Rock Drawing, Antibes


© Durga Yael Bernhard

Here’s a drawing I did on a rock on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Antibes, France.  It was March 2000, and I was on my way home from a month in Guinea, West Africa.  Wishing to avoid the culture shock of returning directly to New York, I spent a week in the south of France first, visiting one of my oldest friends, dear Dominique.

I’ve known Dominique for forty years (incroyable!), since I first traveled to France in 1978.  She is a great and thoughtful art observer, and took me to the Picasso Museum in Antibes.  This was the first museum ever dedicated to Picasso’s work, and had been his home, known at the time as Grimaldi Castle, for six months.  The collection in this little museum was exquisite.  Coming from West Africa, I especially appreciated those works that showed an obvious African influence.  And I loved Picasso’s hand-painted ceramic plates. Check out this amazing guitar sculpture!  

As we left the museum and walked along the edge of the sea, I was full of ideas for paintings of my own. But I had only a small sketchbook with me, and a few stumps of conté crayon – those beautiful little earth-colored sticks of color with a uniquely moist, but not greasy, consistency.  Conté crayons were used by artists in Picasso’s day, and even earlier.

my photo of a street in Antibes, France

So I took out my conté crayons – white, black, dark brown and a warm medium brown were all I had.  It was enough.  I picked a large boulder that was well above the high tide mark.  Out came a winged serpent, sunning itself on the rock – one of countless creatures that wriggled through my imagination.  This one seemed friendly enough, so I took a picture before we walked away – with a film camera!  That’s almost as hard to imagine now as that long-ago day with my friend, eighteen years ago.

As the saying goes – time flies, so you might as well sun yourself on a rock.

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