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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

A day at the School in Olhao Portugal

One of the group sketching on Armona Island…..20-11-15 - 1 (903)People who sign up for courses at the School in Olhao – http://www.artinthealgarve.com come for several reasons, – yes of course the possibility of sunshine and being with like minded people, but for most it is to explore the creative process.       All levels of ability and experience are welcome.

Those that attend my courses usually come to ‘loosen up’ and so today I am going to talk about the process I use to help people to do this.

After a delicious 8.30 breakfast….we gather in one of the courtyards or studio for our morning warm up.     “Like athletes and dancers, artists need to warm up every day. Playful exercises will  help to awaken the senses”. – Janet Weight Reed

I begin the day with one or two quick demonstrations….an example of one. 

20-11-15 - 1 (995)At this point it doesn’t matter what the subject is, the key is to open one’s eyes and begin to see so that we ready ourselves for the day’s sketching and painting.

A goal of mine is that each person take home with them one or two new tools/techniques.

Something as simple as learning what your brush can do is vital information.    Understanding how different papers re-act….and so on.     By allowing ourselves to play we learn these things.

A warm up exercise by one of the group……20-11-15 - 1 (1018)

I emphasise the use of sketch books throughout the week to record both images and notes.  

A warm up sketch by one of the group showing me giving a demonstration…love this 20-11-15 - 1 (999)After the morning warm up, each person then decides where they would like to sketch.    Some choose to stay within the School with its endless supply of inspiration….or to  go out into the surrounding alleyways and town…..all within a minute’s walk of the School.

For those who have never enjoyed plein air sketching, this can be somewhat daunting, but I find that once people take the leap…..they quickly learn to enjoy the experience.

A sketch by a member of the group who came for the first time last year and had never sketched before…….now she can’t stop….20-11-15 - 1 (1023)After plein air work some members of the group bring their sketches back to the studio setting where they continue to develop their work.

This lovely watercolour from Jayanthi was taken from one of her many sketches from the Saturday Market.18198393_1511394575560684_5675669900655837280_nThose who have followed my blog will know that I believe the creative process in its many forms is the key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and so the week in Olhao is not only learning about new tools and techniques, but also experiencing those moments of deep contentment and wellbeing that the creative process can bring.

From one of the groups sketch book 18157384_1504663029567172_1420997864278064881_nI believe that by loosening up we advance our observational skills.    Regardless of what kind of work we would like to develop,….the loosening up process will help you to reach your goal. 

It’s important to remember that when plein air sketching…technique comes secondary to observation.       Observation is not just about looking, it’s about seeing.     Therefore,  rapid impressions of the subject helps us to actually see what it is we are looking at…….then if we wish to refine a sketch…..so be it.

20-11-15 - 1 (930)After a morning of sketching – we then join together for lunch at 1 p.m.

Each tutor has their own way of doing things, but I always have a two hour free period after lunch.    Some like to take a siesta….others to go out and about around the Town – observing life….etc. but it seems to work work well.

At 4 p.m. we come together again in one of the courtyards where I give another demonstration.

Two of the group this year were Botanical artists…..and so loosening up for them was a totally different experience.     They both jumped in wholeheartedly….allowing themselves to break free from their normally, very beautiful and detailed work.       One of the loveliest compliments I received from one of the ‘Botanicals’ (as they were dubbed) was at the end of the course when she expressed how much she had gained from the loosening up process.

One of my afternoon demonstrations…using one of the group as a model 20-11-15 - 1 (993)We then work from 4 p.m. til 6 ish.

I am very aware of body clocks and rhythms and so do try to plan a day where people have time to renew and organise thoughts.

At 6 – 6.30 ish people freshen up and prepare for the evening meal….which is always filled with  much conversation,  – a vital part of the week.      Sometimes the meal is taken at the School….freshly cooked by the wonderful Margarida.….or we go to a local restaurant….again just minutes walk from the School.

Speaking of Margarida…..This year there was a new addition – Charlotte – sister to Beatrice.    Yes, last year, Margarida was pregnant

You can just see her bump in this large water colour demonstration I did last year. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)

Here she is with the beautiful Charlotte….A woman of many talents….20-11-15 - 1 (865)And….lovely Joanna, who does the housekeeping and makes our  breakfast every day,  brought the twins to see us….who have grown so  much.

The twins….part of the School tapestry….20-11-15 - 1 (866)I couldn’t possibly finish this post without sharing the beautiful portrait of  me drawn by six year old Beatrice….(sister to Charlotte)….I will always cherish this.

Me – by Beatrice. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)For more images of the group’s work you can go to Art in the Algarve on Facebook http://www.artinthealgarve.com

My choice to day is to Soar above all the madness with the magical hummingbirds….

 

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sigA 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..

 

 

Away for a couple of weeks….Olhao Portugal

Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com     From one of my many sketchbooks.20-11-15 - 1 (63)Those who follow my blog will know that I take a break from all social media including my blog when I go away to paint.

Given this, I thought the following passage from my book, ‘The Apple Exercise’ would be appropriate.

‘Given the fast pace of life today and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses have been deadened. 

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

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

Feeding our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment.’

11083819_10153183552095396_1247590049461091690_oI will be back here at the beginning of May…..

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…..

 

 

 

Cleansing my mental palette….

I have just returned from another visit to the school in Alhao, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com  

Along with meeting several exciting artists, I came away feeling inspired and ready to immerse myself into the creative process.

I like to cleanse my mental palette every now and then….and this was one of those occasions when clarity came flooding in…..

I will be writing much more about my time at the school next week…..

Today I will drink from the sweet nectar of life like the magical hummingbirds:) watercolour

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A Bientôt

Cat on Armona Island, Portugal.

P1160088 I return to Olhao, Portugal on Thursday for a few days….and so until then will be showing some photographs that I took in April.

This sequence, of a perfectly placed black cat standing in front of a white house on the island of Armona, struck me because of the wonderful shadow play of the tree against the white wall.   Note that the shadows are almost as dark as the tree and cat.  P1160089

The island of Armona is a fifteen minute boat taxi ride from Olhao where the art school is located – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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There are no cars on the island, which is just how I like it.    It would be a great place to rent a cottage for a month, off season,  to write, paint, ponder, etc.

A bientôt