Building Finale

The final building I sketched in Portugal, the Igreja dos Congregados, while leaning up against the Porto train station on a very narrow footpath, with continual foot traffic going past and the odd person asking for money.


The Porto train station is a spectacular building with hand painted individual tiles to depict historic scenes.

train station

Goodbye, Portugal. You have been amazing and I toast you.


Feeling at Home in Porto

There’s no end of breathtaking sights in Portugal.  Porto is a stunning city.

One of the many fabulous buildings in Porto

It was nice to see Bottlebrushes (a little of Australia) flowering in Porto.

Red flowering Bottlebrushes in Porto

I thought I saw another Australian sight, an emu, but upon closer inspection it is some other type of bird holding a horseshoe in its beak.


I wasn’t expecting to see a little of Belgium in Porto.

There’s also some cool tyre-art…

tire art
street art

… what kind of art do you think is this coming up???…

rabbit art



Did you guess rabbit-art??!

Portugal’s university graduates have been celebrating in a lively manner and fashion for a week.  There’s been lots of chanting and parading in all parts of the city at different times of the day, evening and night.  Students are all dressed in black and white, some with an additional colour added to the combination.  It’s really nice hearing their faculty’s and university’s songs.  Some of the songs that were sang in the nearby park sounded similar to the New Zealand Haka.  To me, singing is unifying, bonding and a great way to celebrate.  I imagine that the University of Tasmania has a school song, but maybe not?? TasTAFE, where I currently work, doesn’t have a song.  I think it is our loss.  Singing a school song would be a nice addition to graduation celebrations.

A small group of graduates.

There’s a lot to celebrate about this city.

Cheers for now.

Giving it a crack in Porto

With my $10 notebook, Artline black pen, small set of watercolour paints and tiny paintbrush, I set out into Porto determined to have a crack at drawing more ridiculously challenging buildings.


The first building I attempted to draw was the Clerigos Tower.  I sat on the cement and my bottom got too sore to continue the drawing, and I was getting lost in the detail.  For me, to be able to achieve a better end-result, I would have to draw this building several times to simplify and eliminate elements.

Clerigos Tower
One of the first baroque churches in Portugal.  Construction commenced in 1732 and was finished in 1750. 
Photo taken from where I drew the Clerigos Tower.  The tower is 75.6 metres high and has 240 steps to reach the top, where you have a 360 degree view of the city of Porto.

Next, I drew some of this building named Conselho Regional do Porto.

Conselho Regional do Porto

Porto building
Photo of the Conselho Regional do Porto taken from where I was sitting to do the drawing.

Then I had a crack at drawing the Centro Portugues de Fotografia. A tour group decided that it would be a good meeting spot to gather right in front of me.  I had to crane my neck and then wait for them to move along as the group started to grow as more and more people arrived.

Centro Portugues de Fotografia
photograph museum
My view of the Museum of Photography

It’s day nine in Portugal and I’ve  done 19 sketches so far.  That’s the most I’ve ever done travelling.  Also, I have rarely painted outside but I have on this trip. I try to ignore the excuses that I could so easily agree with: there’s not enough time to do be able to do it justice, you’ll hardly get any of it drawn, you won’t have time to add paint, it’s going to be a bad drawing, you’ll rush and the perspective will be all wrong and more of the same.  Most of the drawings/paintings that I’ve done, I’ve had to do in a short space of time, 20-30 minutes, and because of limited time, I haven’t been able to do whole buildings, but I’m giving it a crack and as a result I’m starting to build quite a collection of drawings.

Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share some of Portugal’s awesome buildings with you.

Breakfast view

First breakfast in a café in Porto, Portugal, and this was my view.  Great coffee but the custard tart was not as good as they are in Lisbon. I did this quick painting in the café, started straight off with ink pen (no pencil) and then applied the paint.

And now, I’m off to do a two and a half hour Classical Walking Tour with the Porto Walkers.  Bye for now.

Tiles, doors and stations

Lisbon, Portugal is a stunningly beautiful city.  So many buildings have amazing doors and the exteriors are covered with hand painted tiles, some dating back to the 1700s, to protect buildings from fires. Most of these doors I photographed in the lanes in the old district of Alfama in Lisbon.




Time to explore more of Portugal, so with a train ride to Coimbra and then another one to a new gorgeous Portuguese city, that is, Porto.  The difficulty with trying to draw train stations when you are catching a train, is that you produce a bunch of unfinished drawings, but it’s good practice, definitely a challenging perspective exercise and it still serves as a nice way to document some of the characteristics of the different stations.

Coimbra A
Coimbra A Station
Coimbra B
Coimbra B Station
Coimbra B Station

Arrived in Porto and enjoying the view from the balcony of the B&B.

view from apt

I can’t wait to draw some of this city.


Red, Yellow and Blue

In Sintra, not far from Lisbon, there is a magical, fairy tale-like palace, the Pena Palace.  They must have had so much fun building this outlandish, fantastical and ornate palace.  It is a must see but I strongly, strongly, strongly advise that you get there as soon as it opens.  Our tour group arrived at 9 am and we were basically able to walk straight in but on our way out, we were aghast to see the queue and there were hundreds more joining the queue for the two hour wait, in addition to another queue lower down, to buy a ticket to enter the grounds to join the two-hour queue to get into the palace.

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
Penna Palace2
Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

After visiting the Pena Palace, we stopped at Cascais before heading to Europe’s westernmost point, Cabo da Roca. At Cascais, I drew this bright red building. I had to get back on the bus before I could paint it, so it was painted at the hotel.

Cascais building
The Loja Das Meias
Cascais 1
Photo taken from where I was standing to draw the Loja Das Meias

While waiting at the Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon, to catch a train to Coimbra, Portugal, this bright blue building caught my eye.  So I drew it and was able to partly paint the picture before I had to board the train (I can’t understand why the train didn’t want to wait for me to finish my painting??! :-/ ).


I like the yellow colour next to the bright blue.  I’ve painted a red, yellow and blue building in Portugal.  I wonder which colour is next?!

Thanks for visiting and take care.

Having a go in Lisbon

Lisbon is a gorgeous city and an urban sketchers dream, or nightmare, depending on how challenged you like to be.  It has thousands of ornate and exquisite buildings. I got up early and drew this building located in the suburb of Alfama in Lisbon.

Lisbon building

Then I returned back to my B&B and set off to have a renowned custard tart (a Pasteis De Nata).  Most businesses don’t open before 10 am, so while waiting for the Patisserie to open, I started to sketch this building.  The Patisserie opened before I could finish the drawing. It has hand painted tiles for fire protection covering the  front of the building.

Then, as recommended by the tourist guide books, I experienced a ride on the Elevador Da Gloria.  It is an well-admired feat of engineering.  The tram system was built in 1885, originally powered by water displacement, then this system was superseded by steam and then eventually powered by electricity. While waiting for the tram, I did this quick and tiny sketch.

Lisbon 15

Lisbon 20
The Elevador Da Gloria

At the top, this house caught my eye and I sketched part of it.

Then I returned to my initial morning’s sketching spot and applied paint to the drawing.  This time there were people constantly streaming by and the consistent theme being discussed was directions and trying to determine which direction to go.  Where I was drawing from was a five way street corner.


I tried to have a go at drawing as opportunities arose as I explored this awesome city of Lisbon.

Thanks for stopping by. Cheers.

Lisbon Food Tour

A morning Food Tour in the old city of Lisbon is an awesome way to explore the city, hear some of the history, learn, experience and taste what the local Portuguese eat for breakfast and lunch. The meeting point was at the Largo das Portas do Sol.  While I was waiting for the tour to commence, I quickly tried to sketch the entrance to the Museum of Decorative Arts, which was directly across the street.

museum sketch
The Museum of Decorative Art’s entrance, Largo das Portas do Sol, Lisbon


The Food Tour commenced with a to-die-for custard tart, another sweet made featuring a crunchy sugary top and bean centre accompanied by an espresso coffee.  At this stop, I tried to do another quick sketch of one of a row of balconies and lamps but I didn’t get very far with the drawing before we had to move along.


In 1755, on the morning of November 1st, on the Feast of All Saints, when people were in church worshipping with many candles alit, Portugal was hit by a massive earthquake.  Building crumbled and candles fell causing multiple fires. Those that escaped collapsing  buildings ran down to the river to escape the fiery inferno and then were met by a tsunami. 75,000 people in Lisbon died as a direct result of the earthquake.  People were traumatised, to say the least.  When Lisbon was rebuilt, tiles baked at over 1000 degrees Celsius were applied to the outside of buildings, to protect them from ever having to suffer the same demise if a fire erupted again.  Tiles baked at over 1010 degrees Celsius,  will last up to five centuries, are fire resistant, hand painted, heritage protected, and are beautiful and varied.

Rita, our Food Tour guide, in front of a tiled exterior wall

Apparently, this laundromat and scrub boards are used daily and it is said that the hilly terrain and washing is a staple form of Portuguese exercise.

A curious spectator watched the group pass through.


We made room for trams to pass.Lisbon tram

The spectacular Church of Santa Engracia was able to be seen from many vantage points.

Santa Engracia

Everybody thoroughly enjoyed Ruthy and Rita’s food tour, “Lisbon’s Best Flavours”, and I highly recommend this informative, fun and tasty exploration method!



Early morning discovery

Went for a wander early in the morning in Dubai before the heat set in and heading to the airport and came across the Garhoud Mosque.

My sketch of the mosque.

Some more discoveries.  I thought this collection of cranes looked cool.

On the trains in Dubai, you see such a variety of dress, races and cultures. It is all so seamless, ladies dressed in full black burqas, white, black, beige or colourful hijabs, colourful saris, Arabian white robes, western clothes and nobody stops to have a second look.  It’s such a good example of acceptance and respect that countries around Dubai should aspire to.

Thanks for visiting.  I’m off to explore Lisbon, Portugal!

Stop-over in Dubai

My urban sketching journey has commenced with a stop-over in Dubai along the way. Flying Emirates, which incidentally gives quite generous leg room in economy seating, and arriving in Dubai after a 14-hour flight at 5 am, there was a wait in the Flora Hotel reception area before the room was available.

I drew some of the indoor view as the outside view from the reception area was quite industrial…

Reception are at the Flora Hotel, Dubai – black & white

… and then as time passed, I thought that I might as well try to add paint to my drawing…

Reception area at the Flora Hotel, Dubai in colour

… and then more time passed, and I ordered a Moroccan Tea. It came in a funky, ornate, shiny, silver teapot with a teapot cozy covering the handle. It was a refreshing and delicious mixture of camomile and peppermint tea.


The room still wasn’t ready, so a blockie of exploration was undertaken. Here’s some of the things I took note of.

ornate window covers
cleaning lace decoration on a building near the Flora Hotel


It’s almost time to go to the airport to fly to the next destination.

Thanks for stopping by…