Friday, 7 February 2014

Tutor profile: Kevin Dean - our new Painting tutor!


We're really excited to be welcoming Kevin Dean onto the team in 2014, and looking forward to his new energy and commitment to our vision for painting holidays! He's got a tremendous C.V, lots of teaching and travel experience, with a varied creative flair. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Kevin has illustrated numerous books, designed textiles, ceramics and also much of the marble decoration of The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. He is a keen traveller and has exhibited widely. He is currently the Associate lecturer at Southampton's Solent University.

Read more about his interesting life below.....

Your name please....
Kevin John Dean. Not a very artistic name, (Kevin), it's a name that's often used on TV for petty criminals or stand up comedians but I guess my parents thought it was original at the time of my birth.

What's your special skill.....
If we are talking art, my preferred medium is watercolour, but recently I've been experimenting with adding gouache, ink and even pastel to my paintings. Also I really enjoy printmaking, especially mono-printing which is very similar to painting in many ways.

Otherwise, I am ok cook and with three hungry boys to feed - pasta, in large quantities, is often on the menu. I'm also a very fast walker, much to my wife's annoyance!

Why do you love being a tutor for Authentic Adventures?
Lots of reasons, I like people and hearing about their lives and experiences, I love talking about painting and imparting what little knowledge I have. Also there's the reflected glory of being part of a great holiday experience, which I hope will have happy memories for the rest of their lives.

What's your top tip for future clients on an AA trip?
Just to relax and enjoy the experience, I find people often put a lot of pressure on themselves to produce great work, which can be counterproductive. Sometimes the best pictures happen when you stop thinking about the outcome.

Which Authentic Adventures trip are you most excited about in 2014?
I've been to Italy quite a few times when I was working on some marble decoration for a Mosque in Abu Dhabi, a long story....but that was mainly around Pisa and Milan, so I'm really looking forward to seeing both Umbria and Cinque Terre to see how these regions might differ from the North of Italy.

Holiday Tales...funny anecdotes, memorable holidays - weird moments!
When I was much younger, I travelled all over S.E Asia. I met a zoologist who knew the Headman of a tribe living in the interior of Borneo. Carrying a short letter of introduction I boarded a small plane that landed on the edge of a village in the middle of the rainforest. After reading the note I was welcomed to the Headman's Longhouse, where I stayed for about three weeks, people were so generous. I did lots of paintings and just before I left I had my first one man exhibition. I gave most of the pictures to the villagers.

Tell us something we don't already know about you.....
I like painting the sea in the middle of a heavy storm, my brother was once a professional footballer and I never leave home without having had breakfast!

Where would you like to travel to next?
I know it sounds a bit unlikely as a painting holiday destination, but I know the United Arab Emirates very well and I think it would be a great place to try. Even Dubai, famous for it's huge malls and sky scrapers has a wonderful historic district that I've often painted. Not forgetting the deserts and mountains....

Tell us about any forthcoming exhibitions, masterclasses etc. that you are running!
I'm very excited about my latest project, designing all of the architectural patterns for a Mosque in Kano Northern Nigeria. It's an existing Mosque which was built about 100 years ago but has fallen into disrepair and generous benefactor is paying for it's renovation.

Another interesting point is that John (Brough) lived in Kano as a boy, as his Dad worked there after independence, although it sounds as though it was a rather different environment than now!

In the New Year, I'm planning to have an open studio, which will be a good excuse to finish some pieces of work and have a good tidy up.

Kevin will be leading painting holidays in Cinque Terre and Orvieto.

For further information please have a look at his website:

Grande Mosque in Abu Dhabi - awe inspiring decorated marble by Kevin Dean

The Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Thick lentil soup and rusty Spanish on the island of La Gomera - John Brough visits

Fantastic Walking on the island of La Gomera

Our Managing Director, John Brough, makes a quick visit to La Gomera - a tiny island off Tenerife with a circumference of only fourteen miles - for research purposes. This year, we are running two walking holidays there, in February and November, and plan to introduce both painting and photography in 2015. Here are his brief comments, accompanied by photographs below:

"Ferry trip is fast and smooth – you see the high volcanic peak of Teide on Tenerife with a dusting of snow.

Past a very large group of small whales or bi dolphins. I think whales as some stayed at the surface and I’ve never seen dolphins do that.

Drive and photography effected really by low light angles which created an evening light that lasted about 3 hours! Because the landscape is all terraced in spite of super steep hills and it looks so good in evening light

The island does instantly create a relaxed feel.

Lovely first stop for lunch of thick lentil soup and time to dredge up Spanish with the lady who has the rerstaurant – my taking photos led to a million questions.  She showed me 16 year old playing football and we yarned about teenage sons – yarned perhaps a bit strong as language only just coming back – anyway sharing the time together was great and of course what I like most about my adventures.

Arrival at the Gran Rey produces a very hip scene with drummers on the beach and small crowd gathered on the wall watching the sun set towards America."

Quite an evocative feel. A wonderful island with a fantastic guide, Melanie Ebock. Melanie has adopted La Gomera as her home since 2000 when she first came to the island to work as a volunteer in the local national park. Taken with the rough beauty of La Gomera, she stayed. Since then, she has endlessly explored the island on foot, in love with its rugged beauty, high mountains, wide valleys and the silence in the evening when the sun sinks into the sea. She is particularly familiar with the local flora, the ancient Gomerans who lived on the island over 500 years ago and the customs and traditions which are maintained by the today's islanders.

For more information about our holidays in La Gomera, please follow the link above, or call us in the office - we may be able to tell you about our plans for 2015!
Leaving Tenerife behind - on the short ferry ride to La Gomera

Looking down the barranco


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The meaning behind your image - Hamish Scott-Brown gives us his Top Tips

Our talented photography tutor, Hamish Scott-Brown, believes in the story behind an image - here he gives some tips on how to deliver emotion and significance in your pictures....

Lighthouse in Gallipoli


As a photographer you are the creator of a visual image that will tell a story. Stories are narratives, some complex and some less so, that have a beginning, middle and end. A 'photograph' is a slice of time. It is not just a meaningless image of something, it should also be an image about something and it's a key skill to think about this before, during and after the shutter has clicked.

Before: Try to look beyond the 'instantly appealing' the banal or the imitation pastiche of subjects, and seek out a subject matter that will offer your viewer an opportunity to ask questions. The examples here show buildings and abandonment. What lies beyond what we see on the outside is the beauty within and what may have taken place there previously - the photo offers a retrospective view and a gaze into the past. What lurks in the shadows and what do they tell us about an event now past?

Try not to overlook the shadows in any picture situation as 'shadow' area conceals, in many cases, evidence that can be easily overlooked through dark exposures.

During: As a rule, you may want to explore the use of underexposure to create a darkera nd more moody feel. Use wideanle or super-wide lenses to create a voyeuristic feel with maximum depth of field to reindorce the context of the location. Accentuate details such as the dusty, open pages of an unread book or furniture as it may appear after someone has made a hurried departure. Don't be afraid to leave unanswered questions as powerful elements of the iamge that will hold the viewer's attention.

The open pages of a dusty book in Romania

After: With multiple layering and layer blending in Photoshop, you can use curves to draw out and exaggerate the highlights and shadows. The digital era has given photographers the opportunity to explore previously unseen light through the introduction of HDR and high ISO. Here's something to try. Create different versions of the same images, and then, using the snapshot and history tools in your editing software, blend and fuse different stages of your processing history into a single visual file.

Hamish's Top Tips:

  • Look beyond that which you can see in front of you.
  • Research suitable locations that will give you opportunities to explore traces of the past.
  • Use wideangle lenses to define context and telephoto lenses to isolate details.
  • Shoot in Raw to maximise dynamic range and details
  • Experiment with different exposures to emphasise, highlight or shadow areas and later blend in post-processing.
  • Think about latent emotions within the image that you are trying to convey to the viewer, sadness, anger, fear, happiness, belonging and love are just a few and can all be depicted by careful handling of light and shadow.
  • Consider the best time of day for the right quality of light, will the scene benefit from directional light of non-directional light?
  • Be sure to seek permission before entering a location and leave the location as you found it.
For more information about Hamish and our range of photography holidays, follow this link: All of our photography holidays are ideal for beginners, amateurs or more confident photographers - you will receive lots of one to one tuition.

Hamish will be leading groups to the island of Harris in the Hebrides, Shimla in the Himalayas and Puglia in Southern Italy. He is available to talk to on the telephone about any of the trips - you can discuss ability, equipment and location.

A beach scene in Puglia