Sainte-Croix: l’Atelier de mécanique ancienne du Dr Wyss

Here is a machine that was used to make music boxes:

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The machine is about 100 years old. It still works. It sits with its colleagues and companion machines in the workshop of Dr Wyss, in Sainte-Croix. Dr Wyss collected the ancient machines, as the music box industry declined in the region. They are now looked after in a dim and oily machine shop, in a semi-basement of an unremarkable building. Mr Théodore Hatt is their carer, curator and operator. I had the great privilege of spending some time in the workshop, quietly drawing, while Mr Hatt showed the collection to a visiting engineer from Germany.

The machines operate from huge and very dangerous-looking belts in the ceiling. At a certain point in his presentation, Mr Hatt sets all these belts in motion. They create a gentle rhythmic noise, rumbling down the length of the workshop. He connects different machines, driven by the belts. Each machine changes the noise slightly. His explanations, in German, come to me in harmony with the machine beats.

I drew the electroplating machine, and the drill:

Here are some work-in-progress photos, and a close-up of the cogwheel in the first picture:

 

On the way home, in Geneva airport, I drew the view:

“Amidst runway fog
a hawk circles and plummets.
The crows are annoyed.”

 

Sketching in Sainte-Croix, Vaud, July 2019

I had been travelling since 5am. So I just rested. I looked out of the hotel window. I saw chimney pots.

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With the wind and snow in Switzerland, it’s worth a lot of effort on the part of the chimney pot designer to get it right. Clearly, though, much experimentation is required. Every one in this drawing is different.

Switzerland is the only place I know where copper is a construction material. The rest of us use it to make small domestic items, or jewellery. But here, the whole of the chimney pot stack with the cylindrical top, in the middle of the picture, is made of copper. Also copper is the guttering which runs across the middle foreground, and some of the down pipes.

Later, in a pause, I made another drawing, this time from the terrace of the Hôtel de France. This time I was tuned in to chimney pots. See the marvellous construction on the skyline! It is even furnished with a set of steps, so the chimney pot repairer is provided for. Or perhaps the chimney sweep.

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Another day I searched for chimney pots again, since this was becoming a theme. Here is the view from the same place, looking a slightly different direction.

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Here is the picture under construction.

The item in the middle of the base of the picture is a letter box. I posted a few postcards:

Pen and ink sketches are a good way to fill in the time waiting while travelling:

And I did some sketching at the breakfast table.

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Breakfast room, Hôtel de France, 11th July 2019

 

Hôtel de France, Vaud

Last week I stayed with my friends at the Hôtel de France in Sainte-Croix.

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Here is a sketch I made of the hotel from across the road, sitting on a wall by the lay-by. It was really cold, 4 degrees C. One and a half hours, drawn and coloured on location.

A woman parks her car in my line of sight and blocks the view. She is one of a succession of people who parks their car in my line of sight and blocks the view. They all do so unapologetically. I might be just air, sitting there with my sketchbook.

They are collecting items from the hardware shop, which is called “Jaccard”. They all return quite quickly and drive off. So I have become used to the rhythm, and it no longer bothers me. I draw the chimneys, over the top of the car, and the distant mountain, which is called Covatannaz.

This particular woman, on returning to her car, called out “Hélène!”. Her car was empty. I assumed she was calling to someone round the corner. “Hélène,” she said again. I realised she was talking to me. None of my names is Hélène, although I quite like the name. I ran through the options in my head. Was “Hélène” a kind of French form of “Fore!”, which golfers shout? Was this a warning of some kind? No. She and I were looking at each other, she with an open face of greeting, me no doubt with a puzzled frown, which after a little while influenced her open greeting, and she frowned too.

“Bonjour!” I said brightly, hoping to lighten the mood.

“Ah,” she said, and her expression altered again. Perhaps my voice was wrong. Even with one word, my English accent must have been apparent. “Excusez-moi,” she continued,  “Je vous avez prise pour Hélène Jumeaux*.” She continued to look at me as though I might change my mind and confess to being Hélène Jumeaux, despite the accent. When I didn’t, she hid her confusion by examining my picture, which she genuinely seemed to like, and she complimented me.

Prosopagnosia, face blindness, affects maybe 1 in 50 people, according to “faceblind.org“. It is an inability to recognise faces, not an inability to remember names. That is also a problem, but a different one. I know this, because, as I’ve got older, face blindness has become more and more of a problem for me. I felt sympathy for the woman. Neither my limited mastery of French, nor the situation, enabled me to express this connection. But we managed. We smiled, and talked about the picture.

Forgive me if I pass you on the street without recognising you, even if we’ve seen each other only a few hours before. Please say hello. And say your name.  As I’ve got older I’ve realised that many mental and physical defects, such as deafness, visual impairment, prosopagnosia, encroaching memory loss, can all be interpreted, by people who are young and fully functional, as rudeness. It’s made me more forgiving of other people’s weaknesses, other people’s apparent rudeness.

Here is the line drawing, the same picture as above, before the colour went on.

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Here are a couple more drawings from the same trip, and a photo of this drawing on location, just after I finished it.

I have made pictures at the Hôtel de France before:

Sainte-Croix, Vaud, Switzerland

Sainte-Croix, Vaud

View from a Swiss Hotel

Some sketches of hotel tableware

Here is a gallery of archive sketches from Vaud and Sainte-Croix.

*names in this story have been changed

Sainte-Croix, Vaud

I’m just back from another visit to Sainte-Croix in Vaud, Switzerland. Mostly I was working, but I managed to do a few sketches.

I started sketching at the airport. The flight was full.

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Here’s one of the outside of the hotel, done in 1 hour and 50 minutes, sitting on the pavement in the sun.

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In between work on the computer and discussions, I made small quick sketches of what was in front of me. I experimented with watercolour sticks, which are very messy, but deliver strong bright colour.

Here’s another experiment with the watercolour sticks. I was walking back from the swimming pool, and saw this sweep of land and the farmhouse sheltered by trees.  I was shortly due back at the hotel, so I made this sketch in about 10 minutes, sitting on the road. The watercolour sticks throw the colour on very quickly, and don’t allow me to fuss.

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Here is a sketch made in about 20 minutes, while waiting for a meeting to start. I was looking out of the window…..

IMG_4626 From the window of the Bistro

At the end of my visit I sat at a table on the terrace and looked across to the Mont de Baulmes.

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Pen and wash, 20 minutes plus 20 minutes later.

Here are the watercolour sticks in their new/old box. It’s an old cigarette box. I just discovered they all fit into it nicely.

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Here’s a drawing on location:

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With thanks to Marina and Rolf, proprietors of the Hôtel de France, 25 rue Centrale, Sainte-Croix, Vaud, Switzerland. www.hotelfrance.ch

I have sketched here before:

Sainte-Croix, Vaud, Switzerland

I visited the Hôtel de France, Sainte-Croix in Vaud, Switzerland. Here is the hotel, from the street outside, just after I arrived.

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I had to wait in Geneva train station, for the train which goes to Yverdon-les-Bains. The sun came through the windows and people walked through the lighted space.

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The Hôtel de France is known for its absinthe.

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IMG_3521I sketched the absinthe table. The bottles look like a group of people waiting for something to happen. Like people, the bottles have common basic characteristics, but each has their individual variations.

Glasses, too, have their characters.

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I walked down the ancient salt road to the village of Vuitebœuf. Here is the Église de Vuitebœuf from the rue du Culaz, which I afterwards found out is also on the ‘Via Francigena’ pilgrims’ route Canterbury to Rome (1900km).

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This church was constructed in 1904 to the design of Charles-François Bonjour.

I travelled back to London late Sunday night, on a crowded ‘plane from Geneva.

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Work in progress on the drawing of the Hôtel de France, 19 April 2018. Jackson’s watercolour sketch book, 7″ x 10″

Here are links to previous drawings in Sainte-Croix.

View from a Swiss Hotel

Some sketches of hotel tableware

Sainte-Croix, Vaud

Here is a link to the etching of the Absinthe Table: The Absinthe Table

Sainte-Croix, Vaud

This is the church.

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Drawn and coloured on location, about 1 degree C. That’s snow in the foreground.

Then later, it was colder.

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Hotel de France, drawn from the street, at minus 6 degrees C. This took two attempts. I had to retreat to the hotel after about 10 minutes to warm up, then I went out again and finished the picture. Colour completed in the hotel restaurant.

Here are some other sketches from the trip.

 

I have drawn at Sainte-Croix before:

View from a Swiss Hotel

Some sketches of hotel tableware

Snow in Sainte-Croix

View from a Swiss Hotel

It was raining in Switzerland. Here is a sketch I did looking out of the window of the Hôtel de France, Sainte-Croix, Vaud. The building with the flags is the Hotel de Ville or town hall.

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I was quite pleased with the hedge, which only took a few seconds to paint.

Here’s the view:

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Earlier, I’d tried to paint outdoors.

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The painting got wet. But perhaps that adds atmosphere.