Iberian Adventure

July 2016
Tapas and treats of all kinds were definitely on the menu for this lovely cruise on board MV Minerva that took us to Spain and Portugal and threw in a garnish of St Malo and St Peter Port as well. In my last blog I reported that I was due to be back on this pretty little ship in December, but this with the opportunity to swop my appointment to the summer seemed to good to refuse. It proved to be a good choice, for the sun shone gloriously, apart from a few dull hours in Porto and St Malo.
Art sign up was something of a marathon this time, with what seemed like an endless flow of would be artists coming to try their hand…how gratifying it was that most of them stayed the course and allowed themselves to try some fairly daunting wet-in-wet techniques. I won’t deny this can be a little demoralizing at first to the unskilled hand, but I remain firmly convinced that it is the best approach in the long run if watercolours are to be fresh and exciting, untainted by that chocolate box niceness that can so easily become a vice rather than a virtue.
I am always keen to identify subjects that relate to the place or mood of our cruise, and so devised some easy subjects based on the sea, boats, Moorish arches and Spanish oranges! This last proved to be highly popular, and made a really colourful splash in our exhibition which filled the walls and tables of the Livingstone room.
I think class members were genuinely surprised at how well their work looked when grouped and mounted, and it was a joy to see them all basking in the flow of appreciative and positive comments, just as I had predicted from the start!
As the days progressed it was a real treat to get to know so many lovely people, from the experienced and talented to complete beginners, all of whom brimmed with enthusiasm, turning up well before the class and staying long afterwards when possible. Many of them were seen busy sketching whilst on tour, and it was great to include their many independent efforts in our exhibition.
With art lectures from Tate Gallery guide Rosalynd Whyte to provide extra inspiration, it was gratifying to find that she was mentioning techniques that we were trying out ourselves. Why, even after the first lesson we could speak smugly about Arthur Melville’s “blottesque” technique and some (if not all!) our Moorish arches definitely evoked Spain just as much as paintings we saw from John Singer-Sargent, and less well-known Joachim Sorella. Vowing I needed to learn more about this Spanish artist, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a bargain second–hand volume I have just ordered on Amazon!