My Creative Brushes with Notre-Dame de Paris

Game actor Rex, host of my book series, in front of Notre-Dame during his Paris adventure.

Like so many people around the world, I watched with dismay and sorrow as the flames engulfed Notre-Dame de Paris. Thankfully complete destruction was narrowly averted and the main structure was saved. This feature is my little tribute to this beloved cathedral.

I was fortunate to live in Paris most of the winter of 2017–2018 and in that time to visit Notre-Dame. It was late in 2017, a crisp autumn morning with the sun rising behind the cathedral with dreamlike brightness. The reverentially solemn pose in this photo taken by my companion was unplanned, a result of her catching the moment spontaneously:

A perfect morning for the visit.

We went inside and toured for an hour or two. In that time I filmed the footage from which I later edited the video I link to below. There were only a few other people inside. Going as early as possible, when the cathedral opened for the day, had been the right choice.

Fast forward to March 2019 and I was in Reykjavík doing my first public appearance as a creative artist — drawing and animating on stage at the bar Stúdentakjallarinn (“The Student Cellar”) on the University of Iceland campus. I was creating materials for the first volume of my book series You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden. These were among the images I assembled there from materials drawn previously:

Fire in the Haunted Garden. One of the 30 full two-page spreads in Vol. 1 of the book series. I had my iPad Pro hooked up to the screen, so the customers dining or having coffee during that early afternoon hour saw me create these live.
Rex poses in front of Notre-Dame for a classic vacation shot.
Rex meets a doppelgänger during a secret adventure on top of Notre-Dame.

It is a bit eerie to consider these images created only a little more than a month before the tragic fire. There’s the now lost spire between Rex and the shadowy doppelgänger. And there’s the fire in the Garden.

[Edit 22 April 2019: After posting this feature I came across another drawing I had made even before the above ones:

When drawing this, I didn’t have Notre-Dame in mind at all. I only wanted to draw a building with these two towers. I got the idea from a photo not linked to Paris at all, then added the window to give the structure something more. No spire.

This drawing is from February. End edit.]

But I want to write about the topic I am alluding to here — intuition and intuitions — another day.

I’ll conclude this brief personal reflection with the video I made in 2017. I work intuitively and that means that sometimes I need to ponder for a long time after why I did some things. But nearly always the choices that I made only because they felt right end up making sense in hindsight.

With my music for this, the mix of reverence, sadness, solemnity, and the bright blazing ray of hope towards the end now makes sense.

And yes, there is even a subtle nod to the Hunchback.

Notre-Dame de Paris, long may you live and inspire.