As mentioned in my last post, David Clark has organised a cohesive structure at the Art in the Algarve school, allowing for each tutor to focus on the job at hand. I was delighted to find that life and costume models are available, which is something to consider for further workshops, but for this my first time at the school, it was necessary for me and the group to become comfortable with one another and acquaint ourselves with our surroundings.
I find that when a group of individuals who don’t know one another meet in a new place things can often seem overwhelming…..where to begin?
My first suggestion was that everyone pick a spot in the studio where they could lay out their supplies – easy to grab, without shuffling though bags or running back and forth to rooms.
Given that I always emphasise the necessity of warming up before a days painting, the next stop was to gather in the two courtyards….and begin to observe the exquisite shadow play…..and at the same time, make rapid notes and sketches.
I always begin a watercolour workshops regardless of the different levels of skill, with the idea that we are all starting from scratch. One of the key elements of the course, was to use sketch books for gathering information, thoughts, memories and observations, and as the week developed transfer those thoughts and ideas to larger paintings.
I also begin every day with rapid watercolour demonstrations, emphasising the importance of adding any written notes to sketches, i.e. time of day, etc.
Given that most people on the course were interested in honing watercolour techniques, on our first morning the apple once again became a great subject for rapid observational sketches. By using such simple subject matter, observational skills were honed and basic watercolour techniques practised, allowing the group to observe more clearly what was happening with the constant change of light and shade.
These rapid observational sketches and our sketch books became the foundation block for everything else we did during the week.
The Art in the Algarve school is a feast for the eyes. So much to see, and of course the wonderful olive tree, (symbolising peace,) meandering up through the different levels of the building is a constant source of inspiration.
A rapid demo in my sketch book of the olive tree….again demonstrating the importance of allowing the sketch book to be a place for thoughts, ideas….nothing has to be perfect. It’s all about seeing and expressing thoughts as quickly as possible. Capturing a moment.
Then in the evening after a most satisfying day’s painting, getting to know one another and exploring of the town we ate at a local Tapas bar, and oh what fun it was…..and the food again superb.
As we walked back to the school after our meal at around 10.30 p.m. we were all amazed to observe the cleanliness of the streets.
My post tomorrow will focus on our visit to the weekly Ohlao market.