We have been running Painting in Spain successfully since 2007. Andy is the lead tutor and Helen runs the business, looks after the guests and provides them with delicious food.
We arrived in Spain in 2005 after a ‘Gap Year’ sailing from the UK to Morocco. We took this year out as we wanted to do something different with our lives or perhaps it was just a typical mid-life crisis? We bought a second hand boat, renovated it, learnt how to sail (!) and took off to explore Europe and to give ourselves time to think about – what next?
Andy has always been self-employed running his Painted Effects business, teaching art in schools and in adult education and as a chef. Helen has had a similarly varied career path in education, catering and more recently as a Location Coordinator for a television production team.
Towards the end of the ‘Gap Year’ Helen broke her arm which meant being grounded for 2 months in a small marina in Barbate, Andalucía. By this time we had already decided that we would like to open a Painting School; it seemed a sensible match for our skill set. Andalucía offered all the necessary requisites’ fantastic light, a great climate, stunning scenery, etc. All we needed was a suitable venue that was within our budget. We spent two very wet months in January and February looking at properties and just at the point of giving up we came across the beautiful hilltop town of Alcalá de los Gazules. After much deliberation we bought the property, an 18th century Hostal which is now our painting school; Painting in Spain. The house was a ruin and Andy with some help from two local Spanish builders spent 18 months renovating it to its present glory whilst Helen initially went backwards and forwards to work in the UK.
We absolutely love it here in Alcalá, our lives have been transformed. We cannot deny that at times it has been “challenging” and extremely hard work but as ludicrous romantics we of course would change very little. The response from our students and guests truly makes our efforts worthwhile.
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