Barcelona and back

Since last week’s post about sketching practice, ahead of my Easter vacation, I’ve been to Barcelona but have only just returned, so this will be a mercifully short post as I’m still unpacking let alone painting or writing blog posts!

In brief, Barcelona was stunning. An amazing city that in our eight nights, we still only managed to scratch its surface. As I fully expected, I didn’t get as much sketching time in as I might have liked, but this was a family holiday so not all about me! I did however get a bit of ‘me’ time and this is the from one of the terraces at the second apartment we stayed in, on the outskirts of Barcelona on a hillside that afforded magnificent views both towards the city and the coast as well as further inland.

The view…

Here’s a closer view of the sketch that sadly doesn’t come close to doing the view justice, but it was great sketching in such a stunning location. The only downside was that I kept getting bouts of vertigo from looking into the distance and then down at my sketchbook were I could also see the drop over the balcony!!

A plein air watercolor sketch nr Barcelona by John Haywood
A5 sketch nr Barcelona

We were blessed with perfect weather throughout, clear blue skies with temperatures in the late teens, so perfect for meandering through Barcelona’s maze-like streets and alleyways. The light was lovely and bright and whilst I didn’t manage to get much sketching done, here are two of my favourites, both of the same view. I did the A6 version first, only as a pencil sketch. Later I did the A5 version, more as a watercolour sketch. Later still I went back to the A6 sketch and put some colour over the top of the pencil sketch. These were done from memory as I spent a lot of time photographing this view whilst we’d stopped for a coffee one lunchtime. I think this has real potential so I expect to work this up in a larger scale.

A watercolor sketch of a Barcelona street scene by John Haywood
A5 Barcelona sketch
A watercolour sketch of a street scene in Barcelona by John Haywood
A6 Barcelona sketch

Although sketching time was limited, I was pretty prolific with the camera. I came back with just shy of 700 photographs which means I’ve got a lot of editing to do!

What has been a significant shift for me is how I photograph now. When I started painting with a degree of commitment, just over a year ago, I went through hundreds (possibly even thousands!) of my old photographs looking for subject matter. What I realised is that I had lots of photographs that served to jog the memory, but few that actually worked as pictures.

In my recent trip to Paris, and especially so on this Barcelona trip, I was consciously looking for scenes to paint. I spent so much time on this trip looking up to the sun to see the direction of light, seeking out shadows and looking for moments counterchange. I won’t know how successful I’ve been until I’ve had a thorough sift through the images but I’m quietly confident that I’ve got enough material for over twenty paintings plus lots of inspiration for other smaller studies too!

All I need to do now is find sometime to do some painting! Hopefully I’ll be able to get at least one or two Barcelona paintings done in time to get them mounted and framed ahead of my Open House exhibition at the end of May.

Thoughts on Barcelona and back

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