Tag Archives: olhao portugal

An enigmatic young woman

During the recent painting week in Olhao Portugal, we enjoyed a delicious meal at the 7 Imeio Wine Bar – a place I highly recommend for atmosphere, food and service.  http://www.artinthealgarve.com

From our position in the bar we could see an enigmatic young woman.       One of those individuals who captures the attention of an entire room…..Clearly very beautiful, she was much more.

Elaine, one of our group, managed to sneak a couple of photographs which I used as jumping off points for the following two sketches.     Rapid watercolour on a cadmium orange ground. 


She seemed to be on the one hand totally in her own world, and on the other completely aware of the stir she was causing.   


As much as I would enjoy painting her, I could also see where she might trigger ideas for a short story……She definitely possessed the je ne said quoi factor.

A Bientôt

Painting in Olhoa, Portugal

This time next week, I will be painting with a group in Olhoa, Portugal.   http://www.artinthealgarve.com

The school is beautiful with two lovely internal courtyards….In this photograph I am looking down into one of the courtyards through the 150 year old olive tree….


Once delivered to the School from Faro airport, just a twenty minute drive away, it is not necessary to get into a car again until departure.     The only vehicle I am happy to use during the week is the boat that takes us out to one of the lovely outer islands.

The dining area in the main school….the food is superb, all provided by Margarida a wonderful cook.


It’s one of the more conducive places I have encountered to explore the creative process…..The weather is invariably lovely but should rain come…there is a superb studio.


I am quite sure that the magical Hummingbirds will be with us all the way….as they were last year.


A Bientôt

All of life is interconnected….

This watercolour is all about the interconnectedness of life.

In the first frame, working on white watercolour paper and using a mix of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and sepia watercolour I indicate the strength of an olive tree trunk which I found in the courtyard at the school in Olhao, Portugal, where I gave a workshop in April.


Like so much in life, we tend to see a tree….and think only of the tree!     Whereas everything surrounding the tree is connected to it.

In this frame I add the dark shadow at the bottom of the painting.  This shadow mirrors the darkest shadows on the tree.

Note that using a mix of yellow ochre and burnt sienna, I have made the shadow lighter on either side of the tree….this is to separate the trunk from the dark shadow areas.


Observing the whole image, I now add the dark shadow to the right of the painting.   Note how the shadow gets lighter as it reaches the top of the courtyard wall, where I have graduated the dark to a light blue.     This is caused by the reflection of the sky.

I have used the same light blue to indicate the trunk shadow thrown onto the white courtyard wall.

We now begin to see that the tree and the shadows that it produces are of equal importanceone doesn’t exist without the other.    


Again using a mix of the lighter blue and some of the stronger darks, I indicate the shadow play of leaves and branches onto the wall.

You can’t see the actual branches with leaves that are casting these shadows.     The shadow play is telling the story. 


I now add some Winsor & Newton Green Gold into the blue shadow to the left of the trunk, and at the same time add some of the same Green Gold to the top of the wall.

It’s important to always be aware of the total painting and to move colour around….which brings harmony and rhythm to the image.

All the white areas, are dry, white paper.


In the final frame, using cobalt turquoise light, I add the intense blue of the sky.    This is the same blue that I have used in the shadows.       This is because the sky reflects directly onto the wall – everything is interconnected. 

Using Green Gold, and a much darker green, I have suggested leaves.


Following on from yesterday’s blog, Time to Wake UP –

If we were to fully understood how interconnected our world is….there would be a greater understanding that the only boundaries made on this earth are made by humankind, and that when we destroy one element we destroy so much more!

The same applies in reverse…..when we bring beauty to one area of our lives, this also affects many other areas.

The Magical Hummingbird always brings beauty to it’s surroundings.


The school in Olhao, Portugal is superb.   I cannot recommend it highly enough.   I will be giving a workshop there again in April 2015….For details and further information go to http://www.artinthealgarve.com


A Bientôt



Olive tree in Olhao Courtyard


This is one of the series of watercolours I am painting based on the shadow play and the olive tree in the courtyard at the school in Alhao, Portugal.  http://www.artinthealgarve.com

I worked quickly with this painting…and because I had to allow some drying time during the process, I also worked on two other paintings at the same time.     The is the way I choose to work and recommend others to do the same.      This method alleviates over working an image.

Using yellow ochre I sketch out the basis of the composition and add some loose colour in the background  to suggest shadow play,.



I then begin to add strong colour to the olive tree trunk….I am using a mix of Winsor & Newton  Sepia, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, naples yellow and  Daniel Smith Raw Umber Violet.     

The blue in the painting is Winsor & Newton gouache Cobalt turquoise Light. 


It is important to note that I always have the whole painting in my mind’s eye as I work.    Remember everything is interconnected, and so the shadows are of equal importance as the actual olive tree.    One can’t exist without the other.



I have added some of the same blue and some Winsor & Newton Gold Green into the background as well as the trunk of the tree.     This creates harmony, rhythm and balance into a composition.



All the whites are dry, white paper….indicating in this case the white walls of the courtyard….a perfect place to observe shadows.





A Bientôt