La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona: the completed painting

The Church of the Sacred Family in Barcelona

The painting is complete and as always, with any of my completed paintings, I am loving parts yet totally unsure of some of the details

The trees were in deep shadow in reality. I put them in deep shadow in the painting. Hmm. not sure. The church immediately went into the background. That wasn’t intended either

I really like the cranes which some might find strange. I think of them as part of the sculpture. I don’t think they clash at all with the basilica, magnificent as it is.

Possibly this composition will still work as a painting. I really am not sure

I am going to post it on line and will invite comment, in fact I would be grateful for comment. I did frame the work, and of course anything framed looks better, so nothing conclusive there

I will start on a new work later. Nothing to do with this one, but when I have done that I may well do a second version of Sacred Family and somehow leave out the foreground trees, and see if I am happier with that.

My next exhibition is in October so I have time. Shortly I am heading north to colder climes, Shetland Isles and the Faroes where recorded temperatures are about 11c. Yesterday at home we had 32c so an abrupt change. No painting for a week or so but maybe some sketchbook work, if I am lucky.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona Painting in progress

The Church of the Sacred Family Underway

I have been doing some work on the painting. Unfortunately as always the photograph doesn’t show the depth of colour, which is a pity because the church is against a red sky, and the pink glow is reflecting on the building

The drawing was testing as I said before, and easy to see why the building is taking so long. The draughtmanship and architectural work is pure genius. Just making a sketch I have found tricky in the extreme

So far I have just been building up layer upon layer, wet on dry, of a pinky grey colour, which is close to the original, but not showing deep enough in this image which is frustrating.

However, we continue. I will need to introduce green into the trees, and am just wondering which shade. The tops of the trees will need to reflect red from the sky. The undersides of the trees will need to be very dark indeed

I will have to play around with that

I like the cranes. They add to the feeling of sculpture.

Just referring back to the last post showing the dragon of Kew Gardens. This was shown at the Pirbright Village Fair last Saturday along with three other paintings. Nothing of mine sold. Some very favourable comments about the Swan painting but no commitment to purchase. Alas. That’s exhibitions for you.

Barcelona: to continue with the painting of the Church of the Sacred Family

Church of the Sacred Family

Now that the dragon painting is completed, I am back to the attempt on the painting of the Church of the Sacred Family. I say attempt, because so far I have just done the drawing and trying to follow the detail is absolutely mind bending

Small wonder that building the church has been taking so long following the death of Gaudi, and still more than twenty years to go. What is there, is staggeringly beautiful, both outside and in.

My painting I think will be an impression only. Certainly it won’t be an architectural drawing

We shall see when we get some colour going, and that is for later

The Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

I was here earlier in the year, and I have already written a post on this so won’t dwell on the building and its history, magnificent though it is. This was my second visit in two years, and frankly the interior is breathtaking.

The reason I have put this picture up again, is because I am going to attempt a painting of the exterior. This will probably turn out to be foolhardy, as the intricacies and detailing of the architecture on the facade are legendary. However I will soon start a drawing and see where it takes me. The drawing exercise will be the testing part, I know but it is one that I want to attempt.

I will rearrange some of this shot. The pond in the foreground is not attractive. The colour is an unpleasant shade of yellow, and I would like a lot less of it. The foliage in the foreground may or may not be included

Anyway I will come back when I have something to show

Just to end up, my exhibition at the Guildford Institute produced only one sale, the painting of Bosham Creek. Still at least I wasn’t out for a duck, and the guy who bought it was thrilled with it, so that was good.

Bosham Creek, sold and with its new owner

A lean time now for exhibitions, apart for local shows. October at the Royal Surrey Hospital in the Peter Thompson Gallery, which is usually a good venue, will be the next major show for me. Time to build up stock of some different paintings.

Barcelona in March 2019

The Church of the Sacred Family

Gaudi’s famous basilica which is nearing completion. The target date is 2026, which will be the centenary of the architect’s death

Lovely to go here again. We were here two years ago, but impossible to tire of the magnificent interior. The colours from the sun, through the stained glass windows are mind-blowing. The colours range from cold to hot, and depend on the time of day, as to which colour bathes the nave. We were there in the afternoon, so everything was red and orange

I did write more about the interior when we were here last, and took more pictures, so possible to go back through the archives if you want to.

The statues on the exterior I find incredible, modern yet seemingly correct. When I say modern, perhaps I should say c20 now, as we are looking at Gaudi’s version of Art Nouveau which I find as elegant and awe inspiring as any style from history. He was a devout man we are told, and certainly his work reads like an act of worship

I took several pictures of the building from outside. This one is from the park opposite, and I might paint from this. I haven’t tried to paint the basilica yet, so might give it a go. The park was solid with people, so had to jockey for position in order to take pictures.

We were staying as before in Sitges and came in by train to Barcelona which only takes about 40 minutes. Trains are frequent and also cheap in Spain. Not like the fares in the UK which are eye-watering these days, and which nobody seems to control. Affordable public transport will take cars off the road, but no one has the message yet. Rant over.

I did manage a painting of Sitges a few years back, of the delightful San Sebastian beach, which I append. Lovely place to chill out

San Sebastian Beach in Sitges

This was done in March a few years back. Not as warm as this year, and deserted except for dog-walkers and everyone in anoraks. This year it was a pleasant 20c with a gentle breeze, as near to perfect as you could get

Andalucia visit

La mezquita-cathedrale in Cordoba

Quite a lot of architecture to blow the mind in this part of Spain. The problem is to know where to start. The mezquita-cathedral in Cordoba is one that impressed me in terms of size and quality, so let’s begin here

Started in the c8 and enlarged over the centuries, the building was in use as a mosque until the Christian reconquest in 1236. The arcaded hall is staggering with something like eight hundred columns of jasper, porphyry and marble. Quite a lot of recycled Roman material was used, and you can see that in the capitals.

The interior is vast and holds, we are told, thirty thousand worshippers. I was reminded of those old halls of mirrors. You look through the arches and reflections stretch to infinity. Turn around and the effect is the same. The only difference here is that these arches are not reflections, but real ones, but still they appear to stretch to infinity

Court of the Lions and Fountain

The court of the lions with its fountain, just one detail of the famous Alhambra Palace. We had been once before, but that was twenty odd years ago. It was a long journey this time, as we went from Seville by coach, a journey of three hours which was tiring but nonetheless worth it. There were only six English speakers in the group. so we had the undivided attention of a superb guide called Manuel, who insisted on getting total attention from us in return. It was even difficult to take pictures, as he became fractious when we did.

The story we know. The last of the Moorish palaces to be taken in 1492 by the Christian reconquest, under the leadership of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Not only had it been a citadel as well as a Moorish palace, but was also a place of diplomacy and negotiation. Cordoba was not that far but had been reconquered in 1236 by the Christians, so for more than 200 years the two sides would meet here at the Alhambra, before at last the palace was handed over

Under the Christians, the Alhambra became a royal palace for Ferdinand and Isabella. They are both entombed in nearby Granada Cathedral. Christopher Columbus was received here, to receive his instructions before sailing to the New World.

Seville and Cadiz were both toured at length, but can be dealt with at another time

Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre: the finished painting

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The finished version of Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

There are still things I look at and feel like going back and fiddling with, but I have learned to resist that, and have finally decided that the painting is finished

Since posting the underpainting, I have been back in with stronger versions of the Transparent Brown and Violet mix, bringing, I hope,  the image closer to the eye, as the detailing becomes sharper

I have had to resist making the detail of the basilica too sharp in order to give the impression of distance. The shadows in the garden and on the steps I have deepened. Likewise the foreground figures, with the obligatory spots of red in the foreground, which are discreet, but they are there.

If I can find a suitable frame, I should be able to include this one in my July exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford

I bought recently an interesting frame in a driftwood texture, which is comparatively long with the mount divided into four spaces. They are usually used for photographs. I bought it at a craft fair recently. At the same fair, a watercolour artist was showing , and had included one of these frames with four individual pictures making up a wide scene, which looked very effective. I thought I might try something similar. Not the same picture, I hasten to add, but a retake on something I have done before of a long line of beached fishing boats in Devon

I have finally launched my Artfinder shop. The application form was a bit of a marathon, but the support staff were very helpful indeed. I know they are supposed to be, but sometimes they aren’t. The young woman at Artfinder who I think, took pity on me and patiently answered my questions, helping me over the hurdles, was truly excellent.

I have only listed six paintings so far, as the uploading can take a time, if like me you don’t get the sizing right always, but there will be more as time goes by. We’ll see how it goes

Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre: Underpainting

Sacre-Coeur Underpainting

From the drawing I have got as far as providing a base coat for the painting. As you can see, I have added some foreground figures from my archive, just to deepen the composition

Basically I have put in the shadows, which in effect gives the subject its form. For the church and figures I have used a mix of transparent brown and violet, which has gone a bit too grey for my liking, so colder than I wanted. I had run out of Ultramarine Violet which I normally use, so used Windsor Violet instead which is more blue than I expected. I will run a wash of transparent brown over the shadow, when bone dry, just to warm them up, and then work in the detail.

I sometimes prefer this stage to the finished painting, when the buildings seem to loom out of the mist.

For reasons best known to myself, I have finished the trees and shrubs first. I don’t usually do that, and have probably made it hard for myself to strike the right tonal balance. Oh well, let’s hope it works out

I am also in the middle of trying to set up an online shop with Artfinder, who come recommended. Nothing like the sales that I enjoyed last year, either locally or from my own website. Maybe it is the Brexit effect slowing down our economy. Anyway I have to try something different, so I will doubtless post when I have done it successfully, and also on social media

The Basilica of la Sagrada Familia

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The Basilica of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. An amazing structure, quite, or perhaps almost, unique

We have been staying in Sitges for the last five days, enjoying the sun and the warmth, although as our perverse climate would have it, the temperature in southern England shot up to 25c, whilst in Spain only 20c but nevertheless very agreeable.

We took the train into Barcelona, which proved very straightforward, not to mention cheap in comparison to the steep fares charged around the London area. The journey took about forty minutes. I had already bought timed tickets for the Sagrada Familia on line before I left home. What a boon that proved to be as the crowds queuing for tickets when we arrived were formidable

We were, of course, very early, so time for a coffee, and a stroll round the outside of the building, taking in the details. We were last here twenty years ago, and the place, even inside, was a construction site. High up in the heavens magnificent cranes are working with the sensitivity and lightness of touch that you might expect from an artist.

After lunch and another stroll, our tickets allowed us to enter and we went inside. I don’t often use the word “breath taking” but we were looking at a masterpiece.

We associate this building, sometimes called the third cathedral, with Antoni Gaudi, the incredible architect in the Art Nouveau style, who adapted Gothic architecture to produce this wonderful building. He took over the project in 1883, and stayed with it until his untimely death in 1926. During all this time he is also completing other large projects for the Guell family and also for the Church.

So much has been achieved since our last visit. The nave with its paraboloid arches which seem to reach up into the heavens, will be my enduring memory. Colour is everywhere, as the light streams through stained glass. Detail is everywhere, small animals, leaves, vegetation as well as so many human figures representing the Nativity and other stories. Gaudi was devoted to nature. He was also extremely devout, and his interpretations of the liturgy, I found moving. So much detail, too much to record here.

In the cloister which surrounds the building, is situated the museum, now open, which records the timeline of the whole construction period. Gaudi’s models are on show and his drawings, which enabled successive craftsmen to carry on his work. Still much to do, with a projected finish date of 2026. I wonder if I will get back to see that. Could do, I certainly hope so

Venice Painting Completed

Venice Painting Completed

The finished painting with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, which I enjoyed doing, although trying to hit the right colours was testing to say the least

I have already mentioned the mooring posts. In the photograph they looked red in the evening light. This turned into a glazing exercise, wet on dry, although nothing like as tricky as the hull of the gondola which I will come to in a minute

For the posts I started with a Burnt Sienna wash which is pretty safe. When the paint had dried, the pigment had disappeared. I applied another coat of the same colour, followed by a coat of Permanent Rose which should have given these posts a nice evening red glow, but still pasty. I had been waiting to use quinacridone red, of which I have a fairly limited experience, so perhaps risky. The colour worked well, I thought, giving me what I wanted. I used Indigo for the strips of bark hanging onto the wood. Indigo makes an alternative to black which I avoid if I can

Now the real challenge, to use that overworked word, was how to treat the hull of the gondola. I may have said before that gondolas are black by regulation. The finish is of a very high gloss, the sort one sometimes gets on pianos, in fact it used to be called piano finish. I think polyurethane was involved which may have been universally banned by now because of health risks.

Black gloss in certain lights obviously won’t look black, because of the other bright colours it picks up in this mirror like shine. If you remember the original photograph that I worked from, the vessel looked a sort of bright copper colour.

Again this was a long and drawn out glazing exercise. At least five coats as I remember and twenty four hours natural drying in between each coat. I used Quinacradone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Transparent Brown and Permanent Rose

I looked at it in the morning from a distance. I think it worked but I will have to put it away and get it out again another time, before I can make an objective view

As always comments are welcome