Negla and Jane invite you to a memorable art holiday with a twist... expect to be enveloped in a relaxing journey of art, food and adventure in one of two picturesque locations in the Eastern Algarve (June and October) and Gascony (May and September).
Think you can't draw? Our teachers are highly qualified artists whose passion and enthusiasm brings out the creative in you, giving you all the confidence you need to produce your own portfolio. You will discover the basic principles of one and two point perspective and be able to select and analyse composition. You will understand how to use colour, shadow and tone to create a dramatic painting. At the end of the week you will have a portfolio of work and will impress with a final major composition.
Your days start with a formal but friendly two hour teaching session. Then the rest of the day is yours to relax as hard as you like. This flexibility will allow for some days packed with activities that interest you such as kayaking, sailing, horse riding, walking and yoga. Alternatively, you can stay in the studio and just keep painting! Portuguese and French society revolves around food so expect a culinary tour of the local culture in every meal. Our cuisine uses locally sourced and healthy produce. Clean eating is no fad - it's the norm here! Of course, we are more than happy to cater for all dietary needs.
Our historic and atmospheric properties are situated in Portugal’s picturesque town of Olhão and the charming French village of Sos. You'll find both are full of subjects you will want to draw! In Olhão you'll stay in traditional fishermen’s cottages that have been sensitively restored by Olhão architects in local style and with great charm, inspirational and all with modern interiors. The accommodation in Sos is a 19th century railway station that was in use until 1969 and has now been meticulously restored and adapted into elegant and spaciously comfortable accommodation.
This tailor-made holiday will encourage you to tap into your artistic talents in a relaxed and sociable environment, with locally sourced healthy meals and activities. It is for anyone with an artistic interest past or present. At the end of the week you will have created your own portfolio and enjoyed some mindful time.
‘Ola!’, he shouted, before hoisting up and squeezing my suitcase into a gap in the boot of his taxi. I smiled at his jovial greeting which, as my worn phrasebook confirmed, has no ‘h’ at the beginning. Clearly, I am in Portugal not Spain. More specifically, in the fishing town of Olhão which lies at the northern edge of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. This is the quieter and relaxed eastern end of the Algarve where salty tidal water from the North Atlantic Ocean slides in and out over shifting sands.
But I’m not here just to talk about the delights of Olhão. I am here to help two inspiring friends who live here and envisaged running a holiday project they have named Art With Interest. It’s a young business and their overwhelming enthusiasm for it is pervasive. Their rationale is to provide their guests with a week’s structured yet stress-free programme of sketching and painting with optional yoga, kayaking, sailing or riding. For some it will be relief from the grind of their professional lives. For others, the chance to dabble in a new skill or two.
Days later, I sit in the shadows of receding sunlight. I consider the nine fledgling and more experienced ‘artists’ who arrived from England, Scotland, and Kansas City and settled into The White Terraces, a collection of former fishermen’s cottages, sympathetically restored and yes, white-washed. Under the nurturing eye of their tutor, all have searched the depths of their visual and tactile senses and playfully dipped and scraped their paintbrushes and even twigs into watercolours, acrylics and indian ink. They have painted plates of silver, purple and black sardines, all manner of local fruit and vegetable bought for a song at the daily market – from pomegranate, fig, lemon and pear to leeks, garlic bulbs and sweet potato. The silence while they worked in the pop-up art studio contrasted with the shouts and cries of Portuguese and perhaps immigrant labourers, disassembling stones and tiles with their modern tools as they worked on yet another renovation project.
We have travelled the short distance to traffic-free Armona Island reached by an infrequent passenger ferry. Its little stone cottages parade the length of a central pathway before it succumbs to a boardwalk across yet another nature reserve and beach where just a handful of people linger under a sun umbrella or two. This is home to locals, a weekend retreat for Lisbon-ites and North European escapees as well as hundreds of black-headed gulls, proud storks and salmony pink flamingos who make use of the warm October climate as a stopover en-route to Chad where they will hatch their chicks.
Another time, we climbed into a minibus and spent an afternoon in Faro Old Town for more still-life and landscape practice. We drove inland too and picked the best spots to paint in the grounds of a magnificent ‘quinta’, owned by an English couple and long-time residents. I was saddened to learn that they were no longer able to indulge in their passion for riding Lusitano horses. One of their last is buried under one of the jacaranda trees. Before packing up our sketch books and other paraphernalia, they treated us to cups of tea, gooey chocolate brownies and slices of baked cheesecake topped with caramelized oranges and kumquats. The weather was kind to us that day as on every other day - blue skies, just a few thinly spread clouds and not a raindrop in sight.
So as I take another sip of chilled effervescing vinho verde, I remember the fishy smells, the salt piled high in the flats, the cobalt sky, the cobbled streets with their little white houses with features in ochre and Wedgewood blue and the peeling lime plaster. I picture the corrugated sand temporarily eroded by the gently lapping water. Reading the unexpected thank you card I received from our artists on the final night, they say they have loved hearing my stories. They think I am a good sport, am amazing, helpful, friendly, calm and reassuring and wish me well with my travel writing. They have laughed too at my formal standards of food presentation and table-laying – I’m a bit of a stickler for this sort of thing.
Tomorrow, I’ll be inside one of those many aeroplanes taking off from Faro Airport, scrunched up beside Mums, Dads and extended families all happily rejuvenated or maybe sad to be leaving. But for those of us who have had a little taste of Art With Interest, we’ll be taking away so much more.
25 October 2017