This summer, I spent four weeks in Europe, in Southern Spain and Portugal, with my family and then at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto.
Here’s the start of our trip. A long direct flight from Oakland to Barcelona, followed by a connecting flight to Granada means we were transported within a day right into the heart of Andalucia. I love places where cultures meet: they always produce the best art (and food!). The Moorish influence in this region is everywhere.
I used two types of sketchbooks: a wirebound 9×12 inch Beta and a softcover 8×10 inch Alpha, both from Stillman & Birn. The smaller Alpha was key to being able to do smaller, quicker sketches while traveling with my family. Next time, I might go even smaller in size so I end up pulling that book out more often and capturing more little stuff.
This is my very first sketch the morning I woke up in Alhambra. Every where you look, there are tiny cafes that you can sit at to have a drink and some tapas. In a new place, I always struggle with the quality of light and the colors for a few days. For a while, I feel like I have visual information overload and the only way past that is to draw and paint through it. Do you feel like that in a new place?
This quick sketch is just to say “When I crane my neck and look up and out from my hotel window, I can see a wee bit of The Alhambra.”
Here’s my first sketch at the Alhambra.
And a spread from my Alpha sketchbook, over lunch and then inside the palace. The tilework at the Alhambra is spectacular. I could have spent days in there, looking at it and sketching the different patterns.
I loved the spaces too: they’re always designed to be human-scale, and even the grandest rooms aren’t so large they overwhelm you. And the screened windows and courtyards with orange trees make you wish you could spend a whole day there with a good book.
Here’s a sketch of a random little cobbled street. The occasional car did drive through, but for the most part, this was a walking street.
You can see The Alhambra on top of the hill from all over town. I sketched it over and over again. This view is from Albaicín, the neighborhood we stayed in.
And this one is from Mirador de San Nicolás, a viewpoint on top of a nearby hill.
A little ‘palace’ (really, a grand house) that we visited in the narrow lanes of Albaicín.
And a few sketches from a flamenco performance at an intimate little space called Le Chien Andalou. Traveling through football-crazy Spain and Portugal during the World Cup brought an additional dimension to our travels. Recorded in my sketchbook are bits about the matches (see the guy on the top right).
That’s it from Granada but there’s lots more sketches to come, these many books worth of them!