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A wonderful week at the School in Olhao Portugal http://www.artintheargarve.com

‘Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties’.    Gail Sheehy

This watercolour was painted by Ginny, one of the group in Olhao Portugal last week. 20-11-15 - 1 (285)Throughout my years of painting and teaching, I have heard so often the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but who always seem to find that life gets in the way!

The School in Portugal is a place where we can immerse ourselves into the creative process.    Water colour warm up exercises at the beginning of each session, along with sketch books enable us to let go of all the stuff we carry around in our day to day lives.   We are able to explore possibilities and take risks, not worrying about outcomes.

We were a harmonious group of twelve with two additions.    Geoff Levitus, an Australian artist http://www.geofflevitus.com, who is tutoring a group this week joined us for meals and conversation,  and during the final two days Keith, Ginny’s husband joined us.    Both brought a great deal to the week.   IMG_7071        We had lovely sunshine and warm temps for most of the week, plus one night of storms which made for interesting and very paintable skies, and one day of rain…..but did we let it deter us???….not at all!     I love this photograph of us on our way to the Saturday market:)    IMG_0603We spent a perfect day on Armona Island and as always was treated to a delicious lunch of fresh grilled fish and vegetables at Armona 4 restaurant.       sketchbooks were in full use.

Armona Island – 15 minute boat ride from Olhao.    11187445_10153252694165396_2243442094541078611_oAfter a delicious breakfast, thanks to Joanna, each day begins with demonstrations.    The group can then choose to paint in the School or around the town.    Some prefer to paint alone and others in a group.     Lunch is served at 1 p.m. and then we have a two hour free period.     We meet again at 4 p.m. when I give more demonstrations and the group continues to work until approx. 6.30.

Those who have followed my blog will know that I often refer to the School as having a touch of Faulty Towers.     One of our group Deborah had just returned from India and said she thought the School reminded her a little of The Marigold Hotel…..and she is right.     It is a perfect place to explore creativity, to let go and to laugh a lot.

From the top level of the School with pool overlooking the rooftops of old Olhao.     There is another pool in one of the downstairs courtyards. 20-11-15 - 1 (832)I find the School to be one of the best places to explore the creative process.    Set on many levels with all sorts of areas for private or group work – it is perfect.    Added to that is the wonderful family atmosphere provided by the team…….I love seeing Joanna and Margarida’s children growing year by year…..

Joanna, Margarida and Camilla…..A fantastic team21192388_1633115536721920_90386551072864859_nWatercolour, painted by Jayanthi showing a lovely sunny day in the park. IMG_6664We had some lovely and unexpected surprises.    Dora Keogh, another of the School’s tutors had an exhibition in the town.  http://www.dorakeogh.com      Dora’s work is excellent and we all enjoyed the evening.    30742261_10215513701455379_6786450564252172288_oAll Dora’s paintings were based on Olhao. 30707018_10215513696175247_1227137379840557056_oWe were also introduced to the Republic Community Centre – A beautiful old building with superb gallery space plus a bar and terrace and a really lovely large courtyard.       The paintings on display were of a high calibre….and it was much fun to meet more local artists who like many who attend the School come from around the world.

I like the shadow play of these trees against the yellow ochre/sienna walls in the courtyard at the Republic.     Definitely a place to paint next time. 20-11-15 - 1 (257)Minutes from the school is 4Elementos Ceramics & Azulejo – a shop and studio owned by artists Celia and Oswald.    They very kindly allow members of the group to paint in the charming patio behind the studio and over the years have become friends.

Celia in her studio….at 4Elementos Ceramics & Azulejo15822793_1458821127492187_3689521458487455520_nThe patio behind the studio at 4Elementos Ceramics and Azulejo20-11-15 - 1 (241)Given the techno charged fast pace of our lives today, it often seems that our collective senses are being deadened.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us with more and more frenetic activity, frustration levels grow.

When we take time to feed our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms,  miraculous changes can and do occur, leading to a sense of well being and fulfilment.

Looking down into one of the courtyards from my room 20-11-15 - 1 (120)watercolour by Olga20-11-15 - 1 (295)Our final day coincided with the Carnation Revolution celebrations….Here are some of the group celebrating the occasion. 20-11-15 - 1 (506)I can’t write a blog without mentioning the Magical Hummingbirds.    They were clearly with us all the way on this trip.      I enjoyed a really meaningful conversation on my way to the airport with, Peter, one of the visiting Australians and (this is a bit of an inside joke for those attending this week)   I had a beautiful little eleven month old girl sitting next to me on the plane.:)

Also, as a lovely blob of icing on the cake, I got to see my friend Vicki Snaddon who runs the lodge in Belize http://www.pookshilllodge.com      A magical place filled with hummingbirds.   I will  be seeing Vicki again in September.

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There are many more photographs of the groups work…which can be found on the facebook page of Art in the Algarve. 

I am off to Boston on Thursday morning and will be gone from here until June, at which point I will catch up with the blogs of all my friends.

OBSERVATON OBSERVATION OBSERVATION – and remember to carry a sketch book at all times. 

A bientot

Janet                                                   http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

watercolour exercise – Olhao, Portugal

David, (AKA Bazil) owns a restaurant and wine bar, 7 Imeio Wine Bar, just a few minutes walk from the Art School in Alhao.    I used a photograph of the restaurant (thank you Jude) as a jumping off point for this sketch.     http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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Initially I made a rapid sketch using brush and yellow ochre….quickly indicating the darkest areas in the image.

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In this frame, I add the shadow play on the front of the buildings…always making sure to move colours around.   this brings a sense of balance and cohesiveness to the overall image.

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Allowing the brush to dance around the image, I add more detail….

It’s important to note that less is always better than more when capturing an image such as this,   It allows the viewer’s eye and imagination to fill in the gaps.…..By adding too much detail, spontaneity, the key element of watercolour is lost.

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Magical Hummingbird – drinking from the sweet nectar of life. 

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A Bientôt

Art in the Algarve – I can’t wait to return.

I try to embark on new adventures with an open mind, and so it was with Art in the Algarve where I have just tutored a watercolour workshop.     In a nut shell, on a scale of 1 – 10, Art in the Algarve receives an 11.  

One of the two main courtyards in the School House, with the 150 year old olive tree which reaches to the top of the three level building. 

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This first post will be an overview of the school and area.

Later I will get into more detail along with a general outline of the course and what was achieved,.    I will also offer some tutorials for readers and participants of the course. to use as a follow up.

The well equipped and very beautiful studio adjacent to the main courtyards.  

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I had not been to Portugal before and was delighted to find that the working fishing town of Olhao, where the school is situated along with the protected natural beauty of the famous Lagoon Natural Park, is a world away from most people’s image of holidays on the Algarve.

Geographically, not too far from Tangier and Morocco, Olhao is filled with Moorish style architecture.     

David Clark, who owns and runs the school has renovated the School House and Pool House sympathetically and with vision.  He has put together a cohesive programme which forms a superb structure for work and play.

He has chosen his team very well….from Margarida (sp?) who prepared such wonderfully fresh and diverse foods, to Joanna who always had breakfast ready on time with a smile, and  kept housekeeping in order.       The car and boat taxi drivers were informative and fun to be with and so all in all, there was nothing to worry or think about, other than painting and the pleasure of exploring a new place.

This is where we ate our meals at the school.   In between meals, fresh fruit and wonderful local sweets were always available.   As David said when we arrived….treat the place like your home….a man of his word.

I might add that there was a wonderful touch of Faulty Towers about David and his Team…..in the loveliest of ways:)   

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Along with the superb food served at the school, David organised several visits to local restaurants…including a wonderful Tapas bar, and his own Bar which sits on the front, overlooking the Lagoon.     In each case we received a warm welcome from the local people, and the fish…..it doesn’t come any better!

On the Saturday morning we visited the weekly market which faces the Lagoon…..a visual and gastronomic treat…..

One of the many flower vendors at the market…..

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On another day we were taken to the island of Culatra, where we entered a vibrant little community, reminding me a little of one of the islands in the Bahamas.

Part of the vibrant fishing community on Culatra.   

 

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Observing the beautiful shapes and colours on Culatra. 

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I know I can talk for the group in saying that the week ended all too soon.

I have taught in many different venues, here and abroad, and without a doubt, Art in the Algarve offers something very special.

Given that I choose to give workshops at cooler times of the year, It is important to note, that the weather was perfect.     Most days were sunny with temperatures around 22 c. (65 to 70 F.)

I finish this post with a photograph of storks that inhabit the area and make their nests on high chimneys and in this case the local church tower.

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I am very glad to say that I am booked in to do another course at the school on April 22nd 2015.    The course will be limited to 10 people so that I can give as much individual attention as possible. 

I will be back here on Thursday morning with more, as am off to the Malvern Hills for the next two days.

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt