Seven years ago I was selected to enter a painting competition by Cox and Kings. They are the oldest travel company in the world, established in 1758. All the artists were given a selection of photographs of Morocco to work from. I chose one of El Fna Square Marrakech. Although the reference photograph I picked was landscape, however I chose to paint it portrait. The other decision I made was to paint it on a deckled edged watercolour board. I wanted to give the impression that the painting was taken from a page of one of my leather bound sketchbooks.
Hotel Palais Aziza & Spa
Much of the light in the painting comes from the artificial lamps under the stalls. I laid a wash of yellow over the block to set the tone and mood for the rest of the painting. Also it was to help create the warm glow coming from the lamps. Unfortunately for Susan and I, I did not win the prize. It was to spend two nights at the Hotel Palais Aziza & Spa. However I did enjoy the whole experience of capturing this scene of El Fna Square Marrakech.
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As part of my research in to Morocco, I took a fresh look at some of the paintings by Arthur Melville. He’s one of my painting heroes who travelled to places like Morocco and painted them in a very distinct and beautiful way. He was fascinated by what he saw of the Citadel, bazaars, narrow streets, fruit stalls, carpet sellers and coffee houses. It was these crowded lanes and alleys that captivated Melville, offering the chance to record dazzling light. He made sketches of what he observed, working these up into finished paintings in his studio.