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


Porto Barcos

Laid up at home with a sore throat I’ve been working on a picture from a photo I took on my recent trip to Porto. Taken on the south bank looking across the Douro to the steep side of the city, I liked the composition. The boats are dark in the foreground and the river flows to the left hand with a bridge in the distance adding a little bit of mystery. The impressive north bank rising up high, with a mass of buildings, roofs and windows, were details I felt I wanted to attempt painting.


Barcos on the Douro

The first washes were laid on the drawing after placing a few key highlights with masking fluid. Soft, wet on wet basic colour washes, producing a guide for the whole picture, especially the sky and water.


Base washes

Then adding the second level washes that provide more detail but not much contrast

Sky and water washes

Sky and water washes

I wasn’t sure about sure about the detail on the headland – how far do I go? But once started then I must continue. However, as I progressed I gained new insight, found new ways of tackling the buildings so probably I would do them differently again. (another painting project).


Porto Barcos

Finished? Not really but as much as I want to do for now. Likes? the river going into the distance, the buildings on the right hand side , the shadows in the town, parts of the water. Dislikes? Muddy reflections, foreground out of scale, too many windows badly done, poor masts. Still to do? Change foreground, more depth to the water on bottom right, rigging on the boats.

A day in Porto

The company took us to Porto for a break, to thank us for the year’s work and for team-building. Travel there and back took a day and I spent 24 hours in the city. Its a great city, very scenic, picturesque port and dramatic bridges. I managed to sneak out in the evening, whilst the youngster danced in the nightclub, to a local Milonga and had a great evening dancing with some lovely local dancers. It would be great to return in April for their Int Tango festival.

In the morning only three of us made it to breakfast by 8:30 and I was soon off to the port to sketch. It was cool and there was a fresh breeze on the bridge but the sky was cloudless and a chance to get warm later on, on the other river bank. (which I did later with a coffee and sandwich) I found the view I wanted to draw and luckily there was a concrete block to sit on and it wasn’t too busy. I felt confident I could draw the scene but there were heck of a lot of windows and roofs. I did ignore some nasty concrete bunkers and concentrated on the more historic buildings and included a couple of vegetation features.

The painting went well, until I was interrupted by a cyclist who asked me to take photo for him. It took about 90 minutes to draw and paint and is in a loose style but with lots of detail.


Porto Bridge and Port

There is some odd scaling going on in the picture. The buildings get larger as you go up the hill, which is true but a bit off putting and made me rethink several times. I missed a boat on the river which I regret but cold and tiredness forced me to move on.