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Posts tagged ‘Ronda’

Interpretation No.10: Vintage Ronda

As England soaked in an August when early autumn usurped the rightful place of summer, I spent the last two weeks with my head still firmly in the sun-baked sands of Ronda in Southern Spain. Never has a homecoming from Spain proved so hard as the unapologetic plunge by 20 degrees from 35 to 15. And never have the grey dirty streets of London or the impossibly cramped antisocial conditions of the tube proved so unattractive when compared alongside the almost-tangible memories of Andalucia’s rolling golden hills and cerulean blue skies, memories that remain so vividly present behind my minds eye, almost taunting me as I stagnate in my unenviable choice of permanent home.

As always, I have sought to address this mental imbalance by reacquainting myself with the place where I was at my happiest, taking up my paints and paintbrushes and capturing a few spare moments in a weekday evening, to sit down and paint my memories. In so doing, I have completed my third painting of Ronda; another in the “Interpretations” series which sees me reinterpreting the landscape through simplified forms and a refocus on the shapes made by civilisation rather than the detail.

Interpretation No. 10 - Vintage Ronda (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 10 – Vintage Ronda (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

This 10th interpretation concentrates on two aspects of “Vintage” Ronda: first the ancient arabic walls which can still be seen on one side of the El Tajo gorge close to the old arab baths; and second a newer but still historic car, the likes of which we happened to find parked in this exact spot when taking photos of the arab ruins. When I saw it there, I could not help but recall my interpretation of the landscape in Italy’s Positano, painted with a yellow vespa in the foreground, and I knew that with this red vintage car, the perfect partner work had been born.

© 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

Interpretation No. 9: The Gorge and the Puente Nuevo

It would have been hard to stop my artistic appreciation of the city of Ronda with a single painting, and having completed Interpretation no.8, my interpretative landscape of Ronda, no.9 followed hot on its heels. This time the same fusion of the arid amber gorge and crisp white buildings predominates, but this painting focuses more on the great imposing El Tajo gorge, together with the bridge (albeit only a small slice of it) that links the two sides of ancient Ronda. In this painting I hope to have emphasised the sheer drama which the teetering positioning of Ronda’s houses on the top of a vast plunging gorge provides, as well as capturing some of the more iconic sights of the city, from the Puente Nuevo to the old cathedral sitting at its centre. 

Interpretation No. 9 (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 9 (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

© 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

Ronda Roundup

If one is to weigh up beauty in proportion to blog content, I haven’t written about Ronda in Southern Spain all that much. And I surely haven’t had enough opportunities to post the wealth of photos I took on my two day trip to the city either (a quantity you could say is also out of proportion to the length of the trip, but there you go). But happily with each new day comes a new excuse to write about Ronda, and today I’ve put together a group of miscellaneous photos which act as a kind of sample from my 48 hours in that picture-perfect hill top town. 

As has become somewhat the norm of my photography, I have concentrated more on architectural and urban details in exploring the town with my SLR bridge camera, making the most of soft focus capabilities when taking group shots, as well as the ability of the camera to excel under conditions of both light and shadow. But I have also used the frame of each photo to capture little vignettes of the city, such as the little horse and carts which ferry tourists around the old town, or the large succulent cactus which so beautifully compliments the arid golden landscape beyond it. 

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I of course realise that this blog has become more of a homage to travel than to art in recent times. But as these photos will hopefully show, there is no greater inspiration for an artist than travel, and no greater art than that which captures the beauty which is so much easier to appreciate when the eye is not accustomed to it.

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. 

My travel sketchbook: Swimming Pool at the Paradores, Ronda

My third sketch of Ronda marked something of a departure from my two views of the gorge. I had taken my sketchbook down to the hotel pool with me on the afternoon of my birthday, half expecting to capture another glimpse of the sensational hotel views over the surrounding landscape. And while I did begin to draw in a little of that landscape, I soon realised that what was exciting me most about the scene before me wasn’t the landscape at all, but the electric blue swimming pool set within a lush garden dappled with sunlight through sheltering trees. And so in something which recalls the dolce vita represented in the early LA paintings of David Hockney, I made the swimming pool of the hotel Paradores the focus of this sketch, even returning to the completed black and white work to add the same electric blue that had so entranced me. Together there is not only a striking contrast of monochrome and blue, but the very vision of a summer’s holiday afternoon. Bliss. 

Ronda Sketch 3 - Paradores Pool (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Ronda Sketch 3 – Paradores Pool (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© 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

Ronda | Day Two: Ronda Joy for the Birthday Boy

Being a proponent of self-indulgence in all forms I am a great lover of birthdays. And being a great lover of birthdays I very often get disappointed when they are anything less than perfect. Which is most of the time – after all, when one is hoping for perfection you will almost certainly be on the look out for problems. But this year’s birthday, my 31st I am loathe to admit was, perhaps because it was so unplanned and unexpected (original plans to go to Cadiz being abandoned) utterly and in every way perfect. For how could it be otherwise, waking up in the glorious Spanish city of Ronda to some of the most spectacular views the country has to offer. 

Those views, of golden fields, red rocky outcrops, white washed houses dazzled by the sun, and the vast imposing structure of the New Bridge, accompanied me throughout the early exciting stages of my birthday: admiring the views, taking a bath still admiring the views, unwrapping those few presents and cards I had brought with me from the UK, eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant still admiring the views, and finally getting my fill of those same stunning views as we strolled through the morning tranquility of the Almeda Park. 

Opening up my birthday presents and walking out into Ronda’s delightfully sunny morning

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All that set me up in perfect stead for the day to come, energy levels sky rocketing inspired by the beauty all around us. We headed straight over the vast gorge to the fairly new museum of another artist who had been inspired by these landscapes as well as the wealth of art historical references boasted by Spain: Ronda born Joaquin Peinado. His works, largely figurative moving into cubism, all wonderfully colourful and full of energising geometric forms, are contained in the beautifully converted Moctezuma Palace which is today owned by the Unicaja Ronda Foundation. The conversion makes for the perfect meditative surroundings where art is appreciated at its best: marble floors, clean white walls and incredibly detailed ancient mudejar ceilings. And just in case the building itself does not do it for you, the paintings on show are comprehensive and varied: Not only was a plentiful collection of the work of Peinado himself on show, but the museum was also hosting a temporary exhibit of Picasso’s Voillard Suite of around 100 prints. Those works, which are mainly crafted in etchings and lithographs and depict themes of the minotaur and the sculptor and model, demonstrate once again the versatility of Picasso and how prolific he was in the field of print.

Highlights from the Peinado Museum

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If my birthday had ended there, stepping out after that wonderful art gallery experience, I would have been happy, but it was far from over. Next the compulsory coffee, enjoyed in the heart of the old town in the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent, after which a quite random walk took us quite accidentally but fortuitously down around the outskirts of the old arab ramparts of Xijara and to the Islamic remains of the city. Chief among them are the almost fully intact Arab Baths, which today make for an atmospheric visitor’s attraction with sunlight flooding through the small star shaped holes in the stone ceiling, even though the water is today long gone. Then, just outside the baths, the incredible Old Bridge (so called) crossing the El Tajo gorge is likewise a supposed remnant to the old arab civilisation in the city. Today it makes for a stunningly impressive sight.

Arab Ronda

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My travel sketchbook: El Tajo Gorge, Ronda

I could have sketched Ronda, the sumptuous Spanish city in Southern Andalucía, forever. Not only were the clusters of white terracotta-roofed old buildings more than easy on the eye, but the great El Tajo gorge upon which the city is precariously built is itself a feast for the eyes, and for a sketchbook. With its multiple craggy rocks, rounded by centuries of weather beatings and the expanse of plant life which has crept over its surface, the steep sided cliffs of the gorge are a picture of complex shapes, angles and shadows, and taken as a whole almost appear to defy gravity, such is the vertical, and in places almost inversed top heavy standing of these vertiginously high cliff faces. All this of course makes for a sensational drawing subject, and within hours of moving into our sumptuously large bedroom and terrace in the Paradores Hotel, I began two pen sketches of the incredible view which we could see from every part of our room.

Ronda 1 - Buildings above the Tajo Gorge, Ronda (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Ronda 1 – Buildings above the Tajo Gorge, Ronda (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The two sketches are fairly similar, hence why I am posting them together. They concentrate on the same section of the gorge, with a view onto the oldest quarter of Ronda with its main church stood proudly at the centre. However, one focuses more on a cluster of buildings showing just a little of the gorge below, while the other shows more of the gorge and just a thin slice of the bridge, helping the audience to appreciate just how small the buildings of Ronda appear when perched on the full expanse of this rocky canyon. And this is only what I could see from the hotel – the gorge plummeted deeper still, showing just how dramatic this scenery is.

Ronda 2: The Tajo Gorge (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Ronda 2: The Tajo Gorge (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

I am delighted with the capacity of these sketches to have captured that drama, along with the great contrast between violently brutal rock face and highly civilised historical architecture which makes Ronda – and now these sketches – so interesting to see.

© 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

Ronda | Day One: Matadors, Miradores and Multiple Moments of Epiphany

I am going to say something potentially controversial. I think that the experience of a moment of epiphany is the preserve of artists and creatives. Not because other people can’t be placed in the often emotional, sense-tantilising circumstances that give rise to such a moment, but because they do not have the creative mentality which makes them aware of it, or at least of just how sensational are the surroundings giving rise to it. Not everyone therefore will necessarily understand me when I say that in Ronda, a small mountain-top city in Spain’s Andalucia, the surroundings were so bone-achingly beautiful that I experienced multiple moments of epiphany – times when situation, atmosphere and inspiration combine into a powerful fusion of mood and moment; when creative ideas pop and flow from my head like bubbles out of a fast-moving fountain. (The blogosphere does however tend to me full of creatives, and I therefore retain high hopes that most of my readership will be able to flow effortlessly along with me as I describe the happening of those moments under the hot sunny skies of a summer-baked rolling Spanish landscape). 

The Spanish City of Ronda

The Spanish City of Ronda

The first of those moments occurred shortly after our arrival in this incredibly placed city up in the vast mountain ranges that sit behind Marbella. As if the incredible view of vertiginous mountain passages on the wildly meandering road from Marbella to Ronda weren’t enough, but up in the city itself, our hotel (and one of the town’s best) – the Paradores – was so sensationally located as to give us the very best views wherever in the hotel we happened to be situated. Located bang next door to Ronda’s iconic Puente Nuevo, the newest and largest of three bridges that span the 120-metre-deep chasm that carries the Guadalevín River and divides the city, the hotel has an enviable location right on the edge of the vast El Tajo gorge on which the whole city is precariously perched. 

But my moment of epiphany came not in the hotel lobby, or in its well appointed restaurant or swimming pool gardens, but in our own room which we had, with great fortune, been allocated with a vast hotel terrace spanning one whole corner of the hotel and presenting the most sensational almost 360 degree views of Ronda, the El Tajo gorge, the bridge and the mountainous valleys and hills beyond. Looking over the variously angled terracotta rooftops of Ronda’s old town houses, across the rocky gorge and over to vast planes in a tapestry of sun-burnt browns, coppers, umbers and olive greens, we could see hints of Tuscany, moments of Malta, the green verdancy of lush tropics, but predominating over all the unmistakable russet richness of a Spanish landscape. In those fields were every conceivable shade of orange and red; pastures haphazardly placed and others neatly planted with olive trees; curving meandering roads lined with cypresses and Spanish firs, and exposed hard-edged rocky outcrops with birds of prey flying overhead. 

What a view…the Paradores Hotel, our terrace, and the landscape beyond

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From the hotel, we were but moments away from the Alameda Park; lush botanical gardens whose beauty would themselves make for a view worthy of lavished attention, but which are largely overlooked because of the incredible mountain views which span the entire length of the gardens at the bottom of their sun dappled paths. This reminded me of those sensational gardens at the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello – stunning gardens, much overlooked by visitors who rush to the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (Terrace of Infinity) to see the unbeatable views of the Mediterranean which the terrace affords. 

The stunning Alameda Park

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