Happy Valentine’s Day

I thought this painting I just finished the other day was a pretty good one for today.  I took the reference photo during one of the jeep tours I am going to tell you about very soon.  I’ve been writing the post but haven’t added the photos yet!

As you can see, these nesting storks have found “Their Own Little Paradise” in the heart of a citrus grove in the Algarve.

I hope you find your own little paradise somewhere, sometime too, if you haven’t already.

With much gratitude for your amiable appreciation of my art – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Their Own Little Paradise. Watercolour on Yupo. 10×13″. Artist Lianne Todd



Algarve Coastline

On my third full day in Albufeira, Portugal, I took a coastal cave and dolphin-watching tour, which I had booked before arriving.  This involved me finding my way to the marina on my own, as my villa-mates were still in Lisbon.  I could have taken a cab, but I wanted to try out the buses, as they were much cheaper!  I had already scoped out which bus routes I needed to take, but it remained to be seen how long it would take to get there. I was using Albufeira’s Giro bus system, which doesn’t exactly have a set schedule.  As my tour time was noon, I felt confident I could make it on time!  And I did, although it wasn’t without a few glitches.  For instance, I hadn’t taken into account the elevation change from one street to another on the map, and for a few moments wondered “how do I get down there?”  All became clear eventually, and I arrived a solid half hour before the tour.

(All images copyrighted as usual.  To see them larger, just click on them 🙂 )

I took a lot of photos that day, but this captures the essence of the tour quite well.
This one is very representative too.
Here is a cave, which appeared quite small from the boat. The ocean swells were quite large and it seemed like we might crash into the rocks at any moment…. but…
The expert boat drivers took us right inside the cave! I couldn’t believe it.

We spent the first hour going west along the coastline from Albufeira.  Then we went out to sea to find dolphins.  Alas!  None made themselves visible that day.  Pretty disappointing, BUT I had seen what must have been at least a hundred of them from the airplane as we came in for a landing at Faro airport.  It was amazing!

Also, as you come in to Faro, you can see some great examples of fractals (not sure what fractals are? see my fractal art here)  If you go to a satellite view of Faro and look just south of it – zoom in to that marshy area between Faro and the open ocean – you’ll see what I mean.  Self similar on smaller and smaller scales!

After about an hour of speeding around on the open ocean, we headed back to the marina.  During this entire tour I was keeping very close tabs on my new sunglasses – they were the kind that came with my prescription glasses and attached via magnets.  It was windy out there.  Well, in spite of my attention I got back to the marina, sat down to enjoy a cappuccino, and discovered they were gone!  I retraced my steps, and the tour hosts were very nice about letting me get back on the boat to look there, but they were nowhere to be found.  So, I was a little sad at the end, but it was a very enjoyable tour.  Thanks Dream Wave!

Arriving back at the marina, a.k.a. ‘Legoland’
Later the same day, a better sunset – a sky quite worthy of painting, but I didn’t. Maybe another day I will incorporate it into one!

The next day, I decided to walk to another one of the Albufeira beaches, also about a half hour away.  This was Praia Da Oura.  Another lovely walk!  Here are a few photos from there:

There is a large hotel you can see there which looks a bit like a cruise ship.

As you can see, it wasn’t exactly the best beach weather but it was nice enough.  You could hike up to the top of the cliffs, too, if you wanted.  I imagine there is a fair bit of erosion each year due to this.

There were some interesting arches and caves to explore…

And the sun did come out for about 15 minutes.  I took full advantage and did a little sunbathing!

The colours are so much nicer when the sun shines.

When the sun went under again, I went further down the beach and found some interesting rock textures and little tide pools.

Then, I settled myself down in a nice dry sheltered spot and began to paint.  Here is what I ended up with that day:

Praia Da Oura. Watercolour on Paper. 8×10″. Artist Lianne Todd

Oh, and guess what?  I am getting new matching sunglasses soon – the company who makes them is being very kind to me.  🙂

Praia de Santa Eulália

The villa where I stayed had featured, on its website, photos of beautiful beaches.  I love beaches.  So, naturally, I was anxious to determine exactly how close these beaches were, and curious about how warm the water might be at the beginning of November.  Not that I was going to be swimming.  I can’t do that for a while, until both arms are free of adhesive capsulitis, as I would most likely drown.  Maybe in 2020…

When I examined the satellite maps, the closest beach was Praia de Santa Eulália (Praia means beach, in Portuguese).  Upon close examination, it seemed like I could take a path shortcut through the green space directly south of me to the road running east-west and then continue down to the beach from there.  If I did that, it would cut my time walking in half compared to following the roads!  So, as I had passed a couple of the housekeeping staff on their break, I had asked them about said path.  They quickly assured me this was NOT the way to go.  In unison, they pointed the opposite direction and said “Quinta da Balaia”.  I was truly disappointed.  However, the computer algorithms said it was still just a 29 minute walk.  And you know what?  It was a beautiful walk through a nice quiet area, and I really enjoyed it.

Looking back at the villa from the end of the driveway.


On the walk via Quinta da Balaia and Rua da Praia.

Further along the walk via Quinta da Balaia and Rua da Praia.

While I was walking, and passing the green space, I tried to figure out where the shortcut would have come to.   I was glad I had taken the long way – it looked like there was a rather big gorge to get over, and also some private property, and at the bottom, a big fence with no opening and pretty big drop-off from the road to the path.

The beach was very beautiful.  As you can see, it was a nice warm, sunny day.  The water wasn’t even as cold as I expected – certainly no worse than a Northern Ontario lake in summertime ;).  I almost lost my sandals to a rogue wave that sneaked up on me while I was painting, discovered my backpack is quite water-resistant as it (containing my nice camera! yikes) was a victim also, and got rope burn trying to get on the other side of the boardwalk safe from waves.  Later on, I noticed rain coming from the north, but not quite in time to not get caught in it on my way home.  I sheltered under a tree, and it didn’t last too long.  And continuing home, I found some cats. 🙂

This is the little tiny watercolour I did that day.  I was much more pleased with it than I was with the one of the sunset the previous day.  It will be treasured in my smallest sketchbook journal.

Praia Santa Eulalia sketch. Watercolour on paper. 3.5×5″. Artist Lianne Todd

Stay tuned for more!

My first full day in the Algarve

It has now been precisely two months since I arrived in Portugal for a self-guided artist’s retreat.  Well, that is what it was supposed to be.  Advertised in the late spring, the villa, in Albufeira, was offered up on an artists’ group page as a place where 5 or 6 artists could gather and spend almost a month exploring and creating art.  The price was very affordable and even more so if you donated a piece of art at the end.  I saw it as an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up, and so did my family.  I’ve never really traveled on my own before, and this seemed like a pretty safe place to do so.  Also, I would be able to develop my plein air watercolour skills, meet new people, generally take a break from everything here, and enjoy some warm weather and some beaches!  I am really not sure what prevented ANY other artists from signing up to go.  Their loss!  So, I ended up sharing the villa with a nice older couple who were thinking about buying their own property there.

On my first full day there, we made an attempt to find the grocery store in the morning.  Mr. villa mate had rented a car for the month, and drove us where he thought the store might be, but we didn’t quite spot it and ended up at a mini-mart.  No worries, though, our villa owner had kindly provided several samples of local food in the refrigerator and I got enough at the mini-mart to survive by myself for several days while my villa mates were in Lisbon.   I was taking a break from cooking too, keeping things really simple.


View from my balcony in the morning that day, looking south towards the ocean.

And this is looking toward the north, from my balcony. A beautiful and quiet location.

In the afternoon, I set out to explore on foot and actually get to the mall where the supermarket was, a distance of about 3 km.  My main mission was to purchase a mobile phone SIM card to put in my unlocked phone so that I could have a phone in Portugal, to provide to tour companies and anyone else that needed to communicate with me there.  I was successful!  People at the mobile stores (there were at least three in the mall) were very helpful, and certainly spoke English well.  It was quite reasonable, only 10 Euros for one that lasted a month, and included a bit of data as well.  As it was, I barely used it, relying mostly on my iPad and wi-fi, or things I had downloaded to it for offline use.  I even managed to get some more groceries AND carry them back to the villa walking.

I started out determined to paint every day (at least, the days that weren’t ‘tour’ days).  So, when I got back to the villa I hurried out to the balcony of my room with my sketching journal, looked to the west, and painted while the sun set.  It wasn’t a spectacular sunset, and it isn’t a spectacular painting.  It’s just a sketch, done in a hurry, but I felt good having managed to reach my goal that day.

I will tell you more about my trip in the coming days.  Ciao for now!

Dusk, Albufeira. Watercolour on Paper. 5.5×8″. Artist Lianne Todd. Collection the artist.



Festive Greetings

Happy Winter Solstice everyone, it’s a good day to celebrate, for me personally, and for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere where we can anticipate longer days from here on in.  Whatever you celebrate in the month of December, I hope you know that you are loved and I hope you receive a gift of some kind.

For me, it’s been a very busy year filled with working for IWS Canada, traveling, learning new things about me as a painter, and coping with a lot of physical pain and limitations that continue but will only last another year or so (I’m told).

One of the main things I focused on this year was painting en plein air, which was something I started doing more of the previous year but hadn’t done a lot of prior to that.   I’ve thankfully reached a point where I do feel satisfied with my results (small though the paintings may be)!  While I do have great admiration for those who paint outdoors, and have met some who paint in really extreme conditions, I have to admit I know now I will always be a studio painter.  My plein air pieces are quite special to me though, as they are filled with the memory of being there for an extended time, the sounds, the smells, the people who stopped to say something… there is definite value in that.

That being said, being a studio painter involves being in the studio, and I found all the computer work that was necessary for the IWS Canada volunteer work kept me out of the studio way too much!  In addition to this, it compounded the physical problems I’ve been having.  In contrast, when I paint, all the pain disappears for the duration of my painting session.  So, I have stepped down from my position as Publicity Director and am leaving it in capable hands, much to my relief.   It has been very rewarding working on the IWS Canada team for the last four years.

This coming year will be spent painting in the studio, creating fractals, and sorting through all the things I’ve been putting off sorting through.

I would like to take a moment and say a huge thank you to all of the collectors who approached me or went to any of my exhibits and purchased artwork this year.  You made everything easier!

In the New Year, I will sit down here and tell you all about my trip to Portugal, and show you some of my paintings from there.  In the meantime, please have a safe, happy, love- and peace-filled holiday season!

A Winter Dawn at the Farm. Watercolour on Paper. 15×22″. Lianne Todd. Private Collection.



Painting to Spread Some Love Around the World — IWS Canada

Art has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. It brings people together and IWS Canada’s mission is to do just that – to unify those who live to create and also those who live to love art. ❤ Help us to spread some love around our world today ❤ I […]

via Painting to Spread Some Love Around the World — IWS Canada

The thing about being busy with lots of activities you could be blogging about is that you don’t have time to actually write about them on your own blog!   :).  Well, here is an easy one – I’m sharing this not just because I’m in the video but also because I do believe in the idea of spreading peace and love around the world as much as possible.  I hope you enjoy this lovely video that Ona Kingdon put together.

I will get to writing about some of my other recent activities soon…


A Symphony in Watercolour begins tomorrow! — IWS Canada

SiWC Events Graphic img v3

International Artists Gather For Cultural Event in Richmond Hill.

Tomorrow, watercolour artists from all over the globe will gather in Richmond Hill, Ontario, just north of Toronto, to celebrate the opening of ‘A Symphony in Watercolour’. All art enthusiasts are invited to attend the opening event at 12 noon on Friday, September 28, at Boynton […]

via A Symphony in Watercolour begins tomorrow! — IWS Canada

Please click the link above to see the rest of the article…

I’m so excited to attend this event I’ve been doing my best to publicize over the last 9 months or so, and see my painting (below) hanging alongside the other finalists’ beautiful work.  I hope many of you will also be there if you can.  Peace and Love to all of you!

Last Light Near Goat Rock

Last Light Near Goat Rock. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd