The Douro Valley

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The latest painting coming from my studio is a view of the Douro River running through the Douro Valley in Portugal. The Douro River is the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula. It runs for 557 miles from the Spanish town of Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. For 69 miles the river forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. In the past, impassable canyons formed a barrier against marauding armies. Today this wild and beautiful frontier landscape is protected by the authority of the Douro Internacional Park. (Click images to enlarge)

“The Douro Valley” – 16″ x 27″ – Oil


I chose, as I usually do, a very limited palette of colors for this painting. Using fewer colors forces the painter to intermix the available colors, thereby automatically creating beautiful color harmonies. I quickly realized, in order to achieve the look I wanted, that a bright red was not needed…so Burnt Sienna  was substituted. Also, Ivory Black was added in order to achieve the silvery grays. So, the chosen palette for this painting was Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Hansa Yellow Light, Ivory Black, plus White.

Pictured are the tube colors used. Above them is pure color from each tube. The top row has a small amount of white added to each color.


The Douro River and the Douro Valley are known primarily for its Port, a sweet wine that has been produced in the area for two thousand years. The spectacular landscape is characterized by improbably steep terraces covered in vines and dotted with wine-producing farms. Hills fall steeply to the water’s edge and the region becomes more and more sparsely populated as it travels inland from the coastline.

This is the view a few miles west of Oporto, showing the Douro river and his vineyards.

An awesomely beautiful area.


The Douro River was originally fast-flowing and unpredictable but the construction of eight dams in the second half of the 1900’s has rendered it tranquil and lake-like.

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