Granada: Family Travels in Spain and Portugal

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!

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Spain, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Granada: Family Travels in Spain and Portugal

  1. Terry says:

    Love your style, you do paint first then ink, am I guessing right? And I love you thoughts on size of pad, for me 8×10 is a large pad, my small, carry everywhere is 3.5×5.5. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Christy says:

    Always love your captures and helpful info! I’ve been thinking about doing wedding sketches in a little book like this. It would have to be an extremely mobile way to work. What’s your favorite, most mobile way to paint with the watercolor? I would love to hear! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pbass wil says:

    So nice to have you back & posting!
    However, I hope you take it easy on yourself, and sketch when it’s fun! I bet your blog can coast just fine on Porto pics, for a while. :^)

    Liked by 2 people

    • oh, I’m happy to blog my travels: it kinda extends the feeling of travel, to revisit places and sketches when I’m back home 🙂
      Porto on my blog? after I’m done with the family trip sketches.


  4. vinadb says:

    Such a great capture of Grenada!! Thanks, Suhita!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Anne Percival says:

    Love your loose application of paint. So lively!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes size is always a consideration when traveling. I brought to Porto a Perfect SKetchbook from Erwin in Singapore, about 8×10 and my fearless felt journal which is about 6×6.5.. I used both and filled up all the paper I brought.. BTW that sketch of Palicia De Dar al Horra is wonderful. Hope to see you soon..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. rhodadraws says:

    The airport scene is fantastic! Featuring luggage with the handles extended…delightful.
    As for your wonderful sketches of Granada and the Alhambra, thanks for warm reminders of my trip there only a few years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. rhodadraws says:

    You are welcome here anytime! The guest room is ready.
    I have 3 sign-ups for my 3rd annual Day of the Dead workshop, and they will stay here at “Casa de Dibujo”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. D. Abreu says:

    These are fabulous sketches, I love the intense colors, aaahh. Lovely

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks Suhita. We were also in Granada, prior to going to Porto, so it’s very interesting to see your take on the city. I used my 8 x 10 Stillman and Birn for the whole trip and found it to be a hood size. Looking forward to seeing more of your sketches.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jeff Gold says:

    As always, your drawings have exciting color and an immediacy and spontaneity that continues to inspire me.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. tripntravel says:

    Such a great capture of Grenada!! Thanks, Suhita!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Very beautiful art! Thank you for sharing! My husband is a painter too!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. paigechanel says:

    Wow, what beautiful sketches! Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Patricia Feely says:

    I love the history and this part of Spain, it is amazing architecture and just drulling over these beautiful sketches. What an amazing trip, great inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. fakeflamenco says:

    Beautiful watercolors! Our family visited Granada two years ago. Love the Alhambra!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Granada is my absolute favourite place in Spain, scratch that probably Europe! I love the sketches you did, kind of makes me wish I had some to fit my travel story on my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Beautiful sketches. My Dad was a graphic artist but can’t paint now and unfortunately I didn’t inherit any of his talent. So I just write. It is great to see an artist with such a fantastic eye as yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. nzskigal says:

    Love your sketches

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I love the sketches Suhita! Andalucia is so amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. These are so beautiful! 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Nidhi says:

    Love your style💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bee says:

    This is awesome art work

    Liked by 2 people

  24. One of my favorite ever! Granada thanks for taking me bacj

    Liked by 2 people

  25. wow…its indeed a very creative way, I really love it

    Liked by 1 person

  26. tamryncake says:

    Love your sketches!! Such an inspiring post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Backpacker_Babe says:

    You’re so talented!


  28. vatlieuxaydungsg says:

    Love your loose application of paint. So lively! Báo giá đá xây dựng


  29. alibey says:

    Hi Suhita, I love the bottom left design! Big favor to ask: may I use it as the basis for an SVG tutorial on my (free, open source) Widgeteria blog? The idea would be to show how the various design items can be re-created using hand-crafted computer graphics code. many thanks.


    • sure, can you send me link to look at when its’ done?


      • alibey says:

        Thank you! I am in the process of rethinking how best to structure my site: should it be by SVG design artifacts (such as, say, stars) or should it be by recreating various Islamic design patterns.? My feeling is that it should be a little bit of both. If you have a better resolution image of that particular mural, which I am naming after you in my blog, could you please send it to me? Thanks for the trouble!


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