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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’ 

watercolour/gouache – Rays of sunlight as I walked through the woods1917262_186338425395_7900997_n

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

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

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