Month: April 2015


On a recent revisit to Porto in Portugal, that had been booked up last year, I managed to find time for a couple of sketches.

The first one would make an interesting postcard and perhaps is something I can do more of in the future. It includes the famous Eiffel bridge, the cathedral, the statue outside the cathedral, the town hall tower, at typical roof top, a church close to the hotel, a custard tart, seagull, tourist boat, tram and Taylor’s port warehouse.

The second is of the Porto harbour and I was dodging rain showers and noisy teenagers.


pen and wash

Scenes of Porto

pen and ink

Porto harbour


Flo & Matilda

We had a visit from my nephew and  his family and it was great to see the two girls with so much energy and life. I took some photos while they were playing, with the idea of painting their portraits. I wanted to try out very subtle washes and also work on a larger scale than my previous efforts. I’m pleased with the efforts and may frame them up as a gift.


Flo & Tilly

Down to the Duoro

I’m finding it very hard to try new techniques out. As soon as I lose concentration I fall back in to automation painting mode. A typical example is this painting of the Duoro at Oporto.

I started with the left hand side and tried so hard to get texture and tonal range with the washes. But when I got lost in the detail I painted the right hand side in the same old flat wash way. I could add another series of washes to this side but don’t have the knowledge of what to do next.


Down to the Duoro

I’ve reviewed the painting and spoken to a couple of people and we feel the contrasts were not strong enough. The shadows down the steps and on the houses need to be deeper so that the blue of the river can really ‘pop’ out. Also we will get greater contrast with the vegetation and more depth in the distance – I hope.


Down to the Duoro

this looks better in my opinion. Next… what about adding a little bit of life with some people?



I’ve selected a very dramatic picture of Annecy to work on for my next project. I wanted to try out a wash with a reflection and this one was ideal. However, the subject was complex and I wanted to keep the style loose and the washes simple. I’ve manage to do this in parts but there is something not quite right about the result. It may take time before I can work out what it is that’s not clicking.

I used winsor blue green and cerulean for the sky and water, with Prussian blue at the base.

I like the sky, mountain, steeple and roof tops. The water works well but the buildings are doing something odd.



The bridge is horizontal but taking a photo of painting like this is tricky.