Doesn’t that image make you want to be in Paris right now? The illustrations by Lina Nordin Gee (@parisianpostcards) have been a delight for this art lover/Francophile over the past few weeks since I first discovered her account on Instagram. Lina has been sharing the most beautiful watercolor illustrations while Paris has been under lockdown.
Through her illustrations you can imagine looking out on the city from your balcony, strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg, picking up a book from one of the booksellers along the Seine, or hopping on Le Carrousel.
When did your love of illustration begin?
My mum was in the middle of art school when I was born, so I have been surrounded by creativity since the beginning. I pretty much always have a pen in my hand.
Watercolor is one of your preferred mediums for your illustrations. What are some of the other mediums that you like to use in addition to watercolor?
Funnily enough, watercolour is actually a pretty recent medium for me. I used to use a lot of “Promarkers” and colouring pens for my work. I started with the watercolours just before Christmas. I was watching the sun set from my window in Montmartre and I just got the urge to paint it, so I went into the back drawer and dug out the old paint set my mum gave me when I was 9 years old, and I just went for it.
Place des Vosges
During the Paris lockdown you created one sketch a day. What were some of the things that inspired you to continue to create during the lockdown?
All the wonderful feedback! It started to feel like a community, people were commenting on my work, coming up with ideas of what to paint next, telling me how my work reminded them of their travel stories… It was a great distraction from being confined to a tiny apartment and not knowing what the future would hold. And if my paintings could cheer people up, even if in a tiny way, I was so happy to continue.
I loved the illustration you did of Carin (Paris in Four Months) What was is one your favorite pieces that you illustrated during the lockdown?
Thank you! I love her photos, they’re so nice and inspiring – a great representation of Paris. I could happily paint her whole feed haha. But if I have to pick my favourite from the past two months it might be “Les bouquinistes”. It shows a woman walking along the banks of the Seine, next to the “bouquinistes”, the book sellers. During the lockdown we were only allowed to be maximum 1 km away from our home, living in Montmartre that meant I couldn’t see the water and I missed it so much. The first thing I did when the lockdown was lifted was to take a walk along the Seine with my husband.
You have a shop on Instagram where you sell prints of your original watercolor illustrations. (My favorites are Audrey and the balloons, Le Carrousel and Place des Vosges.) When creating these Parisian scenes did you paint from memory, take photographs of the different locations, or do you occasionally paint en plein air?
I usually mix it up. I look at a picture for some bits, and just rely on my imagination for the rest. It depends on my mood. If I paint a commission I have to follow a more specific criteria of course.
Both you and your husband (Oliver Gee aka The Earful Tower) who recently published his Paris memoirs and you illustrated the cover, are expats with Oliver hailing from Australia and you from Sweden. What do you enjoy the most about exploring Paris with Oliver?
To take our little red scooter for a ride, exploring new areas of Paris. Before we had the scooter we used to walk everywhere, it’s absolutely the best way to get to know a city I think.
Les temps des cerises
Where are some of your favorite spots in Paris that you plan to visit now that the lockdown has been lifted?
I like the area around Canal St Martin, it’s got such a good collection of independent boutiques, cafés and bars. I’m also curious to explore the Left Bank a bit more. We’ve always lived on the Right Bank, and now after having been confined to it for months, we are starting to think about moving to the other side of the Seine… we’ll see!
In addition to illustrating, you also design shoes and handbags for Deuxieme Studios a Paris based company. How do you find the balance between your shoe/handbag designs and your illustration work?
Oh this decision was made for me during the lockdown. All my products were taken hostage during the lockdown, locked inside shops in Paris and beyond (including Printemps!). So I pretty much put my normal job on hold during confinement. Now that we’re getting back into the swing of things again, I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off with the shoes and bags. But don’t worry, the paint set isn’t tucked away in the back drawer anymore.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Purchase prints of Lina’s illustrations via her Etsy shop, and follow along Instagram @parisianpostcards
All illustrations via Lina Nordin Gee