Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A fun workshop

Last Saturday I had my first workshop in quite a while, it was a full house, and I was really looking forward to painting with others again.
I had to drop my little dog Maggie off at the dog sitters (a total holiday for her, playing with friends for the day) at 8.00 then I drove to Marlborough to set up for the day. I arrived laden with flowers, lilies and tulips, and the room smelled divine.

What a joyous group I had, 4 of the lovely ladies had travelled all the way from Kent to be with me for the day, how nice is that? we began with some small studies, just to get us going, then once we had the hang of it, we were off, and the results were super.


Ruth was so enthusiastic, when the paint began to run on my demo, she said "Ooooo, there is goes" and it certainly did! and Joyce had begun so nervously, worrying that she would not enjoy her day, and she had a great time! (whew)
The whole group were a joy to teach, and I realised what I had been missing these last months, so thank you to you all.

Two more dates have been organised, details of which will be on my website soon.

When I picked Maggie up, she was shattered, she curled up under the kitchen table and snored whilst I ate my dinner!


The following morning, the flowers had opened even more and the looked glorious, so I spent my Sunday, paints in hand, having a wonderful time!


I decided to loosen up a bit more, so that the flowers were more suggestive. I quite like the idea of taking it even more towards the abstract. I'll probably try something very dramatic and just go for it!









Sunday, 14 April 2019

Writing magazine articles again

Its been quite a while since I wrote for Leisure Painter magazine, but I came back with a lovely bright Spring-time subject using watercolour for the May issue.

Spring Blossom 15 x 22 inches

I wanted readers to get their paints out and experiment before embarking on a painting. I don't know why we do it, but we do seem to expect to paint a finished 'painting' each time we wet our paint brushes, when a little bit of a warm-up may be far preferable. 
The pressure is off and we can just 'go for it'
So this was all about softening edges, merging one section into another, even if the previous section had dried! 
How do you make it look like it was all painted wet into wet in one go?
Of course it wasn't, so how do we do it?

Experimenting joining wet into wet sections together

Then there was the 'allowing paint to run' bit! 
Eeek, I know its all be bit daunting, but once you let it go, you can tilt the paper and bring it back again!
Then how about creating some scrummy textures by dropping a medium into the wet paint, Oooh, just watch the paint separate into little clumps of textural goodness. Be patient though, it doesn't happen instantly.

Creating textures in watercolour
I will be demonstrating these techniques using seasonal flowers in my workshop in Marlborough on 18th May.
I hope you can come and join me.


Sunday, 24 February 2019

Great memories


It has been a wonderful week, I have loved the beach and the waves have been great. Despite my costume filling up with sand in the most bizarre places, the body surfing has been such fun!





I managed to read an entire book! which did not include  pictures!



Riding on this little train has been fun
The weight lifting kept me fit

Our last evening


Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read about my week away, especially those of you who have emailed me with comments and suggestions. I have now been back at home for more than a week and it all seems so long ago.


Saturday, 23 February 2019

A sight for sore eyes

When the sun begins to set, the lighting on the beach is stunning, everyone comes out and walks along the sands, enjoying the last hours of the day.

The entire beach however, was entertained by a very confident young lady, who was having her photo taken but not as most of us would, no, she was striking a variety of 'provocative poses' on the beach! Many involved various props such as scarfs and a hat.

Some of her poses certainly attracted some wonderful lookers on, and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the bizarre situation which unfolded in front of me and continued for some time. 




Friday, 22 February 2019

Tipping

Tipping is so confusing, I think resorts should have some ‘tipping advice’ for guests, a discreet little write up somewhere, just letting guests know, what to tip for and when to do it?

When I go to a restaurant in the UK, tipping happens after the meal, we don't make a song and dance about it here, its all very 'discreet' .... left on the table or in with the payment, almost as if the customer is embarrassed about leaving it. If staying in a hotel, the room servicing its not tipped, we don't leave cash lying about in our rooms.

So here, I find myself watching to see when it’s done, in the buffet a family arrive and the chap extends a seriously warm greeting towards the waiter, as if the waiter is their long lost brother and the waiter in turn, treats him like he has know him for years, all broad smiles and attentive service all night. Water topped up, wine topped up,  would you like anything else, all such wonderful service.
Then on departing, a farewell handshake with so much bravado I’m waiting for an embrace!

This is happening at other tables too, It’s no ordinary hand shake though, oh no, there is a surreptitious exchange of the dollar, somehow affixed to the palm and exchanged on contact. How it’s stuck there goodness knows, it seems almost seamless and each party is aware of it and enacts the performance. Some performances warrant a stage, others quite frankly, an Oscar.

I have never heard of tipping for a buffet.

It was day three before I worked out that I should leave a tip each day for the room service. (unheard of in the UK, well certainly the hotels I would stay in)
I don't know how much I should leave, so I decide to leave a $5 bill. It had been two days and I felt a bit embarrassed about it really. My next decision is where should I leave it?
I can’t just leave it on the side, no one would take it surely?
I need to place it in plain sight, but not as if I had just left it lying about.
After wandering about thinking of various places to leave it, ( a crazy bit of stress on holiday) I settled for next to the fan shaped bed spread and left for dinner.
Then I began thinking 'would it be the same person each day'? 

When I got back the place looked like a bridal suite! There were flower petals strewn all over the bed, chocolate on my pillow, the towels were arranged like swans in the bathroom, there was more moisturiser than I would need for the entire week, my night wear was arranged in a most artistic manner (just a little weird) and a thank you note was written for me on the guest pad! 





Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Signage Is so important.

It was totally my mistake.

I’m making my way to the beach, I’ve stopped for coffee, done a bit of people watching, but it’s still early so it’s very quiet.
The dress code in the Royal area is 'no beachwear' 

So with my beach bag under my arm, my plan is to change in the ladies into my costume and cokoy, I head for the ‘rest rooms’ near the beach, it’s very bright and the sunshine is bouncing back up at me from the light floor tiles, I can already feel the heat reflecting upwards... it’s going to be a hot day today.

It’s cool and quiet in the rest room, all the doors are open and I choose a cubicle.

I’m half into my costume when I hear something that makes me freeze... two men are chatting in Spanish very close to me. They are definitely here with me in the ladies and not outside.

Maybe they are cleaners? I hear doors closing.

No.... definitely not cleaners.

Then I hear more voices and I begin to feel very warm and just a bit uncomfortable, I’m not in the ladies! I stand in silence just listening, and the reality of it sinks in.

I finished getting dressed and stand very quietly listening for any noise.

I’ll casually walk straight out when it’s quite.
I’ve got to walk confidently, straight out.

It’s been a little while, but there is now silence, so I make a calm dash for it.
Whew!

No one about, I turn back and realise my mistake..... really it could have happened to anybody!!


Monday, 18 February 2019

Always look for the blue

I can’t believe I’m awake at 5am! It’s pitch black outside, and I don’t want to scroll through watching TV adverts with weird medical disclaimers.

The breakfast buffet opens at 6 so I might try and suss out the filter coffee machine. I drink tea, (its what we Brits do) and there are even 'twinnings' tea bags, but no kettle. The room is advertised as having tea and coffee making facilities, but I can’t see how I’m going to make tea. There is a chrome flask beneath a 'v' shaped filter, it would appear that the water goes in the back, then filters through to the flask. Still no idea how I get tea from this thing.

Not to worry, it’s day 1 I'm going to shake things up a bit and have coffee. I pour a small bottle of water (neatly placed by the side of the machine for utmost convenience) into the back of the machine, then open a large sachet containing a giant coffee bag which smells delicious, I sit this into the 'v' shaped filter, switch on the machine and before I know it, a blue light comes on and there is a reassuring bubbling sound.
I’m already beginning to feel that I’m doing quite well, no overflowing of the machine, and a mug of delicious hot coffee to start the day.
Tea might prove a problem though. Surely I’m not expected to put a tiny tea bag into that filter?

The breakfast buffet is deserted at 6. (frankly, Im not surprised) However, I cannot sit anywhere to the left of the dining room where a very large sign reads ‘diamond club’
The right section looks ok and the food is the same because it’s in the middle, there is a huge choice of anything I might surely wish for to begin my day, from nachos and yams to 6 different kinds of scrambled egg.
How many scrambled egg types does a person need?
The fresh fruit selection is really good.

I’m going to head off to the beach this morning.

I have a map which shows a direct path to the beach through the Royal Hotel, I wander past lush greenery,  yellow legged coots wander down the path squawking as they go. Mottled ducks with a large brood of ducklings meander along with me, I feel like I’m on a little wildlife walk, not to mention the peacocks which appear randomly en route.



The Royal is all marble and space, very smart, and the walkway to the beach is flanked by a number of shallow infinity pools linked by wooden walkways. As I reach the swimming pool area a sign greets me ‘memories path to the beach’ and another sign clearly states that these pools are for the exclusive and sole use of others (not me) yes...he diamond club!
I walk down a path with dense greenery on each side, past an opulent glass entrance, then past large wooden doors which say ‘for the sole use of Hideaway guests, only those with hideaway arm bands can enter this area’

I continue towards the sound of the sea, past some delightful water fountains (which appear to be for everyone to admire) then a glorious sight.... blue sea, crashing waves, white sand and palm trees. Plus, a sign which reads ‘memories guests this way’ to the right is a sea of blue plastic sun loungers, to the left are very tasteful beige sun beds with cream padded cushions, lovely towels neatly rolled up and placed on them, and a covered area for massages with delightful thin floaty curtains gently wafting in the breeze, rather like a magazine advert.
I head for the blue sun loungers.
The white beach and the sea are glorious. I spend the next couple of hours people watching and enjoying the sounds of the sea.
I really have landed in a little paradise.