March is approaching fast and preparations for the panting holiday in Morocco have started in earnest. A new batch of watercolour paper has been ordered, paint brushes are sorted and watercolours checked for missing colours which might still have to be purchased. It's best to do this in good time since there is always the chance of a colour not in stock at the art shop. Once that is done, the big suitcase in the shed will need a thorough dusting and the joyful task of packing can begin. And not too soon the day - 10th of March to be precise - will come for the departure to Ouarzazate, the journey to the desert beyond the Atlas mountains and a big welcome by our Moroccan host Ali Mouni and his friends. Can't wait!
I'd like to invite you to "Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad", a show celebrating the Chinese Year of the Pig 2019.
I'll have a brand new work on display 'The Pigs are back in Town' and will be there in person on Sunday's grand opening (please call to meet on any of the other days). Come and admire my 35-strong coterie of pigs.
When: **Grand opening** Sunday 10 February 2019, 12 noon - 8pm
Also open on: Thurs 14 Feb, 2-7pm, Fri 15 Feb, 2-7pm, Sat 16 Feb, 2-9pm
Where: 100 artists take over three levels of an underground car park in London's West End, Q-Park Leicester Square, Whitcomb Street, London WC2H 7DT. (see Google maps) Nearest tube station Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.
The exhibition: 'The Pigs are back in Town' will be displayed alongside works by a large group of artists at Year Of The Pig, the seventh annual exhibition that sees 100 international artists come together for one special day. Art of multiple disciplines will be displayed across three levels of an underground car park, 200 yards from National Gallery. Outside of Asia, London holds the biggest Chinese New Year celebration in the world.
The exhibition explores the themes Year of the Pig and George Orwell’s seminal 1945 book Animal Farm and its duplicitous slogan "four legs good two legs bad", as uttered by Orwell’s cast of pigs, and it’s relevance to our society, environmentally, ethically and politically micro and macro.
The preparations for my next painting holiday in beautiful Morocco – the first course of the year- are running at full speed. I am really looking forward to a well-earned break from the winter and painting in the sunshine. Thaw out your brushes and join me! Add spring to your palette with stunning vistas of the sable dunes, lush palmeries, Berber villages and more.
The Nomad Palace, our base for most of the course, is situated in the nearby village of Merzouga , right on the edge of the desert and east of the High Atlas mountains. It offers en-suite rooms, delicious, home-cooked Moroccan cuisine and also two swimming pools for a refreshing dip after painting. Our time in Morocco includes a day in the astonishing Dades Gorge, at the bottom of which the Dades river runs and almond trees blossom in the spring. And with the expert guidance of our multi-lingual host Ali Mouni and friends, we will visit museums, a wonderful old Kasbah, Nomads in their dessert dwellings and old villages. There is also the opportunity of a portrait session with Berber (Bedouin) nomads in traditional dress, to paint in shady Palmeries and an evening trip deeper into the desert to marvel at the landscape or to do some quick sketching.
"Morocco was an incredible experience and the painting superb. I could recommend the holiday to anyone."
Returning to Devon in September felt like going home with the added bonus of meeting new friends to paint with and to enjoy the lush countryside surrounding Coombe Farm Studios together.
The sun had been out for us on our first day, so we made a tentative start and painted a few chosen spots near the courtyards and buildings incorporating various pots, gates and corners of the garden. We had much fun life drawing in the studio the next day and and it was great to be able to demonstrate my 'easy three colour' approach to portrait painting/sketching. Following on from gentle skin tones the day before we were ready to move on to flowers. Colourful arrangements with flowers freshly picked from the gardens were distributed throughout the studio and everybody could choose a favourite bunch or two. To capture those delicate tones of flower peddles and intense Greens of foliage is always a bit of a challenge, but the results after the days work were splendid.
The sun had been hiding behind some light clouds for a while just to returned to us on the last two days. Time to set off to paint the stunning scenery at the waters edge of the Dart Estuary from sculptor Gilly Suttons wonderful garden - another opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the mixing of Greens and introduce ways of capturing water, reflections and the subtle colours of a September sky.
So came a fantastic week to an extremely happy conclusion. With guitar playing and singing in the evenings, creativity and companionship, delicious food and and stimulating conversations, the week could not have been better. Naturally, everybody wanted to stay on at least another week! If only...
Now autumn really seems to have arrived and for me this means the beginning of work in my London studio and extra time to spend with family and friends in London and of course getting ready for painting course season in 2019.
A big "Thank You" to everybody at Coombe Farm studios and especially Lara Lloyd who looked after us so exceedingly well and to all of you who made the painting course so much fun,
To set foot upon Devon soil after a long car journey from London on the Saturday, and to glimpse of the familiar buildings of Coombe Farm Studios nestling down by the stream, was a sheer delight. I spent the evening after my arrival exploring the surrounding hills initially without my paintbrush, just soaking in the atmosphere before the painting started the next day.
Our painting week began on Sunday with a painting demonstration around Coombe Farm itself, and was followed by days painting the gardens, hill views, and subjects in the courtyard from various points around the Coombe. Our time at Coombe Farm Studios was interspersed with excursions to stunning vistas of the Dart estuary from the gardens of the well known sculptor Jilly Sutton, and to the picturesque village of Dittisham, with its harbour and views across to the hills of Agatha Christie’s house. The weather was on our side apart from one day where we retreated to the spacious studio to paint flowers, among other things. It was another fantastic week’s painting, packed with creativity, fun and friendship.
A big ‘thank you’ to everybody at Coombe for spoiling us rotten with delicious meals, and for making us so welcome that we felt we were all part of the family.
With best wishes for the rest of the summer,
Here are a few images of our group working together...
Setting off to Scotland from London in a heatwave and finding a sun-bathed mountain landscape on arrival at Brynaport the next day was a delight. We kept fingers crossed it would stay sunny for the painting course despite a somewhat doubtful weather forecast. We were lucky and on our first day’s painting we strolled into the surrounds of Brynaport from where you can view the village just below and were able to capture the dramatic landscape of the Torridon Hills across the Loch, a row of small cottages in the foreground. The occasional goat and sheep added a lively element to the scene. Nevertheless, we were pleased to come back to the studio for a cup of tea and a scrumptious slice of home made cake – one of many baked by our fantastic cook Alison, who also produced outstanding evening meals every night not to mention a deliciously varied breakfast menu.
But I mustn’t get carried away with the culinary delights. The next visual feast encountered on our second outing down the village street was the dramatic shore line of Loch Kishorn. Here the small village of Achintraid is comprised of whitewashed cottages along the waters edge. It was nice enough to have our packed lunch right then and there after the morning's painting. To follow on from the previous day’s watercolour session, I made another painting demonstration, this time of the close-by water on the Loch, and the distant mountains on the opposite shore. The tricky bit is always to keep the distance soft, only applying thin layers of watercolour paint and reserving the strong, potent colours for details nearby. As things move further and further away from the viewer the view becomes hazier while the contrast between light and dark in the foreground becomes stronger and sharper. For our colour choice we had help: the golden ochre seaweed covering the receding pebbled beach was a wonderful contrast to the blues/purples and acid greens on the slopes leading to the high up mountain pass to Aplecross.
The next day we stayed closer to home, since there were some dark looking clouds on the horizon. But we were not put off by this and ventured out, down the narrow path opposite Brynaport to the rocky cove with views to either end of the Loch. The three meter high old fishnet drying poles seemingly growing out of the pebbly beach were a perfect focal point, leading the eye past a large rocky outcrop across the water. We had just managed to finish drawing and starting to paint when we noticed the first rain drops. A swift withdrawal to the spacious studio and we were back on the easel to continue work where we left off. This also gave me an opportunity for a special studio session teaching a simple technique to paint rocks, stones and pebbles in the foreground.
The weather improved the next day and the great outdoors was calling again. We found a gorgeous spot from where the vista stretches via the Loch towards the Isle of Skye’s mountainous outline. Half way across another smaller Island makes a visual stepping stone into the picture. The odd boat, a couple of cottages surrounded by gardens, two caves just above the tide line and a choice of high hills and mountains make this a stunning scene to paint in any medium. As usual I choose to demonstrate in watercolour, paying particular attention to the boulders in the foreground and the light on the water surface. A magical day and none of us wanted to return to the studio despite the tempting cake. Finishing off the day in high spirits, my husband James who was also part of the 'gang', and myself played a couple of songs - me on my trusty Ukulele accompanying James’ singing and playing his guitar. A rare sight and pleasure to see a young girl already so versed on the bagpipes – apparently a male dominated area.
The last day inevitably came and this time we turned our gaze more inland. The bridge at the foot hills of the road to Applecross was a good choice since it has not only great views of the huge expanse of receding estuary, but also a lovely cafe only a stroll away. In no time we each found a beautiful painting spot and started on the last watercolour of the week. Some of us focused on the old stone bridge under which jumping salmon were spotted, while others concentrated on the ever enlarging area of the estuary with the tidal waters shimmering in the distance. Needless to say we did not want to pack up and go, but we were looking forward to the evenings showing of our work and returned to the studio early afternoon, joining the three of our group who stayed behind to finish of watercolours they had been working on. There was not enough space in the studio to hang all the many wonderful paintings we had produced during the week so we selected the ‘best’.
Before dinner we all gathered in the studio, our paintings on display, a glass of champagne to celebrate and delicious canapés to staff off ‘hunger'. It was impressive to see everybody’s work and a joy to be able to exchange tips and chat informally about painting, life and and plans for the next painting trip. Gillian and Mark Pattinson our generous hosts and in whose home we had come to stay joined us too with some friends. This was also a chance to thank their daughter Fiona who - together with her daughter Sophie - run the course with me and who is also - like her mother Gillian - a talented painter. A chance also to thank Ally, the person behind all those friendly emails, Anne and all the others who made this such an extremely creative and fun week, never to forget. And then, just to top things off, the Pattinson’s grand-daughter Polly piped us triumphantly from the studio.
Coming home to my London studio takes some adjusting after having spent so much time in the company of such a lovely, lively group of painters and colleagues. I will ‘cushion the blow’ by traveling to Germany to meet friends and family for a couple of days, and then off to Devon for more painting adventures!
Wishing you a summer full of colour, painting, and the the sun to go with it,
After nearly a fortnight in the Algarve it was a pleasant surprise to come back home to a sunny London. Still, it’s quite an adjustment from the open horizons over the lagoons stretching along Olhao harbour, to the narrow skylines of the metropolis. But each painting holiday must come to an end, which this time was made sweeter for me by tacking a few extra days onto the course to explore the area more, and enjoy the miles of sandy beaches. It was also an opportunity to do some more drawing and painting. Though admittedly, the painting side took got the short straw when the open sea was beckoning on my outing to Farol, one of the nearby islands. Walking along the extraordinary long stone jetty towards the lighthouse after the painting course had finished, also gave me time to contemplate the fantastic week we’d had: “Oh we had such an amazing time - we didn’t want to go home.” My thoughts exactly!
Our time in Portugal started off unseasonably cooler in tone, with around 21 degrees Celsius, actually an ideal temperature for painting outside! As in previous years our home for the duration of the painting course was the wonderful art school ‘Art In The Algarve’ lovingly created by the Hon. David Clark, and since his untimely death two years ago run by the wonderful Margarida - also a fantastic cook - and David’s daughter Camilla. To get us all in the mood and to encourage casual sketching, the art school presented everybody with a ‘concertina’ artist’s sketchbook on our first night.
There was no need on our first day to search out shady corners, and we were free of such mundane considerations when we choose our first painting subject. We settled in a typical narrow side street in the old town of Olahao, minutes away from the art school. We could have stayed at the art school, which has many delightful terraces with roof top views across town, or intimate courtyards and the spacious studio itself, however I wanted to reserve these for our last day, when time is of the essence. The street scene in front of us was also a good (if somewhat steep on the learning curve) opportunity for us discuss the perspective of buildings, and how people walking along a road can be sketched quickly in watercolour. The white buildings were gleaming in the sunshine, and strong shadows helped with getting perspective lines right. There was no shortage of slow moving people, since the small pedestrian only backstreet services the restaurants at the front of the tall houses, and deliveries of all sorts of goods were made for lunch and evening meals. Needless to say, the aromas wafting down the road as lunchtime approached made us very hungry, despite one of Joanna’s luscious breakfasts only a couple of hours earlier. So the first of many delicious lunches to come was very much enjoyed and everybody returned to to their paintings with full vigour.
Our next painting location was very exciting. We took a water taxi to the island of Armona, a great boat trip across the lagoons made even more enjoyable by our skipper Nuno, a local marine biologist who gave us a short lecture on board about the area and it’s special marine wildlife. Thus fortified with knowledge and eagerness to get our watercolours out, we took a short stroll to a spot with trees to sit under, should we want to sit in the shade. I had painted there before because there is a long low building by the beach - typical of the many small cottages of this island village - with palms and jacaranda trees framing it in just the right way. The perspective lessons from the day before came in handy and by lunchtime most drawings were complete. My watercolour demonstration after a sumptuous meal of freshly caught and grilled fish on the top terrace of the ‘Armona4’ restaurant, focussed more on the landscape aspect of the view. The relationship between the far distant hills and sea in the background, and foreground motifs, is always a bit tricky, but easy to handle once you know how. The distance needs only a very thin, watery layer of watercolour paint, while the sandy foreground and trees require stronger colour mixes with more paint pigment. It was a successful encounter, and we boarded the water taxi in high spirits, dashing across the water on our way home.
Saturday is Market day in Olhao, a spectacle not to be missed. The red brick market halls by the town harbour are magnificent, and only a couple of minutes walk from the art school. The outdoor stalls arrayed between the harbour wall and the market building itself were shaded with vivid red, orange and acid green sun umbrellas, only matched by the multiple colours of the the various fruit, vegetables, spices and household goods. A heaven for the painter, and a chance to try out long forgotten colours from your palette. Watercolour painting is ideal for capturing people on the move, and we had ample opportunity for practice and warm up sketching, before attempting to apply paint. There were plenty of people of all shapes and sizes to observe, with some kindly taking a rest on close by benches, making sketching even easier. Some of our group opted for the amazing fish market inside one of the market halls, and produced impressive watercolours of those silvery, scaly sea creatures.
Soon it was Sunday and ‘no rest for the wicked’. Though it was a non-tuition day, I am proud to say that the painting and sketching was not neglected. After enjoying our painting trip to Armona island everybody choose to take the ferry to the other island of Farol I mentioned earlier, to experience the ocean side of the islands, as well as the flatter expanses of the lagoons. The ferry winds its way around sandbanks and clam fields, where one can observe fisherman collecting clams for the dishes served later in the evening. A pleasurable trip, rewarded by welcoming cafes and bars right by the jetty where the ferry passengers disembark. Reports of swimming in the sea, interrupted by sketching (or was it the other way round ?), reached my ears later on that evening, when we met for dinner at the ‘O Piteu’ restaurant, to round off a perfect day with wine, fish, and a stroll to view a series of impressive murals depicting the the life of fishermen and women, painted on old factory walls nearby.
The week was progressing fast, and so were we, in the sense of skill and our modes of transport! Not a water taxi this time, but another Nuno with a fleet of taxis whisked us off to the coastal village of Fuseta, where a small lagoon inlet harbours working fishing boats, and where fishermen clear away nets and the debris of the morning’s catch. By then the painting of people in their environment had become not exactly routine, but definitely no longer daunting. Though getting the size of people in a boat into the correct proportions can still be a challenge.
It’s easier to compare the size of a person to let’s say a door or a tree we are all familiar with, and it’s another matter when the person is standing in an unusually shaped boat. But what boats! With huge metal cages at the back and disc like winches for pulling in bright green nets, they make splendid painting subjects. You can also take a bit of artistic license when it comes to representing those colours and shapes, since their organic forms and functions vary quite a bit from large rounded ones to smaller trim vessels.
And so, reluctantly, we came to our final day in Olhao. As planned we spent the day at the art school correcting some minor mistakes, or finishing off paintings from previous days, and in some cases also painting just one last watercolour. Staying in and around the studio - close to the two little pools for a dip if needed - gave me the chance to demonstrate more specific issues, like the ‘painting’ of masts with a edge of a piece of paper dipped in colour, or the use of masking tape to achieve straight lines with ease. After a seafood lunch we were ready for a concluding outburst of painting, before choosing the watercolours each of us was going to exhibit in the informal showing of our works that evening. There was a lovely surprise waiting for us, since one of our group had made excellent use of the concertina artist’s sketchbook and filled the entire book, several metres long when unfolded, with panoramic scenes from the old town. Above this display, all the other paintings were hung along the walls in the studio. It was with proud pleasure that we all viewed our week’s achievement, glass of wine in hand, and celebrated an exciting week filled with creativity, friendship and fun.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Margarida and Joanna (our breakfast chef), for looking after us so well, and also big thanks to Camilla for all the work she does behind the scenes. We had a great mixture of delicious meals, partly enjoyed in bars and restaurants with local cuisine, or cooked by Margarida at home, frequently finished off at the ice-cream parlour around the corner, with harbour views for atmosphere. And the biggest thanks of all to everybody on the course who made it such a memorable time.
Who would want to go home after such a week?
All the best with your painting throughout the summer,
“Thank you so much for another memorable week of art and friendship. Thank you too for your wonderful effort, in so many ways, to give the group such great tuition and inspiration - but also incorporating time for fun!”
What a pleasure to arrive at Catania airport and be greeted by Mount Etna, snow-capped and glittering in the mid-day sun. I soon made my way to the Fattoria Mosé, and spent happy hours sketching before all the other painters joined me the following day. We were blessed with glorious sunshine and pleasant summer’s day temperatures for our entire painting week.
A merry band of fourteen painters set off the next day to explore the house and gardens, olive and orange groves at the Fattoria Mosé, to whet the appetite for our painting adventures. It always takes a while to find your way through the different entrances, arches, and courtyards, but it never takes too long to find something interesting to paint.
As usual most painters had brought watercolours, so I started each day with a painting demonstration using my tried and trusted watercolour palette. Most of us settled for one of the wonderful old clay oil vessels dotted around the main terrace. A splash of Burnt Sienna and Brown Madder captured the tones of the terracotta colours very well. To finish off, a shade of Cobalt Blue for the shadow side, and a few different mixes of Winsor Green (blue shade) for the surrounding plants and palm trees did very nicely for the first day.
Awakening to a vivid blue sky the next day, we were whisked off by our friendly taxi drivers down to the seaside at St. Leone, where a rocky shoreline with sandy beaches and headland views awaited us. A great opportunity to practice watercolour washes. Cobalt Blue or French Ultramarine mixed with Winsor Green makes for vibrant translucent skies and the turquoise sea. A brilliant white house with a palm tree nearby made a great foreground motif to lead the eye into the painting. We even had a handsome young man sunbathing on a not too distant rock, which some of us could not resist including in the picture!
On Tuesday we turned our gaze to the town of Agrigento for a spot of sightseeing in the old town centre, some light shopping, and the justifiably popular ice cream in a brioche. In the early afternoon we retuned to join the students who had stayed behind at the Fattoria Mosé to paint…
And suddenly it was Wednesday, time to tackle one of the many fascinating views from the Fattoria’s gardens. Framed by huge prickly pear cacti growing out of bed of yellow wildflowers, a vista opens up towards Agrigento stretched out on the steep, rocky side of a mountainous hill. Our previous practice of laying on the soft watercolour washes for the distant parts of the landscape came in handy here. An additional demonstration emphasising the different colour strengths for the foreground and background helped those who were unfamiliar with views ‘en plein air.’
Having stretched our eye muscles over hills and olive groves the day before, on Thursday we headed for the world famous Valley of the Temples, where the ancient Greek ruins find proud columns and arches standing amongst tumbled honey coloured stones. Once pencil-sketched onto watercolour paper, the actual painting was quite straightforward. Tones and shades of Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, and a sash of green and/or turquoise for some of the plants and the sky, was all that was needed. I also took the opportunity to demonstrate how to introduce figures into the painting, which gave the whole composition a splash of extra colour and life.
So arrived our final day. We had planned an informal show of our work in the evening, therefore we were all very busy making use of what remained of our time to finish our paintings. Following on from our day painting at the Temples, it was a good moment to explain some of the rules of perspective when painting figures in a landscape, or people in town. It was great for capturing the folk around us, and putting those essential guidelines into practice.
The end of the week came all too soon, and none of us wanted to leave. Stopping painting once properly warmed up and establishing a daily painting routine is always hard, but when it is such an enthusiastic and fun-loving group, that makes it double difficult to part. Not least because of the splendid hospitality and warm welcome by Chiara Agnello, who shared her wonderful home and delicious Sicilian cooking with us for the week.
With a big thank you to all who joined me and made it such an enjoyable time, and special thanks to Chiara and all who looked after us so well at the Fattoria Mosé
p.s. I shall return in 2019!
Dear Painters and friends,
You are cordially invited to the exhibition opening of...
Märchenprinz - Prince Charming
BIGGI SLONGO GASTRICH and BETTINA SCHROEDER
Exhibition of site-specific installations and photo installations at...
ANNA GÖLDI MUSEUM Glarus, Fabrikstrasse 9, Hängiturm, 8755 Ennenda, Switzerland
OPENING: Friday, 4th May 2018 at 18.30
with musical contributions by Schroeder/Smith, video projection of film ‘Less Than Half’ and talk by Andrea Trummer.
The exhibition deals with the subject of women's rights. Much has changed in the post-war years, but the old dream of the fairy tale prince and the beautiful princess still hovers in the air. Installations and photo installation - partly in joint works - visualize the different treatment of men and women in the world of law and everyday life.
Bettina will also be showing a 4.50 meter long knitted wall carpet ‘Less than half – Weniger als die Hälfte’. The narrower, coloured area knitted from printed and painted canvas by Biggi, shows the representation of women in Swiss law and society - from the 16th century to the present day - alongside the larger, blue area, representing men.
Dear Painters and Friends,
I am off to Bonn this weekend for the opening of the exhibition I am taking part in. After that it’s closer to home. There will be an opening for the show in the '100 Year Gallery’ in London, where two of my videos will be shown as part of the evenings event. All details are below and I hope you can join me to one or even both shows. I wish you all the best with your painting,
FRAUENMUSEUM BONN, Germany
FREUNDINNEN – vom romantischen Salon zu Netzwerken heute
(Women’s friendships – from Romanticist Salons to modern networking)
Private View: Sunday, 18th February 2018 at 12:00
Address: Frauenmuseum, Im Krausfeld 10, 53111 Bonn, Germany
Exhibition open: 18th February – 16th September 2018
Tue – Sat 14:00 – 18:00, Sun 11:00 – 18:00
Portrait Der Künstlerinnen Schroeder und Slongo, 2017, detail
by Bettina Schroeder and Biggi Slongo, 114 x 76 cm, treated and knitted watercolour paper
HUNDRED YEARS GALLERY
Exhibition: THE PLINTH PROJECT presented by the Groyne Gallery
Date: Saturday 24th February 2018
Times: 16:30, 18:00 & 19:30
Address: HUNDRED YEARS GALLERY
13 Pearson Street, London, E2 8JD
entry: £5 tel: +44 (0)20 3602 7973
More details: http://hundredyearsgallery.co.uk/the-groyne-gallery/