Postcards from Portugal

When I arrived in Portugal in March 2019 I brought with me a small supply of blank postcards. I had the idea that I would paint or draw what I noticed each week and send them home to my mum as a more interesting variant on the usual tourist postcards.

It was a fun project, not least because it meant that I spent my days looking for something that caught my interest and I spent a bit of each Sunday making the pictures. So here they are, with what inspired me.

My first postcard was drawn on the plane, in the air as I left home. Economy class tray-tables are not ideal supports for drawing, but I don’t sleep on flights and I had a lot of time to occupy.

1 First one must leave Africa
First, one must leave Africa

My second postcard was the view from my new apartment in Guimarães. I was enchanted by the ornate glass domes that provide light in dark stairwells and the different textures of the roofs.

2 Roofs, windows and walls
Roofs, windows and walls

My third postcard came as a result of a visit to the local art museum which houses a great collection of African masks. I left Africa to see African art? I rather liked this particular one, because it wasn’t scary. He looked so happy.

 

The next week I took a trip up the nearby Penha “mountain” in the teleférico. (I grew up hiking in the Drakensburg. I have standards for what can be called a mountain.) At the top I found giant boulders scattered about. Which inspired the fourth postcard below.

5 Like giant Easter eggs
Like giant Easter eggs

Portugal is famous for the beautiful tiles that decorate the buildings here. So much more interesting than bland, flat paint. I spent hours in the tiny streets of Guimarães, Porto and Aveiro admiring the designs. So postcard five was a little homage.

4 When in doubt tile it cropped
When in doubt, tile it

Finally (when my six postcards were coming to an end) I took a walk in the city park early one morning to find the small pond filled with frogs all croaking together.

6 Croak
Croak

I duly sent all six postcards off to my mum. So far, only one got to her. Whether this is a result of the postal service in Portugal or (more likely) in South Africa, we’ll never know. But I like to think that they will make their way there eventually or make someone smile wherever they end up.

I had a lot of fun making them.

Advertisements

A face emerging

I find the process of painting these faces to be like sculpture. The face emerges as I work on one part of the surface, applying colour to create contours or features.

So I thought you might like to see the process. Here are three pictures of the face emerging from the canvas (left ot right). They were taken about a week apart.

At this stage I am waiting to see if the picture on the right is “finished”. Usually I wait a week or two , just living with him in my studio. Sometimes I notice things that need more work, sometimes I don’t.

When I’m happy that there is no more to do, I’ll varnish the picture and name him.