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.

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

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 was  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 painted  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

 

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

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

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

Sitges Beach: the finished painting

Sitges Beach

The finished painting!

Pleased with it, and pleased to finish as well. The sea seemed to work in this painting. It doesn’t always. I like the way the wet sand finished up too.

So this one goes for framing and will form part of “Watercolour Wanderings” exhibition. I think I have enough now, so might be able to do something more experimental, if I have both exhibitions sorted

Wouldn’t mind having a go at portrait work again. Not successful with faces. Might try again

I expect that I will persuade myself that one more Venice picture is needed though!

Sitges: the Painting so far

Sitges Interim

I don’t normally publish halfway through a painting if I can help it, but I have several family commitments over the next few days, so doubt if I will get away to the easel for a while

But the painting is underway, and with the usual reservations about my photography, I am reasonably happy so far. If you remember the photograph from a previous post, there is bright sunshine and consequently deep shadow. These are always fun to do, as they give depth and heighten the drama of the picture

i used my usual “Mediterranean” mix for the sky of Phthalo blue and Cobalt and let that run down for the first wash of the sea. I let that run down onto the buildings and let it mix with the Raw Sienna/ Naples Yellow mix I used for them.In the case of the building far left top, this worked quite well as these buildings were white yet in shade, so the effect was ethereal, and I let that stay. The rest I have sharpened up with detailing

The tricky part will be the sea with white foam. I have masked out here and there to give myself a guideline, but will have to do some work with white body paint. Also wet sand with reflections will be challenging too. The dog walking couple I have part masked to provide a sunlit edge coming in from the left, otherwise I can just paint across them

I will cautiously call this “so good so far”, and leave it there