One of the group sketching on Armona Island…..People who sign up for courses at the School in Olhao – http://www.artinthealgarve.com come for several reasons, – yes of course the possibility of sunshine and being with like minded people, but for most it is to explore the creative process. All levels of ability and experience are welcome.
Those that attend my courses usually come to ‘loosen up’ and so today I am going to talk about the process I use to help people to do this.
After a delicious 8.30 breakfast….we gather in one of the courtyards or studio for our morning warm up. “Like athletes and dancers, artists need to warm up every day. Playful exercises will help to awaken the senses”. – Janet Weight Reed
I begin the day with one or two quick demonstrations….an example of one.
At this point it doesn’t matter what the subject is, the key is to open one’s eyes and begin to see so that we ready ourselves for the day’s sketching and painting.
A goal of mine is that each person take home with them one or two new tools/techniques.
Something as simple as learning what your brush can do is vital information. Understanding how different papers re-act….and so on. By allowing ourselves to play we learn these things.
A warm up exercise by one of the group……
I emphasise the use of sketch books throughout the week to record both images and notes.
A warm up sketch by one of the group showing me giving a demonstration…love this After the morning warm up, each person then decides where they would like to sketch. Some choose to stay within the School with its endless supply of inspiration….or to go out into the surrounding alleyways and town…..all within a minute’s walk of the School.
For those who have never enjoyed plein air sketching, this can be somewhat daunting, but I find that once people take the leap…..they quickly learn to enjoy the experience.
A sketch by a member of the group who came for the first time last year and had never sketched before…….now she can’t stop….After plein air work some members of the group bring their sketches back to the studio setting where they continue to develop their work.
This lovely watercolour from Jayanthi was taken from one of her many sketches from the Saturday Market.Those who have followed my blog will know that I believe the creative process in its many forms is the key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and so the week in Olhao is not only learning about new tools and techniques, but also experiencing those moments of deep contentment and wellbeing that the creative process can bring.
From one of the groups sketch book I believe that by loosening up we advance our observational skills. Regardless of what kind of work we would like to develop,….the loosening up process will help you to reach your goal.
It’s important to remember that when plein air sketching…technique comes secondary to observation. Observation is not just about looking, it’s about seeing. Therefore, rapid impressions of the subject helps us to actually see what it is we are looking at…….then if we wish to refine a sketch…..so be it.
After a morning of sketching – we then join together for lunch at 1 p.m.
Each tutor has their own way of doing things, but I always have a two hour free period after lunch. Some like to take a siesta….others to go out and about around the Town – observing life….etc. but it seems to work work well.
At 4 p.m. we come together again in one of the courtyards where I give another demonstration.
Two of the group this year were Botanical artists…..and so loosening up for them was a totally different experience. They both jumped in wholeheartedly….allowing themselves to break free from their normally, very beautiful and detailed work. One of the loveliest compliments I received from one of the ‘Botanicals’ (as they were dubbed) was at the end of the course when she expressed how much she had gained from the loosening up process.
One of my afternoon demonstrations…using one of the group as a model We then work from 4 p.m. til 6 ish.
I am very aware of body clocks and rhythms and so do try to plan a day where people have time to renew and organise thoughts.
At 6 – 6.30 ish people freshen up and prepare for the evening meal….which is always filled with much conversation, – a vital part of the week. Sometimes the meal is taken at the School….freshly cooked by the wonderful Margarida.….or we go to a local restaurant….again just minutes walk from the School.
Speaking of Margarida…..This year there was a new addition – Charlotte – sister to Beatrice. Yes, last year, Margarida was pregnant
You can just see her bump in this large water colour demonstration I did last year.
Here she is with the beautiful Charlotte….A woman of many talents….And….lovely Joanna, who does the housekeeping and makes our breakfast every day, brought the twins to see us….who have grown so much.
The twins….part of the School tapestry….I couldn’t possibly finish this post without sharing the beautiful portrait of me drawn by six year old Beatrice….(sister to Charlotte)….I will always cherish this.
Me – by Beatrice. For more images of the group’s work you can go to Art in the Algarve on Facebook http://www.artinthealgarve.com
My choice to day is to Soar above all the madness with the magical hummingbirds….