A week in Portugal - Travel Sketching Day Three

18 Jun 2018

Sketching day three was also walking day. We parked in Sintra and walked up to the Moorish Castle. Once we reached the outer walls, we decided to pay to go into the part in the inner wall.  You could still go higher, up to the Royal Tower via the steep wall walk. My son and I did this, leaving husband at the bottom as he isn't good with heights and there wasn't a particularly high wall on the inner side.

Once we had admired the view of Pena Palace, climbed back down and had some lunch, we explored a more gently incling path. It turned out that this one also led upto the Royal Tower! So son went up again with my husband while I found a spot on a seat and got my watercolours out.

Now, usually, I like to position myself somewhere discreet and away from people so they can't see me work. I had my back to a massive wall of rock, but I was on a fairly busy path. I was aware of people passing in front of me but I studiously kept my head down. About halfway through, husband and son re-joined me. They murmured about attracting a little crowd who were looking at my work as they caught their breath on the way up or down or whichever way they were going. I happened to glance up at one point and a lady who was looking, gave me a thumbs up. Afterwards, my husband siad he'd overheard a man saying "C'est jolie"..."it's beautiful".

The sketch below is the one I was painting and is by no means my favourite from the week, but the positive reaction I got, gave me the confidence to not be afraid of sketching in public. In fact, the other sketches from that day, were drawn on the cafe terrace at Pena Palace. So this sketch of the Moorish Castle, was looking down to the lower tower, with Sintra and some villages beyond. These posed a problem as I didn't want to draw in tiny details of each little house in the distance. So I just went for washes of orangey-ochre for the roofs. The focus partly was the spikey yucca plant on the right hand side.


We had decided to do the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in one day as they were both up the same mountain. What we didn't appreciate, was that they were on different mini-peaks so it was down and up again between them. I felt like I wasn't going to make it up to the Palace, my legs were wobbling so much. But I did and the drink and the chocolate bar at the cafe were well earned! You could go round the rooms in the palace but we had decided we'd done enough walking for one day. The details of Pena Palace were just sketched in pen on the terrace. I painted the colours in later, back at our holiday house. We had already spent a while sitting at the table and it was fairly busy so we didn't want to be hogging a table. We also had to climb all the way back down the mountain to get to the car. We ended up walking about 16,000 steps that day!

The palace exterior is painted and tiled in very bright colours and I wanted to record some of them in the sketchbook. It was also good to experiment with just doing a couple of small detail sketches on one page.

If you missed days one and two, you can read them here:

A week in Portugal - Travel sketching day one

A week in Portugal - Travel sketching day two

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