It’s been over a year now since we left Portugal, and even longer since I last wrote a blog post, but I wanted to show the series of paintings I did while we were living in the beautiful town of Estremoz. I had hoped to exhibit them as a group at the time, but between the Covid lockdowns and our other shows, I never got a chance to organize it.
(Above is a YouTube video of the process for the previous painting).
We loved our three years living in Estremoz. The Portuguese people were as wonderful as everyone says, the towns, cities and landscapes of the Alentejo are gorgeous, and the history and culture is utterly fascinating. I had no idea how much of the world’s culinary culture was influenced by the Portuguese. From the vindaloo curries of Goa, to Japanese tempura, to the multitude of peppers worldwide, Portugal had a huge influence on food everywhere they went.
Today as well, the food in the Alentejo and the Algarve is amazing, and not as well known as it should be. The seafood is especially great, in part because the area south of the Tagus (Tejo) river is the only area in Europe where cilantro is still part of the regional cuisine.
We hadn’t originally planned on living in Portugal. It was one place on our list of possible places after my wife finished her studies at the Florence Academy of Art. But we really liked our time scouting in the Alentejo so we thought we would just look around at possible towns. One problem we had at first is that much of the architecture is designed around small windows as the summers are so hot. As artists we were looking for large windows with a lot of natural light. So we were thrilled when we discovered Estremoz. Much of the town is built on the north facing side of the hill under their castle, and there are a number of old, beautiful buildings with large north-facing windows.
As we walked around on our first visit, we stumbled across a large, ornate, empty building with large north-facing windows. The plaque next to the door read ‘Sociedade de Artistas Estremocense’, the Artists Society of Estremoz, so we asked next door if anything was for rent, and moved in a few months later.
We are very thankful to the Sociedade de Artistas for all their help in getting us settled into their beautiful building, and into the life and culture of Estremoz.
I also painted a few larger paintings. One is posted above, and here are a couple more:
This last one is of my wife on our terrace in the Artists Society building. I love the huge chimneys that you see all around the Alentejo, apparently they were for curing meat for storage.
Overall we had a wonderful time in the Alentejo and it is a period of our life that, despite the Covid pandemic, we will always look back on fondly.