En route to our Thanksgiving destination, it was warm enough to sit on a bench in Jackson Square, New Orleans yesterday afternoon to do this sketch of Andrew Jackson on a horse. Sometimes sketching relieves a mind tired of taking in news and lots of sights (most of which we’ve seen before).
This afternoon, the square was a relaxing, brightly lit scene with red Christmas ribbons tied on the lampposts at the entrances to the Jackson Square park. Palm trees twinkled in the sun, while huge lime-green leaves on the banana trees had a natural sparkle all around the park. The afternoon’s light was crisp and clear, with fathers watching their toddlers and foreign visitors enjoying sitting on the benches all around the park. Gradually the sun sank lower in the sky and a chill penetrated the shady side of the park. Fortunately by then I was ready to call it quits, and get back to the sunny side of the square. Certainly on such a beautiful day in a week of Thanksgiving, there’s lots to be thankful for. There may be time to set up an easel here tomorrow morning and try to blend in with the street artists!
I’m back home from overseas again in time to catch the last of the fall colors–coppers, golds, ochres, and dark rose–still glinting in the bright sunshine as I make my way past a nearby lake. This is the sort of scene I typically try to capture in watercolor.
This time, though, I’m determined to paint with acrylics in something of a “watercolor” style on watercolor paper, as I can see examples of such work by an artist whose work is exhibited in a gallery near this lake. (Hers is more abstract with other media included, such as alcohol inks,as well.) So back at home, it’s time for this experiment. As with watercolor, finding the right amount of water to achieve the best look is a challenge but it’s surprisingly easy to use acrylic paints on paper. I’ll have to keep trying this out.
Being in the sleepy town of Königswinter, Germany this week had the feel of walking onto the set of the Grand Budapest Hotel, as if dropped into the town in a different era. Here, we were near Bonn, the former capital of Germany and, this week and next, the host of the COP23 international climate change summit. Fortunately the sun was out, bathing the hills, valleys and forests in a wonderful light when I decided to go up on the Drachenfels train to the mountaintop. The weather was beautiful on this particular November morning, something I was told later was really unusual for this time of year.
I was there for a conference and, while the hotel I was in was sleek and modern, I walked into another century when I headed for the hills–the “Siebengebirgen”, or Seven Mountains, right behind the hotel. The most magical experience was the walk through forests and fields down from the ruins on the hilltop of the Drachenfels and visiting the Schloss Drachenburg, or Dragon Castle. It’s no wonder that this region–with miles of the Rhein river valley within sight from the mountaintops–has been popular with explorers, artists, and poets, including Lord Byron and J.M.W. Turner, for many years. Later, over a magical lunch on the outdoor terrace of the Hotel Monopol along the Rhein Promenade, watching the ships glide by on the river, it was impossible not to feel like I had stepped back in time. This is a place of dragons and fairytale castles where ornate dining rooms in the sky overlook Bonn and the Rhein for as far as the eye can see. I’ll have to return to this tranquil place.