Tag Archives: art in the algarve

Art in the Algarve 2017 – Overview – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Another beautiful stay at the School in Alhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.         One week of sketching and writing on my own and a second week of tutoring a lovely group.

The group numbered fifteen and represented several different countries, UK, Canada, Cyprus, France and Ireland.

Here we are about to enjoy one of Margarida’s wonderful freshly cooked meals. 20-11-15 - 1 (972)I have written several blogs about the School and how conducive it is to the creative process.     David Clarke, founder of the School clearly understood what was needed.   He was a man of vision, and I for one will always be grateful for his gift to artists.

Three of the group working in one of the internal courtyards. 20-11-15 - 1 (981)Somewhat like the Tardis the outside doesn’t give away its many different levels, rooms, studio, and courtyards.

There is much to observe within the boundaries of the School.      The shadow play alone is magical.

150 year old olive tree in one of the School’s courtyards – producing exquisite shadow play. 20-11-15 - 1 (849)

20-11-15 - 1 (851)Given that the School sits in the middle of the old town of Olhao, which is a working fishing town – it is not necessary to get into a car during the entire week.   Everything one could need is within minute’s walking distance…..and for many sketching and painting around the town is an endless source of interest and inspiration

One of the many alley ways of Olhao…..20-11-15 - 1 (1056)Olhao history is long and fascinating…..Dating back to Roman times, with a clear influence from the Moors and Northern Africa, (400 miles away)     Much of the town is in need of restoration…however, this gives it a special kind of charm.  It is not the usual golf course, commercial touristy Algarve that we tend to see on advertisements….it is quite unique and very ‘earthy’.

Alleyway behind the School. 20-11-15 - 1 (145)Two of the many old doors that can be seen throughout the town…..along with decorative tiles ImageMarry the character of the town with the fish markets, busy fishing port and the beautiful Barrier Islands which are just fifteen minutes away, part of the Ria Formosa National Park, and it soon becomes apparent that there is much to explore, observe and paint.

Fish Market just a minutes walk from School  –olhao market

As is custom we were taken by Nuno and his lovely dog to Armona Island (10 minute  boat road) for a day’s painting and lunch at the Armona 4 Restaurant.   Armona is one of the Barrier Islands offering  beautiful beaches and given that there are no cars on the Island a respite from our busy world.

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Children playing with shells on Armona….20-11-15 - 1 (913)

One of Armona’s beaches…..magic

A mental image I am left with from this year was of one of the group floating in the small roof pool as a stork flew directly over her.       There was definitely magic in the air…..20-11-15 - 1 (832)Storks that nesting in Olhao. Image

Along with examples of the Group’s work, plus an outline of how the day/week is structured – in my next blog I will share more pictures of the Group sketching and painting in and around the School.

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During this visit and my short trip to Cardiff just before leaving for Portugal….Six Degrees of Separation were very much in play….in other words the magical hummingbirds were indeed weaving their magic.    More about this in my next blogs.

On that note, I can’t resist but to leave you with two of those magical little creatures…..

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A bientôt

 

 

 

 

Flying off with the hummingbirds….

As of tomorrow, I will be travelling, painting and writing….first in Cardiff, Wales for just a couple of days where I will  enjoy a friend’s birthday and a visit with my cousin.     Then back to London to pack…..and onto wonderful Olhao, Portugal for the rest of April….which means I will be back here in May with hopefully lots of new work and thoughts…..

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (823)This year I will be spending the first week in Portugal painting and writing on my own, and then the group arrives for a week of creative adventure at the school in Alhao….http://www.artinthealgarve.comone of my favourite places.

Looking down into one of the courtyards from an upper balcony at the School……20-11-15 - 1 (186)I always take time  out from my on line activities when I go on my trips so that I can fully focus on observing, sketching and writing…..

Armona Island, just a hop, skip and a fifteen minute boat ride from the School….20-11-15 - 1 (128)Which means I wont be back here until the beginning of May…..20-11-15 - 1 (824)I wish one and all a beautiful April…..filled of course, with magical hummingbirds.

20-11-15 - 1 (819)A Bientôt

Plein air painting – Time to Stand and Stare……

‘What is this life if,  full of care,  We have no time to stand and stare.    No time to stand beneath the boughs  And stare as long as sheep or cows…….’     from the poem ‘Leisure’ – by William Henry Davies. 

Plein Air painting affords us the opportunity to stand and stare.     As we observe the ever changing light, we become present to the sights,  sounds and smells that surround us.    After a while we become one with our subject and with that comes a sense of wellbeing.

Kent landscape – watercolour/gouache P1140440This post is to encourage those who might feel a little nervous of painting in public, to throw caution to the wind, and give it a go……..

Some tips:

1) Travel light.  –  A small sketch pad, one brush, sketching pen, a plastic cup for found water….i.e. river, stream, puddle, pub…..(Unless you are in the desert water is usually easy to find)

2)  A limited palette. –  I take seven colours….and could easily cut down to four.

2)   Some people prefer a sketching stool….I look for steps, walls, benches, rocks….

3)    Sun hat – (sunglasses distort colour)

4)    snack and water to drink.

5)    Optional – a camera to use as reference for future studio work.

Note that in this photograph I have found a table….(I was staying with good friends in Wales)    Also note the plastic bag on the table.    Normally for cosmetics it’s compact, has a zip and a handle, and makes for finding a brush or a tube of paint quick and easy.     Perfect for plein air sketching.

Overlooking the Usk Valley where the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park meet…..20160824_121557One of the watercolours I painted during that visit.   I plan to return again this year and do many more sketches there. 20-11-15 - 1 (267)It’s important to remember that when painting outside technique comes second to observing the essence of the subject.    The aim is to capture a sense of place…rather than every detail.

In this quick felt tip pen and watercolour sketch from Mas Cabardes S. W. France….I picked the essential components of the scene….capturing an idea of place.   20-11-15 - 1 (250)When I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache sketch, I was on the edge of a 4,000 ft cliff overlooking the white village of Zuheros, Andalucia, Spain,  with forests and olive groves going off into the distance.    It was very windy, and numerous lion eagles were flying overhead.   An extremely exhilarating moment.

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed with the visual feast set before you, and so again the key is to pick the essential components.   In this instance, I used blocks of colour…rather than any detail. 20-11-15 - 1 (36)From a pocket sized sketch book – Fishing boats on Armona Island, Portugal…..20-11-15 - 1 (63)

I remember this vividly.   I was in Portugal and the sun was setting over the hills….and I needed to capture the moment…and so again there is no detail whatsoever – just my feeling of what was happening.   watercolour. 11722205_10153408010935396_6808764412248363582_oI sketched this on a boat in Kinsale Harbour, County Cork Ireland.…and the colours were just like this…..Often when working in sketchbooks,  I join up the pages as you can see here. 10842265_10153035398130396_9042918393838052530_oAnother very happy moment.   I was with my dear friends Mariethe Salort (artist) and Bonnie Halsey Dutton (artist).    We were celebrating July 4th that day and sketched this village – Courrier-sur-Sein – not too far from Paris……watercolour/gouache.    I remember there were lots of little  boys who wanted to get in on the action. 🙂11834711_10153477485855396_4950983751547778998_oFrom a pocket sized sketch book off the coast of Akyaka, Turkey.     watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (768)

This final piece was painted in Monet’s Garden at Giverney.    My friend Mariethe Salort had arranged that we could paint in the gardens when all the visitors had gone.   It was such a wonderful summer’s evening and one I will never forget.     watercolour/gouache 10917160_10153020589015396_3953042147092516531_o-2

If you have not done anything like this before and are nervous to go it alone….there are groups you can join….or art associations that organise days of plein air painting for all levels, including beginners.     I can not recommend it enough…..

Of course I always surround myself with magical hummingbirds no matter where I am in the world…..and every now and then I am in places where they are the subject.   watercolour

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Happy sketching…..

A Bientôt

 

Bonnie Halsey-Dutton Tutor at Art in the Algarve…www.artinthealgarve.com

e-bhd-photoI can’t believe that it’s almost that time of the year again when courses start up at the School in Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com     

I am looking forward to my time there in April, but this post is about another artist and dear friend of mine, Bonnie Halsey Dutton...who will be tutoring a course at the School from May 31st til June 7th.

Although Bonnie hails from Spearfish, South Dakota, I first met her in West Chester Pennsylvania about 28 years ago.      Having just moved to the area she first saw me at an art opening and came up and introduced herself, and the rest is history……

Bonnie’s artwork honours stories and explores mankind’s connection to the past.   Living in S. Dakota impacts her imagery, as her art explores the cultural symbols, stories and ancient artefacts from that region. 

Coming in with the Surf –  Oil on canvas. 

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A professional artist and art educator, Bonnie has had over twenty years of experience in the field of art education.

Her workshop at the School in Olhao will focus on ‘exploration of place’, as well as ‘low stakes, creative risk taking.’

Using water based mediums, the workshop is designed to benefit beginning painters as well as artists wishing to explore their individual painting style.   

Lost and Found – oil one canvas

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By studying art in an inspirational creative environment, like the School in Olhao, participant’s work and thinking is enriched….http://www.artinthealgarve.com

The 150 year old olive tree that emanates from one of the internal courtyards meandering its way up through the different levels of the school.

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The studio 

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The school offers excellent areas for group activities as well as plenty of quiet private spaces.

 

Looking down into the courtyard swimming pool…there is another pool on the roof

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Minutes from the School, the colourful and vibrant market – 

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A most convivial place to enjoy the wonderful freshly cooked food from the School’s kitchen,  and of course much conversation. 

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Bonnie is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor.     She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, –  another reason why she is an excellent person to enjoy and explore this fascinating area with.

You can learn more about Bonnie at http://www.bonnie halsey-dutton.com and at http://www.artinthealgarve.com

I thought I would finish this post on a humorous note with this photograph of Bonnie and me taken in Deadwood, South Dakota – 1995.    We held up a stage coach that day and did quite well:)

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A Bientôt..

 

 

Exploring the creative process as a group – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Daily warm up exercises – watercolour/gouache.

20-11-15 - 1 (178)Today I will explain how I approach a workshop, but first let me say that David Clark, founder of the school, set a fine precedent of allowing tutors to ‘do their own thing’ – with the understanding that everything  else would be taken care of.        This allows  for full creative flow.

Along with daily warm ups – (I have written a great deal on this subject) emphasis during this past workshop was on the use of sketchbooks and spontaneity.

The images in this post,  were made by some of the participants .

In this image, Jayanthi has captured the energy and life of the Saturday market in Olhao.    

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We were a group of twelve…some with experience and others with none.    I like it this way, as each participant brings something fresh and new to the mix.

The first day is all about the removal of obstacles…i.e. fear.      We start on the same level as if none of us know anything….On a practical level each participant sets up a space of their own in the studio….allowing for flow rather than fragmentation.

Claire had never painted or sketched before…..she began with trepidation, however once the fear was removed….she flowed.

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Observation, Observation, Observation………….key to my workshops.     Emphasis is put on ‘seeing’ what is in front of us….rather than just looking.    It’s like the difference between hearing and ‘listening’.

Vicki is a seasoned sketcher.     Her sketchbook was filled with wonderful vignettes such as this. 

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By the end of the workshop, everyone was beginning to ‘see differently’.     They began to automatically see the negative space surrounding the subject – along with noting the dramatic shadow play.

Fiona, who is a pastel painter, came with a view to loosening up….which is demonstrated in the next pencil sketch she made when sitting at a local cafe.    She made this pastel painting in the alleyway behind the School. 

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Pencil sketch from Fiona’s sketchbook – which she then used as a ‘jumping off point’  for loose watercolours.

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George came with an eye for detail.      He wanted to loosen up and at the same time capture the essence of his subject with less information….This image illustrates how well he did this. 

13076639_1166936633339815_788462488024387675_nMany artists, both seasoned and novice, are very nervous about sketching in public.

Jane, who has done a lot of studio work, had never painted outside….During this course she broke through the fear and began to enjoy. 

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In this image, Alison has achieved what she set out to do, which was to be more spontaneous and loosen up.      She has provided information without lots of unneccesary detail. 

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One of Clare’s goals was to observe and paint the olive tree at the School.      During the course, she made many studies…which will be excellent information for further paintings.

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It is important to note that only a tiny fraction of the work produced is shown here….everyone accomplished so much. 

Because I am a believer in rhythms and flow.…the day is set up with this in mind.

Breakfast at 8.30 – served by Joanna.   Then meeting up in one of the courtyards or studio for warm ups and demonstrations.     Painting/sketching/observing  ’til 1 p.m….when a beautiful lunch served by Margarida.

After lunch a two hour hiatus where participants may continue painting, have a siesta, explore the town, or whatever else floats the boat……and then a coming together again at 4 p.m for more demos…discussion about the day’s work and so on.

At 6.30 we break to shower and enjoy pre dinner drinks…and then a fantastic evening meal filled with good food and lively conversation…..

The weekend is different in that  after sketching at the market we have lunch at David’s Bar in Olhao..(superb food) and dinner out at one of the many excellent restaurants.

Sunday is spent on the beautiful Island of Armona….with lunch courtesy Pam at Armona 4….and then again dinner in one of Olhao’s excellent restaurants.

In my next blog, I will talk more about the people who help to make this such a perfect environment for creativity….

Of course, I must finish with a magical hummingbird……speaking of which, I am off to The Magical Town of Crickadoon this weekend:)

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Wishing one and all a lovely weekend and week ahead.

A Bientôt.

 

 

A place conducive to the creative process…..

capturing shadow play on courtyard steps – Olhao Portugal – watercolour hit://www.artinthealgarve.comP1160782If ever there is a place conducive for exploring the creative process….it’s the school in Olhao, Portugal.   http://www.artinthealgarve.comP1150689Situated in the middle of the old fishing town of  Olhao, and just a few minutes walk from the waterfront, market, shops, cafes, restaurant, etc. this school allows those who visit to completely immerse themselves into the creative process.

After being picked up at Faro Airport by Nuno the taxi driver, twenty minutes later, we enter the School house to find a very relaxed dining/sitting room area…It is in this inviting  space that we receive delicious freshly cooked food from the superb kitchen….all overseen by the wonderful Margarida.   It is also a place of many interesting conversations.P1120438I took this photograph of Margarida last year.    I was leaning over one of the upper balconies, as Margarida posed in one of the lower courtyards.P1170645What is it that makes a place conducive to the creative process?    

I believe there needs to be a sense of harmony and cohesiveness.    I find that when people are running all over the place, never settling…there is fragmentation….which in itself can destroy the flow of creative thought and production.

The studio – which sits next to the external courtyards – allowing for a free flow of work regardless of weather or time of day. ImageSituated on several different levels, attractive accommodation is found throughout the building.      There are plenty of places to enjoy the company of others, and at the same time all sorts of private nooks and crannies where people can go off on their own to paint, write, or simply be.

Looking down into the Pool House courtyard which is connected to the School House.  Last year a doorway between both buildings was introduced allowing further free flow throughout the school.   There is also a small pool on the roof of the School House.P1150733 There are countless sketching and photographic opportunities within minutes of the School.      Fish and vegetable markets are housed in two large buildings on the waterfront.   On Saturday mornings, there is a vibrant market filled with local produce and the wonderful faces of farmers, fishermen and locals.

Flowers for sale at the Saturday Market.    ImageAnd of course wonderful fresh fish………..ImageDuring the stay, a visit to Armona, one of the beautiful outlying islands is always a treat.   This is a fifteen minute boat ride away….. an opportunity for more sketching, or swimming, and of course always more good food. P1160130  I take a techno break when away….allowing me to focus fully on the creative process, and although technology is always available, for the most part I feel removed from all the interruptions of daily life – all of which is conducive to creative living.

Looking down through the one hundred and fifty year old olive tree into one of the ground level courtyards. Image

I plan to post one more time next week…..and then will leave on the 18th of April.

Meanwhile, I leave you today with a magical hummingbird….soaring above all the madness in the world….focusing on curiosity, observation and of course the creative process.

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sigA Bientôt…..

 

 

 

Passing shapes…

‘The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place:  from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.’    Pablo Picasso

Excited by the shapes, I took the following photographs at the School in Olhao, Portgual on my recent visit.   http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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A Bientôt