Exploring historic sites takes curiosity, stamina and often a strategy.
Years ago on a trip, a friend noticed that I was frantically trying to pack in too much to see and do in too little time and he gave me some useful advice: he told me to slow it down. A lot. “You don’t have to go crazy and cram in every sight and activity just because the guidebook lists it. If you really like a place you’ll return another time to see more on your own terms.” He was correct, and since then, I have had permission to sit in that corner cafe with a coffee and a sketchbook and watch the world go by. Did I ever regret not taking the time to see a well-known monument or a famous painting in a museum? Honestly, when I think back to my travels, I remember those times that I spent talking to people, observing the surroundings, and more often than not, that casual restaurant filled with locals.
But there are those times when I am touring a well-known destination and I find myself bumping shoulders with too many fellow travelers. It’s then that I find it necessary to get away from the crowds by seeking an interesting nook, a window that frames a beautiful view, a path down a quieter walkway. Even though I end up seeing a little less, it becomes a more memorable experience. So it was during my summer trip to Alsace, France when I visited Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. A mammoth, medieval castle, Chateau Koenigsbourg is situated several kilometers up a steep climb, and has breathtaking vistas that span the Alsacien countryside and views of the Alps. It is also très populaire.
In was in a small entryway of pink stones that I encountered a fellow traveler, enjoying the light that emanated from above. James, a devoted follower of martial arts, was posed in an athletic, dancer-like way that I found wonderfully interesting to photograph and later paint in the studio. I was charmed by the position of his feet, the powerful extension of his hands, and the tilt of his head as he studied the light. It was one of those times that I saw the picture right away. With the watercolor settling into the texture of the heavy Arches paper, I captured the grace of James’s stance that was illuminated by the beautiful light. I was happy that I took the time to enjoy this somewhat quieter space in the bustling chateau. No regrets that I didn’t see more.
Arches cold press, 300 lb, 14.25″ x 21.5″
This painting will be on display at the 2017 Open Studio Tour Weekend with Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists. Info & map here.