Tag Archives: portugal

Portugal Roundabouts

In Portugal, there are some unique things you take notice.  How the homes sparkle with hand-painted tiles, the abundance of lemon and orange trees, and the popularity of pastelerias, or bakeries in English.

But if you’re living in a small town such as Sao Joao Da Madeira, what is quite noticeable are the roundabouts.  Yes, the little circles that makes the cars go round and round.  There are more roundabouts in this town than any others in Portugal.  Because of the abundance of these man-made wonders, there are maybe one or two stoplights in the entire town.

My studio window faces one, and believe me it’s always action-packed.  There’s a poetry in motion of watching cars going around these circles.  Many cars don’t slow down.  They can’t go too fast though because of the pedestrian crosswalks.  Not by law, but by honor the drivers must stop whenever someone crosses the street.  It’s one of those things that just makes you go “I don’t ever see that in the USA”.

Which brings me to painting two different “Roundabouts” paintings.  Two different perspectives.  The centerpiece is the oval-size water fountain in the middle of the circle.  But I wanted to try different things with both works.  The sunlight on the streets, the shadows, the depths of the trees.  “12pm” was done a few days before “6pm”.  Rather than usually explaining, I would like for you to observe and see the difference and make your own conclusions with both paintings.  The only intentional plan I had in mind was to keep the brushstrokes simple in a complex composition.  I also saved the cars for last, as I wanted to add a little life to the roads.  If you ever get to Portugal, you’ll see what I mean.  What do you think?


Portugal Roundabout 6pm

Portugal Roundabout 12pm


Dance Like a Volcano (the wait is over!)

Hibernation is over, let the dance begin!

I spent this past few months doing much soul searching about some pretty deep stuff. Yes, I tend to do that often but I wanted to really dig in to what I’m about and what I want to paint. I’m very proud of everything that I painted in the past. I also believe in progression as well. If you don’t progress as an artist or human, then if feels like death to me. I have worked on lots of experimentation and studying other artists to help my own education. And I have been working on being a better English teacher for my students. My art-life is truly important for me and I need to express myself on a more regular basis. I’m learning to use my time more wisely as well. And my paintbrush must dance for this one.  I often come home from teaching classes and I’m usually tired. I tend to stay up real late either painting or a devoted procrastinator on social media.


And Now For Something Beautiful

My latest painting started with a trip to Porto, where I visit often.  It’s the biggest city close to me.  I need my city fix quite often.  So off I go and I enjoy walking around without a game plan, cause I seem to have one in all areas of my life.  This is where the free spirit is unleashed into the great wide outdoors of magical possibilities.  Can you dig it?  I saw a small street full of local vendors and the star of this show happened to dance my way.  She was a beautiful gypsy dancer that somehow time-traveled to this particular street.  Swirling, smiling and dancing to unleash her free spirit as well.  I was enchanted and I took her pic during her captivating dance.  I knew I had to be quick because who knows when her dance was over.  So I took some pics and later found the best one.

The Dancer

So with this pic, I went home and soon after started painting this. I knew it would be challenging because I had to paint a portrait in motion.  I also planned to change the background so it wouldn’t distract from the focal point, which was the dancer herself.  For me, the background isn’t just filler, it accompanies the main subject.  There was already enough detail for the dancer.  (sorry, I didn’t get her name).  I sometimes meditate in my mind before I even pick up a paintbrush.  What do I really want to express here?


Time to get bold

I wanted some bold colors to start the painting, and having that background orange-red really sets the mood and tone of the whole piece. Next I had to work on a great composition. Had to make sure all the facial features were aligned right or it will make the whole portrait look off. I didn’t want that. I work loose when I have to and work tight when I have to.  The first stage tells me where I should give more color or details, where the piece is suppose to evolve.  I listen and watch very carefully to ensure the painting remains harmonious and appealing.  After the larger shapes are completed, I work the face.  I need to capture that special look that will connect.  And the eyes, oh how I love painting eyes.   An artist named Robert Henri has always done some amazing portraits and I often think about his work process.  To keep it simple yet powerful.  Not so easy no matter any skill level.  And to do the smile just right takes so much patience too.  I work other parts of the painting such as the dress and background and come back to the face later.  I usually get a fresher perspective this way.  You need a mental break and pause, then come back and work some more.

Filling in the colors and shapes


When it all comes together

Dance Like A Volcano 12×9″ oil on panel

When it’s done, you know it’s done. You can’t do more. There’s nothing left to be done. Maybe there will be months or years from now. But by then, you should move on or do another piece of the same subject if you want to. This captures what I am about today. And today’s really all we have. And to capture a moment in time is quite special too. I ended up taking all kinds of styles and throwing it in there like I’m making a soup. A little impressionism, a tad of surrealism, some classical influences. I wanted the face smoother and more delicate than the clothes. Like classical music, there are loud bits and quiet bits. This is what helps make a dynamic painting. Lots of interesting and unexpected things going on. For example, the background may look like fire, but it’s really a tourist with red hair and a backpack. And the dancer is still in command and nothing will stop her from being the center of attention. This is what I wanted with this painting.  I want her to dance like a volcano.  I wanted to see some boldness and attitude in this painting. What do you think?

Thank you for reading my blog. You can check out this painting in my gallery here. If you would like to keep updated with my latest art and blog posts, subscribe here.

Joshua Lance Aveiro Portugal

Aveiro Square – A work in progress

This is my latest painting “Aveiro Square” in progress. I don’t put out enough works in progress like I used to, so I’m starting anew and here we go. Sometimes you will see photos and other times videos. That’s how it will be. A surprise in the waiting is always fascinating.

I chose this scene because it’s very picturesque and quaint. Love the old buildings and the lights and shade that filter in and out. Well I know a lot of paintings enjoy this type of subject. I hope I can add my own perspective to this moment. Which is one of the many reasons I paint!

It began with a trip to Aveiro, a small city that is known for their great weather, beautiful buildings and the canals. Dubbed as the “Venice of Portugal”, it is worth seeing. And now it’ll be one of my paintings. Throwing a bit of shade before light is important to establish my values.

Every artist has their own way of doing things, and I’m no exception. I’m trying to create a heartfelt, emotional moment that complements the memory I treasure in my life. And if I succeed at it, great! I’m not afraid to make mistakes, but at least become aware of them and try to fix it when you can. I’m enjoying the process more because I’m not rushing it like I used to. I’ve been at this for about a week now but I’m not keeping tract of time. As long as the result is good, then I’ll stop and call it finished. So stay tuned!

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