Europe19: A quick visit to Barcelona

July 17, 2019 | 4 Comments

After Paris I had a few nights in Barcelona, another favourite city of mine. It’s such an incredible place and I spent 2 weeks there in 2013 around the Urban Sketchers Symposium, so not only do I know it well, but I have sketched the city a lot as well.

This visit was about returning to a place I love for a little solo sketching and also to hang out with some of the amazing Urban Sketchers in the city. There is something super inspiring about the work of the Spanish sketchers.

And well the visit was super worthwhile  – I have lots of thoughts and ideas as a result of this brief visit.

So here are some of my sketches:


First sketch was all about getting a feel for the place and how different the pulse of the city is from Paris!

I had a lovely evening with Lapin, his wife Isabel and daughter Louise.

After dinner Lapin of course had to draw me (see here) and so I had to draw him too. I haven’t been sketching people since Umbria (that is weeks and weeks ago!) so I was a little rusty!


A rainy morning but after the rain stopped I headed out to sketch the cathedral. But then the sun came out and it was too bright and hot so I had to abandon this sketch.

However while doing my next sketch (of the side of the cathedral) it started pouring with rain again! Hmm, it was going to be one of those days!

My favourite space in Barcelona in 2013 was Plaça del Rei – so it was nice to come back and sketch it again.

Still in Plaça del Rei, I sketched this corner and the sun came out again.

Next I headed for my favourite building (from 2013) on Via Laietana. I had a lot of fun sketching this one!

And then I sketched the olive tree that was next to me.

As I walked the streets of Barcelona I was constantly having flooded with great memories of sketching the city with a heap of my sketching buddies.

One of the places I have a lot of memories is a vegetarian restaurant – Teresa Carles. I can still remember how much I loved the eggplant dish so it was fun to have it again. Lovely meal with constant memories of 2013 visits.

And then I escaped the heat of the middle of the day by doing some work in my hotel room for a number of hours. But the streets of Barcelona were calling me.

I was meeting a friend opposite Gaudi’s Casa Mila at 6.30pm so I turned up 30 minutes early to sketch. Sadly a wild storm hit a few minutes after I started sketching, but I was still able to finish it by sheltering under a nearby awning.

As an aside, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about Gaudi this trip and in fact I’m more interested in Jujol – another architect of the time who worked with Gaudi on a number of his buildings. Wikipedia says that on this building he ornamented the main apartment, finished the chimneys, designed the high-relief plaster bands that surround the wooden door frames.

So this is my first Jujol sketch for the visit!

Great catch up with David Jack in Casa Amatller – the lovely Modernista building next to Casa Batlo.

David is a comic artist who was one of my first Sydney Urban Sketchers friends when he lived in Sydney. He is working on a great series  documenting the stories in his life by a daily comic strip. Check it out here. I might appear in his feed in a few weeks time.

I was really inspired by his story-telling skills and will be following his work with a lot of interest.

Thanks David for a great time – it was so good to catch up and compare notes on where our art has taken us over the years.

On the walk back to my hotel I wanted to sketch this building… but I was hungry. Next time?

Fact: There are just too many sketchable views and buildings in Barcelona!


I headed to the Eixample area looking for a non-Gaudi Modernista building to sketch. One of my favourite is this building which I call the Bad Hair Day building.

Its actually the Fundació Antoni Tàpies housed in the former Montaner i Simon publishing house, a work of the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.  The art on the top of the building is wild.

Aside. I’ve been a fan of Gaudi for many years (before his buildings were cleaned up and made popular) but I wanted to avoid crowds and sketch some other buildings this visit.

But I couldn’t resist sketching Casa Batlló, could I?

Jujol sketch no. 2.

Ha! most people know it as Gaudi’s masterpiece, but Jujol decorated the 1st floor, created the Sacras and added ceramic on the building’s façade.

And then Casa Mila lured me into doing another sketch!

Time to head back to my hotel for some work, but first another nice vegetarian meal at Flax and Kale.

In the late afternoon I visited the inside of Barcelona Cathedral

And then did this huge (A3 size) sketch of Santa Maria del Mar. I am definitely sketching larger as a result of the A4 portrait format moleskine.

I then headed to El Born as I had organised a casual sketchmeet starting at 6.30pm. About 40 people turned up… wow!

The first person I met was Graciela – my number one commenter on Instagram. It was so lovely to meet her!

A mini ‘demo’ and meeting the admins of USK Barcelona.

My first attempt at sketching the over-the-top fountain was abandoned as I wasn’t sure what to do next (too much going on around me)

So I turned the page and did another version!

The big group photo! I’m so amazed at how many people were able to turn up for a sketchmeet with only one day’s notice.

Lots of inspiring work produced by this group!

Meeting Instagram followers and making new friends is always nice. Girls from Finland, England and Argentina all who live in Barcelona at the moment.

A great evening having tapas and talking about sketching.

and swapping sketchbooks and catching up with old friends (Swasky asked about BB so they got to reconnect!)

I tried to sketch the food but it was hard!

That night (it was about 11pm when we finished) I walked home rather than take the metro. I often avoid catching the metro as I prefer seeing more of the city. But in the end I did catch the metro the next day…


On Wednesday I spent from 11am-10pm with my sketching buddy Swasky in an outer suburb of Barcelona sketching Jujol buildings.

We also talked a LOT – sharing experiences, talking about sketching, teaching, social media, what we want to work on in our own art and much more. It was an amazing and inspiring day!

Our first stop was Torre de la Creu – an incredible building by Jujol.

Here are two sketches of it.

I have never seen a building like this – it made me think of a smurf house!

Then after lunch we sketched this crazy building – Can Negre – (a renovated farmhouse) also by Jujol.

It was much harder than I expected to sketch as it was so random. At first I thought it was symmetrical but it definitely was not. I laughed out loud a few times while sketching it.

Then we went inside – more craziness! I love it.

It was 6.30pm and most of my sketching friends would have called it a day at this point. But Swasky asked me “Do you want to visit Walden 7 – its only a 30 minute walk from here?”

I had mentioned this more modern crazy building to him earlier in the day. So we did the walk and then decided to set a 30 minute timer for our sketch (it was after 7.30pm when we started!)

Walden is a housing project by Ricardo Bofill built in 1975 and I have wanted to visit this building for many years. So it was a bit of a dream come true to visit it and sketch it.

30 minutes was not enough time for either of us, but it was fun to have a crazy challenge at the end. My sketch is decidedly wonky but I had so much fun doing it.

Here we are at the end of the day.

Thank you Swasky for a truly inspiring and amazing day! I got a lot of ideas from our chats and seeing the way you work. Hope to sketch together again soon.

And well that’s my collection from just over 3 days of sketching in Barcelona! So much fun and I felt totally inspired as a result.




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