On Monday 18 October I was invited by Heavenli Roberts, one of the four co-directors of the Algarve International School (AIS) located behind Villas and Vacations, to attend an event full of paint and creativity they were calling ‘The Big Draw’.
Although later it was said that maybe it would have made more sense to call it ‘The Big Paint’, the idea, Heavenli said, was based on something she heard that they do in America. The plan was to decorate the entrance wall of the school with four murals. Each one was to be based on tones from the four house team colours (Red, Blue, Yellow and Green). As an afterthought (that really seemed to psyche everybody up), it was decreed that the winning team would get 100 house points.
Heavenli told me that it was a long shot, but she had decided to ask the lovely ladies at The Quinta Art Collective if they wanted to come by and help and told me how she couldn’t quite believe it when they actually agreed.
The ‘famous five’ members of this relatively new artistic collective consist of Jessica Dunn (fine artist), Jane Rodenburg (fibre artist), Toin Adams (sculptor), Andrea M. Bird (mixed media artist) and Tracy Carson (portrait artist) and they all happily came down to not only offer some expert tips and tricks to help the students out with their colourful collages but also, you could tell just by looking at their hands and smiles, to get stuck in and play with some paint themselves.
It was an all day event and so by the time I rocked up at around 11 o’clock things were well and truly underway. The place was a hive of colour and activity. The event was a collaboration of all ages and everybody had the opportunity to ‘leave their mark’. The year ones were first up and had already been down to add their little handprints to the wall. The older students were now ‘working around’ these early foundations (shouts of “Don’t paint over that!” filled the air).
The Blue House’s wall (whose theme was ‘Writing’) was becoming, well… very blue. Next to them, the Yellow (‘The Arts’) team was already showing off their natural artistic flair with a dragon on one side and a headless (and rather pale) guitar player on the other. In between, a chameleon was slowly starting to show itself and they even had some beautiful ‘Van Gogh’ style flowers to (please forgive me) ‘Gogh’ along with it.
The Red (‘Reading’) team had painted a boy with lots of books flapping and flying around his head. And finally, the ‘Green Mean Fighting Machines’, as I remember calling them when I was at school (also known as the ‘Arithmetic’ team), had already written ‘Maths’ with faint traces of a calculator by its side.
I managed to get a few of the busy artists to put their paint brushes down for a minute and to pose for a picture. We then agreed that I would come back at the end of the day to see how it all turned out. Arriving back later that afternoon, I couldn’t quite believe how everything had come together in just a few hours...
Blue was no longer just ‘blue’ and had become the mighty ocean surrounded by a smack of (yes, that's what a group of them is called) jellyfish. The words “She loved the ocean because every time the waves left shore they always came back” was now written across it and, if you look very carefully, you can even spot a cheeky little yellow seahorse that seems to have jumped ship from the Yellow team's mural next door.
Speaking of which, Yellow's headless guitar player was now all dressed up and, along with the now colourful chameleon and fabulous bouquet of ‘Gogh’ flowers, there were now faces, stars and even a ballerina caught mid pirouette dancing to floating music notes.
Red now had its own huge dragon escaping out of a book and making its way towards the boy with all that literature buzzing around his head.
(But don't worry too much, it looked to me as if the ‘Red Dragon’ was about to get hit by a fireball that said ‘READ’).
Finally, the Green team now had a calculator and was covered with math symbols, a clock and even some Roman numerals. The 'MATHS'‘S’ was now a slippery snake and, all in all, I'll level with you, I’m having quite a hard time trying to ‘sum’ it all up.
I’m afraid I never did find out who won. But I can imagine it was a difficult call. I personally would say that ‘The Big Paint’ was a draw.