A day at the School in Olhao Portugal

One of the group sketching on Armona Island…..20-11-15 - 1 (903)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. 

20-11-15 - 1 (995)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……20-11-15 - 1 (1018)

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 20-11-15 - 1 (999)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….20-11-15 - 1 (1023)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.18198393_1511394575560684_5675669900655837280_nThose 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 18157384_1504663029567172_1420997864278064881_nI 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.

20-11-15 - 1 (930)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 20-11-15 - 1 (993)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)

Here she is with the beautiful Charlotte….A woman of many talents….20-11-15 - 1 (865)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….20-11-15 - 1 (866)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)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….


976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sigA Bientôt

36 thoughts on “A day at the School in Olhao Portugal

  1. Liz Grant

    I’m really envious of your being in Olhao!! Maybe next year? Please give my love to Johanna and Margarida. If they haven’t a clue who I am can you say that I’m the tall lady who’s been several times with Dawn Oliver! Have a wonderful time.

    Liz Grant

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Liz….thank you so much for the comment and I will definitely pass your good wishes onto Margarida and Johanna. I know that Dawn is tutoring a group again this summer….one of these years I hope to be there at the same time as her again…I think she’s wonderful. Meanwhile, happy painting and hope that you get back to Olhao soon….Janet 🙂

  2. Doc Kandinsky

    Thank you for cheering me up every time I get to read one of your posts. It gives me the necessary hope to allow me to pursue my learning process and to take my time.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you for your lovely comment. I have just re blogged a post by David Rogers that you may enjoy. I love the work you are doing….and look forward to seeing much more. Janet 🙂

  3. First Night Design

    Your value as a teacher is shown to perfection by the delightful examples of the work of those on the course. All hail! You can add actors to ‘Like athletes and dancers, artists need to warm up every day. Playful exercises will help to awaken the senses”.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Sarah…thank you for this comment, it is really appreciated. I do believe that warming up is key to any form of creativity. I also think that it is often during the warm up period that we do our best work, because – ‘it’s only a warm up…..’ which brings forth that when we let go of achieving a perfect outcome…- (because it is only a warm up)….we actually relax and begin to create. When I give life drawing/painting sessions, I always start the day with at least a half hour of scribbling on newspaper. It is during this time that people often do their best work….because after all it’s only newspaper….It’s all in the mind. Thinking of you a lot. Keep smiling my friend. Janet 🙂 xx

  4. Teagan Geneviene

    Oh Janet, how fun to spend a day at the school in Olhao! Showing us not only the beautiful paintings (and including some from the group), but the schedule as well really added to the feeling of being there. I also enjoyed your description of the warm-up process. Then you crowned it with one of your most beautiful hummingbirds ever, soaring skyward! Thank you, my friend for this “hump day” moment of sunshine. Mega hugs.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Teagan….I am so pleased that you liked this particular hummingbird because for me it is symbolic of our being able to soar above all the madness. Each day I realise that i can choose to be stuck in the madness or soar above it…and this little hummer always reminds me of that.
      I would love to see you at the School one year….now that’s a lovely thought 🙂 Enjoy the day – sending lots of hummers in your direction….janet xxx

  5. Writing to Freedom

    I know I would love to attend one of your workshops, even though I don’t aspire to be a painter. I love the way you encourage flowing, seeing, and creating in a gentle, fun and safe way. Thanks for sharing the lovely sketches and paintings. How you talk about the creative process reminds me of Julia Cameron and her body of work called the Artist’s Way. Are you familiar with her work?

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Brad….I can’t tell you how much you please me by mentioning Julia Cameron’s name on my blog. About twenty years ago I was visiting a dear artist friend of mine, David Bienkowsky – who was living in Laguna Beach, California at the time. David had to go somewhere the first day I arrived and so left me in the studio which lead out to a beautiful view of the sea…with a book entitled ‘ the Artists’s Way by Julia Cameron’.
      I began reading and couldn’t put it down and of course have it in my book case and have recommended it on numerous occasions. You have reminded me that I need to get it out again and re read. Julia Cameron is someone I would love to meet one day and so for you to even equate what I do with her is one of the highest compliments you could pay. Thank you Janet 🙂

      1. Writing to Freedom

        You’re most welcome Janet. You write about painting and teaching in a very similar way. It seems you’ve integrated her teachings. 🙂 I hope you get to me her in person. Hugs!

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        When I read her book 20 years ago, it resonated with me completely and yes wouldn’t it be lovely if I were to meet her sometime….Hope you are enjoying a lovely day….janet 🙂 x

  6. Timi Townsend

    Janet, you continue to amaze me with your talent and how you share it with others! Maybe someday I will be in one of your classes! Wouldn’t that be lovely? ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Timi, I have been thinking about you and hoping that full recovery is on the way. I would love nothing more than were you to come to the School in Portugal. Next year, I will be giving two courses…one in April and another in September – just FYI 🙂 Meanwhile I do hope that you are able to do some creative work….and that Ophelia is looking after you. Janet 🙂 xx

  7. snowbird

    and I shall soar with you. A lovely post, such a lovely day….I really enjoyed seeing the work your group produced, a lot of talent there.xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Dina….I know that you soar every day no matter what the heck is going on. When I think of you I automatically smile 🙂 Hope you are able to do some painting….and that all the furies are well…..Janet xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I am so pleased that you enjoyed this post….and there is more work from the group on FB. They were a wonderfully cohesive and harmonious group…and for fifteen people coming together from all over the place, that’s pretty good. Enjoy the day…janet 🙂

  8. Bonnie Halsey-Dutton

    Janet, I am there vicariously through this post, and it heightens my excitement for the workshop I will lead there in a couple of weeks! Thank you for your lovely and informative posts… they are a treasure!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Bonnie, I am excited about your time at the School and will really look forward very much to your impressions. So pleased that my posts have helped you see the place a little. I plan to send you an e mail with the names and photographs of a couple of people in the town that you and your group m might wish to visit. A wonderful ceramics shop run by Celia and her partner Oswald and the little local art shop run by Anna….Meanwhile, enjoy the day and it wont be long before you are in Olhao….janet xx

  9. Mary

    Oh Janet, how I just love this post not only for the beautiful works of these wonderful artists but the most beautiful, free-flowing art that is gracing your post here. Wow, these folks know how to make the subject come alive even as a warm up exercise – those callas, wow. Love your expression of showing how important a warm-up exercise is. Second, for me, you’ve said it before and now again – warm-up exercises are important for free-flowing creativity. Your example sets the stage. I need to do this more often and must commit to setting this exercise as part of my daily art routine. I hope you have wonderful weekend, mine has been started on the right foot. Thanks Janet!!

  10. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Good morning Mary….thank you for your lovely comment. On the theory of practising what I preach…every now and then I need to remind myself to warm up 🙂 When I don’t it takes so much longer to get into a flow and rhythm….HOpe you are enjoying a lovely weekend..it’s a good one this end. Janet x


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.