The Princess Diaries by Joy Fahey (1)

The Princess Diaries is delighted to share “The Princess Diaries” by Joy Fahey – an artist and life coach, living in Marbella. Joy set up an Art Studio & School here in Marbella in 2000 teaching and painting. Having had many exhibitions and worked with Interior designers, her paintings are hanging on walls in countries across the world.

Joy says about “The Princess Diaries”, “they are based on my experience of teaching a Saudi Princess to paint on her summer vacation in Marbella. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my interesting and insightful conversations with the Princess and her unusual creative process of learning to paint.

“As an artist, teacher and life coach, it has broadened my understanding of culture differences, religion, attitudes and approaches to life as well as my art, which has been a very inspiring and fascinating experience for me. As a result it inspired me to share my story.”

* * *

The Phone Call

‘Hello, can I speak to Joy?’ ‘Yes speaking’ ‘I’m phoning on behalf of the Saudi Royal family as the Princess would like to have some art classes with you, can you come and meet her tomorrow at 2 pm’  Nearly dropping the phone ‘Yes, yes of course’

OMG Teach a Princess art, wow that doesn’t happen every day! Having got all the details I put the phone down and had to sit down and take a breath. I was shell shocked, very happy and very excited.

Apparently, I discovered later, the Princess had got my number from a friend of a friend who’d attended one of my workshops a while ago. As they say ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!!’

In a spin I had to decide what to wear, what to say, what to do and what not to do, was there a certain protocol, I had no idea. With every article of clothing all over the bed, I came to the conclusion I just had to be myself and as an artist I was actually allowed to be just that!

But just as a precaution I did a bit of research on the internet to make sure I had some idea of the basic do’s and don’ts

After a restless night I spent the morning preparing and keeping occupied till I needed to leave. 5 minutes meditation, and another 5 minutes mediation, breath in breath out, I just had to relax ‘I’m fine, what am I getting so nervous about’ I was asking Amber my dog. She obviously understood and wiggled her bottom which would have been wagging her tail if she had one!

Day 1

1.55pm I arrived at the big wooden gates of the palace or maybe villa, wasn’t sure what to expect, and pressed the intercom buzzer and as the gates opened I drove down the short drive to park next to a white Ferrari, a Mercedes and a Jaguar in front of the very grand villa. My little blue Peugeot I thought added a bit of colour to the array of cars!

I was greeted by a women in full veil and asked to wait in the ‘servants’ courtyard for the Princess.

Being in August, the hottest time of the year in Southern Spain, it was hot, extremely hot, straight hair had turned to frizz and a river of sweat ran down my back with a combination of overheating and nerves I sat patiently waiting.

Twenty minutes later I was taken to the pool house where numerous easels were lent up against the wall and unwrapped paints, brushes and canvas were on the huge table, the rotating ceiling fan was a blessing.

I managed a quick view of the huge terrace as we walked to the side of the garden to the enclosed pool. The garden itself went as far as I could see with massive trees, fountains and flower beds. Fingers crossed I’d have a better opportunity of getting a better view later.

I was bought a juice and a bottle of water by another veiled lady and after another 20 minutes a tall attractive woman in her late forties appeared smiling and pleased to see me. She was dressed in very plain blue trousers and a top, her hair in a pony tail and was very relaxed and friendly. This was what a Princess wears to paint, I really wasn’t sure what she would look like, but was very pleasantly surprised that she just seemed normal!

‘Hello, I’m so pleased you could come at such short notice and I’m looking forward to getting started with my painting’ Her English was eloquent and as we chatted I familiarized myself with her accent, it had bits of Arabic thrown in which made it all rather charming.
We hit it off immediately, decided on the hours and payment each day and unwrapped all the paints and brushes together.

I’d bought some books with me to give us some pointers in what she liked and we sat and talked about different artists and styles. She was very open and enthusiastic and I felt she was genuinely interested and quite passionate about her art.

I discovered she had actually started painting herself at home in Riyadh and was fascinated with surrealism especially Salvador Dali, which, I thought was quite surreal in itself!. Anyway she was hungry for understanding abstract and contemporary art and wanted to know all the how’s, why’s and wherefores. An interesting, intriguing relationship had begun.

Being an artist, one of the perks is it allows you the freedom to move into any social strata, there are no rules when it comes to art! Maybe this is why I love it! But also I love it because it’s real; it’s in the moment, authentic, natural and open. It’s brings you together with something inside yourself that connects you up to your own uniqueness, it liberates you from social and mental restrictions and gives you a sense of freedom. Whether you’re a pauper or princess it makes no difference because we know we are all fundamentally creative beings.

This understanding links you to anyone and everyone who loves art, be it painting, music, dancing, singing, acting etc they don’t have social boundaries. Getting to know the Princess from this perspective has given me such a great insight into myself, my understanding and my life as an artist.

Our first afternoon together went well and although we didn’t actually get to painting we had bonded in a artistic way! She loved talking about art and being my favorite subject, I certainly did, so I felt both of us were going to be fine spending time together. 

The icing on the cake was meeting the Prince and being invited to join them for their late lunch with their son and daughter.  I was quite bowled over.

It was both formal yet at the same time a very informal affair. The dining room was quite a big room with a table that would seat 12 people. A big chandelier hung in the middle with various sideboards dotted with expensive looking vases and lamps leaned against three of the walls.  

Big dishes of food were already on the table which the Filipino ‘Butler’ served and I caused quite a stir when telling them I was a vegetarian. But they were all very gracious and the Butler just offered me the dishes I could have. The conversation was mostly in Arabic but now and again the Prince would tell me what they were talking about. He seemed genuinely interested and and made every effort to  put me at my ease.

He was a very elegant hansom man dressed in a white robe which is called, I later found out, a Throbe, plus a Ghutra and Egal which is the head scarf worn by men, along with a black rope band to fasten it in place. (Thank goodness for Google!)

I listened and watched with fascination at this rather surreal situation I found myself in. I felt very blessed to have such an experience, there were so many different aspects and beliefs in their culture but, at the same time, they are just a family having lunch together enjoying their summer vacation.

What an amazing afternoon! I got home and had to pinch myself ‘did that really happen?’ The most exciting part was I was going to be teaching her over the next few weeks!
Glass of wine was very much in order… 

Day 2 coming soon

Joy Fahey
‘Where Art and Life Meet’

Written and published by: Joy Fahey
The Princess Diaries ©Copyright 2016 Joy Fahey copyright owner. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced without written permission from the author. Please feel free to contact Joy Fahey at You may store the PDF on your computer and backups. You may print this book for your own personal use. Disclaimer: The information contained in this book is based on the author’s experience, knowledge and opinions. The author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.

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