Saturday, 23 March 2013


I always enjoyed Art at school, especially painting and chalk drawings and I always thought I’d keep it up after I left school, but here I am many years later faced with a blank canvass and oil paints wondering where to start!

I had walked into Studio 16 a few days ago hoping to say hi to Rances and find out more about the Painting / Art lessons and I ended up signing up for a 2 day mini course.  Well the best way to find out is to give it a try!

The gallery located in the heart of the historical centre in Trinidad, near the Plaza Mayor, boldly displays a number of his and his fellow Artist’s pieces.  Rances is a Lyrical Abstract Artist, influenced by Impressionism, whom enjoys using vivid colours, however he explains that doesn’t stop him from teaching various techniques and styles.  Rances appreciates that each student has their own vision and style.  The lesson is all about you and your experience and it is his role as the teacher to guide you and help you reach your own personal artistic style and objectives.

So he when he asked me ‘what is your artistic objective?’  I already knew, completely enticed by the abstract art all around me that I too was a follower of the same artistic movement.

Walking through the cobbled streets of Trinidad to the studio for my first lesson, I was a little apprehensive, ‘do I have what it takes?  Will I respond to Rances and his guidance?’  He had asked me to think about colours.  Orange had been my new favourite colour for a while and I knew I wanted to paint a sunset over the ocean; influenced by my Pacific beach days in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, where I had been blessed with many marvellous sunsets. 

When I arrived at the Studio, timid and uncertain, Rances was there waiting for me, he gently took me through the foundations; the size of the canvass, the position of the horizontal lines, primary and secondary colours, mixing of the colours, light and dark shades, brush techniques on the canvass.....and then he left me alone and allowed me to make the first bold moves without feeling like I was in the spotlight.  ‘Where do I begin?’

Rances would come and go always inspecting the way I was working and giving me additional tips; how to hold the brush, how to mix the colours on the canvass, how to give the perception of distance.  He was an endless source of encouragement.  My insecurities had been forgotten, I became absorbed in my art, still feeling hesitant at times, but not letting it stop me go with my instincts.  By the end of the day I had managed to fill the canvass with colour, I had finished the foundation of my painting.  Rances assured me that the following day I would begin to paint the details of the painting.  Surprisingly pleased with what I had accomplished after a couple of hours, I took a couple of photos so I could show everyone at the casa.

End of Day 1 - Painting Workshop - Cuba

The second day I arrived a little late at the gallery, the English inside of me was trying to rush so as not to be too late, but when I got to the gallery, Rances was nowhere to be seen.  A little while later he strolls into the gallery, completely oblivious of time.  Off course, why did I even think about rushing, this is Cuba!  We picked up where we left off and he explained how to give the painting more definition, making the colours even bolder than the day before.  He told me that a tourist had passed by the gallery after I had left and had enquired about the painting, he proudly told them that it belonged to one of his students!!!! With my new sense of confidence, I continued to follow Rances’s guidance and began to put definition and a sense of distance into the painting.  I was inspired by the sound of passing tourists on the street, the Cuban traditional musicians playing on the street, listening to their beautiful harmonies and was pleasantly greeted by tourists and locals popping into the gallery, having a quick chat, it’s certainly a relaxed atmosphere.

A couple of hours later my master piece was finished.  Even though I had felt nervous at times and unsure of myself and what I was painting, Rances had a calming influence, which gave me the confidence to believe in me and my painting.  Trinidad is certainly an inspiration to me, I only wish I had more time to stay in Trinidad and paint more.  Maybe next time.

Me & My Lyrical Abstract Masterpiece

Donated to my amiga in Trinidad.


  1. this is a great write up and beautiful art. Are the art classes available "a la carte" or as part of a travel package through this website? - if one has already arranged an all-inclusive vacation, can this be done on the side?

    1. Hi, the Art classes are available either with Casa accommodation or if you have already arranged an all-inclusive vacation, we are happy to organise the Art classes on the side. When are you going to Cuba?