Tag Archives: Spain

Happy Accidents in Life and Art

Now we’re in one place we have a chance to enter local art exhibitions and our studio hums with discussion about what to enter where. No glaring nudity, we decide; and none of the ummm, ‘a-little-weird-if-you’re-a-conservative-art-buyer work’, we agree. That’s because we’re in the lovely county of Hampshire and we really don’t want to scare the horses … or the children who (we hope) will be taken round the exhibitions and introduced to ‘proper art’ to become a new generation of original-art buyers.

Coming up next weekend is Titchfield Art & Craft Show and we submitted our entries well before the closing date. When we received the email of acceptance asking us to check our entries we did just that … and failed to see that we had submitted a pair of watercolours as landscape rather than portrait orientation. It was only this week, as we measured up the pictures for framing, that we realised our error. We debated calling the Art Fair but decided that this could well be one of those happy accidents and, instead, a new pair of watercolours needs painting right away.

As we can’t change the titles either, the portrait orientations of ‘El Campo 1’ and ’El Campo 2’ will be pushed along to become numbers 3 and 4 and new landscape landscapes of the beautiful Spanish countryside will take their places.

This is how the new El Campos are starting out and next week we’ll post the finished works. Stroll over to our website here to see the first two ‘El Campos’, which won’t be having a weekend out in Titchfield after all. Instead they will be framed and grace our gallery walls until the right buyer comes along to give them a whole new outlook on life!

El Campo 1 & 2



The Art Class  We are privileged to meet really lovely people through our art classes and many of them have become our friends. When we were in Spain we spent a couple of winters in the Mar Menor and gave art classes in La Manga. The hours ashore with those enthusiastic students led to the creation of a pastel drawing called ‘The Art Class’, a fun piece to remind ourselves of our time in Spain.

Starting from scratch in a fresh place where we know few people is nothing new for us: when you choose to travel the world on your own boat it’s what you expect and we have ‘started again’ many times. The difference this time is that we have taken on ‘premises’ with monthly commitments of rent and utilities. The studio has to pay its way and we have to learn how to market ourselves. So we’re studying business marketing, a deep learning curve, especially when it comes to online tools like social media. We’ve been thrown into the deep end, we have to learn new strokes to stay afloat and the water is cold.

Right … we have a pastel drawing and some marketing, where to next? Well, we decide to put them together to increase our visibility in the area. As the local art shop/gallery has agreed to advertise our classes in their window we take a chance that they might consider expanding their offer to include the pastel drawing as part of the visual enticement to get people to come to class with us. So we find an old frame, mat and mount up the picture and take it to the art shop along with our advertising poster.

The response to the pastel is so enthusiastic it feels like being dunked in warm chocolate and left in a field of wild flowers.

“But,” the shop owner says, “get rid of the awful frame and give me a price. It’ll go quick.”

“It’s not really for sale,” we reply, “it’s a marketing tool.”

“Make it for sale … get some prints done.”

Good grief! We’re very serious about so much of our work and here we have a whimsical little drawing that’s getting far more attention than we expected. What do we do?

  1. Take ‘The Art Class’ to the fine art printers for scanning.
  2. Order a frame and present ‘The Art Class’ in the best way possible.
  3. Get ‘The Art Class’ in the window to do its job of attracting new clients.
  4. Think how rice and peas can be a great daily meal until we fill the hole left in our budget.
  5. Thank our lovely friends in Spain, especially Angie who is such a meerkat enthusiast.

If you’re a meerkat enthusiast or an art lover, an art buyer or philanthropist or anyone who wants to have a better look at ‘The Art Class’ click here and you’ll be whizzed over to the Gallery page on our website where you’ll find the original drawing for sale and prints to order. Cards will be available soon.





Drawing Group Work

We’ve spent our second winter in Spain with the drawing groups and it’s thrilling to see their skills sharpen each week … and to increase our own skills as clothed model and drawing guide! Over the years we’ve developed a pattern in our 2 hour classes that we’ve found brings on the quickest results –

15 minutes speed drawing of 30-second poses

a 30 – 45 minute long pose (or 2 shorter 20 minute poses)

an interesting still life that sometimes generates groans at the challenge

It’s been a privilege for us to meet and work with such fabulous people who have become valued friends. We hope to share their drawings and as they send us their images we’ll open a new page and have a gallery of their work. We might even persuade them to send an early and a later drawing to show how they’ve progressed.

The morning group at the Mirador. Mirador-Drawing-Group





The afternoon group at O21.

Drawing at 021

Drawing at 021







Six views of a long pose; graphite and conté. Note how each person has their own style and to preserve this individuality is most important.

Six Views

Six Views





A sketch study – few lines and yet character is so well captured.

Judy's Study


fishermen-huts-ibizaWe were enthralled with our first view of a fisherman’s hut! It was a modern sculpture of timber and stone, bound together with twine and wire and reachable from the land above by a long tree limb with crosswise treads nailed every half metre. A good-sized hemp line dangled helpfully alongside. We saw many more of these huts while sailing around the Balearic Islands. Ranging from a few bits of wood nailed to a crosspiece and wedged across the mouth of a cave to elaborate double-storied structures with terraces, many of the huts are only visible from seaward. Crammed between rocky outcrops, dug into an overhang or built into a sheer cliff, the huts are practical, secure boat shelters … once you get your boat in them! Using manpower alone to push a small but hefty fishing boat up a series of tree crooks set into stone or, sometimes, concrete and then to negotiate wet and slippery rocks to get to a scree-ridden track heading upwards to a dirt road where, hopefully, someone waits with transport home does not seem like any kind of fun at all. This vital necessity to protect the means that feeds the family isn’t about fun anyway but it is a precious cultural heritage that should be protected.  There aren’t many fisherman’s huts left on the mainland: waterside property is far more precious. We can only hope that the Balearics don’t get sucked up by the EU’s health and safety rules, regulations and other requirements that are used to leach places and people of their individuality and their freedom to choose for themselves. Viva España!


‘SALINAS’ 1912

The traditional Mediterranean fishing boat with her lateen rig and sweet lines  is a delight to come across along the coast. The working fishing boat of choice nowadays is a smelly-pot; the old-fashioned sailing fisher is confined to her berth except for festivals or a holiday day-sail. We found a flotilla of these beautiful craft in Xabia and were told that the Associació de Barques Tradicionals is active in the area so that explained the well-preserved and cared-for boats.

Tabarca, Spain

Circumnavigating the world has never been a goal for us but circumnavigating a continent? We’re nearly half way around Africa already: a 14 year meander from Cape Town via Namibia, Brazil, the West Indies, back to England and now the Mediterranean, 6000 miles north of our starting point all those years ago. It’s a fancy we pounce on occasionally, enticed by the adventure, the magnificence of Africa and the family and friends who live there, and then, the opportunity to depart Cape Town again and to re-visit the places we loved and leave out those not worth returning to. But the wholesome exterior of the scheme masks the gory innards – the unappetizing truth that to complete the circle of Africa involves sailing the Indian Ocean, knowing that it’s the pirates who rule the waves in that part of the world. We’re left with circumnavigating islands, a concept, nowadays, that is far more beguiling, especially when we can do it on foot with SBS anchored safely in the island’s lee.

With this in mind we sailed to Tabarca 4 miles off the Spanish coast, a tiny 1750 x 300 metre landmass within a 1,400 hectare Protected Marine Reserve of unspoilt, natural beauty and crystal-clear waters.

It was mid-afternoon when we watched the anchor descend through sun-dappled, turquoise water and nestle on our chosen patch of sand off the small port. Not more than 100 metres ahead lay the steep-to northern side of

Tabarca, Spain

Tabarca, the rocky shore surmounted by a wall of ashlar stone. An arched entrance in the wall enticed us to launch the dinghy and come ashore but with southerly winds predicted for the next few days we would be safely protected and we would take our time exploring the island the following day. We could see parts of the historic settlement beyond the ancient wall: whitewashed houses with blue-painted shutters, wrought-iron balcony grilles holding back massed pots of cascading fiery geraniums and the ancient church, solemn yet splendid in the fading sun.

We looked up Tabarca’s history and found that her first inhabitants had been Berber pirates from Morocco, African corsairs who had used the island as a base from which to launch their raids on the Spanish coast. In 1768, King Carlos lll of Spain created a settlement by royal edict and had built a fortified town where a small garrison was deployed to act as a lookout and to repel pirates.

So, safe from pirates, we retired to our bunk looking forward to our shore-side exploration. As the night wore on we heard the wind rising and as its direction became more westerly we took turns to keep an anchor watch. We were in danger of a lee shore – a situation of strong onshore winds driving a boat towards the land – and by sun-up it was blowing 25 knots from the northwest. We very reluctantly raised the anchor and headed to sea.

Perhaps we’ll have another chance to walk about Tabarca. Our brief encounter beckons us back and it’s only other tourists we have to figure in to the equation of our return. They’ve replaced pirates as rulers of the waves in this part of the world.

Stone Steps to the Beach, Spain

In our experience it’s quite true that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. As we’re nowhere near any plains we haven’t had that much of the wet stuff since we started cruising here. We rely on rain collection for many of our needs so the precipitation forecast is part of our evening weather download and last evening we were warned to expect an early morning deluge. They were far too optimistic but we did catch about 3 litres off the bimini and the deck had a light rinse-off.

Well now, to get to the point, our delight in a bit of rain is nothing to the smile that the land was wearing this morning. It sparkled and glowed in the sunlight; the trees carried their foliage like ladies at Ascot; the limestone cliffs showed off their bands of age in shades of white unexplored by paint marketers and the pebbly beach dazzled as though scattered with diamonds.

We sat on deck in the sun, cracking street-market walnuts for carrot cake, watching boundless tropical fish darting after walnut crumbs

Stone Steps to the Beach

and soaking up the peace and radiance.

Here’s a sketch of the lovely bay that has been our vista all this week. We think we’ll stay another week: nature is in her spring finery and we’re here to enjoy it.