La Boqueria side street, Barcelona, in watercolour

Sometimes I regret revisiting a painting when the first is still so fresh. Other times however, it feels the right thing to do. On this occasion I’m really pleased – and hugely relieved – that it seemed the right thing to do.

As much as I liked my first attempt at this view that I showed last week, after spending a bit of time with it, I definitely felt that I could improve on it:

A watercolour of a Barcelona side street next to La Boqueria (version I) by John Haywood
Barcelona side street next to La Boqueria (version I)

Here’s the drawing for my second version, where I also hoped to iron out some of flaws of the first painting, such as the perspective of the main umbrella which I think was all a bit squonky on the first one.

Outline sketch for version II

Once I started painting, I also tried to take a more consistent approach to painting light to dark. On the first effort, after my initial wash had dried, I started with the building on the right hand side with a really (too) strong tone and this is one of the areas that particularly jars with me on the original.

Second time round I first worked on the buildings in the distance, then the left hand buildings and the archway, before moving onto the darker tones and shadow areas of the right hand side. I added in some details on the railings of the archway, to suggest some plants on the roof and on the railings and I think these help to add a little variety.

The result I think is that it’s a little softer, a little more nuanced with much greater tonal variety. The size, shape and treatment of the umbrella is much more satisfying. For the first version I kept the entire umbrella white until the end and tried to wash over some shade after everything else was finished. For the second attempt, I applied some really thin washes of the shade tone as I went, and I think this gives it a much more unified feel (although I now think find the way I’ve handled the figures beneath the umbrealla a bit annoying!). I was also pleased to be able to retain the richness and variety in the shadow areas – which, in areas such as the strong foreground awning are much more richly coloured than the first painting in which I used an intense black mix of ultramarine, alizarin crimson and burnt sienna.

A watercolour painting of a Barcelona side street next to La Boqueria (version I) by John Haywood
Barcelona side street next to La Boqueria (version II)

For ease of comparison, here’re the two side by side:

I find it really interesting to be able to view the two together like this. I think they both hold up pretty well but, and I’d welcome your thoughts on this, I personally find the second one the more successful ‘complete’ painting.

I’m sure you’ll be delighted and relieved to learn that I have no intention of doing a version III of this scene (at least not any time soon!) and I’m already looking forward to tackling my next challenge.

Thoughts on La Boqueria side street, Barcelona, in watercolour

5 thoughts on “La Boqueria side street, Barcelona, in watercolour”

    1. Hi Rukshana and many thanks for this. It’s funny because after finishing the second one, my instinct was that it was streets ahead of the first. Seeing the side by side however there was a lot less in it. I do still like the first one, but still feel that the second one edges it for me. Being able to compare and contrast is one of the nice things about doing the same view a few times! Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment!

  1. Nice viewing these side by side it helped with seeing the dynamics of the paintings. I think that the second one is more successful for various reasons and for me the sweeping wash on the bottom of the second leads the eye back into the painting and combined with the lighter treatment of the awning helps with that. These look looser which to me is always a plus. Cheers and happy painting!

    1. Thanks so much Margaret – really appreciate your feedback – especially on the looseness which I always find a bit like walking a tightrope with a large drop of too tight on one side and too loose on the other!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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