Barcelona Spain through the Eyes of a Traveling Artist

Where we are staying in Barcelona is intimate, warm and relatively safe. But this is one huge and sometimes stressed city. People often do not make eye contact and are in a world of their own with a kind of pinched expression that comes from longstanding worries. It is not uncommon for middle age women to flinch at the sound of my footsteps on the sidewalk behind them. It is every-so-slightly but I know I am not mistaken when they turn and look directly at me – a safety practice I learned myself many years ago. When our host dropped by to change over the propane tank to a fresh bottle he warned – keep the front door locked at all times. This is a safe neighbourhood but we are in a crisis. I had been doing this already as the door only has a deadbolt and no other latch. Still his concern matched my impression of the Barcelona. Some might quibble that Spain is in a crisis and not Barcelona but like it or not Barcelona is an important part of Spain.

 

The European Union elections were held while we were here and there is talk of another bailout for Spain. Unemployment is high in the city and even higher in other parts of Spain. As a visitor and as a guest in this country, I find it a valuable warning because this is not a city or country issue but a global one which is fraying its edges more visibly here than in other places we have been in Europe or in our home country of Canada.

 

There is one place where people let their shoulders rest easy and their stride loosens. It is in the Jardins del Turó del Putget. The people living near the gardens walk with their dogs, family and visit with friends on the benches sprinkled along the climb and at the top of the park. I walk here often. It is where one can view the city with a bit of circumspect.

 

Barcelona Spain through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 050

 

The gardens are simple and natural with tough herb shrubs such as rosemary and lavender added to the ground cover. It is not a place noticeable on the tourist maps. Rather, it is just an ordinary functional green space with designated dog and children play areas. Here, one can read a book or a newspaper or do nothing at all. There are no work expectations on the hill of steps, trails and trees. It is a place of rest – a place to build resilience.

 

These are the underlying currents and observations that create part of the interpretative lens for my photography and painting in Barcelona Spain. Following is my round-up of our time here. It is not all-encompassing – just a few quick impressionistic brushstrokes.

 

Community and park spaces are extremely limited. Our neighbourhood playgrounds are on spears of land beside major thoroughfares. Our ground-floor apartment has a most prized private courtyard in the middle of tall apartment buildings. Its value did not register with me when we arrived but now I more fully appreciate its rare pleasure. One morning I set up my paints.

 

Painting in a Barcelona Courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 111

 

I want to capture courtyards private beauty and mystery. To do so means painting the spaces between the actual forms using light and colour to guide the construction of a meaningful composition. The results are an abstraction of sorts but the energy of the space after the morning rain remains.
Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain

10 × 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board

 

Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain 10 x 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 144

 

(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)

 

One of our most pressing reasons for coming to Barcelona was to see Antoni Gaudi’s work in person. What we didn’t realize was how mainstream and popular his work had become with visitors. After we assessed the potential for crowds, lineups and disappointment we took a circular approach. This involved a few scouting trips before actually making a commitment to a more engaging visit to Park Güell.

A prized seat in Barcelona

A prized seat in Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 245

That invites us repeatedly to stroll its length and look out over the city.

try done Reaching out to the Barcelona Park uell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 262

Sometimes Gaudi’s buildings seem to be cloud to cloud.

Cloud to Cloud Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 165

Yet, from other vantage points they are tucked right into the city.

At the edge of Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 068

Whether walking tree to tree

Tree to Tree in Park Guell Barcelona Spain by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 102

or admiring the stretching supports

Stretching Park Guell Barcelona Spaint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 119

or the details of water collection at the front or back of the mosaic seating,

Water collection Park Guell 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 205

there is no denying the creative thought, care and vision of Gaudi’s work. It wasn’t designed to be a public park but it makes a good one! Some, including Gaudi feel that the church is his most important work but it is this park that most speaks to me.

 

In the end, we decided not to visit Sagrada Familia at all and nor did we stand in line to visit Casa Mila. Instead, we saw only its roof top

 

roof top of Casa Mila by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 012

 

in favour of a few walk-by visits to the summer home – Casa Vicens

over the top on Carrer De Les Carolines by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 004

with its point of interest (yes, I am being cheeky).

point of interest on Casa Vicens by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 024

We trekked over to the private school, Colegio de las Teresianas, but I didn’t even take one photograph as the angle and size of the buildings was resisting my framing eye.

 

However, the medieval castle – Torre Bellesguard,

Torre Bellesguard 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 018

was ours alone late on Friday afternoon. We indulged our need for all-things Gaudi

repaired at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 029

while noting the amount of upkeep required for keeping mosaic work in good repair.

breaking patterns at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 034

This morning I thought about our time in Barcelona and what one thing I truly wanted to paint on our last full day. Can you guess where I went?

 

Jardins del Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain

25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Jardins del  Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 028

(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)

 

I did not take my camera with me as even though it feels safe in the park, I am unable to keep an adequate on its whereabouts and it would interfere with my painting if I was to wear it while working. This time you will have to be content with just the finished work and the comparison of an image from last evening at the top of a park where a four-legged friend made us laugh with his pure joy.

 

Top of Dog Park Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 004

 

Tomorrow morning we will leave and return to France with the first stop being Avignon for three days. I am more than ready to leave Barcelona but this rather stoic city has grown on me and shall remember it and its people fondly.

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

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13 thoughts on “Barcelona Spain through the Eyes of a Traveling Artist

  1. Terrill – Oh me, oh my! I don’t even know where to begin: vistas, views, ancient columns, vivid red geraniums overflowing in the ginormous mosaic pot, exuberant dog…

    THANK YOU for your generous sharing.

  2. We were in Barcelona last summer and you do it justice with your beautiful images and narrative. Thank you for sharing, Terrill. BTW the Sagrada Familia exterior is scarcely representative of the majestic interior. But I too treasure the solitary spots. What a treat!

    • I have seen many photographs of both inside and out of the Sagrada Familia Romagosa and I agree. If circumstances were different for us personally and we had a collective higher level of tolerance for crowds, we would have likely made our way downtown to see it. But something’s need to be saved for another trip right?

  3. How delightful, Terrill–all your pictures and the flavors you’ve shared here. How sad, also, that people there don’t feel safe and supported. You painted a picture of a country (a world?) in the throes of change and movement. Actually, I dreamed last night of a European friend who was visiting Canada. And she called Toronto a “little Barcelona” in the dream. Therefore, I had to come and see your blog this morning and ponder all this. And thinking about our interconnected nature.

    • That is so interesting Kathy. I was in Toronto two years ago in hue he fall and I am not sure I would have made this reference – maybe a little in the Gracia area of Barcelona and they both share some beautiful old buildings. But it definitely has a North American big-city feel to it. We are in the quiet and most peaceful neighbourhood in Avignon France this evening. I can feel my breath exhale in a deeper way than it has in the past week. Not being a big-city gal is something that has its own set of capacity for chaos limitations 😉

  4. Quite right Terril; I hate crowds too and wouldn’t have stood in line to go in. Fortunately we had bough tickets ahead of time in the States and walked right in. It’s good saving some for a later visit; I’m with you on that. Take care,

  5. this is so wonderful Terril – Thank you so much for sharing – I am spending so much time in the dentist’s chair these days I have brought my laptop along to read blogs while I wait. Everyone in the office today was looking at your posts and pictures…even the 3 other patients… Ooooing and Ahhing

    • Patricia that is some unique sharing of my work you are doing! I hope it is a nice reprieve for people. THANK YOU for being such an avid supporter. Wow! You just made my evening 🙂

  6. This ravishing collection of photos, taking in everything imaginable may be the best lot of the entire trip. But I know that comparing is futile. This destination is in my dreams. Magnifico!! 🙂

    • Well Sam, it is always good to have dreams. Being from an amazing big city yourself, I think that aspect you will take in stride whereas David and I took a day or two to get ourselves sorted. Still, it is an amazing place and one that grew on us rather than welcoming it with open arms. Right now we are in a much smaller city, may even be a town, and staying on a quiet street just five minutes walking outside the city walls of Avignon in France. We like it so much that after we go to Lyon for four days starting today, we are coming back here for another four days. Then it is off to Paris for a few days followed by London in preparation for our flight home. Even almost three months feels like an appetizer for this amazing corner of the world. I am so glad that I have been able to paint and edit photographs as we go. The extra travel weight for my gear has been worth it. I guess I better get moving, here. It is a “travel day” even if only a short one with no transfers to try and connect. Yes!

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