Thursday, October 28, 2010

If you've ever wondered what the Charles Bridge in Prague looks like from the bank of the Vltava river at 7am, here is your chance to find out:

The drawing above is actually a detail from a larger piece I recently finished, but I though it looked better than the piece as a whole, so I decided to post it first. Here is the entire piece:

As you can probably tell, my angles and perspective need work. Bricks grow where they should shrink, angles merge where they should diverge, and the primary blocks of light and shadow could be more clearly defined. My main problems stem from not plotting out the larger shapes of the composition before diving into the details. But don't judge me too harshly! This is the first full landscape (bridgescape?) I have drawn in maybe 10 years. It is also the first time I have tried working rigorously with crosshatching on a subject that was not a figure or face - possibly the first time in my life I tried drawing stone-work with any kind of realism.

However, I did learn an unbelievable amount by suffering through this piece. I have already begun planning another, based on a photograph I took of a church in Prague's Old Town Square. Hopefully, you will see my city-scapes improve over time!

In case you were wondering (and I know you were, dear readers, I know you were), my trip to Prague took place several years ago - about two years after I graduated college. I had amassed a trove of romantic notions about the city, gathered over the years from various sources: Isaac Singer's "The Golem," Kafka's "The Trial," Steven Sodderberg's indie gem "Kafka" (starring Jeremy Irons as Franz Kafka living out a dark, dare I say kafkaesque, adventure in the city of his birth). I decided to find out whether all my ideas about Prague had any basis in reality. I planned a vacation, and booked a flight and a room at a youth hostel.

The city did not disappoint. The architecture is almost psychedelic - a collision of periods and styles that, I felt, still retained a unique, cohesive character. There are lush gardens, spooky alcoves, incredible historic sites, fun experimental theater shows, puppeteers, and fantastic beers. In five days, I walked nearly every corner of the city, gorged myself on dumplings and goulash, I crossed the Charles Bridge just after sunrise, entered Prague Castle through a rarely used footpath, and visited Kafka's grave. In a moment of divinely inspired self-mockery, I even brought along a Kafka biography, "The Nightmare of Reason," by Ernst Pawel, which I finished before boarding the plane home. Truly, an unforgettable trip.

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