A belated Happy Easter to all and an immediate apology for the brevity of this post which I’ll try to make up for with a sprinkling of watercolour paintings of Porto!

First off, if you haven’t sampled the delights of Porto, then I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – it’s wonderful! We spent a fabulous five days/nights there and left feeling that we’d barely scratched the surface of everything it had to offer (and please don’t let my paintings put you off!)

In true holiday style, I picked myself up a little vacation reading at the airport in the form of The Art of Watercolour magazine. It was a title that I was aware of but hadn’t read before. I’ll have to save a fuller review for another time, but of everything in the magazine, the image that resonated with me most was a predominantly monochrome painting by Alvaro Castagnet.

I’ve always admired his work and particularly his ability to find or portray light in often unlit scenes in the traditional sense. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was a little like a premonition for what lay ahead during the holiday.

I’d packed a little A5 sketchbook and my trusty Frazer Price Palette Box in the hope I’d find time to make some use of it. Here’s my first quick sketch study paying homage to Alvaro Castagnet:

Sketch after Alvaro Castagnet

The premonition element of this lay in the fact that during our time in Porto, it was almost always grey, overcast, and invariably raining.

Here’s another quick sketch of a view in one of Porto’s many squares:

After the rain, Porto - a sketch by watercolour artist John Haywood
After the rain, Porto

And another of a brighter moment at Porto’s main Sao Bento train station:

Sao Bento train station, Porto - a sketch by watercolour artist John Haywood
Sao Bento train station, Porto

These two sketches were my favourites from the trip. I think this second one will make the basis for a larger painting as I really like the way the shadows create a frame within the frame.

I was eager to get home and try to do some other paintings based on the holiday. I still had it in mind to try to channel my inner Castagnet and develop a more monochrome image than is my usual preference. I’m not sure it’s the most exciting subject matter, but here’s how I got on with trying to capture a rainy day in Porto:

Metro crossing Pont Luis Bridge, Porto - a painting by watercolour artist John Haywood
Metro crossing Pont Luis Bridge, Porto

From a purely technical perspective, I was broadly happy with this. The more I looked at it however, the less appealing I found it as a subject matter and as a composition.

Fortunately, the sun did make the odd appearance and blessed us on our final day with its full attention! To celebrate we got a tram that ran along the river Douro to where it met the sea. Along the way, I saw what I thought was a lovely view from the tram window. Once we got to the end of the tram-line, we walked back along the river bank and eventually reached the point where I was able to fully soak the scene in and get some good reference photographs.

Here’s my interpretation of the view:

On the bank of the Douro, Porto - a painting by watercolour artist John Haywood.
On the bank of the Douro, Porto

I’m really pleased with how this turned out and still have time to get this mounted and framed in time for my Open House exhibition!

On that note, the pressure’s building daily now! I spent a torturous day cutting mounts and backing boards and these are all stacked up now and awaiting assembly.

I have in mind the hang I’ll be going for, which will comprise seven half sheet sized paintings and four quarter sheet paintings, plus many more that need to be mounted, wrapped, labelled and priced ready for display in a couple of print browsers. It’s still all do-able, but there’ll definitely be some midnight oil being burnt over the next few days!

25 thoughts on “Watercolour paintings of Porto

    1. Thanks for your kind comments – but also sorry if it’s you that has had the bad day! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.

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  1. The second painting, After the Rain, is also so interesting. I just love the way it conveys joy of the day and the way the light and colors always look so fresh after a rain. Yes, great work John. And the best of luck to you for your show. I know you will do wonderfully.

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    1. Hi Tim and many thanks for this – really pleased you like that study – it’s my favourite from the trip! Thanks too for the good wishes for the show. It opens on Sat 4 May so I’ve got about a week to get everything sorted! I’ll obviously let you know how I get on!

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    1. Hi Tim and thanks so much for this. I also like that particular study, but as it’s 99% done to someone else’s hard work and skill I can’t lay much of a claim to it, but it was a nice little exercise.

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    1. haha, thanks Graham, you’re probably right about the odd pop of colour helping out some of these! We did have have some pretty miserably grey days! If I work any of the sketches up into larger paintings I’ll try to rectify it then!

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    1. Hi Hilda and thanks so much for this and your good wishes for the exhibition. My fingers are also crossed that it will be worth it! What I really look forward to is, on the days when I’m there, seeing how people react (or don’t!) to my work and having the opportunity to speak to some people in person. I get a lot from that. Obviously selling a few would also be nice too! 🙂

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  2. I like them all very much. That last one…..on the bank of the Douro…..has such a warm, realistic “vibe”….that I feel like I could just walk right into that scene, enjoying the shade from that tree. Lovely!

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    1. Hi Teresa and thanks so much for this wonderful comment, much appreciated. Particularly pleased that you like that Douro one – I really like that scene and already have another version of this in mind which again, I’m hoping to have ready in time for the exhibition. Thanks again Teresa!

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