Monday, April 22, 2013

Painting on the Road: Ronda, Spain

Canopy of trees made wispy shadows
Ronda, Spain, is one of the pueblas blancas (white villages) with Moorish roots built along cliffs for strategic defense advantages. The scenery in Ronda is especially spectacular. One day while my husband hiked I stayed behind to paint. There were so many views to choose from! Most of the wide vistas felt overwhelming to me, so I chose the more intimate setting of the lovely Alameda del Tajo park established in the 19th c. A musician was playing her dulcimer as tourists and residents strolled, lingered on park benches, and chatted with friends. Chirping and fluttering birds along with the scent of wisteria, orange blossoms and jasmine were carried on a warm breeze. When working en plein air I generally work for about 3-4 hours and get two paintings started, taking a few photos of my scene as I go along. This allows me to catch the light on my subject and finish the painting in my studio if it continues to interest me. I don't necessarily want to replicate exactly what I see (I have the photograph to show me "reality"), but I do want to capture what interested me about what I saw or my feelings or memories about the day or the place. On this particular day I was thinking about light and shadow and pink blossoms. And I was feeling very, very happy.

Ronda, Spain
Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Painting on the Road: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Picasso's sherry at Bodega Tio Pepe, Jerez, Spain
Jerez (pron. hair-eth) de la Frontera is located in Andalucia in Southern Spain, a jewel of a city with an alcazar (Moorish palace/fortress), archaeological museum, bodegas (wine cellars, especially sherry--the word is an version of "Jerez"), equestrian farms, clock museum, outrageous flamenco and tapas bars... I could go on and on. But here are a few pictures to tell a story about sculpture, painting, urban design, ceramics, topiary, food presentation, music...all the sensual attributes of perception (texture/form/scent/line/compositions/color/taste/sound) that make an artist swoon.

Chandelier in our room, Jerez
La Cura del Flamenco, Jerez

Sherry dedicated to Jean Cocteau at Tio Pepe in Jerez
Every door had a knocker, most are unique.
Hungry? Eat!

Que quiere decir? No se.

Young people having fun at Damajuana, Jerez

The scent of orange blossoms,  everywhere

Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre

Grapevines will provide shade
Jerez Alcazar
Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte
Ancient relic at archaeological museum, Alcazar, Jerez
French clock, clock museum, Jerez
What lies beyond? Follow the light.
Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Jerez 
Alcazar is a feast for the senses

Friday, April 19, 2013

Painting on the Road: Seville, Spain

Ever tried to paint a hummingbird in flight? That's what it's like trying to paint a flamenco dancer in action. I took my pastels to our neighborhood flamenco bar and got a pretty good gesture drawing, but that was about it. So I sat back, drank another vino tinto, ate some more aceitunas, and enjoyed the scene.
Prepared to paint at neighborhood flamenco bar, Seville
Flamenco dancer, Carboneria, Seville

Painting on wall at Carboneria

Pedro Agudelo M., artist at Carboneria, Seville

Example of art for sale at Carboneria. Ole!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Painting on the Road: Évora, Portugal

Evora, Portugal
When traveling I like to strike a balance between sightseeing and painting. On this trip I haven't been able to do as much painting as I like due to cool/cold/rainy weather. Hopefully that will change once we get to Spain. The weather cooperated in Evora, Portutugal, though and I was so grateful to bask in the sun on the plaza in front of our hostel. The hours flew by! Even when I can't paint, observing people and street scenes, visiting museums and monuments, and touring the countryside fuels my imagination and gives me information, ideas and photos to refer to for future paintings.

Clothes in backpack; art supplies in front pack
Here's a funny photo of me lugging my gear several blocks from where we parked our car and then up a couple flights of steep, narrow stairs to our room. The  pack on my back contains clothes and miscellaneous items for six weeks of travel; the pack on the front holds my Guerrilla box and a limited selection of pastels and paper. Lugging heavy art supplies around is worth it for the pleasure I derive being able to paint en plein air "on the road." Portugal in April has gorgeous countryside sprinkled with wildflowers!  I can't wait to get to work on these paintings when I get home!

Wildflowers along the Algarve

Future painting? I think so!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Painting on the Road: Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal

Quinta do Chão D'Ordem
Suggestion for any readers who are artist/teachers and might like to conduct a workshop in Portugal: Check out the town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa in the Guarda district of NE Portugal, close to Spain. It has rolling hills; vineyards; olive, almond and orange groves; stone buildings and fences everywhere you look; rivers; prehistoric rock art; great wine and cuisine; and inexpensive accommodations. We stayed at Quinta do Chão D'Ordem, a working farm that's been in the same family for eight generations and was previously owned by King John VI (before he fled to Brazil to escape Napoleon's troops 200 yrs. ago). One of the highlights of our trip has been time spent in this area which included a tour of paleolithic archaeological and rock-art sites that were "discovered" during the construction of a dam in the 1990s. Needless to say, that damned the dam construction.

Male horse, paleolithic rock art, Coa, Portugal
Female horse, paleolithic rock art, Coa, Portugal

Where the Coa River meets the Douro R.

Portuguese countryside

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Painting on the Road: Gerês, Portugal

View from our hotel in Geres, Outeira, Portugal
When we travel we like to be spontaneous, so when people recommended the Peneda-Gerês National Park in northern Portugal, we said, why not? We'd rented a car so it was just a matter of finding the right highway and heading north for 300 miles. Gerês in early April is a cold, harsh, stony, inhospitable place with an austere beauty that we found captivating. Little signs of spring reveal the promise of new life and a softer beauty in the coming months. Everything's made of granite: roads, homes, balconies, fences, even mailboxes! Even the fenceposts on cyclone fences! It's like Flintstoneville! Evidence of humans from 6000-3000 B.C. have been found, so clearly there are ways to adapt--as evidenced by our amazingly well-appointed hotel, Vista Bella do Gerês, where we stayed for only 25 euros. Our dinner was fantastic-- fresh fish, potatoes and other vegetables, creme brulee, and a delicious local wine! The next day we had an unforgettable hike to a centuries-old ruined monastery along an icy rushing river and visited a nearby waterfall.
How can I edit the scene?!!
One of many villages we passed
Common room & wines casks, Vista Bela do Geres

Strange rock formations, Geres, Portugal
Wild & wooly ponies, similar to those in cave paintings

Monday, April 8, 2013

Painting on the Road: Fado in Lisbon, Portugal

Fado musicians, Lisbon
We arrived in Lisbon on March 30 and spent 4 nights at Jardim de Santos Hostel, booked through Kayak for 43.80/night (roughly $56.50). We had a wonderful room and the location had great access to everything we wanted to see, including fado singers in the Alfama neighborhood. Here are some sketches I made in a dark fado bar while enjoying a pitcher of sangria. Click this link for an example of fado. And here's another link to famous fado singer Mariza in concert. She gives a little explanation in English. And finally, a link to a documentary on fado that we watched in Portland. This film has not only the singing, but the dancing. Highly recommended.
Hands of fado singer Maria Sofia
Fado guitarist
Common room at Jardim de Santos Hostel, Lisbon