The Art of Derek Dohren

painting, writing, photography


Balloon Over the Alhambra

During my first stay in Granada, in October 2009, I was out early taking a walk through the Albaicin one day. I glanced up and saw a hot air balloon soaring over the Alhambra Palace. It was a magical sight. Weeks later, when I had returned to Scotland I painted this picture, largely from memory.

step 1

Working quickly and without any real prior planning I have much of the finished painting in place within an hour or so of starting. 

The Alhambra is up in the top left. The narrow cobbled street down the centre is a colourful bazaar of Arabic shops and is full of character.

step 2

I decide against the colourful street bazaar and grey it out. I also dampen down the blues in the sky. I more clearly define the central street right through the middle of the painting.

More building detail is sketched in including a church tower and a large villa down the right hand edge of the painting. 

step 3

Flashes of red terracotta are added across the rooftops. Doors and windows are now visible on the various houses. The central street running to the far distance has become brown for some reason!


A splash of red in the foreground adds an abstract touch and hopefully connects with the reds in the sky to help unite the whole painting. I also intend it to reflect the national colours of Spain and will add touches of yellow in the next stage.  

step 4

It's been a quick painting - I feel the best ones usually are. The yellow is added and there is a further working of the building infrastructure. The central path is greyed and cobbled once more. The far distance is blurred to aid the feeling of depth.

The balloon is the final addition - floating serenely over the top of the Alhambra which has also been widened and better defined.

A larger version of this picture can be viewed in the gallery.

Acrylic on paper, 50cm x 40cm

Original - Sold

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currently in the gallery ...