Tag Archives: www.artinthealgarve.com

The Second half of my trip to France…

watercolour – Caramany20-11-15 - 1 (1265)This post is about my week in Caramany, a small, ancient hill top village – in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France.     A very beautiful area.

My friend the artist Suzy Davidson (www.suzydavidson.com) –  has been renovating an old ruin there for the past nine years …..all of this done whilst living in South Africa and and Malaysia.    Quite a feat.        On her regular visits, she has managed to organise builders, and much more…..and being a hands on person has done a lot of work herself, including building walls….wall6

To get there, I flew to Carcassonne and then a two hour drive to Caramany.     (On my return trip to Brittany and then London, I travelled by train – more about that in a minute)   

I left London just  before the ‘Beast from the East’ descended on the UK and Europe.  For the first three or so days it was freezing cold.     Fortunately Suzy had just installed two wood burners!

Suzy between house and atelier. 20-11-15 - 1 (1237)Initially it was too cold to paint outside (we actually woke to a dusting of snow one morning!) – and so I painted some interiors, plus portraits of the local Caramany people – again an excellent way to connect with people and to learn about a place.

A very warm spot next to a wood burner (now shown in this picture:)20-11-15 - 1 (1282)A rapid sketch from open window. 20-11-15 - 1 (1266)Built into rock, the community sits on many levels.     I took this photograph overlooking the courtyard to Suzy’s house with the ravine, village and hills beyond. 20-11-15 - 1 (1253)There are 150 full time residents – (during the summer months this number grows)     Through Suzy, I was able to meet some of the locals who not only made me very welcome but also provided in one case a delicious typically French five course lunch, and in another a superb evening meal.

Marie – a multi talented lady. – watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1347)Seven year old Capucine – watercolour 20-11-15 - 1 (1449)By mid week the sun was shining and in sheltered spots it was very warm.   I actually enjoyed my first al fresco lunch of the year.

Part of the village in mild sunshine. 20-11-15 - 1 (1507)Remy – Caramany resident – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1441)Vivi – wife of Remy  – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1440)I certainly hope to visit Carmany again during a warmer period when I am able do much more plein air painting.      I believe that Late April/May or September/October would be perfect….as I think the summers might be a little too hot for my liking.

Perpignan is about a 35 minute drive from Caramany, and so it was here that I caught the  first train on my way to Lorient in Brittany.      Other than the initial local train, I was travelling by TGV – the superb French train system which travels at high speeds and for the most part is very efficient.

Between Perpignan and Narbonne – I was able to see the lagoons with Pink Flamingos….what a treat.     After a quick change at Narbonne onto Toulouse, – Toulouse to Paris and Paris to Lorient where Elisabeth and Herve were waiting for me.    The train was right on schedule.        It sounds like a long day, and it was but given that the trains are so comfortable and everything on schedule….it is a far better way to travel than flying!.    An excellent opportunity for reading, writing, thinking and people watching.

A rapid watercolour/gouache in my sketch book looking down on the reservoir beneath Caramany….It was extremely windy and cold that day. .   20-11-15 - 1 (1545)

Now onto my next trip where I will be giving a workshop at the beautiful school in Olhao Portugal  http://www.artinthealgarve.com      starting Wednesday 18th April….

We have received two late cancellations and so if anyone is interested in joining us on what is always a wonderful week, please contact Camilla at +44 203 2877 140

I have a limit of 12 for these workshops and am fully booked for September.   

At this time of year, especially after our very cold spring, the thought of arriving at the School is such a treat.     The top of the old olive tree that grows up through the centre of the School….simply beautiful. P1150724

I finish with a pile of magical hummingbird watercolour doodles 20-11-15 - 1 (1646)

 

A Bientot

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Creativity – Use it or lose it….

I attended a gathering this week where I was asked what kind of art I made.    This is a loaded question and one I often find difficult to answer.       I said I love colour and believe that the creative process in all its forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.      I was then asked if I thought everyone had a desire to create.   My answer was a resounding – yes.

This years visit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. 6ABA8BCB-D0B8-40B2-859B-17819F7B2564After returning home I thought more about my response.

Our inborn creativity has to be nurtured in the same way that we care for our minds and bodies.      For example, if we allowed one of our limbs to shrivel and atrophy  – we would always be aware of the many things we might have done with the full use of that limb.       It is much the same with creativity.     Not to use it in one form or another, brings frustration often accompanied by a sense of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.     Use it or lose it really does apply. 

Jayanthi Rani at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 20-11-15 - 1 (1131)This beautiful watercolour was painted by Jayanthi Rani who I met five years ago when she came to my painting course in Portugal….and since then it has been my great privilege to watch her work blossom and grow.       You can see more of Jayanthi’s work on her FB page. 25FD0122-DEE0-4FCF-A3C4-22A8C3D69E8AIt seems to me that as we try to fill the ever widening holes within as our collective senses are being deadened through the over use of technology, our frustration levels grow and the need for a creative outlet even more acute.

 

Nurturing my little cottage garden in Wales from a barren, fallow patch, was a creative project I loved.       til August 10 1037Cooking, sewing, knitting, writing, dance, music – I could go on and on.     When I observe people using a myriad of creative disciplines – I see people who in that moment feel a sense of contentment and wellbeing.

I am off to Crickhowell, Wales (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) on Monday and will hopefully return with lots of new ideas and sketches.

For now I leave you with a happy moment from last year along with a watercolour of the beautiful Use Valley.

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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

The Olive Tree – art school – Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarive.com

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There is a beautiful olive tree in one of the courtyards at the school in Olhao, Portugal http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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Not only does it provide shade, beauty and olives – it also provides endless shadow play observation – which is what this watercolour sequence is all about. 

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I have spent time in ancient olive groves where I have been mesmerised by their life force and could well imagine the Ents of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

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The olive tree symbolises peace.

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The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven.   Thomas Jefferson.

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A Bientôt

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. 

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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.   

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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

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

Seeing beyond the obvious.

In my book ‘The Apple Exercise’ – I talk about seeing everything in a myriad of different ways.

The images on this post were taken at the Art School in Olhao on my recent visit.     I am looking at the courtyard, steps, wall and canopy in the Pool House from different points of viewbeyond what might be considered the obvious. 

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In fact within each frame shown here there are many different images.

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When I walked into the courtyard of the School House, I immediately loved the triangular shape of the canopy along side the softer Bougainvillea.

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Again, looking at the same subject from a different point of view – gives me new and exciting information.

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and so it goes…..

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I have begun work on some images reflecting the shapes and shadow play within the numerous alley-ways of Olhao, which I will share as they develop.      Observing one small area, is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle of shapes, lights and darks. 

Right up my alley, you might say:)

The Magical Hummingbirds bring vibrant colour to begin the week.

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A Bientôt