lost in the dark alley of an unfamiliar city…I guess I could be… or, if I am safe by luck, return late night by metro is not a good idea either; unless by taxi or…

Drawing the Magic Moment watercolor with photo reference
Am I having too many concerns? I think so. When I was writing this book, I did regret of not taking more night scene photos, I have to assist by recap of my memories with the help of online reference – not a perfect experience, feeling there are something missing… 

The watercolor drawing as well as the book cover are really my wishes to “be there at that moment”, not only in twilight time, but also at night on the roof top; hopefully someday, I shall return to Paris … together with my proper gear for a midnight walk.


 

2022/01/01

Happiness is...

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early morning scene outdoor in Paris

I spent most of the day time to explore Paris on foot usually began at 0800, although sometimes I woke up earlier at 0400 or 0600, I would stay in my room for a bit longer until I saw a faint sun ray appeared above the roof top outside my window. Because early in the morning and after mid night, the temperature would drop to a few degree Celsius, it was not wise to stay outdoor without having a full breakfast or in an exhausted body after a long walk.

Hazy grey sky

As I've told you earlier in my post, the weather in 
Paris within a day was unstable but interesting, even though there was no sun light above the roof, I would begin my journey of the day, by walking on the street in a slightly freezing air, there were so many times I did experience the magic moment of the transaction from haze grey sky into transparent blue; or whenever I thought the cloud seems turning thicker and thicker, raining? May be, but suddenly the sky wide open for a golden sun ray to burst…so beautiful, I saw HOPE of a new day.

Bright sun ray shine to a balcony in Paris

I did remember on a few similar mornings when I was walking along, not many people on the street, so it was a bit quiet and “dull” overall, there were always something drawn my attention simply a balcony, a window, a café chair, or an architectural moulding at the exterior of a building…which were highlighted by the beam of sun ray, every time, yes, every time I felt  amazing, so joyful to meet “Ray”, it was a symbolic of a fresh start, I loved that feeling, the aroma of the warmth.

 Tower Eiffel in the dark

Well, of course, there would be on the contrary, a sunny day turns into cloudy suddenly when I just picked up my camera facing Tower Eiffel, so I made a choice to adjust the exposure for this shot instead, I’m sure it could be identified no matter what, right? :D

May be it’s no big deal of what I’ve seen compare to the mysterious Aurora of the Arctic, sunrise in Africa, sunset at the Grand Canyon, moonlight of…you name it. What I think is not where you are but what you want. To me, I definitely want the enlightenment of the age, the pursuit of happiness, how about you?

2021/12/25

Behind the "City Of Light"

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City Of Light book cover
click to enlarge image
When I started to write this series in the first place, monochrome book cover as well as the drawing inside was my key design preference, plus…one book in a reverse of white on black. Originally I thought I will use this theme in book Six - Hear Me; but it seems the content was not appropriate and I didn’t want all those “voices” that needed to be heard fell into the “dark”. So I pended the idea until this one, which is good fit as I think.

City of Light - another name of Paris, we usually think maybe this is related to the prosperity and prestige of the luxurious life style in this city; or at least we will link to the stunning night scene along Champs Élysée or light show at the Tower Eiffel, right? 

But it actually represents the evolution period of having gas street lamp in the first large European City, in a massive scale, that light up most of the dark rue/ alley. The original idea of King Louis XIV who appointed lieutenant Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie to make Paris into a safe city, it was started by gas lanterns and candles then gradually gas street light, forming the “La Ville Lumière” or so call “Age of the Enlightenment” since 1829. I can imagine the excitement of Parisians when the lighting up of Rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, Place du Carrousel and other grand boulevards by almost 56000 gas lamps in 1860s.


Yellowish street lamp in front of a church in Paris
We can still see a lot of beautiful gas lamps located at the streets and bridges along the Seine, I think no one will forget how stunning the night scene they are. But time flies, you may discover (as what I’ve seen) some, may be most of the gas lamps had already been replaced by LED light bulb inside those antique art like lamp shade, even though the warm yellowish tone remains, I guess it’s a bit difference to those in the good old days. 
 
Hong Kong had a lot of gas street lamps also, long time ago, but gradually reduced and only 4 left in Central along the staircase in Duddell Street (since 1922), I did remember what it looks like when lit up, moody & wordless romantic.  No matter how, we are living in the 21th Century, nothing can last forever except memories.

In fact, there is also another meaning for “The Age of Enlightenment” which is very meaningful. From 17th to 18th Century, there was the intellectual & philosophical movement that dominated in European, people aware sovereignty of reason, the ideals of separation of church & state, of having a constitutional government, liberty, fraternity, equality…as well as the pursuit of happiness; that every mankind deserves. Hope for the future, become one of the core meaning, too.

The happening of all these new thoughts did relate to the emerged of philosophers, scientists, artists, literati who widely spread or discussed these ideas in café, salons or scientific academies…, etc; a truly flourishing moment, I shall say. 

When I have finished my research, I know this book could mean more than only the scenery or a specific period in Paris, so I’ve decided to write for someone who need a spark of light, those who deserve to pursuit of their happiness as we do.





2021/12/10

Day to Night

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Another beauty that I found in Paris at night when my new friend Li, she guided me to walk through some streets at night after dinner, not many people on the street, may be they were still in the bistro, at home or in the restaurant enjoying their meal.

We were in the 1st arrondissement, a bit quiet at around 2130, yellowish street lamps, light up artistic display in the window showcase of shops; yellowish pendants line up at the pillars next to the squares, café & restaurant covered in orange yellow sheer of light, fainted yellow lamps at the balconies/ windows of somewhere above; other color in green lit signage of the pharmacy, the lonely tri-color traffic lamp together with the “ever glow” gas lamp along the Seine…all under the deepest dark sky. 

I am obsess, I know, another page I can write for what I’ve seen in the City of Light, because at that moment, they all belongs to me, the moment of imagination, the happenings under the light…I wish I can return some day, for another night adventure, another series dedicate to the City of Light.

Back to our walk, Li asked me whether I felt unsafe on the street at night right now, as she never felt that even walking alone at late night…well, I replied “I’m fine…” and after a while, we separated in the midpoint between her apartment & my hotel, and there was still another 20mins walk by myself.

light up street view in the evening of the first arrondissement in Paris

“I’m fine…” because, I have a companion; we are in the safest arrondissement of where Banque de France (Central bank of France) is located; we are on the main streets, I have nothing in my pocket except a credit card and a old mobile phone, I know my destination not far away…a different feeling to a moment when I was alone in an alley of Le Marais on the other day, even it’s only began to turn dark.

Banque De France
So, I make a conclusion to myself, there are environmental conditions that may affect our safety concern, the peaceful mind we can have include two other critical issues - companion and a known destination, that light up on the way as well as the small dark room inside us.

2021/11/01

A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway

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Book Cover of A Moveable Feast
A moveable Feast

I did read The Old Man and the Sea in Chinese version when I was in secondary school, i.e.: long long time ago, this was the very first time that I met this author, not much idea about him and not quite remember the details of the story either.

Second reading was in about 5 years ago, For Whom the Bell Tolls; I was deeply engaged into the following poem 
(old English version) before started : 

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."    (By John Donne) 

Then, I began to read Chapter 1, when I reached the end of the story, this poem once again resonated in my head...this year, I’ve decided I must read  A Moveable Feast as my third reading of Hemingway, because:

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” (excerpt)

I was originally thought this book will bring me to a lot of fascinated scenery or day to day life in Old Paris; but what I’ve found, like most of other readers, this book is more related to the life of Hemingway & his wife Hadley during those days in Paris; pieces of stories with his weird but interesting friends, or those lovely one like Sylvia Beach who gave a helping hands to numerous writers/ artists/ poets when they were no body once upon a time…

What the author actually let me discover is the world of a writer, why he must quit the journalist career to be a full time writer, what he’s actually thought when he was writing in the café, how & why he reacted to his weird friends…A new picture for me to know about Ernest Hemingway – a delicate person. 

It seems a bit strange for me to use this word on him if you know his background and hobby, but truly, this is what I feel, both his personality as well as writing technique.

Like many others, I like to read fictions, they lead us to infinitive imaginations, anything can be happened and experienced. But recently, I started to enjoy reading non-fictions, by knowing more about the author, more resonance can be made while reading the story they’ve written.

As usual, I wish you may have a chance to read this book, too. There are a lot more phrases inside which are worth to read, here is the one which tells me why he said Paris is a Movable Feast that I couldn't agree more.

 “…but this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”



P.S.- cover design of ebook may be different from what I've got in physical paper back

2021/10/29

3+1 "好友?"

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約伯與四個朋友
















還記得大半年前, 無論是自己還是其他教會, 差不多同步地查考聖經內的一卷書"約伯記". 即使我沒有爬 YouTube 的習慣, 但手機內每週也會收到朋友傳發給我, 由不同牧者用約伯記講道的訊息. 甚至連 IG 也有朋友以此為題材分享, 何為困苦? 尤其是發生在約伯身上, 似乎沒法子解釋的苦難, 應該如何解讀及面對?

在短短差不多一年的時間內, 我參加了自己教會, 由牧師特別安排的連續幾個短期查經班, 約伯記是其中一課. 今次, 牧師帶我們探索的主角, 並非約伯, 而是他身邊那些"好朋友"; 在理解神的創造秩序之餘, 更再次提醒著我們在現實生活中, 應該如何陪伴正在面對困局/受苦的人.

陪伴、聆聽、同理心、不代替神説話、從困苦中尋找上主的恩言…一步一步的全是可行又合理不過. 至少, 學習不要用自己的"大道理"去第二次傷害受苦中的人~ 就是在不知不覺中, 用我們有限的智慧去強行解釋現况. 

曾幾何時當我們對着一個剛喪親的人説:"不要多想, 慢慢會忘記悲痛…"
又或者對着一個長期患病的人説:"不要停止治療, 總會有痊癒的一天…"
又或者對一個身處政局動盪的國家, 連下一秒也不知死活的人説:"我為你禱告,願你平安..."
又或者對着一個因車禍而要截肢的人説:"不用喪掉生命, 已經很幸運, 快來感恩…"
還有無數無數你我也聽過甚至經歷過的例子, 難道這一切都是錯嗎? 
都不是該給予的安慰說話嗎?

事實上很多安慰的説話也確是出於好意, 只是我們不得不承認, 世上有不少苦難, 並非三言兩語便可"打發", 甚至乎仍要待在漫長的黑夜中… 直至該完結的時間來到. 而在這段時間裏, 與其勉強回應, 還是靜靜聆聽來得更好.

盡管有時, 我們以為自己曾經有相同經歷, 於是便對受苦者提供千萬個可以"即時解困"的方法… 説真的, 不盡相同; 反而當我們可以謙卑地明白自己的無助和有限時, 神自有其工作; 此刻,可不靜靜的陪伴、聆聽和等待…也許這才是好朋友應該做的事, 互勉之!








2021/10/22

Shore Wonderland

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Shore Wonderland watercolor of Palette October by Oiseau Distrait




















Palette October is the title of this book, so what should I draw for the center page? A full palette of what I have seen in this season? or, hmm...how about a more precise definition to the title: a journey towards for a better future?!

Scenery above the water of Seine was marvelous and how about underneath, would it be something like this? an entrance to a secret place for the "broken hearts" to build their perfect world? Nobody knows, as I've said, we always have a choice to pursue of happiness, even though we know we need to take the risks that might come along...still worth a try, or at least to dream of!

Drawing has it's magic code that photography cannot achieve, even in writing; Infinite Space of what you can imagine, you can express visually, there is no boundary except sometimes, I shall confess my drawing technique is the only limitation. That's why I am using all of these three elements to create my book, which have their individual "magic code", hopefully you like them all.