Rainy Day, Lisbon

Lisbon in the Rain

After last week’s Paris in the sunshine post, here’s a complete contrast, Lisbon in the rain!

The reference photo was taken on the same New Year holiday that my ill-fated Lisbon tram efforts were based and again, I’ve hung on to this for about ten years thinking that one day… it might make a painting…

Here’s a photo of the photo:

Source photo - Lisbon
Source photo – Lisbon

I started my first tentative effort at this in a rather absent-minded manner with a very quick and loose sketch in an A4 sketchbook. I actually think I need to approach more of my work in a similar fashion as I’m rather liking these looser notations. I was particularly pleased with the description of the buildings in this sketch which had, to my mind a lightness of touch and freshness about them.

Lisbon sketch (A4)
Lisbon sketch (A4)

This sketch gave me the confidence to try a more worked up effort, so I taped up a quarter imperial sheet of Saunders Waterford and promptly set about another version:

Lisbon in the rain - first effort
Lisbon in the rain – first effort

I struggled to capture the same lightness of touch with this painting that I achieved in the sketch. I like some aspects of it, particularly the buildings, but overall was a bit disappointed. I didn’t manage to capture any sense of rain, and the figures feel clumsy and heavy handed. I also didn’t achieve sufficient tonal variation to get any real sense of distance.

I couldn’t let this subject rest on this effort so I had no choice but to make another attempt:

Lisbon in the rain
Lisbon in the rain

I think this effort is much more successful and evocative of the time, place and weather. From a distance, and through squinted eyes, I can pick up on the puddles running down the street and there’s a much greater sense of perspective and depth. The figures are, overall better – though still feel a little too overworked – especially the foreground figures under the red umbrella. It’s not a particularly pretty picture or one that I keep wanting to return to and look at, but I’m pleased that I persevered. After a long time of avoiding more urban subjects and all the necessary details and visual information that I’ve often felt daunted by, such as: buildings; straight lines; tarmac; windows; cars; people (I could go on!) – I’m gradually beginning to feel more able to tackle these views, even though it might take me a good few attempts!

On a more seasonal note, I’m already beginning to reflect on the past year which, in terms of my painting and blogging, has been especially significant. I’ll try to formulate my thoughts into something concise and meaningful for my next post, however as this will be my last post ahead of Christmas, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful, relaxing and joyful, festive season and a merry Christmas.


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