Alhambra Palace, Spain

Alhambra Palace, Spain

We went here four years ago. We were staying in Seville at the time, so our visit to the Alhambra Palace and Granada meant we had to make a really early start, and tour the palace in the cool of the morning. This we did, and the tour went well. Some while ago I painted something called Wandering round the Alhambra Palace, which featured the Patio de Leones or Lion Square because of the magnificent fountain in the middle, with its superb carvings of lions.

Nearby Granada, with its magnificent cathedral, we visited later in the searing heat of the afternoon, which I did not enjoy. I don’t know what the final temperature was, but certainly passed 40c. I spent most of the time in the cathedral, to escape the sun, but also to visit the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella. This royal duo liberated Granada from the Moors in 1492, including the Alhambra Palace where they themselves held court. Christopher Columbus went there in 1492 to receive royal instructions before leaving on his voyage.

I had wanted to paint a long view of the palace but time did not permit me time to take any long view photographs. I was pleased to find a helpful reference shot on the Pixabay website, taken by Dennis Doukhar, which was available royalty free for commercial purposes. My thanks to the photographer for the use of this shot.

There is a red shade to much of the building which I have used. Quite a lot of trees around the outside of the palace, so that problem wit unremitting greens, yet again. I have done my best with the trees and will let others judge

Alhambra Painting Finished

Walking Round the Alhambra

The watercolour version of the black and white sketch that I posted a week or two back

Hmm sometimes I prefer the black and white, and this may be one of them

The intricacies of Islamic tracery are beyond compare, and maybe one shouldn’t attempt them in watercolour. Much of the detailing had to be left out as beyond the scope of the brush, or certainly mine at any rate. Really I wasĀ  interested in shadows as much as anything else, and even then not perhaps my best work

For spontaneous watercolour painting of architecture, I am a great admirer of John Singer Sargent, who is usually remembered as a society portrait painter, but he travelled and paintedĀ  in Europe a great deal, especially in Italy. He would draw architecture with a brush, which is a skill I admire, but haven’t yet aspired to, as I need pencil guidelines for something like architecture where accuracy is essential. I looked at some of his work recently and have started collecting his paintings on Pinterest, so stimulating are they.

Looking into some of his paintings of Venice for example, he paints enough detail to create the effect, not quite Impressionism but going that way, and feels confident enough to leave things out. The results and the colours are stunning, and each one is a collector’s piece, which of course they are. Perhaps I could convince myself that I was attempting something like that with this painting.

Coming back to my Alhambra piece, the camera has once again bleached out some colour, and reveals brushwork which the naked eye cannot see. A lame excuse but I offer it anyway

I may come back to it one day, but I have one or two things I want to do for an exhibition in October, one of which is to paint the view of New Haw Lock which I drew on site last week, so that will be my next project.

Walking Round the Alhambra, the Tonal Sketch

Alhambra Sketch Lion Courtyard

From the photograph, I have made a fairly quick sketch in black and white, just to give myself a tonal guide for when I attempt the actual painting

This is not intended to be an architectural drawing of any merit. The actual painting will, I trust, be better, but even then the detailing of the architecture is such that with the best will in the world, some simplification will have to be permissible. I am more interested at this stage in working out the light and dark areas. Hopefully the finished work will reflect the dazzling floor of the courtyard, and also suggest the intense heat from outside. It was about 35c whilst we were wandering around, but we were fine in the shaded areas. It must have been much the same for the original owners who built the citadel, and of course it would get much hotter in July/August

As I’m writing this in south-east England, the temperature is around 32c with no prospect of rain in the foreseeable future. It seems strange to be nostalgic for our unreliable climate of yesteryear, when the possibility of rain was always a worry when planning an event.

I didn’t use ink this time. I used Paynes Grey watercolour which I quite like. It is underrated, I think, and gives a pleasant blue/black shade to a sketch which I find preferable.

I have exaggerated the bleached out look of the arches on the other side of the courtyard. Whether I will get away with doing that in colour, remains to be seen. The small round fountain in the foreground does nothing for me and will be left out of the finished work

My poor sales record for the year received a boost at the week-end. I delivered successfully the Docklands Commission, and that will be going out to Sweden next month. The same day, I sold Bosham Panorama from my website and that is being collected next week. So very pleased about that.

It meant that I had to rush round and frame my latest painting of Bosham Creek, so that I had something to show on Saturday at the Railings Exhibition in Pirbright. That though is a happy problem