I'm thrilled to be returning to Spain in December. The last time I was there was in 2004 with my daughter, Nicole. Of my three children, Nicole was the only one I hadn't had travel adventures with and I wanted to build a stronger bond before she left the nest. It turns out that we are excellent travel companions! It's Nicole who taught me a new approach to exploring cities, one that I've used ever since. I'll share that in another post.
We began in northern Portugal, drove across the north of Spain and spent a week in Barcelona before driving back across Spain to Porto to catch our plane home. Three glorious weeks of inspiration, discovery and awakening. I hadn't crossed the Atlantic since living alone in Germany in 1969-1970. My wanderlust was reignited and I've been traveling ever since.
The paintings below are only a selection of the paintings that resulted from this three week voyage. As many of you know, I rarely work from photographs. The impact that the trip had on me made it easy to use my photographs merely as reference while still capturing the essence of my experiences.
Barcelona Montage - 48" x 36" oil on canvas
Yellow and orange flags with black ribbons hung from windows and buildings all across Spain in observance of the Madrid train bombing that occurred while I was driving from Porto north to meet up with Nicole. Our original plan had been to meet at the Madrid train station that day ... we had changed our plans earlier in the month.
Photo on the cover of Time magazine and almost every other magazine published that week.
11" x 14" oil on canvas
I don't believe I've every shared this image before. There have been only two times I've painted to heal uncontrolled anguish. This was one of them. I couldn't help but hurt inside for this woman's family and loved ones who saw her tragic death plastered everywhere around the world. It could have been Nicole. It was a difficult beginning of what turned out to be an absolutely wonderful trip.
Subirach's Portal on the Passion Façade of the Sagrada Familia - Barcelona
60" x 36" oil on canvas
It was March. Thorny gorse bushes (Ulex europaeus) were in full bloom blanketing the hills and mountains of northern Portugal and Spain. Yellow-orange had never been a favorite color of mine ... until I saw it acting like sunshine coming out of the earth. Even the yolks of eggs screamed this glorious color at me each morning. Chickens fed on cabbage and corn created these colorful yolked eggs, the likes of which I haven't seen since. Golden yellow-orange became dominant in my work for two to three years following my trip.
Gorse covered landscape in Spain - 10" x 10" watercolor en plein air
Vieira No. II - 40" x 30" oil on canvas
It was in Barcelona that Nicole and I discovered the work of Vieira da Silva, a Portuguese abstract artist (13 June 1908 – 6 March 1992). I continue to be influenced and inspired by her work and was brought to tears seeing one of her paintings at the Guggenheim Museum in New York last week.
Spain Catalonia Santa Coloma de Cervello the ruins of Torre Salvana romanic castle of 10th century near Colonia Guell
24" x 24" oil on canvas
Nicole taking photos at the ruins of Torre Salvana
14" x 11" oil sketch on canvas
Ceiling of Wine Cellar and Stables - Palau Güell
My first attempt at glazing over a detailed charcoal drawing, 24" x 18" oil on canvas
Needless to say, I'm excited about returning to Spain in December! I'm thrilled to be partnering with Angela Jones, a remarkable fitness trainer (a fully qualified and insured coach) with whom I've enjoyed wild swimming, kayaking and camping multiple times in Wales. We're both totally committed to nurturing both body and soul through nature, exploration, curiousity and observation of both the extraordinary and ordinary moments in life.
This collaborative workshop will be unlike an other, it will be our first. Those who join us will have the unique opportunity to see Castillo de Castellar in the Spanish Mountains and the Rock of Gibralter through my eyes for the first time and experience the initial sparks that ignite my passion to sketch and paint the world and the people around me. Participants will enjoy as many or as few fitness activities as they choose as well as enjoy as many or few art classes, sketching sessions and evening art talks. We will be staying four nights in a castle hotel and one night on a luxury yacht. All participants receive an art-belt sketching kit. We will be working in pencil, ink and watercolor. You don't need to bring your own art supplies.
I can't yet know what new color combinations I might begin to use or how the architecture, the food and the December landscape will influence my work.
Our group is limited in size. Only ten lucky individuals will be able to participate in this first collaborative workshop with Angela and me. Let me know if you would like more details on the upcoming event.
I'm looking forward to five nights and six days of incredible art adventure in Spain!
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Chris Carter - Artist
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