I have been re-booted…..

I am pleased to report that I feel better than I have done in a long while    Not only are my energy levels back to normal but it feels like my mind and body have been (as one of my friends put it) re-booted……..

“Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.”   watercolour20190920_094645-2I am now very excited about the upcoming course at the school in Portugal (http://www.artinthealgarve.com) on the 2nd of October where we will be focusing on observation and imagination……and using the medium of watercolour to loosen up – `and free ourselves from fear based restraints.

Two minute watercolour sketch…..20190920_122614-2Like most people throughout my life I have experienced some important turning points.     Usually  events that I could never have imagined….and often events that turn out to be blessings in disguise.       When these events occur, I have found that it’s important to embrace them no matter how uncomfortable they might be.        My recent blip has turned out to be such an event.

“Beautiful is what we see.    More beautiful is what we understand.   Most beautiful is what we do not comprehend”.   Mira Bartock20190920_083902 “When you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.    The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realise it.     The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.”   Henry Miller. 20190915_125625We tend to ignore the fact that there is a vast tapestry of energy that exists beyond our five senses…..that there is an unseen order of things.    For me the hummingbird symbolises this.

Hummingbirds are courageous little creatures……migrating huge distances and always drinking from the sweet nectar of life…..We can learn so much from them. 

Watercolour. 20190923_081333

And so  a week from Wednesday I am off to one of  my favourite places – the School in Olhao.   (http://www.artinthealgarve.com)    I will write a blog about the week after I return around the middle of October.

A quick sketch from the Saturday market in Olhao Portugal – watercolour/gouache43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_o

A sun drenched wall in Olhao  – watercolour/gouache from sketch book20190128_112330And finally the beautiful olive tree in the courtyard at the School in Olhao.    10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oHave a lovely day and week ahead.

A Bientot

Janet

 

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Day

 

I spent the past weekend with my life long friends Mick and Gail at their lovely home in Kent, not too far from where we grew up.

Gail, Mick and I went to school together when we were little children….i.e. five years old!    Although I left the UK in 1966 for the States and didn’t return until 1993, our friendship endured.

Interestingly we are all artists.    Mick a photographer/musician and Gail, writer, historian and musician.      There must have been something in the water at the school we attended.

This visit was super special because I got to meet Cosmo, their first grandchild….and he is an angel……

Cosmo in the garden…..such a joy. 20190829_140428

Mick – watercolour

1048835_10151869969370396_914185022_o-3Gail – watercolour1094709_10151869967675396_22212606_o-3On Saturday we drove to Viking Bay Broadstairs to reminisce.    It turned out to be a perfect day in every way including the weather.

Given that Mick and Gail live in the middle of the countryside we drove…..and immediately found a parking place just a minute from the Bay.    Good start…..

Broadstairs is a place where we spent a lot of our childhood….and so I am really happy to report that Viking Bay is relatively unchanged other than some new amusements for children at one end of the beach.            The pier is still the same and many of the cafes and shops overlooking the beach are still there…including Morelli’s ice cream and coffee which was our first port of call……and oh my it was good.   20190830_112841Overlooking this part of the beach is the old band stand….a place I always enjoyed as a child.        I have special memories of when my Grandmother would take me to Broadstairs for the week….just the two of us.    She would allow me to do all sorts of things including enter the talent competitions held on the band stand.  Such happy memories:)

On the bandstand this Saturday – no competition this time……P8300864P8300862Sixty three years, before when I was ten years old….close to the pier.    Time is such an illusion. til August 10 295As we walked along the promenade we happened upon this lovely woman with her even lovelier cat:).   Apparently the cat walked with her every day to the beach.    When we came across her, I had just been saying how much I look forward to having another cat of my own.     A good omen I think…..

20190830_111606

20190830_111558We then walked to the pier where we had the most delicious fish and chips….watched over by this very healthy looking seagull who I am glad to report behaved him/herself. 20190830_114442All the while, we talked about our childhood memories….It was such a gentle, lovely day….and again another reminder of the importance of making the most of every single moment.

As we sat there enjoying the views, sounds, and smells and of course our fish and chips, I was reminded of this quote by Alan Watts  

‘I have realised that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is…….’

The hummingbirds are weaving their magic…… watercolour26198604_10155949289200396_7377987670122973739_o

This magical hummingbird is drinking from the sweet nectar of life…………………

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

New Beginnings.

magical hummingbird….watercolour/gouache – symbolising the unseen magic in the world. 20190819_113531It’s been a couple of months since my last post.       I have spent this time relaxing, recouping, painting, writing and contemplating.    

I am glad to report that I am feeling very well,  in  fact better than I have in a long time which has brought me to the conclusion that  my recent medical adventure has been a huge blessing in disguise.      It has given me the opportunity to stop and take stock.

Kara Olivia (my cousin’s daughter) bathed in sunlight and shadow in the kitchen at Ty Gwynn – Crickhowell, Wales.     Such a happy memory.   1994.20190822_091130  I have been blessed in so many ways throughout my life.    For the most part robust health, two fantastic children, many wonderful friends, and of course my work which always sustains me. 

In the bedroom of my London flat I have what I call my ‘memory wall’.      As I lie in bed contemplating these images, I am reminded of my grandparents, parents, children, husband, friends, animals and more.    All the people and animals who have contributed so much to my life…… 53062468_10157044824235396_9002121108748500992_oThese images remind me that all the planning in the world doesn’t necessarily give you what you want or expect….rather it’s about living each and every day to the full and not worrying about future or past – or that which we cannot change.      

I have always found that when I get out of the driver’s seat…..wonderfully unexpected things can and do happen.     For me this principle underlies the true magic of life. 

My cottage garden in Crickhowell Wales – a place I had never heard of until my Cousin introduced me to it….and now a place that will forever be paramount in my heart and life. 10583023_10152641107430396_6295196619295273313_oChristeve the Cat allowing a friend to join her on the garden shed roof…..cottage garden Crickhowell Walestil August 10 119In 1993 when I returned home to the UK and specifically Crickhowell (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) I made the decision to stop driving.      

I will always remember my eye doctor in the States telling me to let him know when I am on the roads, so that he could keep off  them…..true story:)        The fact is that during the 28 years that I drove,  I hated it.      One of the only rows I can remember my husband and I having was over my not wanting to use a stick shift!    My brain simply doesn’t work that way…….

After 1993, I designed my life so that I would not need a car.    In Crickhowell, I could walk to the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and so much more.   If I needed to get to Abergavenny for the train, I took a taxi.      I walked everywhere and loved it, and of course was very healthy.      I continue to be an advocate for efficient and inexpensive public transportation systems and some walking every day…..

Looking towards St. Edmund’s Church and the centre of Crickhowell from the River Usk. 

306064A600000578-3408080-image-a-15_1453287838756Sadly in 2005 I had to move to London (again totally unexpected) for work and to be closer to my Mother in Kent who was not well. 

At the time, I was dismayed to say the least.   I didn’t want to leave Crickhowell.   However, as I look back over the past 12 years since I have been in London, I can see that so many blessings have come about because of this unexpected and unwanted change in my life.       None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out……

I was reunited with Josie and her many animals. (Josie has known me since the day I was born)…..I learned so much from Josie.   54437101_10157075342345396_1929582768614801408_oI have met so many people because of moving to London, and have been introduced to many new people and lovely places around the UK and other parts of Europe.

All of which reminds me that at any given time, there are people and places in this world that we have no knowledge of, but will ultimately play profound parts in our lives.    

And that’s where I am right now….at another new beginning – I can feel it in my waters:) 

watercolour/gouache from  SW France – from one of my many sketchbooks. 20190818_124327And so who knows what the future will bring.?….The answer to that is – none of us!    

Maybe the magical hummingbirds know…….watercolour/gouache51620254_10157014875500396_2357562279542652928_oWishing one and all, no matter where you are in the world, a lovely September. 

A Bientot

Janet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..

My last post featured my stay in Brittany during the month of May.      

However, since then I have spent eight days in Kingston Hospital courtesy the wonderful NHS (National Health Service) and have been recouping ever since, all of which emphasises that none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………….

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I was two years old in 1948 when the NHS came into being. Having been fortunate enough to experience very good health during my lifetime, I have not had the need to use the Service very much, however, I have always held it in the highest regard.    

It’s important to say that nothing is perfect…..and indeed when the NHS came into being the world population was approx., two and half billion….now we are rocketing towards eight billion! This of course puts great pressure on all institutions……including the NHS.  

My recent experience in Kingston Hospital has brought home to me how fortunate we are in the UK to have such a Service. If necessary we must go to the barricades to preserve it from those politicians who might see it as a cash pot!!! They are out there waiting to get their greedy hands on it……..

The beautiful Brecon Beacons…Wales – watercolour/gouache

A little known fact is that The NHS is available to everyone within the UK no matter how wealthy or poor….it does not discriminate.     I know that in countries where free health care is only given to those who  are lacking in financial resources….much division has been caused.  

Magical Hummingbirds – watercolour  

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So what happened to me?    I think it’s fair to say that I had probably been overdoing things, especially as I hadn’t been feeling 100% since the beginning of the year.    I had been experiencing breathlessness…something totally new for me, and after a couple of visits to the doctor, I decided to let time sort things out!

I suppose time indeed did sort things out only not in the way I had hoped……

Crickhowell from the Bluebell Woods – watercolour

Having just returned from a lovely wedding celebration in Atlanta, Ga, I was resting in my flat when all of a sudden I experienced extreme pain through my middle section and nausea.    After fifteen minutes, I realised something was very wrong and for the first time in my life, called an ambulance.

The ambulance service was superb.    Once they arrived I simply let go and gave myself to their knowledge and understanding.      Magical hummingbirds were clearly overseeing the situation.

watercolour

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On the way to the hospital it occurred to me that this might be it. It also occurred to me that where and how we die is not of great importance, ….the key is how we have lived our lives.

Have we loved and been loved? Have we loved the experience of being alive and all that entails? Have we done and said the things we wanted to do and say? Have we been grateful for gifts that we have been given? All of this was mulling around in my head….

Maybe it’s because I oversaw the care of my Mother for eleven years at home and in nursing homes, that I am very clear that I prefer quality over quantity. In other words, I would rather live a shorter life of substance and joy than a longer life inhibited by ill health.

watercolour

And so I arrived at the A & E department ready for anything…and at the same time, although in pain, very peaceful and calm inside.

It was found that I had fluid on my lung, plus blood clots…one of which had destroyed my left kidney. {The good news is that my right kidney is still in good shape.}

I had gone to my doctor a few times since the beginning of the year, but hadn’t always taken her advice. I was convinced that whatever was going on would sort itself out! Well this time it didn’t….

summer tree – watercolour

For the following eight days I received superb treatment. So many tests, I lost count, plus constant updates from nurses and doctors and a feeling of being very well taken care of.

I have never enjoyed hospitals, or needles (had a serious needle phobia up until the age of 60) but this experience was different. I found it all very interesting and it’s left me wanting to learn more about the internal workings of my body.. It was as if fear was replaced with intrigue. Plus there was some wonderful ‘people watching’ to be enjoyed – although having said that I didn’t have the energy even to sketch!

Other than my lovely next door neighbour Jeanie who brought in clean pjs etc I didn’t tell anyone else that I was in the hospital. My two children in the States are still recovering from the sudden loss of their father in February and so I didn’t want to alarm them….and given that I was so tired, and occupied with tests, etc. I wasn’t up to people visiting me.

I did let my children know after three days….Since then they have been so very supportive and have told me not to do that again……

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour

Since leaving the hospital, the support I have received has been wonderful….all of which I am very grateful for.

I suppose I am a little like a cat…..when I get sick, I tend to hide and nurse myself…..:) I even asked my dear friend Gail in Kent if I could hide out in their yurt. It hasn’t come to that, yet, but it seems like a good idea to me.

My aftercare has been excellent and is ongoing. Still lots of tests…including heart scans…. It’s all quite fascinating.

Church Path – Crickhowell – watercolour

I was asked by a good friend yesterday what has been the most important part of my life. My answer ‘creativity’.

It is this one element that has made sense of everything else and has enhanced and nurtured the great joys in my life, – my children, friends, animals, etc. It has also been a great buffer against the trials and tribulations that we all experience through life’s journey.

Those who read my blog will know that I am always banging on about ‘The Creative Process being the key to Emotonal, Physical and Spiritual Wellbeing’. It’s true.

watercolour /gouache

This experience has given me cause for much reflection.

Painting, writing, gardening, and all sorts of other creative endeavours will take precedence.

Much more time spent communing with Mother Nature……

As little time as possible in cities……

And I definitely need to organise my life so that I can have a cat again…..:)

Christeve the Cat – watercolour/gouache

Fortunately I don’t have anything on my calendar until October….and so my plan is to just hang loose. Each day I am able to do more writing and painting….and as I said earlier am feeling better all the time.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer and keeping well….and of course being creative.

A Bientot

Janet

Four weeks in beautiful Brittany…Part 1

I have decided to split this blog into two parts.       The first part will be an overview of my four week stay in Brittany.     The second part,  will focus on what our leaving the EU means to me and my many European friends.

When I began writing this blog nearly fourteen years ago, I made a commitment not to talk about politics.      However,  back then none of us had any idea of the madness we would find ourself in today!

After my recent trip, and then the commemoration of D Day and everything it stands for, I am moved to write on a more in depth personal level.

First the overview.

Separated by the English Channel, this map shows our close proximity to northern France.    Map - English ChannelI took the EuroStar train  (one of my favourite forms of travel) from London to Paris which takes two hours and twenty minutes.       From Paris Nord the metro to Paris Montparnasse where I caught the TGV to Lorient.       My dear friend Elisabeth was waiting to take me to the cottage at Lamor-Plage .      Everything on time, and very comfortable and if you book way ahead of time, inexpensive.

Elisabeth – in the cottage garden20190515_130110I first met Elisabeth when I was living in Crickhowell (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales almost thirty years ago and subsequently really got to know her when I had an exhibition in Brittany in 1995.        She is an amazing woman involved in many different areas always helping other people.    She is a good friend.

The poster from that exhibition28701436_10156170620555396_5832736884418070645_oI can’t feature Elisabeth without showing  her dog dear little Nouchka.     Nouchka is very special…..I love her:)20190527_190545The lovely cottage I stayed in came about because of Elisabeth.   When I was with her in March 2018, we had lunch with her friend Nicole, who just happened to mention that her son  had a cottage for rent……the rest is history.61452683_10157261746160396_3668991356094644224_oAnd to add icing to the cake – I arrived at the cottage to find all sorts of goodies, courtesy Elisabeth and Nicole…..a lovely welcome 60333444_10157206747210396_869104246006480896_oDuring my first week, French actress Patricia Pekmezian joined me and was kind enough to sit for several portrait studies.    We had a really lovely time together and talked at great length about the arts and life in general……

watercolour61676983_10157279497840396_5977241380945133568_o   watercolour/gouache20190513_084156Patricia in the cottage garden61954572_10157279495935396_6012649482175381504_oTowards the end of the month Alice Johnson arrived from the States….Another good friend and artist.    We go back many years.        We enjoyed painting together and everything else on offer….

Happy times were experienced at the Lamor-Plage beach.    Here is Alice waiting to enjoy another delicious French lunch.

20190527_150255Meanwhile,    it was so lovely to spend time by the beach and to experience the wonderful fresh air.       Patricia and I spent a day on L’ile de Groix – an island I would love to spend more time on.    There are miles and miles of amazing coastal walks to be enjoyed and of course so perfect for sketching and painting.

Patricia waiting for the ferry to take us to L’ile de Groix.20190511_100022The beach at Lamor- Plage580054b0_originalAnd then there were the wonderful musical concerts.     Brittany much like Wales is known for its love of music and we were not disappointed on this trip.       One of the concerts featured a Welsh and Breton choir….bringing home our deep connections and similarities.

Elisabeth’s partner Herve…is involved with Les Gabiers d Artimon.     As a choir they perform all over France plus more recently in Quebec, China and Russia.    Talk about wonderful ambassadors.    _1During Alice’s visit we were fortunate enough to attend a big concert in the Lorient Theatre with its one thousand seats….all filled.    The concert was uplifting and moving, and again cemented the positive ties that we in the UK have with so many of our European brothers and sisters.

Les Gabiers D’artimon performing at the Lorient Theatre. 2867_2019053011341487.jpg Then of  course there was the food…..Oh La La…….Eaten with Breton salted butter this bread is divine……...61992592_10157276804560396_3690182544344481792_nAnd the glorious patisseries that can be found in every village, town and city in France….d114f9d889e0ace18604cda0ef39966bThere is so much interesting history surrounding the area…especially involving WW2…which I will write about in my second half.

I could go on and on, but key to all of this was the amazing hospitality of the Breton people.        Beautiful people living in one of my favourite regions of France. 

I will be away for the next week or so to enjoy a very special wedding.     I  plan to write the second part of this blog after I return around the 21st June.

Don’t forget the magical hummingbirds….watercolour.

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A bientot

Janet.

I will catch up with blogs and messages after I return from the wedding.    Suit case will be packed away…and I am here for the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another excellent week at the School in Olhao Portugal…http://www.artinthealgarve.com

For those who have followed my blog they will have seen mention of the Faulty Towers element to the School in Olhao.       When I say this I mean it in a very positive way.    The School and all who work to keep it running are wonderful individuals and the whole place has an element of quirkiness to it…..Just one of the many reasons why it is perfect for  exploring the creative process and why I love to return each year.

Here are  Larry and Margaret in one of the courtyards looking through to Pauline in another…..20190421_123852    This year a couple more events added to the Faulty Towers element    The narrow alleys around the School had been dug up for utility maintenance, plus for our first two days and then last day, the now sandy lanes were inundated with rain.      Regardless, it didn’t seem to deter anyone from having a good time with much laughter.

A lovely picture of Mitsuyo as we waited for Nuno boat driver to pick us up. 20190419_101419In total we numbered thirteen…however, in this group picture taken in the studio on the last evening, we are missing three of our company – Elizabeth who unfortunately became ill early on, and then Inara from Norway and her daughter Eva from Latvia who had to leave a little earlier because of flights.       IMG-20190428-WA0000Inara from Norway produced some beautiful work.    This quick study of me teaching is superb,20190423_113931And this lovely piece from Eva – who lives in Latvia…..This was a totally new experience for her. 

20190423_115753Another different element to this year was the addition of tutor Dora Keogh.    Dora and her husband John are Canadians who also have a home in Olhao…Dora joined us for all the painting and some of the messing around stuff as well:)       I really enjoyed this, and hope that we are able to work together again.

After a full on week with us, Dora went on to teach her group….who I was fortunate enough to meet.

Dora sketching, 20190423_145539As is often the case, by the fourth day, people are getting into a flow.         This gem was painted by Jayanthi…..and is a clear example of what happens when a flow is achieved. IMG-0501These two beauties came from Mitsuyo’s brush.      Mitsuyo and Larry live in Kaikoura New Zealand.        During one evening Larry showed some slides of this beautiful part of the world, plus some of Mitzuyo’s magnificent jewellery. 20190423_120224It is important to remember that my courses are all about loosening up and letting go of preconceived notions.      I can say that everyone stepped up to the challenge. 

A completely different experience was to enjoy Celia’s and Oswald’s ceramics studio 4Elementos Ceramica & Azulejo in the middle of Olhao.      Our group and all the other groups coming to the School this year will make individual tiles to line the walls of the downstairs loo at the School……A fun idea that was enjoyed by everyone. 

20190420_111958Celia explaining to us how the colour of the glazes aren’t necessarily what they appear to be!IMG_5035The tiles produced by some of my group……what fun. 20190422_182605Demonstrating a loosening up exercise working from a colour ground. IMG_5135Boat driver Nuno taking us to Armona Island.     Note to the left is his beautiful dog who is always there to greet us. 20190419_102133One of many fine meals….this one at the Beach Cafe on Armona….fresh grilled fish and vegetables….and lots of lovely fresh air. 20190419_141944On this day we ate at a really good Indian restaurant in one of the Alleys in the middle of old Olhao.     I am no connoisseur of Indian food but this was delicious and Jaynthi, who knows all about India said it was very good.    I look forward to returning there.     IMG-0440Love Moira’s quick sketch on Armona Island.     My photograph does not do it justiceIMG-20190427-WA0009-2It’s important to recognise that many of these artists are used to working in a much tighter way…..It’s always gratifying to me to see when the looseness starts to show.     IMG-20190427-WA0004

I believe that by PLAYING every day and allowing ourselves to loosen up we benefit our expressive work as well as our more considered paintings.       It’s also more difficult that one might initially think.     To get into the preverbal flow, it is both a technical, physical and emotional challenge.     A week at the School is an excellent way to begin this process.

A beauty from Dora..     Capturing the shadow play and light on the pool in the Pool House courtyard.

20190423_125701There are so many more paintings to show…..Please check Art in the Algarve FB page…plus my FB page, twitter and instagram.

I had to include three of the School’s children.     The twins belong to wonderful Joanna who does all the housekeeping,……wonderful to see them growing every year….20190420_083126Carlotta is Margarida’s youngest……Unfortunately I didn’t get any of Beatrice this time.

All part of the School’s quirkiness……and special charm. 20190423_130149And wonderful Dora inviting everyone for a beer…..This was the biggest beer container i have ever seen:)

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Focusing on the loosening up element.     This time I took a roll of white wall paper lining, which we pinned to the studio wall.     The perfect place to make marks, PLAY and see what our brushes are capable of doing.

Making marks on wall paper lining……20190423_083506

Sketch books as always were key to this workshop.      We carried them with us everywhere we went……

I loved this from Eva. 20190423_094401Sketching at the Saturday market. 20190423_115913Famous for the storks that nest there every year, this little tree is right across from the Ceramics studio.    A great place to sit and sketch. 20-11-15 - 1 (491)

As always I want to thank Margarida and Joanna for all their tireless work…..and Camilla and the girls that added to the fun….plus the two Nunos…..:)      None of this would work without them.

Also a very special thanks to Margaret for having us all in fits of laughter  with her updated nursery rhymes during the last meal at the school.      I am sure they can be found on instagram.

Another sketchbook delight from the Saturday market. 20190423_115917

One more thing that made this week very special.     I met a lovely American couple on the plane from London to Faro.    Laura is a superb artist and her husband Marty, a doctor.     The day after we met they came to visit the school and brought with them their children and grandchildren.    How wonderful is that.    These are people I will definitely be keeping in touch with.

Keep painting, and remember ‘wet brush no paint’ – it can do wonders……….

A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

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It’s time to travel…..

I am off to the School in Olhao Portugal early next week  http://www.artinthealgarve.com Then France for the month of May and after that a wedding in Georgia USA mid June.

I leave you with some sketches and photographs from Portugal….

watercolour/gouache sketch from the Saturday market Olhao Portugal 43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_oClare sketching on the Island of Armona – a fifteen minute boat ride from the School. 18403517_10155206867690396_5892022252939504336_nquick watercolour sketch – Culatro island 20-11-15 - 1 (63)A simple and lovely lunch of grilled fish on the Island of Armona. L1080100watercolour – steps in Olhao Portugal 20-11-15 - 1 (936)The 150 year old olive tree in the School courtyard Olhao Portugal  10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oOne of the many characterful faces of Olhao Portugal.     Olhao is a working fishing town. watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (199)Dancing and music during the Saturday market – Olhao Portugal 12916733_10153992590920396_3025259967763687254_oRapid watercolour of sun setting in Portugal P1160789Jazz at Cantaloupe Jazz Cafe, Olhao Portugal.    Excellent for sketching .20180923_185441A sun drenched wall with trees – Olhao Portugal 20190128_112330I leave you with colourful magical hummingbirds….   watercolour/gouache20190108_134301A bientot