Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Month: January 2017

The end is near…

landscape painting inspired by Algarve, Portugal.

“In the Golden Light”. Acrylic on Canvas. Private collection. Inspired by the rocky cliffs by the beach in Albufeira, Portugal.

My trip is nearing its end, and I’ve spent the last few days finishing up my last couple projects and taking a last look at this amazing landscape. I hopped on a train Saturday and trekked to Lisbon (photos to come), to spend the time before I fly out exploring something new. I head out tomorrow morning, and am back to work on Tuesday. The time has flown by.

Abstracted cityscape painted in Albufeira, Portugal

Acrylic on Canvas. Private collection. Created on site in Albufeira, Portugal

My companion for my last week in Albufeira was Suzanne Southerton and her husband Andy. What a fun pair. Dry, English humour from the both of them… very different from my Texan friends but just as fun. She was busy painting away from her first day. Her stuff was looking good. I imagine the few paintings she gets done will end up being house favourites.

I’ve hit my first bit of unpleasant weather this week. Thursday it rained like hell… not just a little drizzle but torrential downpours off and on right into the night. I had been checking the forecast so it was expected… I had a last canvas I’d left unfinished so I’d have something to work on that day. Saturday the rain kept up, and it’s expected to rain all day today as well.

Figures… exploring a new city in the rain isn’t quite the same as doing it in nice weather. Come to think of it, last time I was in Lisbon (many, many moons ago) it rained the whole time as well. I guess it’s just one of those cities I’m destined to have grey, wet photos of. I can’t complain though… I’ve been here for a month, and up until this week every day has been pleasant and sunny. If it hadn’t been I’m sure my paintings would have turned out much differently.

abstracted landscape inspired by the rocky cliffs in Albufeira, Portugal.

“Golden Hills” Acrylic on Canvas. Private Collection. Inspired by the wonderful landscape in Albufeira, Portugal. The metallic looks so much better in real life. It’s difficult to get an accurate image.

Painting by 9 different artists created in Albufeira, Portugal

Final painting created by all the artists staying at the Albufeira “Casa de Cor” in 2017. Mine is the flowers with the butterfly.

Inspiration of the Algarve

Painting of the Albufeira beach.

The painting was to represent what reminds me of the Algarve. To me, that is these rock cliffs. I’ve used metallic (those light areas on the rocks) to give the feeling of the sun hitting them. The painting changes with the sun at different times of the day… just like the rocks.

Been a busy week. If you follow me  on social media, you’ll know I worked on a couple of paintings, hauled my gear into town for a plein air painting session with Abner Cabriales  (who has agreed to do a guest post! Yay!), did some sketching, walked endlessly, and ate a lot. It’s been fun. The weather cooled down a bit the last few days, so it seemed a perfect time to stay indoors and finish up the numerous things I’ve started. My big triptych is finished, and I’ve got a couple smaller paintings done as well. I hope my host will be happy.

Painting on the streets of Albufeira

painting in the streets of Albuferia. Lots of people stopped to look, but no one commented…

My stay here is nearing an end, and I have to admit, I’m ready to get back to real life. I’ve arranged to spend my last couple days in Lisbon. Seeing as I fly out of the Lisbon airport, it seemed the best time to fit in some sightseeing. Hopefully it won’t rain the whole time I’m there. The forecast doesn’t seem to be working in my favour this time. But hey, as I have yet to see any rain at all, I can’t really complain. I have a tan… ok, a somewhat reddish tan as it was hot one day this week and I seem to have gotten a wee bit of a burn. And yes, I was wearing sunscreen, but I’ve got fair hair and freckles. It happens.

This week’s photos are from the eastern part of the Algarve. Of the few towns I got to visit, Travira was the one that captured my imagination. What a beautiful little city. Built into a steep incline, as most towns in the Algarve seem to be, it was endless trekking up and down hills. Many of the heritage buildings have been restored, but some are just at that level of gorgeous shabbiness… a bit run down but not yet sketchy, a bit of crumbling concrete, old windows, cobblestone streets that need just a bit of repair. There is a cobblestone bridge that runs across the river in the centre of town. I assumed it was a pedestrian bridge until I saw a car trying to cross… and having to wait for the people to get out of the way.

The age of everything here amazes me. I was told that all these heritage buildings were protected by law, so the people who bought them couldn’t tear them down to put up a more modern structure. They could restore them and renovate the inside, but that’s it. It certainly lends to the old world charm of this place. It almost feels like time has stopped.

One morning this week we got up really early to trek down to the beach for the sunrise. Abner’s wife, Yvonne, also dragged herself out of bed for the excursion,  though I’m not sure if that was her idea or not. I haven’t seen such colours in the sky in a while. I’ve been figuring out how to use all the manual settings on my camera during my trip, so I have loads of photos using various exposures. Some turned out pretty well, others, not so much. At least I got a few that work for me. Maybe before I go I’ll try to photograph the sunset as well. Just, well… because.

I’m on my own for a couple days now until the next artist arrives. Suzanne Southerton, from the UK, will be the last one here. While I like the quiet, it was way more fun having someone else around who thinks in the same weird way. Abner would point out an old, broken wooden door with peeling paint, inset in crumbling concrete, and I would swoon along with him at the beauty. Yvonne would roll her eyes. Although she did spend days watching us paint, claiming it was fascinating to her. Not sure how that is fascinating, but ok. I do know that I appreciate the wonderful meals the two of them would whip up, and gratefully roll up my sleeves to clean up the dishes. A month of solitude would have been a totally different experience.

I’m not missing the snow in Canada. At all.

sketchbook drawing of rocks

Trying to figure out how to split my drawing over 3 canvases. This will be the largest piece I will do here.

I’m two weeks into my stay in Albufeira, Portugal, and things are going wonderfully here. There is just SO much to be inspired by. The weather has been perfect…. pleasantly warm but not too hot, days full of sunshine with cool nights. I have to keep reminding myself its January. I’m buying fresh fruit and vegetables in the markets that taste like summer. Yesterday I had a bowl full of sweet, juicy strawberries that I can only get at home in June. Life is good.

Artist Abner Cabriales working on a carving out on the villa's back patio.

Artist Abner Cabriales working on a carving out on the villa’s back patio.

I’m sharing the villa with another artist, Abner Cabriales, a wood-carver/painter traveling from Texas. His trip has not gone nearly as smoothly. Flight delays and connections took up a couple days, and he just got his hands on his lost luggage, only to find one of his tools missing. A resourceful guy, he managed to figure out the city busses to get to a hardware store for a replacement. He even knows how to rejig the thing so he can use it once he gets back home (if you didn’t already know, European electrical outlets are very different from ours in North America). Lost luggage was the situation I was dreading, being the type of person who thinks through every conceivable bad scenario for every situation. I would have had some kind of meltdown if my tools had gone missing.

underpainting for a large painting

Starting to paint.

I’ve done a bit more traveling around and sightseeing, and of course more photos. But I have also buckled down to get some work done. The most fantastic thing to me are the colours I’m seeing everywhere. No surprise there I guess, given that colour is really my “thing”. The rocks, the sand, the water, contrasting with the white concrete houses. Amazing.

As unlikely a thing as I can imagine, I decided I wanted to paint a landscape. I haven’t done landscape painting in eons, and I’ve never really done it seriously. But being surrounded by such beautiful scenery, how could I not paint it? I’ve been posting a few progress shots on my social media feeds… I’ll chronicle them a bit better here next week. I think all the abstract work I’ve been doing has made me much more aware of things like composition and value. These paintings will probably be better than any landscape I’ve done before. It’ll be interesting to see how this experience changes my future work. I’m certain it’ll all be good.

Bem Vindo a Portugal. I hope you work out.

old town, Albufeira

Very hilly city…. my legs are going to look great after a month of trekking around here.

I’ve been in Portugal a few days now. It has been days filled with walking, learning, figuring things out, trying out all things new and different. There were things about this town that I knew from my research, but you don’t really know until you experience it. For instance, I know Albufeira is a hilly city. But holy cow, hilly is an understatement. When you walk around here you are either travelling up or down. There is no flat. After a couple days my legs feel like I did some kind of heavy duty training workout at the gym. No wonder I have not seen any really large people here. I don’t think you could manage.

There are areas here that are closed off to cars. Pedestrians only. I love that. It’s winter here… the off-season… so the town is not overrun with tourists. You see them around of course. I’ve learned that many older British people winter here. Kind of like Florida for us Canadians. It’s pleasantly warm (it’s been sunny and 17-20°C every day so far), the sun shines, it’s pretty easy to get around. I can definitely understand the appeal.

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Less than 20 euros worth of groceries. Including a decent size bottle of olive oil. Oh and there was a bottle of wine with that. Which was open and started already.

Getting groceries was fun. First finding the grocery store. It was a bit of a hike from the  villa, but not unreasonable. I guess I went at a busy time, as it seemed people were a bit impatient with me wondering the aisles, dumbstruck. The fish counter was something to behold. More fish than I’ve ever seen at a single time. Stuff I didn’t even recognize. I would have snapped a photo if I didn’t think I would have gotten pushed out of the way as I got out my camera. Taxes are high here… 23% on things like coffee and “luxury items” (I bought a tin of some kind of squid. Delicious), and 6% on the normal stuff. But to counter that the prices were fairly low. 2 euros got me a decent bottle of red wine, and the yogurt was probably 1/2 what I’d pay at home. Interesting.

I’ve found the local art supply store and bought some canvas, though I haven’t started to paint yet. I figured I needed to see the place first…. gather my inspiration. There are many things I can see inspiring me. There are these incredible rock formations along the beaches that are so interesting. The buildings are white concrete… I assume to keep them cool when it hits 40° in the summer months. The roofs are mostly made of these red tiles… the repeating shapes draw me in. It’s going to be a bit tough to narrow down what will be the subject when I get to work. I’ve done some simple sketches and taken a load of photos, but I think I may take my watercolours around town and do some on-site work. It’s different working from life than working from a photo. I think I should know my subject well before I start. The fun is just beginning.

Buh-bye 2016. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Abstract painting in earthy green-grey and aqua

“Weight of the World”, Acrylic on Canvas. Available.

Hello 2017!! I am SO ready for 2016 to be over. I know a lot of people have had a pretty great year, but I can’t say the same for me. Illness and loss, strange unpleasant things going on at work, overall state of the world getting to me. I’m ready for a change. And change is starting now.

I can’t believe it’s happening, but I’m leaving for Portugal day after tomorrow! Getting to go on this trip is something I am extremely grateful for. I’m excited and terrified all at once. I’m leaving other people to look after my responsibilities. Something I never do. My husband and son are going to have to look after themselves. Cook for themselves. Clean up after themselves. People at my day job are going to have to do my work while I’m away. I know these people are adults and are perfectly capable, but relinquishing control has always been a little difficult for me. But I think I can manage.

The last couple weeks I’ve been running around like a maniac. So many little things to look after before I go. Trying to figure out what tools I should bring and what I can buy there. Do I need a cellphone plan? (I think so). Can I manage to post to my blog without taking my laptop? (no). Should I bring my big, bulky camera or just use my phone for pictures? (still undecided).  It’s been so long since I’ve travelled I just don’t know… but I know I have to resist the urge to pack everything. One thing I remember about travel is that dragging around a heavy bag is not fun. A small suitcase on wheels and a backpack is it, and if it doesn’t fit it doesn’t come with me.

It’s helpful to know there is an art supply store in Albufeira, about a 20 minute walk from the villa where I am staying. I should be able to get pretty much anything I need. I can do most of my prep work with a pen and a sketchbook. A few big brushes have to come with me because they’re expensive and I don’t want to buy them again. I’ll have access to laundry facilities, so clothes can be minimal. My host has been incredibly helpful with lots of information. I know it will be easier than it was when I was last in Europe (over 20 years ago… wow. when the hell did I get that old?!), when I had to struggle with international operators to call my mom (this was pre-email, folks, but moms don’t change. You still had to check in), and had to carry around traveller’s cheques which I often had trouble cashing. And my camera used FILM! Imagine! It took me months to get all my pictures back because I couldn’t afford to get all 12 rolls developed and printed at the same time. I know this will be a different experience altogether. I am older and wiser. And I have a credit card. That makes all kinds of things easier.

So overall, I’m looking forward to 2017 and all the new experiences it will bring. I can’t remember the last time a new year started with such promise. It’s a good sign. Ok… so now I have to go finish packing….