Tag Archives: art in the algarve

Overview of week with Art in the Algarve. http://www.artinthealgarve.com

This is the first of three blogs about my recent visit to the school in Olhao, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.   The first is an overview, the second will show sketches/photographs from the group, and the third will be about my second week with my friend, artists Bonnie Dutton and Vicki Snaddon.

watercolour/gouache of Saturday market – Olhao Portugal. 20181008_130843My workshops are all about loosening up, letting go and getting into a flow and rhythm of work and most importantly enjoying the process.

The school at Olhao is set up in such a way that allows for the creative process to blossom….and although each course is only one week, much is accomplished.

The group dynamic is always important.     To date, everyone I have met adds something special to a course and this week was no exception.    What a great group!

These two photographs were taken when we were (all cleaned up on our way to dinner) in front of a black and white mural on the side of Pingo Doce the local super market in Olhao.    The mural depicts the lives of  the hard working fishermen and their wives.     Olhao is a working fishing town. 

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Four Australians, two from Perth, two from Sydney….a wonderful couple from Iceland, and some lovely Brits made up this group.     They were all great fun and most importantly accomplished a lot, especially in their sketch books, which I put a huge emphasis on.

Having arrived on the Wednesday – Thursday starts out with a loosening up demonstration.   It is a time for people to begin to feel comfortable within their new surroundings.    By the end of the day everyone feels like they have been there for quite a while…..

The sitting room in the Pool house leading out into one of the internal courtyards.  20-11-15 - 1 (165)On Friday we spent the day on Armona Island.    Nuno, a scientist and environmentalist takes us on his boat (approx 15 minutes).      He is extremely knowledgeable about the Lagoon and the Ria Formosa National Park.    From Nuno we also learn about the history of the fishing industry and folklore in and around the Algarve. 20180921_164238There was much sketching on the Island and at one point in the beach Cafe at the end of the Island, we sketched and sang along to sixties music.    Unfortunately I don’t seem to have pics or a sound track of that moment…….

Maggie May, Linda and Dorothy sketching after lunch at the really lovely A 3 wine bar and beach restaurant.     A new venue for us, but one the group thoroughly enjoyed.  20180921_144016After sketching, Joan and Dorothy take reference photographs.20180921_121813Maria from Iceland, sitting in the shade at the A-3 restaurant.     Maria filled her sketchbook and made many other watercolour studies….  She and her husband John were lovely additions to the group.  20180921_153527Lunch at the A-3 wine bar and beach restaurant.    A place I definitely look forward to returning to.    42292016_10217464505912458_7726417140667908096_nOne of the delicious dishes at the A-3 wine Bar and Restaurant. 

20180921_133715Saturday is market Day in Olhao.     Positioned in front of the two permanent market places, it runs along the water’s edge.     Filled with colour and energy, it is a place to ignite all the senses.    20181007_083252I took some of these peppers back to the school.   You will see in my next post that they were used creatively by members of the group.

20180922_095315Sunday is a studio day….where we begin to see the coming together of our observations, sketches and studies.

Plus, and this has become a new thing for my groups, we now go to Cafe Cantaloupe around 5.30 p.m. so that we can enjoy the superb Jazz (different groups each week)    Cafe Cantaloupe sits by the water and is the perfect venue for listening to good music…and of course sketching………afterwards dinner at Ria Formosa.

Linda, Lois and Angela sketching during the jazz performance. 20180923_182842   The pianist/singer from Bali was sublime, as was the rest of the group.     There are different groups every Sunday. 20180923_185441Monday we spent the day at Fuseta.     Some of the group thoroughly enjoyed this and others would have preferred to stay in Olhao to work.    I will  be talking with Camilla and Margarida about the possibility of a Free day for Mondays.    Those who wish to visit elsewhere could, others can stay in Olhao.      I think many feel that the getting to a from a place disrupts the flow of work.

I asked the group to pay special attention to the shapes, lights and shades of the boats and their reflections. 20181007_084216Along with daily demonstrations to get everyone’s juices flowing (this one focusing on shadow play) – I emphasis the need to warm up before each and every session.

Newspaper is excellent for warming up.…as are our sketchbooks.    Like athletes and dancers, painters do need to exercise each and every day.   By the way, Lizzy ….Please do send me your fabulous sketch of peppers on newspaper…..:)  42229931_10217458903932412_5798085856803684352_nGiven that the School is set in the middle of the old town of Olhao…everything, including the fish/vegetable markets, water, marinas, shops, cafes, etc are within minutes walking distance.        This allows for people to have a sense of independence.   Should they need a break they can sketch in the surrounding alleyways or by the water….or sit in one of the numerous local cafes sketching the interesting faces of the local people.

A face I found of particular interest.    Nut brown from the sun and a lifetime of hard work.     So much character. 20-11-15 - 1 (199)Some of us even got to do a little dancing……my oh my what fun…….:)

I think this photograph of Lois sums up the mood off the week.

 

 

 

20180924_131554 And last but definitely not least…none of this could happen without the hard work and humour of dear Margarida, Joanna and Camilla…..thank you all very much.    21192388_1633115536721920_90386551072864859_nMy next post will feature more photographs and some of the work accomplished by the group.    I will post this tomorrow.

A Biento

September – new beginnings and a time of renewal.

‘Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that’.  From ‘Buddhist Offerings’ 

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Moving from August into September has always meant new beginnings for me.        Along with the onset of cooler weather and visible changes in nature….there is also a perceptible change in mood.      Children go back to school and many return to work. The world around us becomes busier.    I am speaking from an English point of view.     For my friends living in the southern hemisphere….there are also new beginnings – for them Spring is arriving.

Those who follow this blog will be aware that I usually go to Portugal in April.    This year, I am also returning on 18th September for a workshop at the school in Olhao http://www.artinthealgarve.com      The School is one of my all time favourite venues – a wonderful places to explore the creative process.

Olhão Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)After working with a group for the first week, fellow artist and good friend Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com  arrives from South Dakota to give a course.     As always we take these opportunities to spend some time together.     I will also see another artist friend, Vickie Snaddon, who has a house not far from Olhao. It is Vickie who runs the beautiful lodge in Belize http://www.pookehilllodge.com     Needless to say, I am really looking forward to it.

Given that Olhao is part of the Ria Formosa National Park...beautiful wildlife abounds – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (226)watercolour

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Nesting storks on one of the local churches.    ImageI With its courtyards, communal areas and excellent studio space, plus shops, cafes, markets, Lagoon  all within a few minutes walk from the school – plus of course the wonderful Margarida and Joanna who take care of all our needs….what more could an anyone wish for.

The Pool House courtyard….I love all the levels, shapes and shadow play. P1150740The studio. P1150901The 150 year old Olive Tree that meanders from one of the courtyards up through the three levels of the school.   You can see the blue of the roof top pool through the tree. P1150724watercolour20180703_105444

Another exciting development this year is that I have been invited to exhibit five watercolours at the Chongqing Museum of Art, China.   This is part of a French/Chinese annual cultural exchange.    I was invited by French artist Claude Lesur  who organised an exhibition I had in France eleven years ago.   The opening in Chongqing will be on 17th November and next spring the exhibition will come to Paris.    I will write more about this after I return from Portugal.

The Art Gallery in Chongqing where the exhibition will be held. 

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20180702_121621This has been one of the best years I can remember.   I have visited places, friends and family I love and along the way enjoyed wonderful conversations and much laughter.   I am so grateful for this moment in time and that I have been able to focus on what is truly of value in my life.

The magical hummingbirds have been with me all the way……

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A bientot

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It’s April which must mean Portugal :) – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

After the weekend I return to the School in Olhao, Portugal – hard to believe another year has past.      http://www.artinthealgarve.com

It’s always lovely to be reunited with the olive tree that meanders up through the internal courtyards all the way to the roof of the School – and given that sun and warm weather is forecast there will be lots of wonderful shadow play to observe and paint:)    After a long, wet, cold winter it will be wonderful….and oh the light, let’s not forget the light. 10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oI always look forward to being at the School – seeing Margarita and the rest of the team who make it feel like home, and being immersed in what I feel is one of the more conducive places to explore the creative process.      This year I am looking forward to it more than ever.

one of the exterior stairways in the School – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)One of the group sketching on Armona Island – 15 minute boat ride from the School. 20-11-15 - 1 (900)Quick sketch of fishing boats – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (63)The studio P1150901From top level of the School where the rooftops of old Olhao can be seen.  There is a small pool on the roof and another in one of the ground floor courtyards. P1150939Storks nesting top of one of the Olhao churches.       Olhao  part of the Ria Formosa National Park is a superb place for birders.    ImageOlhao is a working fishing town…. fish from the local marketImagesketching in the alley behind the School 20-11-15 - 1 (145) Playful hummingbirds to set the mood – watercolour. 

20-11-15 - 1 (38)Those who follow my blog will know that when I am away and painting, other than checking e mails, I have a holiday from blogging and social media…

After I return from Portugal I will have six days and then on 3rd May I fly to Boston.    I will post a blog before leaving.

A Bientot

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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..