Monday, 8 May 2017

Portugal 2017 - paintings

The Algarve in Portugal is such a great place to paint. Inspiration is easily found amongst the dramatic cliffs and beaches and at this time of year the vegetation is quite lush with many wildflowers and more unusual looking cactus, yucca, palms and olive trees.

I loved the colours of the rocks and sand which had a unique warmth in the sunshine. Even in more overcast conditions there is much to offer. The painting below was done from the pier in Lagos and perched on the right is the Mayor's residence. I was lucky with the timing of the tide with this one.

'From the pier, Lagos' - 8x16in, oil on board

Here's one below done just after the above, again from the pier in Lagos. I wanted to capture the warmth from the ochre/sienna stone in the cliffs which takes a bit of getting used in painting terms. The shifts in colours/tone were often very subtle, as was the aerial perspective.

'Warm cliffs, Lagos beach', 8x10in - oil on board

Another one from the pier in Lagos below. I was determined to use at least one of the larger boards I'd managed to get into my luggage and this was done on a more overcast day which still provides lovely colours from the rocks, sea and sand. The mayor's house is perched above cliff.

'Low tide, Lagos beach', 9.25x23.5in - oil on board

We found an interesting subject with the rooftops of Luz in the foreground where I painted alongside Tim and Valerie whilst the others headed down towards the beach.

'Looking over Luz', 8x12in - oil on board

It was quite a challenge to make the warm cliffs recede, especially on overcast days. It ended up being very subtle shifts in tone and colour and often with surprisingly little blue (perhaps reduced by the warmth of the local colour in the stone)

'Sea stack, Praia Donna Ana', 11x14in - oil on board

There was an old fort perched on the headland at Sagres and myself, Tim and Haidee opted to paint it whilst the others were camped just down the road. The light was quite strong as it was mid afternoon and I was flagging in the hear a bit. After a couple of false starts I managed to make some sort of  composition which just hinted at the fort in the top right. The distant headland and fort were both very long and flat so it was a tricky subject to deal with. 

'Fortaleza de Sagres', 8x10in - oil on board

I hiked around loaded with full kit in the baking heat for too long before attempting the one below. Having marched along the cliffs I thought I'd just try the beach below but it was about 150 steps down a long wooden staircase! Still, the subject was a real treat and I was tucked away at the back of the beach, keeping topped up with factor 50 as the sun was fierce and at it's highest point. I loved the way the rocks seemed to have subtle reflected light bouncing off from different sources.

'Bathers at Praia Da Camillo', oil on board - 10x12in

For something a bit different I painted a couple of pieces around the garden and this arrangement below caught my eye with the lovely white walls creating strong angles to contrast with the softer plants.

'Garden archway', 11x14in - oil on board

The piece below was painted on a very dull/wet afternoon and I was lucky to find a spot that was vaguely sheltered under a tree. However, the rain intensified and eventually I struggled to see what was on the painting or palette. Still, glad to have captured something from the moment.

'Terrace with plants', 11x14in - oil on board

Karl found a great spot with some lovely olive trees and I joined him for this small one below. 

'Olive trees, Cama Da Vaca', 10x6in - oil on board

'View from Cama Da Vaca', 8x16in - oil on board

We had a cloudy day in Arrifana and the flat light wasn't ideal. After a fruitless walk down to the beach I decided the others had the better idea staying back at the top of the cliff. I eventually settled on this view of the main headland with it's accompanying stack at the end.

'Beach at Arrifana', 8x14in - oil on board

This one below is a small 6x8in and needed a bit of resolving afterwards to restate the foregroud. It was nice to capture the glinting light which appeared momentarily, as did the flash of yellowy warmth on the slice of rock in the centre. The coast path seems popular with walkers and understandably so.

'Early afternoon stroll, Cama Da Vaca', 6x8in - oil on board

Some of the most dramatic coastline we saw was at Praia Da Cordoama which we also viewed from a loftier perch before heading down closer to paint. I love this sort of subject and you feel very in touch with elements whilst at work. In terms of painting experiences it doesn't get much better in my book 😊

'High sun, Praia Da Cordoama', 10x14in - oil on board

'Praia Da Cordoama', 8x16in - oil on board


  1. Totally mesmerizing! Amazing body of work...I kept scrolling and scrolling, and each time a WOW! How vibrantly you captured these scenes. I doubt I will ever be able to travel to Portugal so really appreciate this virtual sight-seeing tour.

    1. Thanks very much Gayle, very kind of you and pleased I could convey a sense of the place! I do aim to try and capture the essence of a subject and squeeze as much out of the subject as I can. It's very distinctive with the colours in the cliffs and the type of wild vegetation but also has a few crossovers with the Cornish coastline. The sun definitely seems to make more appearances in Portugal though!

  2. Very well done, You make heat look and feel good!
    150 Steps!

    1. Thanks Maywyn :) It was a long way down the steps to that beach but worth the effort as it was a lovely spot. I was glad I packed the high factor sunscreen....not sure I could hack it in July/August!

  3. Great work as always David. I think you lovely soft brushstrokes and subtle shifts of tones are perfect for this type of cliff subjects. They are all great but my favourites are:
    Bathers at Praia Da Camillo
    Early afternoon stroll, Cama Da Vaca
    High sun, Praia Da Cordoama
    Praia Da Cordoama

    It was lovely painting with you! Can't wait for the next trip!

    1. Thanks very much Valerie :) It was great painting with you and discovering new coastal subjects to paint. Look forward to seeing your work....from what I've already seen it looks superb. Yes indeed, itching for the next trip already!