Barcelona: A Painting Playground.


My name is Cara Hanley and I am a watercolor and gouache illustrator from Upstate New York. I decided to seek out a residency in Barcelona after visiting the city last year and falling head over heels in love. Staying at Jiwar has offered me an the opportunity to get back to this magical place and soak up as much inspiration as possible.



It’s hard to explain my fascination with Barcelona, but I will try. I love the life in this city – everything seems to breathe. There’s a childlike playfulness that runs through Barcelona, its streets more like veins pulsing with vibrancy. This is found in everything from the street art to the quirky small businesses to Gaudi’s architecture. This sense of play has encouraged me to be bolder with my art practice – to experiment more and let go of obsession (as much as is possible given my tendency towards neuroses).



After almost two weeks of wandering the streets of Barcelona and soaking up all the graffiti goodness and aesthetic yumminess from local art and design stores, the trip culminated in a trek up the mountain to the Tibidabo Amusement Park. This “parc d’atraccions” is over a century old and situated high above Barcelona with sweeping views of the city.



Interestingly, the beautiful and powerful Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Basílica is located literally right next to the amusement park. This juxtaposition is both bizarre and really cool. I highly recommend taking the elevator ride up and then climbing the many flights of stairs to the steeple of the basilica. Invigorating and slightly terrifying winds will greet you and breathe fresh oxygen into your soul. I don’t know that I’ll ever forget this sensation.



Many people have asked me how I was affected by my time at Jiwar and in Barcelona and I tell them that the experience opened me up to taking more chances in my artwork, not being afraid to create shapes and forms that have no name, splashing bold colors on the page with abandon. I have returned to my hometown with fresh eyes and the essence of Barcelona’s imaginative playground still coursing through my veins, flowing from my heart and onto the paper.


Artwork and words by Cara Hanley

ig: @caramhanley


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