Parc Guell view, BCN
And so finally to posting my Barcelona sketches! Sorry for the wait. I hope it is worth it. We will start off at Parc Güell, the famous Gaudí designed park north of the city center, but first a bit of backstory.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to go to Barcelona. I grew up looking at pictures of Gaudí buildings in books in the local library, and following the famed football team FC Barcelona with all its illustrious players of the time, the Linekers, the Archibalds, the Koemans, the Guardiolas, the Laudrups, the Romários, the Stoichkovs. Ok, so football and Gaudí were the main reasons Parc Guell sign, BarcelonaBarcelona was always top of my wish-list of cities to visit but they are pretty good reasons. I never got around to going; “it’s not going anywhere,” I always figured. Then I moved to America, and suddenly Barcelona was much further away.

Then Urban Sketchers announced that the fourth international Urban Sketching Symposium would be held in Barcelona. It’s a sketching mecca, with an incredible sketching community (as does Spain in general, I’m a huge fan of the Spanish urban sketching community. I couldn’t miss out on this one. I did apply to lead a workshop, but wasn’t selected (there were a lot of applicants). Then on the day it came to register as a participant, the symposium was so enormously popular that all the places sold out before I was even out of bed. I had missed out! But this was Barcelona, I had the new football shirt, there was no way I was not going. So, I got on the waitlist. Then I realized, ah, erm, I actually can’t afford this trip. I had the equivalent of two little figures sitting on my shoulders, one telling me to be sensible and go some other time, the other (wearing a Barça shirt and waving a Catalan flag) yelling “DO IT! DO IT!”. I couldn’t really commit so I decided to tentatively plan to go, but not to attend the symposium and not take up a place from the waitlist, just in case. Lots of other people were in my situation, and so the symposium organizers were encouraging us to come anyway and there would be social drink-and-draws in the evenings to meet up with all my urban sketching friends, and public sketchcrawls for those not going to workshops. This way I’d – theoretically – not be rushing about so much, as I had done to my exhaustion in Portland and Lisbon. I had to fit this in during a busy family trip to London, so this plan made a bit more sense this time around.

BCN bus to parc guell

And in the end I made it! I’m going to skip past a lot of other stuff and get straight to the first of those sketchcrawls which was held in Parc Güell, in the Gràcia district. I missed the start of the sketchcrawl itself, having taken a bus from the city center which took a fair bit longer than expected. I did meet a couple from Umeå in Sweden who were visiting the city, and I was excited to finally be here. By the way, I brought with me to Barcelona the Stillman & Birn “Beta” series sketchbook, thick pages Guell bridge, BCNperfect for watercolouring, and I must say that it was a joy to use, though I hadn’t used the paper for much location sketching beforehand, and it was a slightly bigger format than I am used to. I would certainly recommend it.

My plan was to fill the whole sketchbook over the course of the next few days, and while I didn’t manage to do so I gave it a good shot. Barcelona of course was characteristically overwhelming, and my tourist side jostled with my sketcher side. On this day in the Parc, crowds of people from all over the world strolled about taking photos and grinning, and sketchers were dotted here and there nodding over at each other in respectful recognition. I found where most of them were congregated, on the large open terrace, bordered by a twisting colourful Gaudí serpent, overlooking the hazy Barcelona skyline. It was a sunny day and the rays were beating down but sketching had to happen. I had a big hat, and a white shirt. Every corner of the serpent was occupied by sketchers or tourists. Eventually it got a bit too hot so I continued in the shade below, where I met some other sketchers from around the world, before heading off on my own again to see more of the city. It was getting quite massively crowded by that point, but wow, Parc Güell – what an incredible place. Worth the lifelong wait? Yeah!

Parc Guell, Barcelona

86 thoughts on “barcelona!

  1. Joanne Morton Joseph says:

    Barcelona has been on my wish list for several years. I have missed out on two trips already, and really hoping I can get there in 2014 – at least it is on my plans at the moment! I have absolutely zero talent when it comes to sketching and greatly admire your work. I hope to capture all the amazing beauty of this city through the lens of my camera. Thank you for sharing your view!

  2. Christine says:

    Gorgeous. We were lucky enough to spend a long afternoon in Parc Guell in March. What a fantastic place… These lovely sketches bring vivid memories of a perfect day.

  3. jessika says:

    Isn’t Barcelona beautiful? I’ve visited three times and it never gets old. I absolutely love Gaudi’s work, I feel like it transports me into the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

    Beautiful sketches too! Looking at them brings me back to Barcelona.

  4. seoulinbkk says:

    Hi there, lovely sketches! I have the same dream you used to have as a kid and this post makes me think… its now or never! Vamos españa!

    • pete scully says:

      Si Si Si! It was my first time to mainland Spain also (been to all the islands) so it was exciting. I really want to visit the south of Spain, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, visit all the great sketchers down there, love their work.

  5. afletch11 says:

    Wow first visit to your blog and I am so impressed by your sketches! I currently live in London, and will be heading out to Barcelona in a few weeks.. I too have always dreamed of going. Keep up the amazing work!

  6. Bill says:

    Hi — great piece and sketches! Barcelona is one of my favourite places to visit and each time I return there’s always something new and interesting just around the corner…

  7. Gloria Trujillo says:

    Well, I’m from Spain, so of course I had to look at your sketches… They are really good. I like the top banner with the skyline.They all capture well emblematic portions of the city, from the skyline to the subway. It is an interesting city with lots of things to sketch. :D good job.

    • pete scully says:

      I always put off going to Barcelona, it was like too special to just make a flash visit, and then I moved far away. I’m glad I made the opportunity to go, but even five days isn’t nearly enough!

  8. surroundedbyhills says:

    Wow! Beautiful sketches. We were in Barcelona on a short stopover just about 3 weeks ago (first time!). Tried to see Park Guell but ended up completely on the wrong side of it with no time to figure anything else out because we had to get back to the airport. We did however get to see and use the amazingly quirky escalators built into the south side of the hill.

  9. Irene says:

    Beautiful sketches, Pete!! I currently live in Madrid, but my family is from Barcelona, so I spend a lot of time there and it certainly is an amazing city. I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I do! I stumbled upon your blog two years ago, and I really love your work, it has inspired me to do my own sketches during a trip to Ireland this summer and it was a fantastic experience.

    Saludos desde España and keep up the good work!! :)

  10. McCallister Sculpture says:

    Love the Sketches! I was in love with Parc guell while I was staying in Barcelona. I remember Id stay for sunsets…and sometimes sunrises. I wish more architecture was as stylistic and colorful as Gaudi’s work. Keep up the sketching :)

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