Art workshops and much more at the idyllic Figs on the Funcho!

By Cristina da Costa Brookes, in Art, Lifestyle · 16-07-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

I had the greatest pleasure of meeting Cheryl and Graham Smith who run fantastic experience holidays here in the Algarve.

They lived in the UK for 23 years and decided to buy the Figs on the Funcho villa in 2007, and whose name comes from the Funcho Barragem that the tranquil property overlooks and the numerous fig trees surrounding them.

“The farmhouse, now known as The River House, was restored into a modern, stylish and spacious villa with five double bedrooms. We added an infinity pool overlooking the river, and decking areas designed for dining, entertaining, and most importantly— relaxing under the carob trees. Winding pathways were created in the garden to the water’s edge for easy waterside access for canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and for fishing enthusiasts.” In 2010, they started renting the villa as a holiday rental, and pre-covid they were making sure it was, family friendly space, whilst they were still living in England.

During the first lockdown they spent time a lot of time here and decided to become residents in the Algarve this year. They spent a lot of time discovering the walking routes near by and in the surrounding areas of Messines, known as the Via Algarviana. This 300-kilometre walking trail is comprised of fourteen sectors and they hope more people will discover the enjoyment of walking in this space, through the walking holidays that they offer. “We also recognised that we have the opportunity to be environmentally friendly by introducing ecotourism and sustainable tourism practices. Our intention is to employ local walking guides, support environmental sustainability projects and to educate travellers to be environmentally aware when exploring the countryside.”

Figs on the Funcho hosts numerous events in this idyllic setting, including group dinners and casual supper clubs, with a minimum of ten guests, along with beautifully tailor-made weddings and celebrations. Around three years ago, they also started running painting holidays, twice a year in June and September, which is how their brilliant one day and week-long Art workshops were born. Additionally, Cheryl also prepares a wholesome vegetarian meal, with lots of different options that everyone shares after the art class, which I can say first hand was delicious and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Asides from attending different art workshops every day during the week, they also offer water sports as well as guided walks and informative cultural heritage visits. They have also started the process of wild swimming and they hope to do more culinary workshops, with something in line with Portuguese cuisine and they also have a new Pizza oven which they hope to start Pizza and wine nights for private groups.

The Painting holidays are different every year as they try to cover a variety of subjects. During the June Painting holiday week, I was kindly invited to attend one of the incredibly fun workshops on “Ink and Mixed Media”, with the aid of the wonderfully talented art tutor Tracy- Jane Pooler, who guided the session and taught us various techniques. “It was a session on the joys of using ink in various ways to create interesting art works. A morning of play and experimentation where they showed us how versatile this medium can be, not to mention the possibilities when other mediums are used. From the application of ink from a pen for sketching, to brush work and the introduction of bleach and other unusual things.” The workshop is set outside at their haven of a B&B and where you are guaranteed to have a relaxing and enjoyable time creating something special.

I urge all art lovers to definitely consider attending one of their workshops. Cheryl and Graham host them with a lot of enthusiasm and care, making it an unforgettable day! At Figs on the Funcho, everyone is welcome to join as it is open to any ability, so you by no means need to be experienced, which really put my mind at ease as I had not done a workshop since school but I was given guidance and reassurance and found that some of the guests were in the same boat as me. The workshop had people of all ages and abilities and all the guests agreed that you make great friends at these courses. The lovely guests who I met were Jessmond; Christine, who lives in the Algarve and attended the workshop without staying at the villa and Abigail who had actually won Cheryl and Graham’s art holiday competition which they ran earlier this year (https://figsonthefuncho.com/win-a-painting-holiday-in-portugal). Jessmond also told me she had attended a painting holiday previously in Italy and made a friend for life who actually lives in New York and they plan to do more painting holidays together but there is something particularly special about Figs on the Funcho.

Their Painting holiday week offers guests a new art workshop everyday including Natural Inspiration which entailed a relaxed introduction morning at Figs on the Funcho, learning how to use different shapes, textures and form from nature. Using various drawing techniques and materials including graphite, charcoal and pen where you can ease into your art holiday learning new tips and tricks or a good refresher for the more experienced. Followed by a full day of “En Plein Air Painting Landscape”, En plein air painting is the French expression for in the open air and which was outdoors using the stunning location of Figs on the Funcho as inspiration for creating some plein air landscape painting. In the morning they discussed how to select your landscape, then compose a painting or drawing while on location. After lunch, they continued with the landscapes back at base where they tuned the fine details with guidance to create some impressive works of art. On the last day they offered a “Pastels” workshop where they drew a highland cow using pastels and Tracy shared tips and techniques on how to apply layers and blend.

“We have ongoing workshops throughout the year and our painting meet-up groups are fun and supportive and also great for people new to the Algarve who are looking to meet people that share a creative interest. Lasting relationships have been formed with people from all over the world, including South Africans, Americans, English, Dutch, and, of course, Portuguese, all living in the Algarve.” Their next Palette Painting Workshop is on the 27 July, 2021 and you can book your place directly on their website https://figsonthefuncho.com/discover/palette-knife-painting. The unmissable Mixed Media Painting workshop that I attended, will also be happening again from the 19th to the 23 of September, 2021 which you can book through https://figsonthefuncho.com/discover/painting-lessons-in-the-algarve. If anyone would like to have a team event, or take part in their fantastic painting workshops, walking excursions or more, please do not hesitate to check out their website for more information: www.figsonthefuncho.com or to get in touch directly with Cheryl please contact her via her email cheryl@figsonthefuncho.com.



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