A Watercolour Painting Voyage in Portugal: From Basics to Mastery

Embrace the wisdom of a renowned poet: "Live in the sunshine, swim the ocean, drink the wild air."

May 10, 2024

We facilitate our bookings through WeTravel as a secure payment option.

This week, close to nature and your soul, offers new emotions and friendships. With a brush in hand, immerse yourself in the art world under the expert guidance of tutor Catarina Olefir.

Suitable for beginner levels, the experience guarantees relaxation, confidence-building, and artistic inspiration. Painting partners are warmly invited to share in this creative journey.

Your painting experience

Discover the spirited nature of watercolour with Kate. Master your brushstrokes akin to a conductor’s baton, techniques to capture enchanting effects, and delve into tonal relationships.

We’ll explore the grisaille technique, portraying the world’s beauty in a single color. If it feels like a lot, fret not. The theory will seamlessly equip you with skills, ensuring you approach your next painting with confidence in a relaxed manner.

About your tutor

Self-taught, Kate Olefir gleaned insights from renowned watercolour masters worldwide. From Joseph Zbukvic, she mastered capturing atmosphere and mood. Inspired by Alvaro Castagnet, she learned swift decision-making and simplification for maximum impact. Michael Solovyev’s influence guided her in mixing magical colours and painting with a loose style. Now, generously, she shares these acquired knowledge and skills with you.

Kate has instructed students hailing from Canada, Australia, the USA, and Europe. As of 2024, her painted works are set to be exhibited in exhibitions spanning Spain, Italy, the USA, and Portugal.

Painting holiday schedule

Day 1: Exploring Watercolour Beauty (Half Day)

Dive into the expressive world of watercolour, mastering brushwork and exploring tonal relationships. Discover watercolour abstraction, exploring its flow influenced by technique and mood. Gain plenty of skills, setting you on your next painting with confidence.

Day 2: Playing with Colours (Full Day)

Explore the emotional impact of colours, inspired by Monet, Sargent, and van Gogh. Immerse yourself in nature, experimenting with various shades of green.

Day 3: From Sketch to Masterpiece on Plein-Air (Full Day)

Paint outdoors, drawing inspiration from Figs on the Funcho. Learn location selection, dealing with time constraints, changing sunlight, and unpredictable wind. Enjoy a wholesome vegetarian lunch under mature carob trees.

Day 4: Optional trip to the historical town or coast. Please note: The trip is optional and the villa kitchen will be closed, however, if a guest prefers not to go soup and sandwiches will be provided.

Day 5: Exploring Shadow Hues (Full Day)

Observe captivating shadow patterns and explore their surprising colours. Understand perspective for creating realistic illusions. Share impressions and frame-worthy paintings.

Day 6: Unleash Your Creative Freedom (Half Day)

Paint a heartfelt masterpiece, guided by acquired knowledge. Enjoy an exhibition of your works and receive a small gift, leaving with unforgettable emotions.

Refer to the detailed itinerary for full session descriptions.


Figs on the Funcho, crowned by LuxLife’s Hospitality Award as “Algarve’s Most Idyllic Riverside Retreat 2023“, offers breath-taking country views that will undoubtedly leave you in awe. Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the surroundings, let the stunning landscapes inspire you, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Our home-from-home, The River House, is the perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts seeking modern comfort, privacy, and peace. This renovated 100-year-old farmhouse riverside property boasts an infinity swimming pool, 5 large bedrooms, and can accommodate up to 10 people with the option of single or double beds.

In addition to the villa, The River House also offers the option of staying in our two luxurious safari tents in the garden with stunning river views. Each tent can accommodate up to 2 guests, providing a unique and immersive nature experience. So, whether you choose to stay in the villa or one of our safari tents, you’re sure to have an unforgettable and restorative getaway.

Culinary delights with Cheryl and Graham

Figs on the Funcho founders, Cheryl and Graham, whose inspiring journey and adventures in the Algarve are chronicled in Alyson Sheldrake’s book, “A New Life in the Algarve Portugal.”

Featured on ‘A New Life in the Sun’ and ‘Where Are They Now,’ this dynamic duo brings over 25 years of expertise in unveiling the Algarve’s top beaches, eateries, and villages for unforgettable experiences. Their story, intricately woven into the fabric of the Algarve, adds an extra layer of authenticity to your journey.

Enthusiastic about Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary cuisine, Cheryl and Graham derive inspiration not only from their favourite chefs like Ottolenghi, Belfrage, and Tamimi but also from the vibrant tapestry of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle. Their cooking style reflects bold flavours, a variety of spices, the use of fresh herbs, and a dedication to highlighting the inherent qualities of ingredients.

Welcome to a journey of discovery and flavour!

How to get here

We’ll pick you up at Faro airport at 3pm; if you’ve opted for a different route, we’ll warmly welcome you at the riverside villa from 3pm.

For those arriving by train, disembark at Messines-Alte train station and choose a quick 5-minute taxi ride to reach the villa. This is an excellent choice for those who prefer to avoid an internal flight and instead savour a scenic journey through the countryside.

If you’re flying into Faro airport, you have two options: either take the train to Messines-Alte and select a 5-minute taxi ride to the villa or opt for a 45-minute airport taxi transfer directly to the villa.

Follow the Google map directions for those travelling by car.

Non-participating partners welcome

There are several quiet areas on the property to enjoy and take advantage of the peaceful, tranquil, scenic surroundings. Enjoy bird watching, book a relaxing aromatherapy massage, enjoy stand up paddle boarding or kayaking or simply chill out by the infinity pool and soak up some much needed vitamin D.

The clearly signed walking route is ideal for exploring the countryside on your own and you are welcome to join the art group when they go out walking and exploring the countryside.

There is so much to discover and enjoy in the Algarve that is within easy reach if you have a car.

“I went along to Figs on the Funcho as a non-painter with my painting partner. My time there was incredibly relaxing with stunning views across the river and countryside, with interesting walks and sunsets to die for.” – Clive

Email me if your partner would like to join.

What to bring

All experience holidays

  • Sun hat and suitable footwear (trainers) for walking to explore different paths and also if you plan to visit the historical town nearby, during free time, as the cobbled roads can be slippery.
  • Your swimming costume to enjoy the pool and watersports on the dam. The water levels may differ depending on the time of the year and drought conditions.
  • Clothing to keep you cosy while unwinding outside in the evening.
  • Insect repellent.

Painting holidays

  • Plastic or cardboard postal tubes to take your rolled artwork home. Paper sizes provided will be no larger than an A3 size.
  • Paints, brushes and paper if you plan to paint during your free-time.
  • Apron.

Experience holidays with yoga

  • Appropriate attire for yoga is recommended. Yoga practitioners are welcome to utilise the provided mats and yoga equipment during the classes.

Check-in check-out

Check-in from 16h00. Guests are requested to arrive before 21h00; otherwise, arrival should be scheduled for the following morning.

Check-out will be after the 09h00 breakfast.

Weather in the Algarve

Arrival day

We’ll pick you up from the agreed-upon location or, if you’ve opted for a different route, we’ll warmly welcome you at the riverside villa. Take your time settling into your accommodation, surrounded by peace and tranquillity.

Join us for welcome drinks at 18h30 on the waterfront deck, offering a chance to meet your group and relish the sunset. Weather permitting, dinner will be served outdoors, featuring a wholesome vegetarian meal thoughtfully prepared by your hosts, Graham and Cheryl. After dinner, savour a cheese platter with port beneath the carob trees.

Later, retreat to your beautiful rooms to unwind before the first full day of your Algarve experience holiday.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation is permissible up to 30 days before your scheduled arrival, entitling you to a refund of the total amount paid, minus a cancellation charge equivalent to the deposit. However, if you cancel within the 30 days preceding your arrival or fail to show up, the full reservation cost will be charged. Please refer to the Retreat Terms and Conditions – Figs On The Funcho for a detailed explanation of the terms, including the cancellation policy. Once the deposit is paid, it signifies the guest’s acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.

What you can expect to see and do

Unspoiled Serenity: Experience a tranquil and peaceful setting away from crowded tourist areas.

Infinity Pool Bliss: Enjoy a riverside location with an infinity swimming pool, offering uninterrupted panoramic views of the countryside and river.

Bird Watching Delight: Spot a variety of local birds from the comfort of a shaded seating area at Figs on the Funcho.

Starry Nights and Breathtaking Sunsets: Marvel at the beauty of starlit skies and create lasting memories with unforgettable sunsets.

Year-Round Enjoyment: Embrace our location all year round, featuring pleasant sunshine and warm temperatures, even during the winter months.

Relaxing Massages on Demand: Indulge in ultimate relaxation with the option to order on-demand, soothing massages during your stay.

What To Expect

  • Tution – 3 full days and 2 half days
  • Art Materials – All art materials are included during workshops. Please bring your own if you painting during your free time.
  • Accommodation – Spacious, comfortable accommodation. Single or double beds with shared spacious bathroom
    Welcome drinks
  • Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner (not included: alcoholic drinks (honesty bar provided) and one evening meal))
  • Airport Transfers – We’ll have one Faro airport pick-up at 3pm for the group. On departure date we have one transfer to airport after breakfast. We can arrange airport transfers for you at other times for your cost.
  • Cleaning – Mid week room clean and towel change
  • Towels – Bath and swimming pool towels
  • Wifi – Cable
  • Yoga Sessions – Yoga, Mindfulness, and Serenity on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday

May 10, 2024

We facilitate our bookings through WeTravel as a secure payment option.

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