Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Barcelona’ Category

My Barcelona, on canvas: Port Vell

Back in 2007, when I had finished 5 years of full time legal studies and was waiting for my professional training to begin, I decided to take advantage of having a certain amount of time on my hands both to travel as much as possible, and to teach myself how to paint in oils (having thus far painted largely in acrylic). The two things inevitably combined, and having travelled to a few cities in Spain and beyond when venturing to and from my family home in Marbella, I decided to test out the results I could achieve in oil paint by working on a series of cityscapes and landscapes based on those travels. You saw my Venice paintings which I worked on around this time. Having mastered that watery city, I decided to move on to a series of seaside cities, and Barcelona was top of my list.

It was therefore as part of that series that I painted this work of the Port Vell. As yesterday’s post showed, Port Vell is part of the expansive marina and beach which now provides Barcelona with a beautiful Mediterranean facade where previously (pre-1992 Olympics) there was only a heavily industrialised port. Being filled with yachts of many shapes and sizes, this painting would have been a challenge for the most seasoned of oil painters, but for me, a mere beginner, it presented even more of a challenge. I was nevertheless pleased with the resulting work, which captures, I think, something of the compact collection of yachts which fill Barcelona’s marina, as well as illustrating something of a transitional weather effect as the sun begins to shine from under the passage of a thick layer of grey cloud.

Seascape VI: Port Vell, Barcelona (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape VI: Port Vell, Barcelona (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Strangely, despite making 7 visits to the city, I have only painted Barcelona twice. While I’ll give you a glimpse of the second work sometime soon, I think that further Barcelona creations are somewhat begging. Watch this space.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. 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

Barcelona | Day 2: It’s not all about Gaudi

Now don’t get me wrong. Gaudi was a genius. Many of the world’s greatest architects who have come along since the architect’s premature death under the wheels of a Barcelona tram would declare it so. He was utterly ingenious and completely beyond his time. The Sagrada Familia looks utterly futuristic, and yet he designed it at the end of the 1800s. But Barcelona, like so many cities who know they are onto a good thing, is not shy about exploiting Gaudi’s talent to the full. So asides from the fanfares which go up within a mile radius of the various Gaudi masterpieces which pop up across the city, you also have souvenirs crammed full of Gaudi-related paraphernalia, all covered in various semblances of mosaic-looking broken tiled patterns, whether it be across cuddly lizards, multi-coloured mugs, candle holders or umbrellas. The resulting popularity of this genius makes life for the spontaneous tourist something of a nightmare as we were about to find out.

On Saturday, our visit to the Sagrada Familia was in part impeded by the fact that all tickets to the towers, which it had been my primary intention to visit, were already sold out for the day. This was several hours before closing. Then on Sunday, when we headed along to the recently renovated Palau Guell off Las Ramblas, we were told similarly that the tickets for the day were sold out – and this too was several hours before closing. Finally on Monday, a further attempt to visit said Guell palace was similarly in vein: they were closed. Thwarted by what appears to be the need for months of pre-planning (I’m assuming that online ticket sales are the cause of tickets selling out so early), we had to stop and restock. Was the success of this holiday really all that dependant on seeing all of these various Gaudi houses? To be crammed inside with the rest of the city’s tourist hoards? Of course it wasn’t: as one door closed on our plans, Barcelona opened various others. For as was to transpire, sometimes the best experiences of a tourist come from the spontaneous and the unplanned. And in Barcelona, it’s really not difficult to find entertainment and beauty beyond the broken tiles of Gaudi’s oeuvre.

Mare Magnum and the port

IMG_4046 DSC03045 DSC03046 DSC03048 IMG_4058 DSC03064 DSC03057

So what did we do once Gaudi’s doors had been closed in our face? Well as the weather was glorious, location one of the day just had to be Barcelona’s surprisingly clean sandy beach, and its expansive Mediterranean Port. Cleaned up for the 1992 Olympics, and subsequently developed further to include the hyper-modern Mare Magnum shopping and entertainment centre, which acts as a seaward extension to the bustling Las Ramblas, and the W hotel which sits like a sailing boat out on the furthest stretch of the marina, Barcelona’s port and beach front are some of the most pleasurable areas of the city to visit, whether it be for a stroll, a sunbathe or a seafood lunch under the sun – and happily we were able to indulge in all three.

The sunbathing was more of a clothes-on Winter version, but unbeknownst to us, we still managed to gain an awful lot of colour on our faces from a morning happily ambling close to the sea, along the marina’s edge, and eating the most delicious seafood paella on a restaurant installed in the middle of the beach. And what a way to enjoy a winter’s day. I almost felt like pinching myself, but instead indulged happily in a glass or two of crispy cold rueda wine – the perfect accompaniment to a lunch straight out of the pages of summer.

Barcelona’s sandy beach…

IMG_7761 DSC03070 IMG_7747 IMG_4067 IMG_4074 IMG_4068 IMG_4069 IMG_4072 IMG_7749

and seafood paella for lunch

IMG_7755

Read more

Post 500: Norms at La Pedrera, Barcelona

I am celebrating the publication of my 500th post on The Daily Norm! It’s unbelievable to think that I have sat at my computer over the last 2 and a half years, and typed out such a mammoth number of posts for my Daily Norm readers. But writing this blog has become such a naturally occurring, integral accompaniment to my life that frankly, my surprise at seeing 500 posts notched up is on a level with my daily surprise when I realise how quickly a year is passing. Still, there can be no complacency about the achievement of reaching this very significant hallmark in my blogging history, and a huge thanks has to go out to all of my readers and followers – somethings I feel like I really struggle to give back as much thanks and support as you deserve, but your readership really is important to me. As for the blog – well what a life changer it has been. To have this platform to share my thoughts, my creativity, my sketches, prints, photos and paintings – well it has made so much of what I do in my own little world worth the effort. After all, doesn’t every creative always yearn for an audience?

So what better way to celebrate my blogging achievement than to share a brand new insight on the world of “the Norms”, the characters who were the whole reason I set up this blog in the first place. Today we join the Norms in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona, which is a coincidence, because of course I have only come back from the city myself. Here we see the Norms visiting one of the most famous buildings created by architect genius Antoni Gaudi, La Pedrera (otherwise known as the Casa Mila). Famed for its quarry like facade and its tiled chimneys which look more like whipped meringue nests, La Pedrera is a masterpiece of modernist architecture and a much loved tourist destination for the Norms, not least because one of the chimneys appears to bear a very striking resemblance to a Norm…

Norms at La Pedrera (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Norms at La Pedrera (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

So from the Norms in Barcelona, to my own trip to the city, join me later this week on The Daily Norm as I make headway through the next 500 posts of my blog which I cannot wait to write, and share with you. See you then!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. 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

Barcelona | Photography Focus: Café Reial

When a winter’s city trip is graced by a little sunshine, it feels almost as though you are tricking the seasons. To feel the sun on your skin after months of deep freeze and half-hearted daylight is like the first bite of deliciously indulgent food after a period of health food austerity. So when the sun graced our recent trip to Barcelona, there was frankly no keeping us out of it, something to which my now rather ruddy face is testament. While the charm of Barcelona’s old gothic quarter streets is undoubtedly the fact that they are so narrow and built-up, this also means that the sun rarely reaches down to street level. Consequently, in order to enjoy a moment’s sun-basking without the inconvenience of shadow, nor the interruptions caused by wind, we had to get out of the squeeze of the gothic streets, and head for one of Barcelona’s hip and happening café-lined squares. And where better than to the King of them all? The Plaça Reial.

DSC03024DSC02642 DSC03386 DSC02999 DSC02989 DSC03001

The Plaça Reial is, like so many of the similarly enclosed quadrants which make up the Plaza Majores of so many Spanish cities, the beating heart of Barcelona. Just off the equally bustling Las Ramblas, and providing welcome public space after the narrow maze of the gothic streets behind it, the square is a place where all of Barcelona gather, to have coffee and drinks with friends, to hear the music provided by buskers, to seek out the many bargains which are to be found in the square’s Sunday market, or merely to amble around with a dog or a date, or just enjoy the sunshine like we did over a coffee on each of our three mornings in the city. In fact taking our coffee in the square became something of a daily ritual without which the day would have started prematurely. It also enabled us to take up a prime position for a spot of people watching, something which this series of photos surely demonstrates we did well.

Whether it be those sunbathing in their windows, or the little dogs sunbathing on the pavement below – the Plaça Reial truly was a place where all of Barcelona came to enjoy the first sunshine of Spring – and we were only too happy to join them.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 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. 

Barcelona | Day One: A tale of two cathedrals

Despite all of the travelling I have been lucky enough to do over the years, there is one city which has always topped the bill as far as I am concerned: Barcelona. From the stunning medieval squares and dark narrow streets of its gothic quarter, and the café culture and art vibe of La Ribera surrounding the Picasso museum; to the elegant grid of shopping streets and modernist palaces in the Eixample, and the expansive Port Vell and its white sandy beach, Barcelona is one of these cities which just about has everything a city could offer. If you were asked to sit down at a drawing board and design the perfect city, surely Barcelona would be it: It’s a cultural hot spot, a city bursting with sites of historical importance, a shopping mecca, a business centre, a bustling port and a beach resort rolled into one. Coupled with that is a predominant party spirit, a sense of cultural and political freedom and an exuberance of chic and style which is unrivalled, in my opinion, elsewhere in Spain.

So while a trip to this most incredible of cities last weekend may have been my 7th trip to the city, Barcelona’s multifaceted nature meant that there was still a huge amount to discover, and a pleasant opportunity to re-embrace sites and experiences otherwise more familiar to me. And most importantly of all it was an opportunity to properly inject my partner with the same enthusiasm I have always had for the city – after all, how else can I ever persuade him to move there? 😉

The atmospheric Barri Gotic

DSC02677 DSC02494 DSC02615 DSC02581 DSC02498 DSC02614 DSC02478 DSC02622 DSC02634

Day One in Barcelona provided such a chance to discover the city afresh. After years of staying in the Eixample region, I switched allegiances, choosing instead the super-chic boutique haven: the Hotel Neri as my base – a hotel which sits at the beating heart of Barcelona’s gothic quarter, and which is but metres from the imposing gothic cathedral. This super central location meant that I could explore this most characterful of Barcelona neighbourhoods with the ease of breathing; a discovery which began on this first sunny morning with the old cathedral which is at its heart.

For all its incredibly imposing gothic structure, its lavish golden choir stalls and its equally elaborate gold-fringed side chapels, the thing I love about Barcelona’s cathedral is the little cloister bolted onto its side which, either by way of tradition or for some other more logical reason of which I remain ignorant, is the home of a lovely gabble of squawking, inquisitive and cheeky white geese. This lively bunch of orange-beaked beauties are just one feature of what has to be one of the most tranquil corners of this otherwise lively city; a space where everything seems perfectly in tune with each other, from the lush green plants which are grown in the cloister’s centre and through which sunlight dapples over the gothic stonework, to the orange trees which are seemingly reflected in the beaks of the geese, whether by design or coincidence. It’s a beautiful space, and easily one of my favourites in the city. But we could not linger – for we had the rest of the old town and the city to explore.

The Cathedral’s geese-filled cloisters…

DSC02518 DSC02516 DSC02573 IMG_3922 DSC02507 DSC02523 DSC02515 DSC02502

…and its imposing gothic interior

DSC02550 DSC02556 DSC02601 DSC02552 DSC02554 DSC02610 DSC02630

Read more