Walking around the Alhambra, Spain

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Walking around the Alhambra Palace, there was so much that I wanted to paint, but there was no chance of getting a long shot of the citadel, without going to the next mountain, or so it would seem. Also on this occasion I had plenty of photographic material of my own, so I didn’t want to borrow anyone else’s

This is why I have entitled this piece Walking around the Alhambra, as there are so many corners which would make a study in themselves

This is the one I have picked for now, which is a view through Islamic arches into the Courtyard of the Lions, with its magnificent lion fountain. This picture doesn’t home in on the fountain, although I have others that do

I am actually more interested in how the shadows fall, strange as it may seem. The courtyard is in blazing sunshine, and very hot, I may say. Around the perimeter we have the cool, where the rulers would perambulate in relative comfort. The cool areas are defined geometrically by the shadows thrown by the arches almost like a reflection

There are some things to leave out, of course, there always are. The rope barrier in the foreground will have to go, as will the ladder in the background. Some figures might be moved although I don’t want to interfere too much with the shadows that they throw down. I have another picture of the same shot, with different figures in it and I may well borrow a couple of them

So, starting to look forward to it

A date for anyone near enough to go, Pirbright Art Club are holding their annual Railings Exhibition out side the Lord Pirbright’s Hall in Pirbright, Surrey, on Saturday 28th July between 12 and 4. Last year it had to be cancelled because of wet weather. This year after weeks of blistering heat, that would be cruel indeed if it happened again. The forecast is dry

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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

Blue Mosque: the finished painting

Blue Mosque

Alas once again a good painting spoiled slightly by a bad photograph. The camera has diffused the depth of colour in the trees etc in the foreground. This is the best photograph of all those that I took, so will have to put up with it. Shame because the colours of foliage etc are much richer than shown. The mosque is not too bad though, even though the shadows on the building are really much deeper.

Palm trees are tricky. They were done with a dry brush, just hoping that the bristles open out to give that feathery effect. They seem to have done.

For the trunks of the palm trees, I mixed permanent rose with burnt sienna to give, hopefully, the effect of bright sun highlighting the wood. That was the base coat. I used a very dark brown as a shadow over the top as a glaze, just leaving a little of the red showing on the sunny side. Likewise the park benches which were brightly lit in some cases, I used the same mix of rose and burnt sienna. I felt that that had worked

The other trees, some of which were obviously tidily clipped, I had to sort out, otherwise in a painting they would have been indistinguishable. I painted some lighter than they appeared against darker trees in the background so that one defined the other

Small figures, some of them in red, led the eye through the trees, and I hope have given a feeling of distance

The enjoyable part of the exercise was the mosque itself. A lovely drawing exercise hopefully getting the domes and minarets right, and then the subtle shading, which I built up over a period, hoping to get the depth of shade correct. Hard for you to judge, I know, as the camera has bleached everything. So frustrating!

I had to do quite a lot of masking out in order to catch the bright spots where the light fell. So there we have it, the finished result

What to do next. I have some pictures taken on our local canal, which I would like to try. Also going to Spain in the not too distant future, so could be plenty of inspiration there too.

Thanks for reading, if you have done. Hope you enjoyed the result

 

Blue Mosque: First Wash

Blue Mosque First Wash

Just as an interim, and whilst I think of it, I have masked out several items on this picture before putting down a base wash

The scene was brightly lit from the left and there is interesting sparkle on the trees, on the tiny background figures and on the mosque itself. Whether or not I will be successful in capturing these remains to be seen. I have always found them elusive and welcome any tips.

I have masked along the left-hand edge of the minarets so as to get a hard edge against the blue sky. Likewise some of the domes and the sides of the tree trunks. The colour of the palm tree trunks is brown going towards red in the bright light, so will probably mix some permanent rose in with the burnt sienna, hopefully to catch that richness of colour. Also the park benches are that colour too.

I have put a band of Indian yellow wet-in-wet where the flower beds are so hope that works

The rest is detailing and building up the darks to encourage the brightness of the brights. We shall see. This may well take me a while