Skip to content

Orient: Painting the landscape of Mallorca

I have become enchanted, some might even say obsessed, with the landscape of Mallorca. How could I be otherwise? I have the advantage of living in one of the most perfectly compact, incredibly diverse and utterly breathtaking naturally beautiful islands in the world. From crystal clear waters on fine sandy beaches, to mountain ranges so sensational that they have been protected by UNESCO, Mallorca is a pure paradise of landscapes, and a world apart from the beach babe reputation it gained over the years.

Unsurprisingly, as an artist newly arrived in Mallorca, I have an incredible thirst to paint the land around me. No wonder that I have some 5 paintings currently on the go in my light-infused studio which is blissfully big enough to allow so many projects to proceed at any one time. And the latest to achieve completion, and now my second major oil painting of Mallorca since my arrival at the end of last year is this one: Orient.

Orient (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Orient (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Based on the stunning scenery of the Tramantana mountains amidst which I was lucky enough to spend a working week back in January, this painting depicts one of the breathtaking views I encountered. So utterly perfect because of its symmetry and its central view of one such beautiful mountain, this view reminded me of the landscape near Aix-en-Provence which has the Mont Sainte-Victoire at its centre, and which so fascinated Cezanne that he painted countless renditions of it. Similarly enchanted by this view, I never had any doubt that I would apply it to canvas, and here is the finished result. Now I can’t wait to complete another.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Discovering Palma: Bellver and the Bosque

Palma de Mallorca is a city as diverse as the entire island of Mallorca itself. From stunningly unspoilt medieval and modernista old town to sprawling industrial port and modern suburbs, Mallorca is a city with many faces. But asides from its iconic cathedral, its second most distinctive landmark is surely its castle, the Castell de Bellver, sat majestically upon the most westerly of hills overlooking the city. I never fail to enjoy casting my eyes in a westerly direction on any random afternoon, for always silhouetted against the sinking sun in this most satisfyingly shaped of castles: one of the best remaining examples of a rounded gothic castle left in Europe, and featured in my most recent (and first) of Palma paintings.

Taking time, as we do, to explore this magnificent new city we now call home, my partner and I recently headed to the castle of Bellver, attracted not only by its rich historical heritage, but also by the lush forest or bosque which surrounds it. Extending for acres around the castle and covering the hill like drizzled icing atop a moist victoria sponge, the bosque is by far the greenest expanse available for Palma locals to enjoy, and with its dense vegetation and rocky untouched landscape, it is a bucolic paradise in the midst of a sprawling metropolis.

The bosque

DSC04008 DSC04020 DSC04002 DSC04016 DSC04030 DSC04003 DSC04004

Having walked through the forest, enjoying dappled sunshine and all number of naturally occurring mediterranean plants, we reached the castle which looked even more stunning close up, with an unbeatable blue sky its harmonious backdrop. Asides from admiring the castle’s unique rounded architecture and the uniquely slim arched bridge which joins its main turret with the main structure of the building, the best aspect of this visit had to be the views afforded from the castle. Bellver indeed – for these are beautiful views of Palma which simply cannot be equalled from down at sea level.

Bellver Castle: inside and out

DSC04097 DSC04126 DSC04143 DSC04089 DSC04095 DSC04141 DSC04091 DSC04087 DSC04075

Views to write home about

DSC04197 DSC04133 DSC04063 DSC04045

Collections of Roman sculpture inside Bellver castle

DSC04187 DSC04174 DSC04191 DSC04189 DSC04179 DSC04177

Nonetheless, down from the hill we eventually trekked, only to find Palma’s old centre every bit as beautiful from up close as it had been from up on that hill. The cathedral’s ocre structure glowed peach like in the dying sun, and before it the blue sea sparkled as it transformed into a steady golden mass. Beautiful Palma – I could carry on admiring you forever. And I hope to do just that.

A city to be admired, from up close, far away and especially at sunset

DSC04231 DSC04227 DSC04211 DSC04212 DSC04208 DSC04207 DSC04204 DSC04213 DSC04206 DSC04217

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Interpretation No. 12 – Capuchin Monks, Amalfi

The heady days of Amalfi coast indulgence are now too many days behind me to count – it must be at least 250 rather forlorn days since I sampled the paradise of Amalfi, Capri and Positano during a blissful week on the Italian coast last summer. And it has been almost as long since I last thought to paint the place, even though it was on my hotel balcony on the Amalfi Coast that my collection of interpretations began. It was therefore something of a blast from the past when, opening up sketch book the other day in order to start a new gouache project, I discovered a half finished gouache painting based on the Amalfi Coast, left sadly uncompleted.

My feeling with paintings is that each painting has its time, and even when a project goes unworked for some time, it should always be left until the time is again right to continue it. A painting should never be destined for the bin. So when I reopened this hitherto unfinished work, I so enjoyed the breath of fresh Italian air that gushed open my opening it that I decided that the time was right to finish it off, even if it meant completing the Amalfi scene here in my new home of Mallorca.

Interpretation No. 12: Capuchin Monks, Amalfi (2014-15 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 12: Capuchin Monks, Amalfi (2014-15 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

The painting, which will be the 12th in my collection of gouache interpretative landscapes, was actually based on an old engraving we picked up in Amalfi just before catching a boat back home to Positano. Being a city renowned for its ancient homemade papers, we could not resist buying a print on Amalfi’s finest, and as soon as we found this image, I was captivated. There was something about the alluring tranquil activity of the Capuchin monks depicted, one tying back a vine and the other reading before a view of Amalfi, that made me want to recreate this idyllic scene of the joie de vivre for modern times.

The original engraving we purchased in Amalfi (c. 1880, artist unknown)

The original engraving we purchased in Amalfi (c. 1880, artist unknown)

A gouache interpretation was born and now, thanks to my rediscovery of the image, it is completed. I am pleased with the relative simplification I have achieved by repainting the scene in broad flat gouache colours, and I have to say that the colour has certainly brought this 19th century engraving back to life. It could almost be modern day except that, sadly (or not for those rich enough to stay there), the Capuchin Monastery of Amalfi is today the swish Gran Hotel Convento di Amalfi, a place from which this view can still be very much enjoyed, albeit sadly without the monks.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

February in Paris – Part 3: Sonia Delaunay at MAM

Anyone having a quick peruse of my own personal artwork will know that I am a huge lover of colour. As far as I am concerned, what point is there in having colour available if it is only to be muddied and diminished with blacks and browns? No doubt sharing my opinion were some of the boldest expressionist and modernist painters of the 20th century, whose bold use of colour was at first seen as terribly scandalous but which eventually came to characterise an entire generation of art, when the boundaries of accepted aesthetic values were pushed to new extremes.

Chief amongst them were a tremendous twosome – what today may be termed a “power couple” – two of the greatest proponents of modernist expressionism and of the power and glory of pure colour: Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Together, these two artists, who married in 1910 and in 1912 proclaimed the birth of Simultanism, refocused the attention of the art world on the dynamic power of colour, using the strength and unique characteristics of colours as an end in themselves rather than a means of expressing something else. The paintings and other artworks which resulted are progressively abstract explosions of structured colour which, by virtue of their use of a full panoply of rainbow hues, are full of expressive happiness and boundless energy.

delaunay-11SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAflamenco1Sonia_Delaunay_femme

Of course as is often the case with a power couple, there is often one of the two who history overlooks, and few could argue that it was Sonia who remained in the shadow of her husband for many years during and following their successful careers, a fact which is not ignored by the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (MAM) who were therefore determined to stage a bigger and even more significant Sonia Delaunay retrospective when they opened their Sonia expo a few months ago.

The result is an exhibition which is every bit as full of the Delaunay dynamism and energy as the paintings themselves. It is a show which demonstrates that although it was Robert Delaunay who conceptualised abstraction as a universal language, it was Sonia who experimented with it in all sorts of media, including posters, clothes and objects, and much of the MAM show comprises Sonia’s dapple in fashion, for which she designed countless zany fabrics and original outfits, as well as her determination to include abstraction and colour within the household, and as a backdrop to theatre, parties and other everyday recreational activities.

Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 23.51.50 sonia-delaunay-motifs-tissus sonia-delaunay-robes-940x669 410807408 SoniaDelaunay-maillots-1928800px-Sonia_Delaunay,_Rythme,_1938 "sonia-delaunay-p</p

For me, the main success of the MAM show is its collection of Sonia’s paintings which, when seen as a group, vibrate full of the energy and exhilaration which results from bringing together so many electric colours in one room. I particularly love how her consistent use of coloured circles is occasionally adapted to more figurative imagery, such as her abstract image of flamenco dancers, where the use of circles adds to the feel of fast sweeping dance movement. I was also interested to see how the genesis of her work was so much more figurative than it was abstract, but that even from the very beginning, her use of colour remained strong, so that even the simplest of portraits contain a face or skin tone loaded with a palette full of colour.

And it is for this unyielding uninhibited use of colour that I love the work of both Sonia and Robert Delaunay. But right now Sonia’s work is hogging more of the spotlight, an quite rightly too – every person deserves their place in the sun.

sonia

Sonia Delaunay: The Colours of Abstraction is only open for another few days at the Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, closing on 22 February 2015. But worry not, for come April the retrospective will reopen in London’s Tate Modern, running until August.

February in Paris – Part 2: Valentine’s in the City of Love

Paris is truly the City of Love. For even if you are not lucky enough to be strolling around the streets of the central arrondissements in the arms of a loved one, there is surely sufficient beauty in those Haussmann-conceived boulevards and palatial streets to fall in love with. And while I have been lucky enough to spend the last 5 years of visits to Paris in the company of my beloved, I also look back fondly upon my first experiences of the city: when young and very much single, I saw the historically rich and artistically abundant streets for the first time and fell head over heels in love – a personal relationship with Paris which has continued to this day.

DSC08171 DSC08115 DSC08241 DSC08007 DSC08242

So spending this year’s Valentine’s Day in Paris certainly seemed appropriate. Yes, the city was wise enough to cash in on its reputation, such that every restaurant was reserved to the hilt with set menus costing triple the normal price, but putting this rather crass commercialisation aside, I could not think of no better place to spend the year’s most dedicated day of love. The city is one so perfectly attuned with its environment and its picture perfect urban planning that is as though the city is in love with itself, with the nature all around it and vice versa. At every street corner there is a new panorama to be admired and a new direct vista to some stunning iconic building, and with such harmonious town planning evident wherever you walk in Paris, you cannot help but feel satisfied, balanced and free to love.

DSC08221DSC08379 DSC08230DSC08370 DSC08256

The photos which accompany this love song to Paris are something of a miscellaneous homage, taken over the Valentine’s weekend as we strolled and admired the city. From bridges to cafe’s, bull dogs to palaces, they are the archetypal vision of a picture perfect city which will seduce every visitor, and make even the most stalwart singleton feel love for the first time.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

February in Paris – Part 1: Sunset in the Tuileries

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles – so sang Ella Fitzgerald in a song with which many a Paris-lover can identify. For Paris is truly a city for every season, even in the wintery rain. And it was precisely because our weekend in Paris was destined to be a wet one (according to some forecasts at any rate) that upon our sunny but late arrival there at the end of last week, we thought we had better rush out and take what photos we could while the city remained dry. With a mere hour to go until sundown, this meant photographing what we came upon first, and for us in a lucky location staying alongside the Palais Royal, our pre-sundown photographs were taken in perhaps one of the most beautiful of Paris sites – the Tuileries and around the Louvre.

In the yellowing light of a dying day, the carefully manicured hedges of the Tuileries melt into the distance behind the subtly glinting statues which stand all around the gardens. Behind it all, the imposing palatial magnitude of the Louvre complex dazzles with its sheer magnificence and complexity, a scale which is seconded only by the equally majestic buildings which extend the full length of the Tuileries running alongside the glamorous Rue de Rivoli.

DSC07862 DSC07762 DSC07813 DSC07735 DSC07883 DSC07882 DSC07775 DSC07818 DSC07823

The Tuileries are not only beautiful in themselves, even in the winter when their leaves are much depleted, but they also provide for the perfect place in which to study the perfect vistas of Paris, whether it be the masterfully crafted symmetrical view down the across the Place de la Concorde all the way down the Champs Élysées and along to La Defence, or the ever omnipotent site of the Eiffel Tower silhouetted against the sky. For this reason there could be no better place from which to start our most recent reconnaissance with the city, nor indeed this Daily Norm photographic tribute.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca Sketchbook: Olives and Grain

To call these little paintings “sketches” is perhaps something of a misnomer, not least for my sketchbook which is traditionally full of black and white line drawings. However, my move to Mallorca has undoubtedly coincided with a rush of colour into my life, and the drawings I am doing now are more colourful in their creation. They are also painted – these two little detailed sketches are painted in my new favourite medium for quick artwork: gouache.

Representing very much two staples of Mediterranean cuisine, these little paintings illustrate the grain which goes into Mallorca’s local bread, and the black olives which are so plentiful all over the island.

Black olives (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Black olives (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Grain (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Grain (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Winter in Madrid

For somewhere as relatively far south by Europe standards as Madrid, it’s a city which gets incredibly cold in the winter. And I mean incredibly cold. True, I have become acclimatised to the balmier climes of the island of Mallorca, where in a mere 3 months of being here, I have begun to believe that there is no such thing as a minus temperature. But how wrong I was on that front. For when the need arose for me to jet off to Madrid last week for work, I experienced temperatures that made me feel as though I was facing an attack of daggers from all sides.

It was my first trip to Madrid for several years, and I was therefore keen to spend the little free time I had exploring the city streets and remembering past memories of walking around the Prado, the Retiro, through the Puerta del Sol and along the Gran Via. But no sooner had I stepped out of my hotel I realised that a few blocks of walking was all I was going to manage before I had to duck inside a warm tapas bar for shelter.

DSC06891 DSC06881 DSC06904 DSC07122 DSC06933 DSC06879 DSC07109 DSC06878 DSC06876 DSC06916 DSC06936 DSC07106

Ice cold streets, a bitter wind, and temperatures which made my gloved hands feel not just cold but broken… these were the sensations I suffered in this short dip into winter in Madrid. Yet just as clear skies bring a fierce winter by night, in the day, those cold temperatures are tempered ever so slightly by the presence of sunshine, and the photographs you see on this post were taken on a brisk morning stroll as I headed from my hotel to my place of work near the beautiful neoclassical monument, the Puerta de Alcalá. 

Those photos are very evidently characterised by the grandeur of the city – the beautiful roof tops of the Gran Via in the distance, the architectural details of the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de Independencia, and the large palatial buildings and parks which fill the area. Everything is brightened by a pale winter sun and clear blue skies, but as you (hopefully) enjoy these photos, please remember the pain which I had to suffer to take them – they involved taking off my gloves, a sensation which brought to my hands a thousand daggers of pain. Oh what I suffer for The Daily Norm…

DSC06893DSC06919 DSC06896 DSC06913 DSC07093 DSC07108 DSC07100 DSC07120 DSC06875 DSC06887 DSC06909

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The Daily Norm Photo of the Week: Table reflection

There’s nothing quite so nice as a glass of wine – the richly perfumed smells of an oak-barrelled bodega, the scent of flowers and vanilla, the luxurious taste as the liquid rolls over the tongue, and the slightly woozy sensation as the first sip shoots straight to the head. But for me, wine is even more enjoyable at lunchtime, when it still feels ever so naughty, even at the weekend.

As this week’s Daily Norm Photo of the Week suggests, this was a photo taken when we had been indulging in just that – day time wine, although to be precise, it was my partner who had polished off both of these glasses, since I was driving, and therefore miserably confined to sparkling water. But let us put that melancholy moment asides. For in this photo, all the joys of daytime drinking are expressed in a reflective impression of bright light, blue sky and those two elegant wine glasses. I particularly enjoy the fact that the focus of this photo is on the reflection rather than the wine glasses in reality, and that the glasses, normally characterised by their crisp transparency, now appear all the more opaque and nebulous.

A bit like one’s head afterwards…

Photo of week

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Arrival – Painting the moment when the Mallorca Move sunk in

In the time since we arrived in Mallorca a little over 2 months ago, I have been constantly creating. Such are the benefits of stepping into an intrinsically creative role as Artistic Director of an amazingly dynamic company. But the time for painting for my own personal collection has not been so profuse. Yet I knew that I was going to paint very soon after we arrived. It was in fact on the Tuesday following our arrival on a Saturday evening that a painting first appeared in sharp focus in my mind.

We had stepped out on a walk one afternoon in search of water. Living in a city next to the sea, an awareness of the ocean is continuous, and yet an immediate proximity with the water is not always so easy. Here in Palma, before you get to the sea, you need to traverse roads and parks, jogging lanes and a busy harbour. But on that afternoon, we walked our way through one section of the harbour, passing yacht clubs and huge boats being renovated for the summer, only stopping when we came to the water’s edge.

Arrival (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Arrival (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

There, sitting with my legs flopped over the harbour edge mere inches from the surface of the water, I gazed directly into the sinking sun before me as it plummeted behind the hillside silhouette and the outline of Bellver castle sitting atop the city. The sky was glowing more and more yellow, and as the light darkened, the water became more like silky liquid ink, and the reflections upon it were golden. It was in this moment that I allowed myself to dream, to wander from reality into a moment of a pure epiphany; a time in which it dawned on me for perhaps the first time how our lives had changed for the better, and how we had moved to a paradise of Mediterranean harbours, of white gleaming yachts, and sunshine.

And there it was. An image of that same view floated into my mind. It was always intended to be a simple image – just the water, the sun, the reflection, the sunset and the cluster of white yachts bobbling upon the water. Yet in that simplicity there is carried a weighty realisation – that we had made the big leap to a new life and a new beginning – It was the moment of our true arrival.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,520 other followers