Dante’s Inferno Canto 2 (55-63)

Beatriz Summons Virgil

Dante’s Inferno Canto 2 (55) Beatriz Summons Virgil in Limbo 2012

Beatriz decends from a place that she longs to return to visit Virgil whose soul is suspended in Limbo.   She asks Virgil to guide her friend Dante out of the dark forest where he is trapped by three beasts.  Virgil describes Beatriz as having eyes that surpassed the spledor of the star’s.




Open Air Painting of Neptune Fountain on the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Spain August 2016

I’ve done two watercolors of this fountain from opposite stand points.  This is the first one.  It was a really hot day.  When I say hot, I mean hot.

Fuente de Neptuno 00

First two and a half hours

I was standing in a sliver of shade next to the bus shelter. painting Neptune Fountain.  I had the perfect spot but it was really hot. I stopped painting after two and a half hours and went back to finish the next day.

Fuente de Neptuno 01

The second day Painting

I was painting there again the next day for almost three more hours.

Fuente de Neptuno 02

Here it is finished.

I went back to the Paseo del Prado last week and painted the same fountain from the other side of the fountain, but from a street view.

Fuente de Nuptuno en el Paseo del Prado

Someone from Florida took this picture

He also sent me this picture of me painting.

Painting in Ritz Parking Lot 2016

Someone from Florida took this picture

Again I had a perfect place in the Ritz parking lot.  The space was so small, only a mini, mini car would fit.

Paseo del Prado August 2016

A street view of the Paseo del Prado in August 2016

This is the second watercolor of Neptune Fountain.  It was a lot of fun painting there.  I’m glad someone showed me and took me to this spot to paint.  It’s not easy finding a good place to paint in the middle of a  fast-moving busy city.

Open Air Watercolor – La Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain

Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena is the Catholic Cathedral of Madrid, simply called, La Almudena.  It is dedicated to the Virgin Almudena, the patron Saint of Madrid, Spain.  I went to an outdoor terrace to paint it.

Las Vistillas Madrid 2015

I was sitting outdoors painting in a terrace in the area called Las Vistillas which means the Views.

I had  been planning to paint the Almudena Cathedral for a while.  I had a perfect view of it from where I was sitting.

Open Air Painting

Here you can see part of the Almudena Cathedral.

When you are painting outdoors, you never know what might interfere with painting.  Well, it was a really hot day in September so the waiters put out the terrace tarp for all of us who were sitting outside in the sun and the tarp blocked half of my view.  I had to stop right there.

Almudena Cathedral 2015

Almudena Cathedral September 2015

That’s alright though, I got something like a ghost image. Since then I found a shady spot to paint the Almudena again from a street view.  So I’ll go back one day and paint it again.


Pink Blossoms in Talavera Vase March

In March the Cherry Plum and Almond trees are full of Pink and White Blossoms.  I like to paint them because they  brighten up the room and do the same in a watercolor.

Starting out with a light drawing

Starting out with a light grid and drawing.

I’m starting out with a grid here to keep my parallel lines even with the picture plane.  The grid helps me fit whatever I want wherever I want on the paper.

Marking Angles as I Paint

Marking angles as I paint

The grid controls the Talvera vase so it is not lopsided.  There are a lot of branches and blossoms to paint, so I don’t draw them one by one, I cast lines in the direction of the branches and mark some of the pink flowers that stand out the most.


Working around the picture plane

I’m working around the picture plane trying to treat everything with the same importance, background and foreground.

Paint around the white blossoms without penciling them in for looseness

The white blossoms

When painting the white blossoms, I  leave the white of the paper.  What I do is paint around them leaving a blank silhouette.  This is called respecting the white of the paper.

Building up and Looking for Detail

Building up and Looking for Detail

I work around the paper emphasising some details.  I try to be careful not to make any area heavier than other areas.

Looking for Contrast

Looking for Contrast

When I’m pretty sure everything is where it belongs, I start in with a la prima, putting in the dark contrasting color in one shot in order to bring out the light.

This is the point where it can gain or lose

Finishing up

I’m finishing up here.  This is the moment when it can gain or lose.  It’s the point of no return.  I try not to get to that point, but it really is hard to decide when to stop.

Pink Blossoms in Talavera Vase March 2015

Pink Blossoms in Talavera Vase March 2015

I painted just a little bit more and stopped.  I don’t have this watercolor anymore.  Next year I hope to make another one in the spring.


Glass Bottles in the Rain 2015

This watercolor belongs to the series of My Favorite Bottles.

Here are a few steps in the painting and a tip for watercolor painters at the end about sending watercolors through the post.  

Paper and Model 2015

It was raining outside, but there was a lot of light, so I thought it would be a nice opportunity to paint my favorite bottles in the Rain.

A Painting Stage of Glass Bottles in the Rain 2015

I don’t always start with a drawing or a grid, sometimes I want to get straight into painting like in this case. I mark the top and bottom and let everything else fall into place.

Detail of Glass Bottles in the Rain 2015

Here is a detail in the stage of building up.

Glass Bottles in the Rain with a Mat 2015

I started matting my watercolors to have them ready for sending through the post for shows or a sale. When matted, they are protected from bending.

There is something that I’ve learned about sending watercolors through the post and would like to share with other painters.

Recently I’ve sent some large watercolors in the post, so I had to protect them with sturdy cartons to ensure they didn’t get damaged.  I realised that I could mat them myself for a bit more and send them through the post protected with a professional finished presentation.

I have a blog which explains how to mat a watercolor; the finishing touch is to cover it with a plexiglass. I’ve also learned that before you mat, the watercolor should be flattened by spraying the back with water, rubbing it down and putting it between two pieces of matting board with weight on top (books).   Let it dry over night.

I’d love to hear your comments and questions.  If you have better advice, I’d like to hear that too; one never stops learning.

How A Grid Can Help When Painting a Live Model

Using a grid while painting from life helps you put the model in perspective.

Whenever people see that I have a grid on my paper to paint in watercolor, I’m always asked why I do it since I’m painting from nature.

I like painting  directly without drawing because there is a looseness to it; it’s not that I don’t like drawing or am lazy or something like that.  I like drawing too.

If  you have a preliminary grid on your paper, it’s easier to place the model into space quickly.  Your mind knows the proportions and where everything goes in space.

You are reading  this blog, you paint or draw, so you are familiar with a grid.

Take out a piece of paper, make a grid, put a model in front of you whether it be figure, landscape or still life and try it with any medium.  Try it as an exercise.  I’d be interested to know how it went.

ps  The penciled grid is easily erased if you are using watercolor.

20 minute pose

20 minute pose


Spanish Spring Blossoms in Talavera Vase 2016

This year, the spring was like an explosion of colors.  We had a lot of rain and the flower season was abundant and long-lasting.

Paper pointing to model

When I start a watercolor, I point the paper at the model. The paper is thick, 640 GMS. I tape it down with normal carpenter’s tape because I will finish this watercolor before the sun goes down and the light changes drastically.  I wet the paper  with a brush, wait til it soaks up the water and wet it down again. I don’t always do this, but I want the flowers to blend in with the background.

Moving around the paper

The paper is completely wet, but not soaking to the point where the paint runs. Then, I start laying in color where I see it, trying to get the form as exact as possible.

Estabilshing Vase and Flowers When I establish where the vase and blossoms go on the picture plane, I focus on my favorite part, respecting the whites and emphasising color.

A la Prima

Here, I start paying attention to detail, painting a la prima from here to finish of painting.

Spanish Spring Blossoms on Easil 2016

Spanish Spring Blossoms in Talavera Vase 2016 on Easel. It is still taped down.  When the tape is taken off, it has a white border which gives it a nice touch if you let it show in a mat.

Spanish Spring Blossoms in Talavera Vase 2016

Spanish Spring Blossoms in Talavera Vase 2016

Red Roses in Blue Glass Vase 2015

This blue glass vase is one of my favorite glass works to paint.  I got it at a second-hand store for five dollars.  Maybe the previous owner will see it in a watercolor one day.  In this post, I’m going to show the phases in making Red Roses in Blue Glass Vase.

Starting out lightly

First, I look at what I’m going to paint and think about fitting it in the picture plane. I’m starting out lightly directly with paint.

Light Wash

Here, I continue lightly, making sure everything fits in the picture plane since  I didn’t start with a preliminary drawing.

Painting around the Paper

After I figure out where the model goes on the picture plane, I start building up more color and shape around it, only painting what I see.

Building up Detail

Here I start building up detail around what has already been painted. I don’t re-paint or put more layers where it has already been painted. I just keep on working around the paper to keep balance in check.


At this point, I’m looking for contrasting colors, but still, I’m only painting the colors, shapes and forms that I see.

Finishing up

I’m finishing up here, looking for more contrast so that the glass vase reflected in the mirror doesn’t get lost in the printed material in the background.

Red Roses in Blue Vase 2015

Red Roses in Blue Vase 2015 – Watercolor on Arches 640 GMS – 22″ x 16″ – 56 cm x 58 cm

Model for Red Roses in Blue Vase 2015

Here is the model for Red Roses in Blue Glass Vase 2015


Red Glass Vase with California Wild Flowers

I planted some California wild flowers in May, so I’ve been painting them.  They are small delicate flowers.  So I put them in a small vase.

Still -life Drawing and Model

Here is the still -life of the glass vase and California wild flowers. I carefully drew it out to make sure everything fit on this tiny format.


Light Painting

At this stage I try for an a la prima; putting in the pure contrasting darks and saturated colors in one shot. I try to move around the paper, not concentrating too much on any area.


Building Up

Building up color and contrast; trying not to invent anything.

Building Darks

I start building up the darks, so the light can be seen.


Here, I’m looking for contrast; trying to bring out the light.

Red Glass Vase with California Wild Flowers 2016

Red Glass Vase with California Wild Flowers 2016




A painting of Spanish wild flowers in an exhibition at La Casa del Reloj del Matadero in Madrid, Spain

Spanish wild flowers are so colorful, ideal in watercolor.

In this post, I’m going to show a few steps in the making of a painting which was presented and accepted in The  Salòn de Primavera 2016 of Madrid, Spain.


I started with my favorite part and visualised the finished composition in my mind without a preliminary drawing.

Spanish Wild Flowers

Here, I continued by using the first flower as a measurement for the rest of the painting.

The watercolor making process

I continued  building around the first flower while observing shapes, colors, linear directions and placement in the picture plane carefully. In watercolor, you only have one shot.

Red Poppies in Blue Vase

This is the finished watercolor, called Spanish Wild Flowers in Blue Vase 2015

Casa del Reloj Madrid, Spain

The exhibition was held in the Casa del Reloj at the Matadero in the Arganzuela district of Madrid, Spain

Salón de Primavera 2016

Here is my painting exhibited in the Salón de Primavera 2016 in La Lonja Sala of Casa del Reloj in Madrid, Spain.