Chumbera!

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I’m delighted to have finally found a chumbera (prickly pear) with some lush new growth; the once ubiquitous and beautiful cactus is suffering an infestation of insects and slowly dying out here in Andalusia.

Moi from the gorgeous Ecléctica Deco shop in Vejer suggested that I sketch a chumbera a good while ago; he told me he’d seen a good one in La Breña national park so I set off for a hike on a really hot day search of it…needle in a haystack situation ensued. His next sighting was luckily closer to home and much easier to find.

I missed it in flower but hey-ho…the heart shaped leaf was a bonus…promise it was actually like that! 

View from a Cliff Top

barbate, atlantera, atlantic, ocean, andalusia, cliff, sea, landscape, la brena, national park, morocco, marruecos, blue, pen and watercolour, watercolour, water color, acuarela, sketch, travel, illustration

This is a tale of a wild goose chase!

Sadly all the prickly pears are in Andalusia are dying because of an infestation of insects but someone told me that there was one still alive on the coastal path which runs through the natural park known locally as La Breña, a pine forrest which covers the area between Barbate, San Ambrosio and Los Caños de Meca in the province of Cádiz.

So I set off to find it and draw it…

It was a needle in a haystack situation!

I did however enjoy the spectacular views from the cliff top and sat up there in a howling wind for an hour or so to sketch this view out over the Atlantic to Atlantera. That´s Morocco in the background.

I have a new tip off for a live prickly pear which is closer to home…fingers crossed!

Corredera 55

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, facadeI was delighted to be commissioned to paint a pen and watercolour sketch style ‘portrait’ of the facade of the beautiful Corredera 55 restaurant in Vejer de la Frontera.

I worked from photos as there was an element of surprise involved in the project.

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, rough sketch, drawing, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

First I roughed out the composition by making a preliminary sketch (right).

The bike is part of the exterior decor!

Then I made a more careful drawing in pencil on 300gsm watercolour paper with deckled (hand torn) edges which I retraced loosely in waterproof pen (below).corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

Next came the watercolour painting…

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

And here’s the finished piece…(click on the image to enlarge)

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

With a couple of details singled out below…

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

corredera 55, restaurant, califa vejer, vejer de la frontera, andalusia, pen and watercolour, pen and wash, pen and watercolor, sketch, drawing, painting, facade, comer amar vivir, life without cake, vitamins abc

If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in Vejer at any time of year the Corredera 55 restaurant is well worth a visit.

The food is a clever and delicious blend of the homely, exotic, luxurious and healthy; the wine list is extensive and expertly composed; the staff are incredibly warm and hospitable while at the same time being efficient and savvy; the outside terrace is sunny, shady and breezy with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside (Vejer’s perched on top of a steep hill, 200m above sea level); the interior is cosy and gorgeously crafted from reclaimed materials (by Retro Nuevo) and houses an extensive collection of Vejer themed paintings by local artists.

As the sign says Comer – Amar – Vivir  =  Eat – Love – Live

This is a delightful place full of loving touches.

 

Autumn Sketches

grape harvest, andalucia, sherry, jerez, bodegas faustino gonzalez, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, pen and watercolour, sketch

 

 

The pen and watercolour sketch to the left was my first of the autumn season, having been invited to see the sherry grape harvest in the the Faustino González vineyard just outside Jerez.

The grape pickers moved too fast for me to capture with my painting hands!

bodeguita, andalucia, vejer de la frontera, arco de la segur, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, pen and watercolour, sketch

 

 

 

The sketch on the right is of one of the old town gates in Vejer de la Frontera, you can see one of my fellow sketchers on the left.

 

 

roman aquaduct,santa lucia, andalucia, vejer de la frontera, arco de la segur, pen and wash, pen and watercolour, pen and watercolour, sketch

 

 

The last sketch in this trio is of the Roman aquaduct in the beautiful village of Santa Lucia.

CD Cover: Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads – Somos Más

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads are a band of hugely talented and versatile musicians, one of the best on the Spanish rhythm and blues scene.

As well as revisiting classic blues themes and interpreting the music of more recent artists (such as Lloyd Jones, Los Deltonos and Vaughan Brothers), they play their own compositions, offering a rollicking live show to lovers of the blues in all its variations.

CD cover, Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads, Jauja, pen and guache, digital manipulation, illustration, voodoo, Cadiz, blues band, pin up

 

Back in 2012 Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads commissioned me to design the cover for their excellent third album ‘Jauja‘, so I was flattered to be asked to do the same for their latest release ‘Somos Más’ which celebrates their 10th birthday.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, text, title, blues album

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festivalMr Groovy and the Blue Heads are almost constantly on the road, which is what inspired me to suggest a tour bus for the CD cover. There are now several more ‘Blue Heads’ amongst their number, mostly woodwind and brass players, which is why they chose the title ‘Somos Más’ (meaning ‘there are more of us’). It’s also a nod to the growing number of people who are disillusioned by a corrupt political system which creates and perpetuates austerity.

 

The rough sketch above helped me to decide on the layout for the front cover which I then redrew carefully in pencil onto fine grained watercolour paper, followed by water resistant pen (below).

The landscape depicted in the background is typically Andalusian, it’s inspired by the view from my studio.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

I used pencils to colour in a photocopy of the finished pen drawing as a trial and then applied colour to the actual drawing with watercolour paints. It’s a traditional and time consuming method but I love the warmth that hand painted textures impart to an image.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

 

I scanned the finished painting into Photoshop where I added the text, taking the same hand drawn text style for the band name that I had made for the Jauja cover. I also replaced the white border with a black one (below).  mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

And then on to the back cover…which had to be the back of the bus!

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

 

 

The scene in the background is inspired by the bamboo fringed sand dunes of the Atlantic coast where we live, dotted with bright flowering succulents in the spring.

 

 

I worked from my rough sketch (above) in the same way as I had for the front cover, just changing the layout to make space for the track list.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

That’s Mr Groovy playing his harmonica in the back of the bus (below)

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

Having scanned the painting into Photoshop I added the text and digitally collaged the CD covers from the band’s three previous albums and the sea and sky which I had painted separately.

mr groovy and the blue heads, somos mas, cd cover, sketch, blues band, mister groovy, pen and water colour, pen and watercolor, watercolor paint, watercolour paint, illustration, drawing, tour bus, andalusia, blues festival

Mr Groovy and the Blue Heads are working non-stop for the imminent release of Somos Más which promises to be a superb mix of swing, funk, blues and second line.

Don’t miss it!