Sunday, 23 December 2012


 I went to Barcelona with my sister this summer.  What an amazing city.  I can't believe I've spent all that time travelling to far flung corners of the world and never been to Barcelona before when it's only 2 hours away.  This is a city with everything.  It gets quite hot in the afternoons so we generally spent our days exploring in the morning and then having a bit of down time in the afternoon, often by the pool or the beach.  The Gaudi architecture and sculptures are really quite lovely, dotted around the city.  This lizard is in Parc Guell (although we also saw a replica lizard in the Chocolate Museum).  The photo I worked from to do this painting had a small child picking her nose in the background so I opted to replace her with mosaic instead - I'm sure that's what Gaudi would have done...

One of the things I like about Spain is the food.  There's something quite relaxing about spending your evenings wandering from one tapas bar to the next, sampling the dishes they have on offer.  This picture is actually an amalgamation of several tapas bars.  One place we went back to a couple of times was tucked away in a little courtyard and has provided the setting for this little scene.  The lamppost is from the fort at the top of Mont Juic.  We spent a lovely evening up there at a blue festival which we just happened to stumble across unexpectedly one day.  We'd been up to the fort during the day and noticed they were setting up some stages.  We looked it up when we got back to the hotel and found that Mont Juic by Night was starting that evening.  We headed back up there and sat watching the sun set over Barcelona with a couple of beers and thinking life doesn't get much better than this.  You might get a picture of that one day but my first attempt didn't come out quite right so you'll have to wait.  Once it was completely dark, we wandered inside the fort and watched Dani Perez.  I'd never heard of him before but he's an amazing saxophonist.  I bought both his albums when I got home and I'm listening to one of them now while writing this.

Of course no visit to Barcelona would be complete without sampling a glass or two of Cava.  We took a trip out of the city one day to the Freixenet winery.  What a surreal place that is!  I've done similar tours of breweries and distilleries in the past so I've got to admit, I thought I knew what to expect but it soon became clear that I was wrong on that point.  Our tour started out the usual explanation of how wine is made and what is special about Cava.  We then boarded the Cava train.  We've all seen those little trains trundling around seaside resorts but I've never been one one that trundles around a factory before playing a happy little tune as we stop to watch the slightly embarrassed factory workers packing bottles into boxes and operating a robot which I'm not entirely sure had a purpose.  But by far my favourite part of the place (aside from the tasting of course) was this car parked outside the building.  It was accompanied by two cava bottle motorbikes and a champagne cork truck.  Now my friend Sonya likes a glass or two of bubbly and if she ever gets married I think this would be the perfect wedding car for her so Sonya, this picture's for you.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Looking Out My Window - Autumn

About a month ago I went to the David Hockney exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne with a friend.  David Hockney is an incredible artist and if you haven't seen his work, I suggest you look him up.  I loved his use of colour and thought he captured the light beautifully.  A lot of his work is clearly inspired by the world around him.  I particularly liked his pieces which showed the same scene changing through the seasons.  

When I got home I decided to start my own Hockney inspired project.  A week later, I opened the bedroom curtains in the morning to a lovely sunny day.  The sky was a perfect blue and the sun reflected off the autumn leaves.  It was perfect so I decided to start my project there and then, quite literally on my own doorstep.  Now I'm sure Mr Hockney could have done the scene a lot more justice than I have but I thought I'd share the results with you anyway.  This is the view from my window.  

A couple of weeks later and after a particularly wet and windy night, the scene had changed completely.  Nearly all the leaves came down overnight and formed a carpet which covered everything.  I couldn't see where the road stopped and the path started.  I went out for a walk along the canal that day which was also covered in a layer of leaves.  I even saw a Heron stood under a tree.  I'd like to think he was admiring the view but he was probably just looking for fish under all those leaves.  I took plenty of photos so maybe there will be a few more paintings from that day still to come.