Doug Patterson : travels in watercolour

Doug Patterson is a renowned archtitect & artist who, in his own words, says his feet have not touched the ground in the last six years!

However, he is also an artist very much with his feet on the ground – as his recent watercolour sketches demonstrate, revealing a unique insight into the locations, religious communities & styles of architecture that he has encountered on his extensive travels around the world.

Over the last six years Doug Patterson has been on a personal artistic crusade, retracing the journeys made by three 18th and 19th century travelling artists – Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, Vasileios Gregorovic Barsky & Samuel Davis – who between them recorded the three great world faiths – Islam, Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity.

Doug’s journeys in the footsteps of these three artists has included sketching and painting Islamic mosques and monuments in North Africa and India, Buddhist Dzongs in Bhutan and the Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos and Meteora in Greece. This project, called Artists in Paradise, recently culminated in a well-received exhibition at the National Theatre, London in 2010.

The monastry of Hilandara, Mount Athos © Doug Patterson

Doug has visited Mount Athos in Greece twelve times, walking throughout the holy mountain and visiting all twenty Orthodox monasteries. Doug’s travels in Greece followed those of the artist and Russian monk, Vasileios Gregorovic Barsky, who in 1745 visited Mount Athos and recorded the life, landscape and architecture of the holy mountain. Doug Patterson’s Mount Athos portfolio consists of over 200 artworks, including sketches, water-colours and oil paintings. The Mount Athos series of works were recently exhibited in Saloniki in Greece, the exhibition then travels on to Athens and Istanbul, Turkey.

The Katholica, Hilandara, Mount Athos © Doug Patterson

Between 2005-2007 Doug travelled to Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, following the route of the artist, astronomer and director of the East India Company, Samuel Davis (1760-1819), who visited Bhutan in 1783. Doug’s Bhutan portfolio is a comprehensive contemporary collection of drawings and paintings of the landscape, life and architecture of all the 20 Dzongs (Buddhist monasteries) of Bhutan.

Jakor Dzong, Bhumthang, Bhutan © Doug Patterson


Buddhist Monks in Bhutan © Doug Patterson

Travelling through the region of northern India (of the Mughal Empire), Doug’s next series of paintings and drawings retraced the footsteps first taken by Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (1820-1904) who made numerous journeys recording the architecture of the Muslim and Christian world.

Jama Masjid mosque © Doug Patterson
Gurudwara Bagla Samib, Delhi © Doug Patterson

Doug Patterson is an artist who rarely stands still it seems! He has already begun a new travelling art project, called Sacred Places, in which over the next three years he hopes to visit twenty sacred locations worldwide. As Doug explains:

The first location in this project was the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India. The journey was by boat from Calcutta via the Hooghly and Ganges Rivers, first to New Farraka and then through the lock onto the River Ganges. We finally docked in Patna then went by road to Bodhgaya, finally to arrive at the most sacred Buddhist site, the Mahabodhi Temple, culminating in an intense spiritual experience. The various artworks illustrating this particular journey are now almost complete.

In November 2010 I then travelled to Albania to teach in the school of architecture and then I went on to Libya for Christmas and the New Year. This trip, first to Tripoli to visit Leptis Magna and Sabrata was astonishing, then on to Bengazi, and finally travelling 600km south through the Libyan desert to Gadhameson on the border of Algeria.

My next Sacred Place is an expedition for one month through the Canyons in Arizona, I will be travelling with an artist friend who lives in Flagstaff, we will walk and camp through Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley – the latter is the sacred place, and the journey is the Canyons.

Later in the year I am planning another journey (depending on current political events) to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, travelling overland from Aden to Sana and then to Riyadh. This journey, which follows the ancient Frankincense trade route between Yeman and Saudi Arabia, will include initial studies in watercolors (and then later as oil paintings in my studio) of the traditional architecture and mosques. My route will take in Aden via Tarrin, Kawkaban, Sana and the Wadi Dhahr Valley in Yemen, then crossing over into Saudi Arabia via Najran, Abha, Jeddah, Medina and Riyadh.

Artworks wishes Doug yet another  ‘bon voyage’ and we look forward to the seeing the new ‘Sacred Places’ series as it evolves. In the meantime you can listen to Doug Patterson talking about the ideas & inspiration of his earlier travels on BBC Radio 4’s travel programme, Excess Baggage.

Doug Patterson trained at the Royal College of Art, then studied Architecture at the Architectural Association, graduating in 1974. He established his own architectural design practice and has spent the last twenty five years working on a wide variety of projects, ranging from film sets to a 28-suite luxury yacht. You can view his comprehensive art portfolio on Doug Patterson‘s own website.