A Walk in the Park
“A Walk in the Park” usually refers to something easy, not requiring too much effort, like a “doddle” or “a piece of cake”.
I used this term once for my students at the start of the of the new school year, when taking the class to the Hofgarten in Düsseldorf for a walk in the park. It turned out to be quite challenging with a number of unusual drawing tasks, such as the “walking drawing” made while in motion. The idea was for us to become awake and to see freshly through novelty and at the same time, I remember, try to avoid an accident with the bikers and joggers along the paths.
A walk in the Hofgarten takes one through history, politics, ecology, city planning and dendrology, the study of trees. The Hofgarten trees, carefully selected and planted to create a variety of environments, both formal gardens and in the “English” section, created a park landscape. The Hofgarten is Germany’s first and oldest public park, an oasis of calm in the city.
I began the painting “A Walk in the Park” after that first drawing session with my students. Working through drawings made on site at the Reitallee, a pathway for riding, I constructed the four canvases in the school studio, as part of my “creative example” approach to teaching. I began the work there and continued after a year in my own studio on what was at that time my largest painting.
When finally it was completed in 2014, disaster affected the whole region as Hurricane Ela struck the city. It cost some lives, damaged buildings and property and it destroyed tens of thousands of trees. The trees shown on the right section of my painting disappeared and the remaining wooded area was thinned considerably. The painting records the last days of the Reitallee, before the hurricane. Replanting trees throughout the city began in the following months and years and was completed at the Reitallee in 2019.