Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Madrid is very wet, windy and cold. Umbrellas were flying 50ft in the skies above Madrid today. Despite that, I managed to turn €2 into €142. Yay! Thank the fucking fuck for that.

The last couple of weeks have been tough. Really tough. For Three days in a row I was drenched to the bone. Sleeping cold and waking with aching bones and joints. Not nice. Haven't enjoyed it.

I hit a low at Cuenca. A nice place, but very, very wet.

After talking to the toilet attendent in the central park I headed towards an albergue. Not one of those pilgrims' albergues, but a homeless night shelter. I like this system. Anyone in need in any city in Spain can find a safe bed, shower and meal for One night only. If you don't find work after a day, you move on. It seems fair to me.

Desperate for a hot shower (I would have given anything) I followed instructions to the albergue. Thankfully, they let me in. This is only the Third time I have used such facilities in almost 16 months of walking. First time was a legite pilgrims stay. Second time was by 'accident' after being refused entry to the official pilgrim albergue. They are all very different in my limited experience. This one was sterile. You are told what to do and when to do it by people in white coats. But, WTF - free meal, warm bed (in your own room), hot shower and breakfast for free. They're not supposed to be welcoming places. A very fine line between welcoming and caring. When you're that desperate any warmth is a welcome, but you have to appreciate it is for One night only.

So, fully refreshed (and with brand new socks and underpants from the albergue :D) I tried to make cash in Cuenca as it pissed down. The only dry pitch I could find was a small arcade with very little through traffic. Not liley to make any more than enough to buy a meal until some very generous person browsed my sketches, read my blurb and then gave me €20 and insisted on not taking a sketch. Fucking cool guy. When you're this down and out the first €10 - €20 is the most difficult. From there on you can invest in materials. With that very generous €20 I took a bus to Madrid and now I have almost €150 in my pocket and a plan to make €1K by Tuesday!!!

I'm off to Leon for a day because I love Leon and want to say 'hi' to a couple of good people. Then I'm straight on to Santiago to make a painting of the cathedral to sell in exchange for a months rent of a farmhouse on the Costa de la Muerte. Simple hey? Life can sometimes be that simple - if you don't try - you don't get!

I've given up on this walk. It was costing money. I wasn't enjoying it. Policia Local in Barcelona and Valencia left me feeling like some no-rights fucking crim'. Cunts. There is no fucking law that says I can't sketch in the streets no matter how big. I will only return when I have to. Whatever the reasons for policing the streets like that, it doesn't work. Barcelona and Valencia have some of the highest levels of street crime in the World. Idiots focussing on artists and artesans collecting a small income whilst ignoring the real crime is just a little bit crap to say the very least. Catalunya and Valencia - not my favourite places in Spain.

Onwards and upwards. Hopefully my next project will be up and running within a couple of weeks. I'm keen, eager and have a drive within to see funds raised to provide camino experience with a mentor to anyone from a 'disadvantaged background'. Absolutely hungry to see this work - so, it will.

Off to the bus station for a couple of hours kip before taking a night bus for another couple of hours.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


It was wet. Very, very wet. Quite nice, but wet, very, very wet.

Huge change in plan due to unfair play by Policia Local in Barcelona and Valencia followed by absolutely dyre, unworkable weather in Cuenca which was quite nice, but very wet.

I'm in Madrid and heading for the Galician coast! Time to get my next project moving forward. More later.

I may hang around in Madrid for New Year. Well, as I'm here...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Can any city in Spain be worse than Barcelona?

Oh yes. Valencia.

Purely from the perspective of an artist who still relies on street work for about 70% of my income - Valencia is absolutely shyte.

Finally, policia local tell me I will never get permission. Permission doesn't actually exist. They tell you that you need permission, you can and fill in all the forms, queue to get them stamped, and then they go into the recycle bin.

Actually, it's not policia local here, it's PLV - Valencia's very own branded local police protecting all business interests and ensuring all income from tourists arrives safely in it's rightful place and stopping anyone else from making a penny. I'm on Third and final warning from locals and secret police. It's been raining often. I almost got arrrested for calling secret police facist cunts. I think they actually took it as a compliment. Next to impossible to make money from art on the streets here. I picked up a bit of commissioned work that just about covered hostal fees. I am stuck here. It's another trap.

Whatever cash I have in my pocket at the end of today goes on a bus ticket to get as far away as possible. That is not likley to be very far, but at least it's a start!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Permission to Sketch!

I find this unbelievable. It is actually illegal to sketch on the streets of Barcelona and Valencia without permission. Permission that it seems, is impossible to obtain. Last attempt at the ayuntamiento. Filled in all preliminary forms. Get them stamped. "OK, what next?". "We'll call you". Right. Won't be holding my breath.

I get a mixed response from Policia Local. Some say it's fine if you're just sketching. Others say you need permission and insist I pack-up and leave. It's spoiling any chance of me getting decent work here and saving money to walk to Cuenca. I have a mural to complete. Other than that, I'm restricted to working during siesta for just Onee hour whilst there are no police around and trying to sell sketches illicitly by night alongside drug dealers and purveyors of illegal goods. Barcelona and Valencia make artists feel like criminal scum. I will leave with a prevaling memory of facist cuntism.

Not that I think my art is that good, but...

100 years from now what sort of street art will Barcelona and Valencia have to represent their extrordinarily rich culture in these times? They'll have fuck-all other than commercial, valueless bullshit.

On the face of it, you walk around both cities and feel as though you're surrounded by art from all eras and an overdose of contemporary art. However, it's 90% superficial crap and there is sod all real art going on today. No future Vincents, Henri de Toulose (who I am told used to do similar large scale sketches to my own to pay his way), not even a future Guadi!

So, I'm on a new plan. Just make enough cash to get the fuck out of here and start walking from Cuenca. Hopefully, they treat artists better. If that fails, I head straight to guaranteed work elsewhere and save enough to walk across the plains in winter.

Just about surviving myself ATM. Waking each day with just a couple of €'s in my pocket and scraping enough to pay for bed and meal. Weather has turned shit also. It's tough. It could be much easier if I had permission to sketch. Hoping to find new sponsors, but my own survival is paramount - cold winter coming.

Permission to sketch on your own fucking streets!

Facist Catalunyan scum.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Wrong Sort of Permission.


Seems to be some sort of problem with the fact that I don't have a residential address in Valencia. I can see why they have such a system.

Policia Local are all being total pedants this weekend. I'm stuck.

A quick explanantion of how I'm working ATM. Every town, or city I reach I go to the main plaza and start sketching 3x1 Meter panoramics on paper on the floor. In most places in Spain pavement drawing is illegal. Police see me drawing on the ground and decide it's not legal. I then go get permission from the local council. Usually straight forward. Not so in Catalunya. Even with permission, police will often tell me to pack up because I don't have permission to collect money. I don't ask for money. People read who I am and what I'm doing and if they like the idea, or like my work they may drop a coin. Usually no more than €15 in a single day. I rely on sales of sketches. I sketch big to get attention, and pick-up commissions - it's simply to difficult to do it any other way in a strange city.

I don't like this. You're made to feel like a criminal. It gets you down if you're already desperate for cash. I'm currently just about making enough to survive. Tough time of year, tough year. Hopefully next week will be better and I can find some way of getting permission without being resident in Valencia.

On the plus side; Villa win again :)

Friday, 18 December 2009

Valencia :)

I like.

Beautiful plazas and buildings to sketch for a start. Perfect working surfaces. Night lighting that extends my working day by 5 hours if needed. Meeting good people. Getting good work. Getting a little wet currently, but that will pass.

I have permission. Just One grumpy fuck Policia Local to avoid. Lots of English speaking people here. Difficult to find a bar where someone isn't speaking English. Not a moan.

Nice hostal for accommodation at a good price. Really nice bunch:

I may stay for Christmas and New Year! Not so long really. For as long as I'm saving pennies, I'm staying.

Highly recommended for a weeks stay at least.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Thankfully I've made it to Valencia. Not because I made the money I needed in Barcelona, but thanks to some very generous help from a very kind person.

Valencia is beautiful. Even when it's freezing cold and grey. It may be similar to Barcelona in so much as it's a city by the sea with a port, beaches and great architecture, however it doesn't have the crap :)

Barcelona was expensive. It was also full of empty. Empty flights, empty beds, empty bars and empty plazas. I was expecting this winter to be financially tough. I suspect many people cancelled fun city breaks when the media was at it's peak of Crisis gloom 10 months ago, or so. Consequently, cities like Barcelona are suffering. Now might be the time to pick-up a last minute bargain. For me, it's not good. That's my theory at least. I'm also hanging on to the hope that my theory is that cities like Valencia and Cuenca attract holiday makers who feel a little less intimidated by recession. If any city in Spain can ride a financial downturn, Valencia looks to be the place. I'm hoping to recover the cash Barcelona gobbled. Art buying is a very impulsive purcahse mind, and pre Christmas/Crisis purse strings put impulse purchases out of peoples minds. We'll see what happens.

Took a night bus. Haven't slept. Physically and mentally shattered. Today I'm going to do a 'practice' sketch to see what sort of reaction I get. It is just about the perfect city for me. Hopefully, I'll get the weather luck and the authority luck. I need it!

BIG thank you once again to all who helped in Barcelona. Hugely appreciated.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Barcelona. Why I like it.

It has plus points.

Mostly, the people I know here. I have been treated very kindly by many. Good friends live close by. The hospitalty offered by people I have got to know has been more than enough to restore any faith in humanity that was fading. Thank you very much to those people.

It is a city of opportunity. If you take your time, make connections, meet lots of people, sooner, or later you get a small break. The only way I can make money here is by picking up commissions.

Coincidentally, my mate Paul Sandsculpture was in town (I'll post a link to his website at a later date). We happened to meet a guy with a 10 Meter yacht who was planning to gradually head south through the winter harbour by harbour. So, off went Paul (I think). Great way to find work through December, January and February. I would have liked to have gone myself, however my plans were already made. There are opportunities if you're prepared to look for them.

It is a beautiful city beyond the superficial surface. Architecturally amongst the World's best. I spent last night in a very nice, huge appartment in an area that reminded me very much of Limehouse in London. Old factories, converted warehouses, city appartment blocks, workshops, offices mixed together and overlooked by Barcelona's Gherkin. Swanky NY lounge style bars next door to forever local cafes. I like that area of Barcelona. Still easy to stay in touch with the real people.

I need just €50 more to head to Valencia. Not likely to happen tonight. Can only try. You never know.

Someone told me Valencia is just like a little Barcelona. That may, or may not be a good thing?

Barcelona. Why I don't like it 2.

Lets' get the moaning out of the way before I move on.

Go into a bar. Looks a bit expensive, so check the prices before ordering. How much for a congac?

Depends on which one.

The cheapest one?


OK. I'll have that one. Then when it's time to pay...

That will be €6.50.


€6.50. I gave you the expensive one.

It's just a commercial, penny grabbing scam everywhere you go.

It's also extremely difficult to make money on the streets. Tightly controlled where it's 'good'. Policed to an extreme. I got accused of selling beer on the streets the other day. My sketches were apparently just a cover! It is also saturated with street performers, buskers, beggers and others just trying to scrape a living. It is also saturated with thieves and bag snatchers. Because of this, many tourists are forever on guard and reluctant to take time to look, listen, or speak to any stranger on the street. It is by far the most difficult city to work in Spain.

I imagine it's nothing new. It has always lured artists and musicians on a false promise. Anyone thinking about working the streets in Spain - be forewarned; Barcelona is not the place to come.

I could moan more, but my fingers are to cold to type.

Onwards and upwards...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Barcelona. Why I Don't Like it!

I should. There is loads of good sketching here.

Point 1: The Police don't let me sketch big.

Point2: I just sat by the marina to enjoy a spliff and wine and got hassled by some cunt trying to rob me.

Point 3: Until you get to know the real city you just meet thieves and people living an image here - I live in Barcelona, therefore I am cool. Well, no you're not actually. You still work 9 to 5 and have no idea beyond the magazines you read. To many shallow idiots here.

On the other hand, most beautiful person I know lives just a short train ride away.

I'm persistent!

Barcelona. I leave A.S.A.P.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Granada to Barcelona to Valencia.

I haven't posted here for a while because I've just been going about my 'everyday business' which seems a bit boring to me. However, in retrospect, much has happened.

Work has been good for different reasons. Today delivered good cash and an offer of a lift to Barcelona (I have to be in Barcelona to be on the big telly! - more on that at a later date). Other than TV, there are only a couple of good reasons to go to Barcelona as far as I'm concerned. One makes handbags and I feel as though I owe much gratitude and a chance to return goodwill. The other lives a short train ride out of the city and just makes me feel happy. Looking forward to a bit of time in good company and a break from working the streets.

Working the streets. With reference to a comment made earlier; Granada has NOT done 'a fucking Barcelona' as I put it. They have simply introduced a system that allows anyone to obtain permission to work/perform/play on the streets if they have legal papers. I have sympathy for those who don't, but have no idea why there is going to be a protest this evening by those who do. Obviously, you are not going to get permission to busk, or beg outside a bank by the cashpoint. It's a very reasonable, and fair system as far as I can see. You can play music on the streets if you're not causing a nuisance, or asking for cash without permission. That's the bottom line: 'NO MONEY MAKING ACTIVITY IN A PUBLIC PLACE WITHOUT PERMISSION'. Easy enough to get permission if you want it. Fair is fair. The police simply want to know who's in town, on the streets, and doing what.

Last Sunday was a total washout. Streets full of nothing but rain water. I took shelter under a pine tree outside a bar (the only forever dry spot I know in Granada) and was invited into the bar by a couple of good people. The thing I have always wanted to do more than anything as an artist is work for my meal and drink. And, I did last Sunday. Sketching directly on the wall for as much beer as I could drink and as much delicious soup and Russian salad as I could eat. That represents the true pinnacle of artist life to me. It's something I've wanted to do so much I've always been afraid to ask. Finally, I got an invite! I no longer feel like some sought of fraud. Memories of my past life in design studios, advertising agencies and corporate offices mean nothing. I do art for my food :)

Off to Barcelona for a few days and then on to Valencia to start walking again. Despite winter, I am really looking forward to this route. It's going to be tough financially, but 'fuck yeah' - it's going to be very, very, enjoyable.