Dear Painters and Friends,
Every year the first painting course of the season, eagerly awaited by the time March comes, is an absolute joy. Unleashing the watercolours under the Moroccan sun, surrounded by rose coloured sand dunes of the 'Erg Chebbi' with camels fluttering their long eyelashes seductively, cannot fail to get you in the mood. And when halfway through the morning's work glasses of mint tea arrive, the day is perfect.
After driving from Ouarzazate through Moroccan villages and towns, parallel to the distant spine of the still snowcapped Atlas Mountains, we spent a leisurely day at 'home' at the Nomad Palace, painting various features of the spacious courtyard. The next day brought an exciting sandstorm with somewhat cooler temperatures than usual – an opportunity to do some portrait painting in the large salon. We had no shortage of models, since the young men working at the Nomad Palace are always happy to pose for us in their wonderful local robes and head gear.
In the evenings and at lunch times, we greatly enjoyed the meals prepared by the two new cooks, whose cuisine was absolutely delicious. One evening we were invited to have a meal in the family home of our host Ali Mouni, where we experienced true Moroccan hospitality and were introduced to his lovely wife Fatima and the rest of the extended family.
Our time at the Nomad Palace also included a day's painting in the nearby Palmeries, where the large date palms gave natural shade, as well as making attractive foreground subjects for our watercolours. Later on in the week,we all enjoyed the day excursion to the Kasbah Museum near the ancient caravan town of Rissani with lunch in Erfoud and a visit to the fascinating Fossil museum. Some of the fossils on display (and even available to purchase - I bought a small Trilobite) are millions of years old and quite awe inspiring.
Soon it was time to spend a day capturing camels on paper, initially not an easy task, but great fun. As a reward afterwards, those of us keen and able, rode the camels onto the high sand dunes to watch the sunset in late afternoon. This crowning moment was only slightly diminished by clouds appearing, which actually turned to rain on the camel ride back, a unique experience in my 11 years of visiting Morocco!
The weather turned sunny again when we left the Nomad Palace for the spectacular Dades Gorge to paint the view from the terrace of the lovely Auberge Panorama. The spring green valley below leads the eyes towards spectacularly colourful mountains, old Kasbahs and adobe built villages. Nobody wanted to leave the following day and it was hard to part from Ali and everybody who looked after us so well.
I hope you can join us next year and share the Moroccan experience. Same time*, same place…
All the best,
*almost the same: 7th-17th March 2015