The Art School – Olhao, Portugal – – (3)

I enjoy working with groups where all levels of ability are present…including those that have never painted before.

I like to begin as if none of us know anything, which leaves the door open to re-awaken the inborn curiosity within each of us.


Just as their are no lines around the olive tree in the courtyard, which is changing and evolving all the time,  it is the same with the creative process.

Making art encompasses much more than the act of putting paint onto paper or canvas.      It is a state of mind – a way of being – an observing of the world around us and seeing it in a myriad of different ways.

Looking down into the courtyard from one of the upper levels….taking in all the beautiful shapes, colours, shade and light….. 


Rather than encourage people to paint like me, my goal is to offer new tools and ideas.      It is my hope that those who attend will see the world differently, enriching all aspects of life. 

The following work was done by people on the course.

These three delicious watercolours capture the hustle and bustle of the weekly market in Olhao.   The artist’s own style is shining through.


Several people were attracted to the skyline from the roof of the School House.    These two watercolours capture the essence of the subject.      It’s important to remember that the subject we choose is our jumping off point… artists we can take it in any direction.



So as not to be overwhelmed by larger subjects,  it sometimes helps to pull back.     All the same observational principles apply….observing negative space moving colour around the painting – noting that everything reflects upon everything else.    

By looking at these smaller subjects, we warm up, exercise the eye, and prepare ourselves for plein air painting.     I could see as the group filled their sketch books with watercolours of the charming alleyways, market place and goodness knows what else….that they were applying the principles taken from these small studies to the next step. 

One used vegetables, and another painted a small detail from the bougainvillea in the courtyard.


We used the sculptural shape of the Calla lily to warm up …..again, all the same principles apply.   The following is a selection of cala lilies painted by different members of the group.


These two images were painted by someone who had never painted before.


These from someone who had only painted a little.     In both instances these people filled sketch books with wonderful images of the surrounding buildings, alleys and water scenes.    Working with the Cala Lily allowed this person to break out and use large brushes…


I love the minimal element in this image on the left.    The olive tree is alive.     These from another artist who attended last year.


Something I stress is that people work on several pieces at one time.     This keeps things fluid.    When you reach a point in a painting when you don’t know what to do.   Do nothing.  Move onto the next piece.   Ultimately the answer will be revealed.

Observing and capturing the light and shade as well as the lovely shapes is shown in this image.    I wish I could show everyone’s sketch books because that’s where the real information is.


The creative process is all about experimenting, playing and letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during our lifetimes, and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.

The goal of an artist is to marry technical prowess with the intangible.     Technical prowess comes with practise, practise, practise, and the intangible comes when we begin to see beyond the obvious. 

Another day of creative expression, wonderful food, conversation and much laughter.

The view from my room at around 10.30 p.m.


Tomorrow the weekly Olhao Market….a feast for the eyes. 

Today’s magical hummingbird.  – Hummingbirds symbolise for me the unseen magic in our world.


A Bientôt

27 thoughts on “The Art School – Olhao, Portugal – – (3)

  1. ShimonZ

    This post is so rich… so many images… so much positive feeling. Usually, I am most attracted to your paintings. and your watercolors grab me so hard, I can hardly see anything else, when I’m enjoying them… but this time I have to congratulate you on that first image. It’s really a powerful photo.

  2. restlessjo

    What an incredible humming bird! I love the colours 🙂 Olhao must be a great place for an art school, with that lovely marina, and the variety of architecture. I know it quite well because we have a home in Tavira.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment. Yes. Ohao is a perfect place for an art school with so much immediate interest and of course the wonderful fresh fish. I am back there last week in June and again in September and next April….Janet:)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.