Monday, September 9, 2013

Painting and eating in Catalan region Spain

Continueing with our French Escapade led Watercolor Journaling trip to Spain, I wanted to share photos and stories of our painting day in Pals, Catalan, Spain and a bit about the gourmet food that Jackie our French Escapade guide has included in this trip and we are all LOVING!  To read more about this trip and see more photos check out previous posts.

Having wondered around the tiny 12th century Medieval village of Pals the other evening photographing it in the late afternoon sun, we knew what there was to paint here.  Staying in such a breathtakingly beautiful place as Calella de Palafrugell it would be hard for artists to leave to paint at another location, but knowing the beauty of the village of Pals we were able to choose whether to spend the day painting there, or spend the day painting by the sea again. 

Janet was determined to find time to swim in the sea so she elected to stay and paint and swim.  The hotel loaned her an umbrella, she had her towel, her watercolors and journal and off she went to the beach.  She swam, lounged and painted the rocks and the sea, but since I have not yet figured out how to clone myself I was unable to stay with her to give her any instruction on painting because everyone else wanted to paint in Pals.  So I was pleased to see her colorful painting of the rocks and the sea at Critque that evening.  All it needed was a tiny bit of lifting in one spot which I showed her how to do with a bit of magic erase and WALA she was done.  Unfortunately I think she had returned her journal to the room by the time I started photographing becuase I cannot find an image of this painting.  Please send me one Janet...

The rest of us piled in the van and Jackie drove us to Pals, where the light was very different than our visit the other evening.  That is a good thing because we have photos of this cute village at two different times a day to paint from when we get home.  But because we have painted our little watercolors in our journal on site we really understand how the village is constructed so we will know what we are looking at when we paint larger paintings from our photos when we return home.  So often I see paintings of European scenes and it is obvious they were painted from a photo someone took without ever having taken the time to actually sketch or paint on site because the painting does not quite capture the true scene.  It is especially obvious in the shadows which look flat when painted from a photo because the camera is not picking up the texture and detail that you see when you paint on site.

I can imagine the villagers defending themselves by shooting their crossbows through these little slots in the thick stone wall surrounding the village.

The great thing about watercolor journaling is that you do not need to carry an easel and stand up all day working away.  In fact, since we are staying in a beach town my students purchased these folding beach chairs so they could be comfortable painting.  Here is Mary and Linda (the Linda from Canada, we also have a Linda from Minnesota).

The first visit to Pal there had been a motorcycle parked against the stone wall Linda was painting.  This time the motorcycle was gone but she liked it, so being a creative artist, she painted it in the scene anyway.  At one point I was walking toward her down the lane she was painting and saw a man standing a couple of feet behind her quietly watching her paint.  He had a really puzzled look on his face as he looked at the painting and then at the scene, you could just see him thinking "there is no motorcycle there????".

Laura was painting this cute little window with the big leafed plants beside it.  When I took photos it was not quite done as you can see, but I love the style of her ink lines and the lovely transparent colors of her watercolors so I wanted to post it anyway and she was OK with that.

And June painted this cute little window with the pots.  It was a really challenging spot with lots happening, but she had fun with it as you can see!

Judy found a really cute corner in the village of Pals and worked to the very last moment, not even stopping for lunch, she ate a protein bar in one hand and kept on painting with the other.  Her painting buddies in Hawaii are probably not surprized by this at all! 

Here is the corner she was painting, talk about eye candy!

And here is her lovely watercolor.  She did not like the dull brown color of the door so she created a much prettier blue door.  The round tower structure next to the door was difficult but she got it.  Also notice that her rocks have a wide variety of color, great job!

I snapped a photo of this sunny wall that I kept passing on my way from where Linda (Minnesota) and Ann were painting to where Judy was painting.  I loved the shapes of the basket purses and the cast shadows and the colors and textures in the stone wall.

People were much smaller in the 12th century, either that or this door was built for hobbits! 

Here is the cute little street scene Ann and Linda (Minnesota) chose to paint in Pals.  Somehow I forgot to take a photo of them painting but below are the paintings they created.

This is Ann's painting.  It is a lovely watercolor that captures the whole scene beautifully and I think it is my favorite of all that she painted.  Lovely painting and I love how she wrote the story of her day next to the painting. 

Sorry about the font changes, and spacing, this website is not accepting my mouse clicks this morning uuuuug.  My little netbook was working fine on yahoo earlier so it is the website.

This is Ann from Australia (who painted the above watercolor) and we all had a great time getting to know her.  I am honored that she came so far to join our painting trip.  Before arriving to paint with us she visited London and the Cotswalds in England where she created some lovely watercolors in her journal.

This is Linda's (Minnesota) watercolor of the pots along the main street of Pals.  I love the way she shows you that the plants were cactus but a variety of them and also she got the pots nice and rounded and the wall is definitely made of a variety of stones.  Great job Linda!  Linda's husband Tom scouted the town while we were all painting and by lunch time he knew not only where to shop for the local products but which stores had the best prices.  He is a keen observer of people and provides us with interesting antidtotes of the daily life of the poeple he as witnessed.

Judy said one night that she thought Jackie should have advertised this trip as a "Painting/Gourmet Food Trip" since every one of our dinners together have been fabulous and we have learned so much about the Catalan way of cooking.  I think she is right!

Here is a market photo that gives you an idea of the freshness of the ingredients that the chefs use to do their magic.

And of course the fish is caught that day and the waitress presents it so you can choose which fish you want.  I am not a fan of mussels but everyone else in our group has been raving them.   At home I do not like sardines, but fresh caught here they are terrific. 

Our waitress presenting the "fish of the day".

This was the best the wonderful salads I had on  this trip, warm goat cheese salad.  The large round of goat cheese was actually grilled, their were all kinds of goodies along with it as you can see, even tiny sweet strawberries, and the dressing was balasmic vinegar and oil, artfully drizzeled.  The restaurant's name I have forgotten but it was in the tiny seaside village of Calella de Palafrugell where we have been staying.

This was the "house salad"!   And then came the main dish and then the desert!  I only got photos of the salads, I think I was too busy eating to photograph the main dishes!

June not only loves the food and the company she also loves the Sangria, but do not worry, not all of the glasses in this photo are hers, she is too much a lady to go overboard.

More to come.....thanks to Jackie of French Escapade tours for making this all possible.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Capturing the essence of Calella de Palafrugell

We are staying in the charming village of Calella de Palafrugell in the Catalunya region of Spain and creating pages in our watercolor journals each day that tell the story of our visit.  Everywhere we look there is a painting.

The Catalan flag.

This view of the village with the cute boat (that never moved) was a favorite.

Judy captured the charm of the village masterfully.

The view from the opposite side of the bay is lovely but the hard part about painting a scene like this is editing out all the stuff you do not need to tell the story of what you see.

Linda did a great job of editing here, while she captured the charm of the place.  We have two Linda A's in our group, this is Linda from Minnesota's painting.   

Ann  captured the view of the jagged rocks up the coast in this really cute painting.  It says happy sunny summer day on a beautiful coast.

How's this for a studio?  My students simply walked out the front door of our hotel and sat down in the chairs and began to paint!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ola from Spain!

Ola from Spain!  I am teaching a Watercolor Journaling Workshop for French Escapade tour company in Spain.  My students and I have been so busy having fun, exploring, soaking up the local culture and sunshine, and painting like crazy that I have not found time to blog until now.

Our guide Jackie found this beautiful village Calella de Palafrugel on the Costa Brava, Spain which is our home base for the first part of our trip.  

 The Hotel Mediterrani is our beautiful home, and those balconies you see in the photo are ours.

Tom and Linda enjoying the view.

And this is the view from our balconies, talk about picture perfect!

Saturday night in Calella de Palafrugel brings out the local band,

and locals and visitors alike join in the traditional Catluna folk dance.

We enjoyed a lovely and very very filling dinner together at a restaurant Jackie chose that had a huge menu of choices.  We had a great time getting to know each other and learning about and tasting the various dishes.  

Our first day of painting was a Sunday so we avoided the weekend beach crowds by going to a beautiful botanical garden with its very own castle called Jardens de Cap Roig.  After a demo everyone chose their own view and got to work painting a page in their watercolor journals and I went from student to student assisting them with tips.  Even on the first day, I can see very individual styles showing as each artist captures the essence of what they love about the castle or garden.  They are a bit shy about their first day's work of course, so I will post photos of their work on later days.  Here are some photos of the castle and garden.

 After returning to our hotel we were off again to take an early evening stroll around the lovely hilltop medieval village of Pal where we will be painting in a couple of days.  I liked having the opportunity to photograph the village in the late afternoon light knowing it would look completely different in the morning light when we return to paint.

This is a medieval village so Linda got right into the spirit of the place.

Linda keeping her husband Tom in line!

Dinner was at Can Joan in a nearby town that some locals recommended to Jackie when she was planning her first tour of this area.  The specialty was a unique version of Paella made with the rice negro grown here and a very soupy style sauce and of course loads of fresh seafood and sausage etc.  Really great, as were all the many tapas.  But June (who sat at the far end of the table from her daughter particularly enjoyed the Sangria!

The next morning at breakfast June confessed that she did not have quite as much "spring in her step"!