Lisbon (and other) panoramas

Lisbon is a strikingly bright city — at least that’s the first impression I had when I walked off the train from Porto — with a deep blue sky, limestone buildings that are so white they’re almost blinding, and orange tiled roofs. I loved painting the panoramas, and there are many to choose from. It’s a city of hills. Walk upwards on any street and chances are you will end up at a miradoura, one of the panoramic spots where you get a vantage point over the city, and if you are lucky, a table at a café too. The owner of our AirBnB pointed a few of these out on a map when we arrived, and we managed to get to three of them on our first night there, although I only stopped to sketch once.


I sketched a lot of panoramic views this summer — in Lyon, Roussillon, Porto and Lisbon. I always used the same technique. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the complexity of the scene, I started with a silhouette of the large mass of buildings. It’s also helpful to look at the negative shape of the sky. Once that’s done, I identify the largest shapes within the big silhouette and draw those. That might include domes, big roof areas, the largest walls, etc. From there I love to get lost in the details like windows, chimneys and antennas, and of course add colour.


Here are a few more panoramas from the trip: a view of Gaia from across the Douro in Porto, sketched late in the day…


…and the Provençal town of Roussillon, the village built on red cliffs and surrounded by ochre quarries.



29 Comments on “Lisbon (and other) panoramas”

  1. Lorraine Arsenault says:

    These sketches are just gorgeous ! You have captured the identity of each site so well. Congratulations !


  2. TonyU says:

    Wonderful sketches of wonderful views from a wonderful summer of travel! Thanks for sharing them.


  3. Stunning panoramas! It’s so interesting to see what you are able to create using minimal line work as a guide and then beautiful, clean color. These are a tribute to your talent, expertise, and years of practice. Congrats, too, about the book– looking forward to the release date!


  4. Denise says:

    These are stunning! I learn so much from your blog. Oh how fabulous it would be to spend a day painting with you.


  5. Birte says:

    I love your sketches, you make it sound so easy, I have a lot to learn…….


  6. joantav says:

    I like your way of doing the sketch with a silhouette of the buildings against the sky. These are all so lovely. I tend to get lost in the roofs. Next time I’ll have to try your method.


  7. TerryKrysak says:

    Gorgeous watercolors. This has really helped me to start doing some scenes like this, using far less detail that these express perfectly.


  8. jansiking says:

    Wonderful sketches!!!!


  9. Soni says:

    Jaw dropping – thanks for the concise simplification ; always “easy” in master’s hands


  10. Alison says:

    Marvellous! Each reveals the distinct character of the place. Thanks for explaining your process. You anticipated the question I had after seeing the first sketch.


  11. Judy Sopher says:

    Love these. I was going thru an AAA booklet and saw a photo of Portugal. Couldn’t get over how lovely it looked. i now see your paintings and there it was. Red roofs and all. How beautiful. You have captured it. Just one question-the size of these paintings. Thanks.


  12. Monique says:

    Can’t even imagine painting scenes like


  13. Monique says:

    I think these panos are your tour de force..apart from others:)


  14. Beautiful, would love to visit Porto and your sketches add to that


  15. Jeff Gold says:

    I love them all but, of course, feel closest to the one of Roussillon since it was a shared experience. The explanation of your simplifying method is concise and useful. I’ll try that on my next complex drawing. They are all wonderful as we have come to expect.


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