Dear Artist,

Spain is a country that gives lessons in the organization of form. I’m thinking of whitewashed villages with soft cubist motifs: light, shade, colour surprise and varied textures of tile, masonry and stone. These magic places seem to tumble from their hillsides for the benefit of art. In narrow streets with singing canaries and sunlit geraniums, there’s abstract energy. Even clothes hung out to dry take on a significance unfelt at home.


“Cariboo Autumn”
watercolour on paper
by Jack Hambleton (1916-1988)

Jack and I planted ourselves for a day at an excellent corner — part street, part staircase, in Vejer de la Frontera. A noisy gaggle of school-going kids hung out with us until their bell rang. At midday a woman in black donated iced lemonade and smoked ham. During siesta-time old men stood back in the scant shade and discussed our doings. And in the evening volumes of smartly dressed young women elbowed by on their way to something important.


“Paros, Greece”
watercolour on paper
by Jack Hambleton


Through a rectangular hole cut in a shoebox we assessed and planned our compositions. Figures plied our spaces like unsubstantial ghosts as if observed by a slow camera. Each to his own style and whim, our small panels became their own series; faster, fresher. The passage of time brought a calming down and with it an understanding of the designs at hand. Some paintings, as usual, were better than others. Amused when a dust-man came sweeping with his cart, we both made a contribution. Then, two Guardia Civil watched us suspiciously, while we loudly discussed in English the studio potential of a Spanish jail.

When we could no longer see the colours of paint, we gathered our considerable bounty to the hotel and hastened to the vino tinto.


“The Shambles, York, England”
watercolour 11″ x 15″ (27.94 x 38.1 cm)
by Jack Hambleton

Best regards,


PS: “I love to find them, I love to paint them, I love to frame them, and I love hear about them being sold.” (Jack Hambleton)

Esoterica: Other recommended spots in southern Spain are Rhonda, Cadiz, Cordoba, Mihas. Recent favourites are any of the numerous high and unspoiled villages in the Sierra de Aracena; Galaroza, Fuenteheredos, Valdelarcos, Castano del Robledo.

This letter was originally published as “Bounty” on October 13, 2000.


Download the new audio book, The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“Drawing is a way to keep subjects fresh.” (Jack Hambleton)




  1. Other delightful villages abound in the Sierra Nevada of Andalucia. Whitewashed, cubist houses tumbling down hillsides. Orgiva, Capuleira, Pampaneira, Trevelez. When I visited the area hiking in the early ’80s some of these places could only be accessed on donkey trails.

  2. And now, South America beckons. The modern city of Lima, a short flight into the mountains to the beautiful, historic Inca city of Cusco, and a small village in the Sacred Valley, where untouched beauty opens it’s doors to us. Ghosts of an empire still lurk in the abandoned massive stone and earthen structures. The Peruvian people are a mixture of their Spanish conquerors and their Inca ancestors. I look forward to sharing all this with my artist friends. We will paint, photograph and explore the endless mystery that is Peru. Join us.

  3. I have been to the villages mentioned in the letter and also those in the comments above, I feel lucky and grateful. Many others too, in Spain as I walked the Camino frances. I visited them all before I began to paint!

  4. I have a painting in my collection by Robert Genn of Jack Hambleton “painting on his little paint stool” An elder woman dressed in black is walking behind Jack…… the painting was done on the same trip as noted above but in Martim Longo, Portugal. I believe they were driving around and painting whatever they came across….. Jack (my Pa) told me that “if either of them saw something worthy of painting the rule was to stop no matter what”. Jack’s call ……. they stopped on a busy bridge set up and painted……Would sure like to see those two paintings…….. Jay Hambleton.

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Featured Workshop

The Power of Paint; Creating the WOW factor in your paintings with Dutch artist Carole Boggemann Peirson
April 10, 2019 to April 17, 2019


Location: between Puerto Vallarta & Mazatlan, Mexico


Week-long workshop in gorgeous paradise retreat for beginning and intermediate students in oils (or acrylics with experience). You will learn how to create a painting with beautiful light that captures viewers’ attention and keeps them fascinated. Small group size guarantees personal attention.


While you’re busy creating art and exploring, your friendly hosts at Casa Buena will ensure that your stay is memorable. Outstanding accommodations, food, and field trips will satisfy your desire for both comfort and adventure. Spouses are welcome!


For more info, visit: or contact Carole at: or call: 001-757-678-3340 (EST). of the Earth
20 x 16 inches

Featured Artist

I seek to paint the essence and beauty of the natural world, land and sea impressions, textured nuances of tree bark or beautifully imperfect jars of clay.


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