Category Archives: Portugal
With cold weather in England a week in Madeira sounded great and so we went for the second time to stay at the lovely hotel we stayed at last year, Quinta da Casa Branca. It is a really nice place to stay, with beautiful grounds and fine food and wine.
For me being in Madeira it is a great opportunity to tour about a bit and then paint watercolour sketches of Funchal , and the island.
I only take a 300 gsm sketch book, a small watercolour palette box and half a dozen favourite Escoda brushes. All easy and light to carry.
Some of these sketches are almost new versions of last years watercolours but there are quite a few new vistas and views of some of our favourite spots.
Whilst it wasn’t quite as sunny as last year we did manage to sit by the pool and read and paint, whilst sipping Portuguese wines, and some lovely Madeira wines too.
The old town of Fuchal has a lot of interesting painted doors to see and a lovely squares and a very yellow Fort by the sea! We also enjoyed a tour around the Wine Lodge of Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company. A good tour and of course some tasting as well.
I have included a sketch of the Fort from last year’s visit as now the castle is shrouded in scaffolding and screens.
Along the coast from Funchal the towering cliffs sweep down to the Altantic ocean, this scene is very typical of many views as you travel along the roads near the coast on Madeira.
Here is another coastal view with some of the red rocks that can be seen around the island on show as well.
We didn’t take a trip up to the central mountains as the clouds seemed to covering them , but in a brochure I found in the hotel there was a photo that I wished I had taken so here is my version of this cloudy mountain scene, and to whoever originally took it, my thanks.
I make no apologies for more watercolours of the small town of Camara de Lobos, which is quite near to Funchal.
Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite Madeiran painting spot is such a terrific place to sketch and paint that I have included a few new ones and a a studio watercolour painted after our previous visit.
This watercolour can be found in my shop at http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours and I hope to add some more based on the sketches in the next few weeks.
Madeira is delightful destination from the UK , with no time shift even. Great Portugeuse and Madeira wines, very tasty food and really welcoming people wherever you go. Whats not to like!
We will be back!
I love to paint watercolours, and I have always been fascinated by this medium.
Whilst I get great pleasure trying to paint big and bold watercolours I often find myself returning to where I started , using a pen and wash technique.
The sheer pleasure of the pen marks casually laid on the paper which may or may not be important later on is such fun and then applying washes of watercolour over it in a not too rigorous edgy manner is very exhilarating.
Maybe I am easily pleased but this process, which has to be pretty speedy, has been the backbone of my watercolours for many years and I hope will continue to be so.
Pen and wash can be in my sketch books, or slightly more formally on Watercolour paper, I particularly like Arches watercolour blocks which are so great for use when travelling!
Let’s hope we can travel again soon though!
So here are some older and more recent Pen and Wash watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
These first three were painted just this week from photos of previous visits and that is often how they happen. When I can in love to sketch on the spot but that is a luxury which I can’t do at present of course.
Two scenes for Yorkshire first
And now a recent painting of Mousehole in Cornall and one of the River dart in Devon
A few on place in Provence
And a quick trip into Spain and Portugal
An finally , for now at least, a few of both Canterbury and York
I hope from these you can see the reason why I enjoy Pen and Wash so much. Immediate , Colourfull and fun to do!
Stay safe and well and maybe this year we may all get to travel again.
I expect like me you are just wishing you could go somewhere, ANYWHERE I hear you say!
Well those days will return, but I have been travelling around the Globe quite a bit since the lockdown started.
It is of course Virtual, but by painting watercolours of various place I can almost escape there for a while. By the time I have trawled through old photos to find the one I want to paint the memories of these places come flooding back and the concentration of painting soon transports me to those far away places.
I have been posting these paintings recently so not many new ones but I thought I could put them together as a sort of Journal if only for my own amusement, and I hope yours too!
It all stared sitting in the garden in the lovely April sunshine thinking of all the gardening I should be doing, not to mention sorting out the shed, garage,study etc etc.
But soon the travel bug took over.
I had been worrying about a delivery of a variant of this watercolour of Porto in Portugal
to a customer in Toronto when I realised that I had not been to Toronto for a very long time and so the idea of a Skyline painting seemed the thing to do. Don’t ask why, even I don’t know!
One thing leads to another and so suddenly I found myself seeing once again the Skyline of Singapore.
We had stayed in the Ritz Carlton there the last time we were there and this is the skyline from near there. What a City Singapore is! I can even taste a spectacular meal we ate one evening there, in very authentic restaurant, of Beef in Black Bean sauce and Beef Rendang!
The trip back to the UK included a quick diversion to Chateau Chalon in the Jura in France. (That thanks to watching Rick Stein on TV). A wonderful area of that equally wonderful country with stunning ,and rather special Wine!
And just to make sure the days were fully filled up, a return visit to Amsterdam, another great place to be.
But soon I was back in the UK with view of the Countryside in Kent that I can’t now visit and another view across the Oxfordshire countryside as the sun bursts through.
Being back in the UK brought on another attack of the travel bug and a long weekend in Tuscany seemed just the right thing to do. So after a brief stop in Florence to look at the the house located on the Ponte Vecchio —
—I drove into the heart of Tuscany. It has been warm here in Kent and so the warmth of Tuscany seemed just so good.
Basing ourselves near to San Gimignano, as we have done before, gave me some time to enjoy painting some watercolours, first of Piazza della Cisterna in the heart of San Gimignano and then the view from San Gimignano across the wonderful Tuscan landscape.
Luckily there was time to return to Lucca. A real gem of a City in Tuscany and a painters paradise!
And so the first 5 weeks of Lockdown have let me cover a lot of miles without even stepping outside!
I hope that this Lockdown won’t go on too much longer but if it does my Virtual bags will have to be repacked and put into us again.
Happy Virtual Travelling Everybody!
Stay safe and well too.
If you are regular viewer of this site then my thanks for your continued visits, comments and likes.
If you are new here then you are most welcome and I hope you will find some watercolours that interest you.
It has been a busy year with a fair amount of travel to many lovely places and I hope that the Posts that have resulted from these travels have been of interest to you all.
Our visits to South Africa, Tenerife, France, Portugal, Devon and around our lovely County of Kent have given me many opportunities to paint and sketch, and to meet other artists too.
We hope to travel quite widely in the New Year and especially our planned Rhine river cruise at the end of the summer will take us to many new places in Europe and the opportunity to paint some watercolours as I go.
To end the Year I have included above this winter scene of Horsmonden in Kent, which I have just finished painting today. Although we haven’t had any snow as yet, it seems seasonal to paint a winters scene and to use it to wish everyone my Best Wishes for the Christmas holidays and the New Year.
I have a few ideas for posts in the New Year and so I hope before long to be posting again.
In the mean time, Happy Travelling!
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on the Duoro River in Portugal.
Just before the Cruise we spent a fcouple of days in Lisboa and then travelled to Porto to get on the Viking River Cruise.
Alas the weather wasn’t always as good as we would have expected in Portugal in June but slowly it improved and luckily it didn’t stop us enjoying the towns, cities and scenery. Of course we also enjoyed the Port and the Douro wine too and our trips to various places were all very interesting.
Last year we spent time in Lisboa so I am using one painting from that trip to introduce this Post.
What better than one of their iconic trams in the old town area of Lisboa.
While we were in Lisboa we took a day trip to Sintra and its amazing Pena Palace. Then a lovely journey along the coast to see the most westerly point of mainland Europe and the cliffs and bays of the Atlantic. I have some paintings of the coast planned for the future.
Here is a quick sketch of Pena Palace. If you visit do go inside it is a very interesting visit.
Our transfer to Porto took us to Coimbra, an ancient University town about halfway from Lisboa to Porto.
Our arrival in Porto was rather wet but luckily the sun broke through the following day and so I was able to paint this double spread sketch of Porto. It is a lovely City with much to see and do and especially taste the Port. The history of Port production is fascinating and we learnt a lot from a great visit to the Sandeman cellars.
From Porto we sailed up the Douro through it’s amazing locks and visited a number of places along the way , stopping each night, before heading off the next day. The scenery is spectacular and the number of Vineyards and Wine producers quite amazing.
Here are a couple of Douro river scenes
One visit took us to Mateus Palace, this is the Palace used to name the Mateus Rose wine which I am sure you have come across. Probably a scene for a future painting but I was stuck that day by the Church and Vineyards, just next door and here is a quick sketch I made of the scene.
One day we visited the very old Town of Castelo Rodrigo. The Castle is now mainly a ruin but once this was a dominant Castle town on the Portuguese /Spanish Border. It has a very old and has a quite magnificent Church to visit too. It is the Ingreja Matriz de Castelo Rodrigo.
Our final trip before retuning down the Douro river with its wonderful scenery was into Spain to see Salamanca. Salamanca is an imposing and interesting city with a great history and a very old University. There are many stork nests in the City too, all in precarious places and all inhabited by the many storks there.
I hope to produce quite a few paintings of Salamanca in the future but here is the one sketch and one larger watercolour that I have so far painted.
We have come back with many wonderful photos of the Douro Valley and River and the fine memories of very nice people that we met with on the cruise and in Portugal. Always a warm welcome and wonderful wine and Port. I will be searching out more Portugeuse, especially Douro, Wine here in the UK. If you find some buy it and drink it, you will not be disappointed.
Almost every year we take a cruise with some very good friends from the USA.
This years cruise had been planned for a while and took us from Lisbon in Portugal around the Iberian Peninsula to Barcelona in Spain.
With interesting ports of call along the way and really good weather we all got a little taste of Portugal and Spain and thus lots more ideas for visits to both Countries.
I have taken to travelling with a smaller sketch book recently so most of these very quick paintings are about 24 by 20 cms, and are intended as the basis of larger paintings in the future. These sketch books made by Khadi papers are nice to use with pen and ink and some watercolour. I am enjoying using them for travel. Most of the watercolours are from my own photos and one or two are from images found in brochures along the way.
Lisbon was our starting point and we had a couple of days there before embarking to enjoy this very interesting city.
One evening in Lisbon we ate in a really great restaurant called “Lisboa a Noite”. It isn’t far from the Gloria or Santa Justa elevators but hard to find. Maybe take a taxi! Well worth the visit.
It is pretty hilly in Lisbon! If a local tells you you can walk somewhere in 20 minutes take a taxi, as a local’s 20 minutes is a lot longer if you are not used to steep hills!!
The trams are great to watch in Lisbon, however rather overcrowded and slow but fine nevertheless. We took the tram to Belem Tower and the Monastery there, and very importantly went to the Cafe called Pasteis de Belem for their fantastic custard tarts. Really delicious.
After sailing from Lisbon we arrived the next day at Portimao. Portimao is a large and very popular beach resort in summer, but for us it meant a trip to the very old and lovely town of Selves.
With a castle at the top it is a delight to walk around and also has a good museum. This view is from the lower town up to the Castle. Just across from our ship we could see the castle at Ferraguda, but we didn’t have time for a visit though. However just time for a quick watercolour .
From Portimao we sailed on to Cadiz in Spain.
The old town of Cadiz is very walkable and flat! It is very interesting too with a great market and a wonderful Cathedral and nearby Church with Processional items that are really amazing.
At the edge of the City the walk way by the sea offers great views. Here are three paintings of Cadiz, painted when back on the ship.
The Playa de la Caleta offers fine views both by day and as the sun sets.
Our next port of call was Gibraltar but alas mist shrouded the Rock all day so no paintings there! However the caves on the Rock and the Town are very interesting and the history of Gibraltar is fascinating. I am not sure about the Barbary apes though!
From there we sailed to Malaga where our priority was to revisit tThe Alhambra Place in Granada. This time we had guide which was great as there is so much to see and hear about. This view tries to show the Alhambra with the mountains behind. Even in April they are snow capped.
After a stop at Cartagena the next day where the Roman amphitheatre is spectacular, we next went on to Ibiza. We hadn’t been there since 1971, but luckily despite major changes to the island the Old Town hasn’t changed and so these two paintings were the result.
Our next stop was Valencia where the Old town was really lovely. This spectacular city needed much more time that we had on a cruise and so it’s a place to revisit one day, not only to see the Old Town but also the new and amazing new buildings there. It is a beautiful City.
Our final destinions was Barcelona and visits to Gaudi a designed Church, and Houses as well as the truly amazing Sagrada Familia. They say it will be finished in 2027, they will have to be busy as it is truly huge!
I am still trying to plan a larger painting of the Sagrad Familia but that will have to be for another time.
So the end of a great cruise and a lovely time with such good friends.
I hope you have enjoyed these little encounters with the Iberian Peninsula
Till next time, happy travelling