Watercolour demo…..

I plan to give more watercolour demos on my blog, but for today here is a re-blog. Remember to PLAY – it’s a vital part of the creative process.

My Life as an Artist (2)

Along with workshops, I also like to give watercolour demonstrations.    This is an excellent way to give people a taster of what watercolour painting can be.

It’s always important to remember that my demo might be very different from other artists.    What I say and do isn’t necessarily what others might agree with, or indeed people wishing to learn about watercolour painting might wish to follow.    It’s just another way of approaching the medium.

Red landscape – A very simple watercolour exercise….perfect for beginners. 

P1100748I gave a demonstration on Monday at The Hurlingham Club in London, but as I haven’t had time to unpack my bag yet, I am using an example I have on file.

In this frame I wet the ‘sky’ area of the painting – dropped some colour into it and allow the paint to bleed (run)……..It’s important to note that at this point the…

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When life is manageable

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, which spans 185 million years of geological history.  – reminding me that we are but a blip in time and that ultimately Mother Nature rules!  watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1231)Given that I hadn’t been on the Isle of Wight since 1965, I decided to take a taxi from the Ryde ferry terminal to Bembridge where I was staying.      The taxi driver was lovely…a man who had moved to the Island from London thirty years ago.      As he pointed out, the Island works best for young families, people over sixty, and of course those who love to sail  – Cowes being a world class sailing arena.        His grown children have returned to London, a story I heard several times.     As he pointed out that despite a good internet connection, until the day a bridge or tunnel is built, connecting the Island with the mainland,  life as it is will probably continue.       (let’s hope they never build a tunnel or bridge…..)

After checking into my B & B I had planned on seeing my friend, artist and blogger, Sarah Vernon (First Night Design) however Sarah was taken into hospital on the day I arrived!       I am relieved and pleased to say that Sarah is now home, and will tell you all about her ordeal in her own words when she is more rested.   Get well soon Sarah.

Proving that there is a silver lining in most circumstances,  I did get to visit Sarah in Newport Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to take the beautiful and relaxing one and a half hour bus ride from Bembridge to Newport.

One of the photographs I took of Sandown from the top of the number 8 bus from Bembridge to Newport….it was a beautiful day.  20-11-15 - 1 (991)My overall first impressions were of a much slower pace of life,  of almost going back to how the UK was when I was growing up.    Everyone I encountered was extremely helpful, including the bus drivers.    People still queue.…and of course being a Brit I do like queues :).      There was no litter or graffiti….a sense of order prevailed.      In short it all felt very manageable.

It felt as if the Island has not outgrown its infrastructure.  Life appeared to be integrated rather than fragmented.    The opposite to feeling overwhelmed and isolated – which I believe is a huge problem for many in today’s society.  

Newport, the principal town of the Island, is often referred to as its capital.    Again very manageable, very easy to walk around…..I had a wonderful fish and chip lunch for £4!    Newport Hospital was just a short bust ride away from the town centre – everything felt easy.

Outside the Art Centre in Newport.    20-11-15 - 1 (1009)This visit was about getting a feel of the place.     Would I want to spend time there painting?    These are always my prime questions.     The answer is yes.    I would choose a village location with a bus route.    This would allow me to walk to shops/pubs etc, and with my London bus pass – free bus travel.     So it will definitely go on my list of places to explore and paint.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline. 1500-isleofwight-creditNTI returned to the mainland via the Cowes ferry to Southampton where I had the sudden realisation that the last time I was on Southampton dock was  January 28th 1966 when I took the United States Liner to New York!   Talk about deja vu.   My friend Suzy, whose office sits right on the dock then drove me to Dorset.

I stayed with art college friend Maureen….always very enjoyable.       Although I don’t do very well with cars (anyone who knows me will  be smiling at this:)  Maureen took me to Lulworth Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast- and I am so pleased she did.     The weather could not have been more perfect and most importantly it was  visual feast.

Three different views of Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Jurrasic Coast  Dorset….watercolours. 20-11-15 - 1 (1235)

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This image of Lulworth Cove is taken a half a mile away from where I painted Stair Hole….61029843I began this post with Thomas Merton’s quote about balance, order rhythm and harmony.…elements I believe we all need in our lives.

Along with Crickhowell Wales, Saorge and other locations in France, the isle of Wight goes on my list of places where these elements are still to be found.

I am constantly reminded as I paint the magical hummingbird of how we can learn from Mother Nature – be it on the minute scale of the hummingbird or the rugged and grand scale of the Jurrasic Coast.       It is at our peril that we lose sight of this.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life. – watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-358A Bientôt

 

‘I’ve Got a Ticket to Ryde’…and remembering a much simpler time.

On my Lambretta scooter in 1965 (the same year that the Beatles wrote the song – ‘I’ve got a ticket to Ride’)   My friend Maureen is on the back.   She and I went to art college together and shared a flat in London.      til August 10 142I have just purchased a ticket to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where I will be spending some time with fellow blogger and artist, Sarah Vernon – ‘First Night Design’.     The last time I visited the Isle of Wight it was on this scooter in 1965!

But first I would like to tell you a story about my Lambretta scooter which points out how different the world was in 1965,

First of all no license or helmet was needed.    This was long before ‘heath and safety’.     Finding a puncture in the petrol tank I went to the local garage where I was told to chew bubble gum and then plug up the hole – which I did.    I drove all the way to the Isle of Wight and back on that scooter…and it was fine.      This time around, I will be travelling by train and of course ferry from the mainland to the Island.

This photograph was taken the same year – with Maureen and another friend in front of what was then the  newly opened Commonwealth Institute in Kensington.    It has just been re-opened as the New Design Museum. 

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Those were heady days.     It was a fun time to be young in London and indeed Europe….Hope abounded.

The era of materialistic madness had not yet descended….expectations were of a different kind and consequently for the most part people were much more content.    

Hitchhiking and Youth hosteling around Europe was considered normal for young people.      A holiday could mean, stomping grapes in Italy or staying at the very basic newly emerging Club Med camps scattered around Europe.       In short it was a much simpler life.

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (764)After visiting the Isle of Wight and Sarah, I then return to the mainland (Dorset) where I will stay with Maureen.

I will of course take camera and sketch book…..

Magical Hummingbirds as always will accompany  me……

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A Bientôt

A special visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon on my 10th Blog and FB anniversaries – they are connected.

My visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon….(AKA Crickhowell Wales) turned out to be particularly special.      It also happened to coincide with my 10th anniversary of blogging and involvement with social media.        I write about both these events together as they are connected…..

The view from my bedroom window on the first morning.       My first impression – a river of mist floating across the Usk Valley.       Magical, and even more so to observe the mist lifting, slowly revealing the beauty beneath.

20-11-15 - 1 (190)watercolour/gouache sketch – The Usk Valley where the Black Mountains meet the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (493)This visit was the first time since I left Crickhowell, twelve years ago, that I was able to completely relax and allow myself the joy of visiting old haunts and connecting with dear friends.

 

 

The 16th century bridge spanning the River Usk.      I have walked over this bridge so many times….and like the surrounding hills and landscape the colours and atmosphere constantly change.

80503814The market Town of Crickhowell has a population of approx 3,000.      It still has the butcher, baker and candlestick maker and much much more.     A manageable and vibrant community.

High Street Crickhowell 

Crickhowell-148295When I lived there in my little cottage on Mill Street I was able to walk everywhere, including to twelve (or was it thirteen) pubs? – all of which served good food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.      That is still the case.

This little watercolour sketch looking over the town up towards Brecon was painted shortly after I arrived in Crickhowell (1994) from the Castle Motte.   131500_307466586024705_32046251_oSo why you might ask did I leave.       In 1999 I began working on a project for children which used the power of art and colour to teach about environment, homelessness and many other social issues.      Had it been successful, it would have solved long term financial issues.    After what looked like a very promising beginning, in 2003 it was clear that the project was not going to work.    A very sad moment for me.

However – ‘None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..’

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This precipitated a move to London, my base for the past twelve years.       France was to be my next permanent move….but once again circumstances and personal responsibilities caused my plans to be changed.

 

From my sketch book on this trip…The light over the Brecon Beacons changes by the second. 20-11-15 - 1 (479)All of which brings me to ten years of blogging and social media…………

Ten years ago in the midst of this change, I had heard about blogs, but didn’t have a clue of what they were.    I knew nothing about social media, until my daughter suggested that I join something called Facebook.    My response  – Why not?

As it happens, my decision to get involved was a life saver.     Given that this period has been somewhat fragmented, blogging and social media have allowed me to continue working, and at the same time meet many new and interesting people.    I would recommend anyone who is going through a time of change and upheaval to use consistent blogging as a way to bring a sense of stability into life.

I also believe that had social media been in play when I began my project in 1999, things might have worked out differently.   No regrets – simply an observation.

Having a base in London has also been very good for my work and again I have met wonderful people….

Watercolour from sketch book. 20-11-15 - 1 (320)

However, I am now free of personal responsibilities and can move forward unencumbered, which is why my trip to Crickhowell this time around was so special.

I have no idea what the future will bring….I am one of those people that tries to live in the moment and take each day as it comes…..however, we do have to make plans, and it is my hope that I will now spend longer periods of time in places liked Crickhowell, Saorge France, Portugal etc.

As I continue to work and travel, I plan to do much more plein air work and of course record the people who I encounter along the way.

Ella sketching. – pen and wash

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I wish one and all a beautiful beginning of Autumn.

Magical hummingbird symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world.      

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A Biento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity – Use it or lose it….

I attended a gathering this week where I was asked what kind of art I made.    This is a loaded question and one I often find difficult to answer.       I said I love colour and believe that the creative process in all its forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.      I was then asked if I thought everyone had a desire to create.   My answer was a resounding – yes.

This years visit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. 6ABA8BCB-D0B8-40B2-859B-17819F7B2564After returning home I thought more about my response.

Our inborn creativity has to be nurtured in the same way that we care for our minds and bodies.      For example, if we allowed one of our limbs to shrivel and atrophy  – we would always be aware of the many things we might have done with the full use of that limb.       It is much the same with creativity.     Not to use it in one form or another, brings frustration often accompanied by a sense of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.     Use it or lose it really does apply. 

Jayanthi Rani at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 20-11-15 - 1 (1131)This beautiful watercolour was painted by Jayanthi Rani who I met five years ago when she came to my painting course in Portugal….and since then it has been my great privilege to watch her work blossom and grow.       You can see more of Jayanthi’s work on her FB page. 25FD0122-DEE0-4FCF-A3C4-22A8C3D69E8AIt seems to me that as we try to fill the ever widening holes within as our collective senses are being deadened through the over use of technology, our frustration levels grow and the need for a creative outlet even more acute.

 

Nurturing my little cottage garden in Wales from a barren, fallow patch, was a creative project I loved.       til August 10 1037Cooking, sewing, knitting, writing, dance, music – I could go on and on.     When I observe people using a myriad of creative disciplines – I see people who in that moment feel a sense of contentment and wellbeing.

I am off to Crickhowell, Wales (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) on Monday and will hopefully return with lots of new ideas and sketches.

For now I leave you with a happy moment from last year along with a watercolour of the beautiful Use Valley.

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A Bientôt

How Creators Benefit from Teachers

Another superb post from David Rogers – reminding us all of the importance of good and inspirational teachers. David’s posts always re-awaken in me thoughts and ideas…..which are is all part of the never ending learning experience of life and the creative process……Janet

davidjrogersftw

Colorful abstract paintingIn college I had a brilliant professor of creative writing–he was dazzling. After class one day I said to him, “You know everything about literature and writing. Your analysis of works is something to behold, and you’re able to tell students how specifically to improve their work. But as far as I can tell you’ve never produced any creative writing yourself. Have you?

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I have no talent.”

He didn’t have the talent his students did have, but his students didn’t have the knowledge he had, and that’s what we were there to acquire so we would have both talent and knowledge.

A painter will not automatically improve her performance by painting more. A writer’s performance won’t improve simply by further writing. To ratchet up their performance they will have to make changes designed specifically to develop it to a higher level. One major change is to…

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