Saturday, 27 February 2016

looking up in Barcelona

Nothing gets the photographic juices flowing more quickly than visiting a place for the first time.  Barcelona, full of art and churches, was a delight from start to finish. Approaching the old cathedral from the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, we soon realised this was a city which could only be partly appreciated at street level - there was even more to see when looking up!

old cathedral, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona
© Teresa Newham
Our visit to the Sagrada Familia confirmed this impression - the outside of Gaudi's masterpiece is completely covered in statues depicting stories from the Gospels, gargoyles, and foliage in ceramic and stone - all topped off with finials of Venetian glass:

Sagrada Familia - top of the Nativity facade and towers
© Teresa Newham

As we stepped inside, the scale and beauty of the place took the breath away.  Every inch of the interior is a feast for the eye in stained glass or carved stone.  I didn't know which direction to head in first - so I looked up.  And was very glad to have done so!

Sagrada Familia - glass and stone
© Teresa Newham
So many of the most beautiful details were near - or actually on - the ceiling, that I soon had a crick in my neck.  Gaudi meant the interior to resemble a forest, and the trunks - pillars illuminated in every colour of the spectrum by the sun streaming through the stained glass windows - lead the eye higher and higher . . . .

ceiling, Sagrada Familia
© Teresa Newham

The Palau de la Musica Catalana is so snugly tucked away up a side street that the visitor is forced to look up to appreciate the ornate tiled facade.  The founders had a particular attachment to the site, but the architect thought the Palau was being built in the wrong location - he would have preferred his work to be seen easily!

Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona
© Teresa Newham
The guided tour allowed us onto the balcony at the front of the building, which is wonderfully decorated to the height of several storeys.  Everyone had their cameras out.  And yes, they were looking up.  What photography enthusiast worth their salt would want to miss this?

pillars on the front of the Palau de la Musica de la Catalana
© Teresa Newham
We sat in the main auditorium, with its amazing central glass dome, for some time.  I must admit, I wasn't listening to the guide.  I had my camera pointed to the ceiling and my head right back . . .

glass dome in the auditorium of the Palau de la Musica Catalana
© Teresa Newham
Another Gaudi masterpiece - the Casa Batllo - also boasts a quirky facade in the modernist style.  "Modernisme" is the Spanish equivalent of Art Nouveau.  And this place, shown here bathed in the early evening sunshine, has it in spades:

sunshine on the facade of the Casa Batllo, Barcelona
© Teresa Newham

From bottom to top, it was just thrilling.  And when we got to the roof and couldn't go any higher, we still had the tiled chimneys to look up to!

chimneys, Casa Batllo
© Teresa Newham

Thursday, 4 February 2016

. . . and the tang of the sea

Skellig Dawn
original watercolour by Teresa Newham

Perhaps it was the salt that made me decide to paint a seascape next?  After my experiments with Cosmos it seemed like a natural progression.  This time I chose Cerulean blue, Quinacridone Magenta, Raw Sienna, and Phthalo Blue, and laid them - not quite as randomly as last time - on pre-wetted paper.

paint and salt, flowing
© Teresa Newham

Once everything was dry and the salt removed, I added another blue wash over the sky and sea areas, and some more salt, which produced this:

a second layer of washes
© Teresa Newham

Using a large brush, I dabbed in the shape of the Skellig rocks in Raw Sienna, then went over them again in magenta and finally blue, brushing in a firmer horizon as I did so.

Skelligs on the horizon
© Teresa Newham
Still not happy, I added another wash over the sea.  Even that didn't make me like this painting, although my husband loved it.  Secretly, I resolved to chuck it in the bin when his back was turned.

Skellig Dawn, with mount
© Teresa Newham

And yet, and yet . . . somehow it stayed taped to its board in the studio for another week, even though I was convinced I was going to throw it away.  But it worked its magic somehow - and now I rather like it!