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The Bon Vivant : Café Sketching in Lagos Portugal

June 5, 2016

16Apr15_Algarve_UrbanSketches (14)I saved this last one from our recent trip to Portugal. It’s one of my favorites, even if it’s not technically the best piece. Just some playing around while waiting for lunch.

That bright red building (The Bon Vivant) was quite eye catching. How could I resist?

I love how, if you just relax and have fun with a sketch – it always shows through in the final result.

Yes, proper perspective goes out the window, but the enjoyment of the gestural brushwork can make up for any flaws in realism.


The internet gives me a quote from Georges Braque which says:

“The hard-and-fast rules perspective imposes on art were a ghastly mistake it has taken four centuries to redress…Scientific perspective forces the objects in a picture to disappear away from the beholder instead of bringing them within his reach as painting should”.

In this case, I really could see that bell tower down the street – if I leaned way out to the left it was just in view. So, perhaps I had to lean the block over to get it in? Not to mention the other choices. Dimming the Bon Vivant’s paint job to a more mellow perylene maroon, slimming down the boxy old building, and giving it some Ottoman empire arches, similar to what we saw on another building that day.

After all – there has to be a reason we’re doing the drawing in the first place – when otherwise a photograph would serve perfectly well.


19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2016 8:15 PM

    One of my favourites too. And especially nice to see the real thing which is even more vibrant and exciting.

  2. June 5, 2016 8:47 PM

    I think that is a beautiful piece, as the world is not really upright. We do lean don’t we.

  3. June 5, 2016 9:23 PM

    LOOOVE it! and love your last sentence – so true! Yay for artistic license!

  4. June 5, 2016 9:39 PM

    I Love It! The watercolor and the actual photo.

  5. June 5, 2016 10:26 PM


  6. June 5, 2016 11:55 PM

    Thanks for including the photo of you in the setting. That really helped to make your point!

  7. June 5, 2016 11:59 PM

    When I sketch I’ve been told that it is very loose. I sketch fast mostly because I have very little time and my perspective is really off. Reading your post made me feel so much better.

  8. Jan permalink
    June 6, 2016 3:34 AM

    I’m practicing and learning perspective at the moment. Thank you for sharing and showing me I can relax a little 😊 Love your sketches.

  9. June 6, 2016 3:52 AM

    That is an interesting quote by Braque. Something to really think about. Especially when one has had those rules drilled into one’s head. Too much art school can be harmful to one’s “health”.

  10. June 6, 2016 6:37 AM

    You can do that? You just need an approximation of the scene, you don’t have to slavishly copy it, to be good? Well that is a freeing concept. Thanks, you have just switched on a light for me.

  11. bixxynash permalink
    June 7, 2016 2:20 AM

    Love it! But now this is going to be a nightmare for you doing critique. Haha. Everyone will use the “relaxed” excuse. Bx

    • June 9, 2016 12:54 PM

      I would love it if nobody ever wanted critique and we just kept score how many they did in a week :) :)

  12. Jody permalink
    June 10, 2016 3:03 AM

    Yes to counting, not crit-ing!

  13. June 17, 2016 8:48 AM

    Wow – so happy to have found your blog via the WordPress Discover feature! Love this sketch and am already looking forward to seeing many more now that I’m a follower!

  14. June 21, 2016 8:22 PM

    Wonderful watercolor sketch. I love its vibrancy and energy. I’m a newbie art blogger and found you through the WordPress recommendations. I’m a fan.


  1. Sketching Interiors or: Breaking the Tyranny of Perspective | Citizen Sketcher
  2. Sketching Interiors or: Breaking the Tyranny of Perspective – | Cygnus

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