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. My 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.
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. 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. There 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. After sketching, Joan and Dorothy take reference photographs.Maria 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. Lunch at the A-3 wine bar and beach restaurant. A place I definitely look forward to returning to. One of the delicious dishes at the A-3 wine Bar and Restaurant.
Saturday 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. I 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.
Sunday 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. The pianist/singer from Bali was sublime, as was the rest of the group. There are different groups every Sunday. Monday 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. Along 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…..:) Given 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. 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.
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. My next post will feature more photographs and some of the work accomplished by the group. I will post this tomorrow.