Early Morning on the Charles Bridge

You have to get up pretty early to catch the Charles Bridge devoid of crowds, which is exactly what I did one day during our visit in 2012. When my family was living in Bielefeld, Germany, we took the opportunity to revisit Prague. We’d been there once before, in 1996, just seven years after the Velvet Revolution that brought down communism in the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), though for my daughter it was the first time she saw Prague.

Sixteen years can make quite a big difference. While the beauty of the city as such hadn’t changed, it certainly looked richer, cleaner, more westernized than it did in 1996. The hordes of tourists sometimes made it hard to appreciate the city as one would have liked, though we, of course, were also tourists there… To try to recapture a little of the affection I felt for Prague back in 1996, I got up early one morning and walked back and forth across the Charles Bridge with only a few pedestrian commuters and one or two fellow visitors for company. It was worth every second of the sleep I may have missed! I made a few sketches and took many photographs for future reference.

Sometimes it can take a while before an experience finds expression in a painting. Such was the case here. Over the years, a few prior attempts to paint my memories of Prague turned out disappointing – as if I couldn’t get away from the picture-perfect tourist views, and the many hackneyed paintings of Prague you can find for sale on that bridge or peruse on the internet. It’s as if those iconic images, beautiful as they may be, get in the way of your own personal view. I think that with this watercolor, I managed to put all that aside and just paint a slice of my memories of this enchanting place in a way that suits me. Let me know what you think.

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