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September – new beginnings and a time of renewal.

‘Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that’.  From ‘Buddhist Offerings’ 

watercolour/gouache – Rays of sunlight as I walked through the woods1917262_186338425395_7900997_n

Moving from August into September has always meant new beginnings for me.        Along with the onset of cooler weather and visible changes in nature….there is also a perceptible change in mood.      Children go back to school and many return to work. The world around us becomes busier.    I am speaking from an English point of view.     For my friends living in the southern hemisphere….there are also new beginnings – for them Spring is arriving.

Those who follow this blog will be aware that I usually go to Portugal in April.    This year, I am also returning on 18th September for a workshop at the school in Olhao http://www.artinthealgarve.com      The School is one of my all time favourite venues – a wonderful places to explore the creative process.

Olhão Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)After working with a group for the first week, fellow artist and good friend Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com  arrives from South Dakota to give a course.     As always we take these opportunities to spend some time together.     I will also see another artist friend, Vickie Snaddon, who has a house not far from Olhao. It is Vickie who runs the beautiful lodge in Belize http://www.pookehilllodge.com     Needless to say, I am really looking forward to it.

Given that Olhao is part of the Ria Formosa National Park...beautiful wildlife abounds – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (226)watercolour

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Nesting storks on one of the local churches.    ImageI With its courtyards, communal areas and excellent studio space, plus shops, cafes, markets, Lagoon  all within a few minutes walk from the school – plus of course the wonderful Margarida and Joanna who take care of all our needs….what more could an anyone wish for.

The Pool House courtyard….I love all the levels, shapes and shadow play. P1150740The studio. P1150901The 150 year old Olive Tree that meanders from one of the courtyards up through the three levels of the school.   You can see the blue of the roof top pool through the tree. P1150724watercolour20180703_105444

Another exciting development this year is that I have been invited to exhibit five watercolours at the Chongqing Museum of Art, China.   This is part of a French/Chinese annual cultural exchange.    I was invited by French artist Claude Lesur  who organised an exhibition I had in France eleven years ago.   The opening in Chongqing will be on 17th November and next spring the exhibition will come to Paris.    I will write more about this after I return from Portugal.

The Art Gallery in Chongqing where the exhibition will be held. 

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20180702_121621This has been one of the best years I can remember.   I have visited places, friends and family I love and along the way enjoyed wonderful conversations and much laughter.   I am so grateful for this moment in time and that I have been able to focus on what is truly of value in my life.

The magical hummingbirds have been with me all the way……

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A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Traditional English Christmas Cake story – sustaining life and enhancing international relations…….

The following is a true story about my Mother’s traditional English Christmas Cake…and how it saved my life and helped to sustain others….:and at the same time enhanced international relations………:)

In 1960 when I was 16 years old, my parents sent me to Holland for the summer.    Travelling by ferry and train,  I was to stay with friends who lived in the countryside outside of Eindhoven.

Before leaving my Mother made sure to pack some of her traditional Christmas Cake into my suitcase.     No matter where I went this always happened.   It was my Mother’s theory that if I got lost, or ran out of food, her cake would sustain me.

A traditional English Christmas Cake xmas cakeFor those who are not familiar with traditional English Christmas Cake – a little more information.

My Mother made the cake months before Christmas every year.    All manner of fruits and spices were mixed and liberally doused with brandy in order to preserve the cake.

During the several month standing process the cake would be fed with more alcohol during two week intervals…..then wrapped in a cheese cloth and put into a north facing pantry to settle.    Christmas-Cake-easyAbout two weeks before Christmas the cake would be covered in marzipan along with a  thick white icing resembling snow….and then Christmas decorations added.

Given that the cake was very rich….there was always quite a lot left over….plus my Mother would make two cakes at a time….leaving one un-iced, filled with booze, waiting for any natural or man made disasters to occur!5245504474_028169b808_zAfter a wonderful summer in Holland…swimming in canals with local children, riding bicycles around the countryside – stopping at farms where we were given the most delicious fresh cheese and milk straight from the cow, and of course sketching…..even back then I carried a sketch book with me.        Alas, it was time to return home.

This was the sort of canal we swam in…boys-in-canalI was put on a train heading towards the Ferry port at Calais France.       

I am not sure when I realised that something was wrong…..I suppose when I arrived in Germany!!

In those days it was quite normal for trains to split – one end going to one country and the other to another, and this is what had happened.    I got on the wrong end of the train.

This meant getting back on the right train, and then arriving at the Calais Ferry Terminal far too late to catch the ferry that my parents would be meeting me from at the Dover Ferry Terminal – which in turn meant a long wait.

And this is where Mother’s Traditional English Christmas Cake came into its own.

Calais France Ferry Terminal – just 29.4 miles from Dover UK. car-ferry-terminal-at-calais-france-BM6WAKWhen I arrived at the Calais Terminal I joined many other young people from all around Europe sitting on the floor waiting for ferries.

Remember this was many years before fast food, mobile phones, and of course the Euro Star train – everything was simple and basic.

I was hungry as were many of my fellow travellers.      I removed the tin containing Mother’s English Christmas Cake from my suit case and shared it with young people from around Europe.      The Christmas cake brought us together. 

Ferry docking at Dover Ferry Terminal   2464338180_d3b492f903_b    After docking at the Dover Ferry Terminal, I found a policeman waiting for me.      Clearly alerts had been sent out…..

The policeman took me and a young German boy I had befriended to the Dover Police Station.     There we were given a slap up breakfast while we waited for my parents to arrive.      I had assured the German boy that my parents would give him a lift to Canterbury and then he could hitch hike on to London.       The German boy and I kept in touch for many years.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Be Prepared and always carry extra food – especially traditional English Christmas Cake. 

(I was reminded of my story when recently a 100 year old fruit cake was found in Antarctica – perfectly preserved.     I rest my case. )

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I wish everyone a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and love…..and of course magical hummingbirds.    Janet

http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts      http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – a time of Thanksgiving

‘Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.    Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.’   Denis Watley. 

watercolour45487165_10156777268340396_893438499913465856_oI think it took me until I was forty to begin to understand the meaning of gratitude.   Until that point, I had wondered through life, sort of hanging on, and trying my best to put one step in front of the other, often under challenging circumstances, and then boom, an epiphany – something occurred which opened my eyes to what gratitude is all about.

I began to see and feel everything in ways that I had not experienced before.    Fear and anxiety had been the underlying emotion ruling my life since early childhood….and so when it was removed all of a sudden I was free.   I began to see and really experience the world around me rather than to observe it from a distance.

bluebell woods Crickhowell Wales – watercolour44740914_10156746580470396_1767998054465536000_oOf course this didn’t mean that life would be easy from that point on.    As a working artist for the past forty-five years, I am fully aware of the feast or famine syndrome and what it’s like to live on a knife edge.       However, with this new way of being life’s challenges have become much easier to live with and to move through and more importantly I am able to learn from them….

The simple pleasure of a cat sleeping…..watercolour 45683106_10156784344175396_6268958295583621120_o

Perhaps it takes losing the ‘stuff’ of life to fully understand that as long as our needs are met and we keep things simple, and most importantly that we find purpose in our daily lives….all the other things that we strive for are in the most part irrelevant.

long tailed hummingbird – watercolour20181121_083646-2

I saw my first hummingbird in 1967 in the mountains of North Carolina…but it wasn’t until after my epiphany that I really saw hummingbirds.    Not only did I see them, but I sensed their vital place within Mother Nature’s rich tapestry.   It was at this point that the hummingbird became something deeper, symbolising the unseen energy and interconnectedness of our world. 

Normal Rockwell’s wonderful classic illustration showing a family enjoying Thanksgiving. Freedom from Want - Norman Rockwell - 1943I lived and worked in the States from 1966 til 1993 when I returned to Europe, consequently I enjoyed many Thanksgiving celebrations.    However,  I do wonder if I had real understanding of what it was all about.    Sadly I think the running around  and worrying about if every detail was correct obliterated the true meaning of the day.    We live and learn…..

And so I wish my friends and family n the United States a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.

Remember not to sweat the small stuff…..it doesn’t matter and ‘this too shall pass………’:)

magical hummingbird – watercolour20181120_112602

Mixing watercolour and Gouache….the transparent with the opaque.

“No Experiment is ever a complete failure.   It can always be used as a bad example”.   Paul Dickson. 

watercolour/gouache – view from the Rhiwiau in the Brecon Beacons Wales Viewfromrhiwiau1master.jpgcompI am always asked what is the difference between watercolour and gouache.

Watercolour is a transparent medium.    Gouache is Opaque.    Watercolour and Gouache are intermixable….

In this post, I will show examples of pure watercolour as well as the mix of watercolour with gouache.

Pure watercolour – Brecon Beacons Wales 20181029_115354  About eighteen years ago – I was in my studio in Wales going through a period of feeling blocked.     Always a difficult time for a creative!

Over the years I have learned that the best thing to do when this happens is PLAY.     I put out big sheets of inexpensive paper on long trestle tables.    Using large brushes and anything else at hand I began to throw paint around.      I found some gouache, something I had not used before and began mixing it with watercolour and voila……..I loved the results and have been playing with the mix ever since.

I noticed that the gouache was bleeding into the transparent watercolour producing some very interesting marks.

The top swatch of colour is Winsor Violet watercolour mixed with Permanent White gouache on an orange background.  (more about colour grounds in a minute)

The second swatch is pure watercolour. 20181029_122319

The following portrait sequence of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.….shows in the first example, pure watercolour – where all the white you see is dry white paper.20181030_090534The second example shows pure watercolour on an orange ground.20181025_095849The third example shows a mix of watercolour and gouache.     When painting this way, permanent white gouache needs to be applied for highlights because all the white paper has been covered.  20181025_102005It’s important to note, that no one way is the right way.    The whole point of being a creative is to experiment….as my opening quote points out.

When I am going outside to paint I will prepare some of the pages in my sketchbooks with a ground so that if I wish to use a watercolour/gouache mix, I am ready to do so….which was the case here.    Ground colour naples yellow with a little burnt sienna. 20181029_140537 So what is a colour ground?        

It is when we cover our paper or canvas with a colour.     When using watercolour/gouache it’s important to remember that paper must be grounded at least 24 hours before using so that it is totally dry.    

I often use paint left on my palette for grounding.    If at the beginning of the work day I am struggling to warm up…grounding paper will often do the trick.

As you can see from this example, the paint does not have to be uniform or all one colour.   I am known for my orange grounds, but often use naples yellow, burnt sienna or anything else left on the palette.   You can use both watercolour and gouache  separately or mixed together to make a ground. 20181025_095826I hope this helps those who are interested.     The key is to allow yourself to EXPERIMENT and PLAY,    Remember it is only paper……

I leave you with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life.…paiinted on an orange ground using a watercolour/gouache mix. 20-11-15 - 1 (358)

A Bientôt.

My second week in Portugal

The second week began with the arrival of my good friend the artist Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com      Bonnie, who had travelled from the Black Hills of South Dakota with her group, was to give the next weeks course at the School in Olhao.

Bonnie Halsey Dutton – artist – http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com    Bonnie Halsey-Dutton 2018 4x6   During the thirty years I have known Bonnie we have shared many experiences and on occasion have worked together.     Extremely talented and organised she always does what she says she will do – something I really appreciate.    Next year she will  be running a workshop in the Black Hills of S. Dakota.    I will write more about this at a later date.

Bonnie’s group in Olhao.     Interestingly I had met at least one of the group when I visited and worked in Spearfish, S. Dakota about 20 years ago!  Small world. ST Group with JanetTogether with Bonnie in Deadwood, S. Dakota – 1998.    Just about to hold up the local bank!  

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After a day of rest another artist friend, Vicki Snaddon arrived at the School to take me back to her farm, about an hour and half drive north of Olhao.

Although I stopped driving 25 years ago when I returned to Europe, sometimes I enjoy being a passenger in new territory, as was the case this day.      So much to see.

Being in the lovely and private setting of the farm gave us the opportunity to relax and talk….about art, life in general, and of course Pooks Hill Lodge where hummingbirds abound and where Vicki spends half her year.      http://www.pookshilllodge.com

Pooks Hill Lodge – http://www.pookshilllodge.com – Belize. 20286788_1650204498324154_7558641117066166373_oA lovely place to stay…..right in the midst of Mother Nature’s bounty. 13147623_1204718832872725_2256505133500364186_o

Vicki Snaddon – at the farm in Portugal – a place where I could spend much time painting. 20180930_112814The light was so lovely. 20180929_101923After a morning of sketching, the following afternoon we drove to the Marina de Lagos Art Academy for an exhibition.

When in Portugal, Vicki goes to the Academy every week for life drawing sessions,  given by artist, Kasia Wrona, who I met and liked very much.

 

A great picture of Kasia and Vicki at the exhibition20180929_185745The work on display was by photographer, Jacek Ulinski (to the right of the picture).   The Marina is in the background….All in all a very smart space,  a very different vibe from the the School in Olhao.       42887279_1178263239017684_658336809083731968_nSunday we drove back to Olhao just in time to join Bonnie and her group for the jazz session at Cafe Cantaloupe where we enjoyed  Miguelo Delgado Motu Cordis.   What a great jazz venue this is. 20180930_193206In my first ‘overview’ blog about the trip, I showed my group in front of a black and white mural which is on the side of the local super market.   It depicts the hard working fishermen and women who inhabit Olhao – a working fishing town.

The following are better pictures of some of the panels…..Unfortunately because of the way it is set up I can’t take the whole mural in one image.    I am trying to find out who the artist is. 30-EAFT-1200x751

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26247423877_70a09eb361_b40967641792_585beb771d_bThis picture of my group in front of one of the panels, gives a better idea of the scale.

20180923_174418After another day of relaxation and sketching, it was time to return to London.

Portugal, and especially Olhao, have become very special to  me.    It never ceases to inspire.

Somewhat different from hummingbirds, this is the kind of wildlife that abounds in the Ria Formosa National Park.…close to Olhao.  – watercolour

20181005_103332A Bientôt

Overview of week with Art in the Algarve. http://www.artinthealgarve.com

My Life as an Artist (2)

This is the first of three blogs about my recent visit to the school in Olhao, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.   The first is an overview, the second will show sketches/photographs from the group, and the third will be about my second week with my friend, artists Bonnie Dutton and Vicki Snaddon.

watercolour/gouache of Saturday market – Olhao Portugal. 20181008_130843My workshops are all about loosening up, letting go and getting into a flow and rhythm of work and most importantly enjoying the process.

The school at Olhao is set up in such a way that allows for the creative process to blossom….and although each course is only one week, much is accomplished.

The group dynamic is always important.     To date, everyone I have met adds something special to a course and this week was no exception.    What a great group!

These two photographs were taken when…

View original post 892 more words

Some of the work produced in Portugal

Many of the group were relatively new to watercolour….if not completely new.     It takes courage to let go, loosen up and simply do it.      Here are some of the results.   Remember along with these studies, most of them filled sketch  books.

In no particular order…..

dresses from the local market. 20180925_173536Jazz evening – and loosening up20181007_091808Peppers from the Saturday market integrated with hummingbirds. 42558807_10205093577817267_5743744410156269568_nBoats – Fuseta

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Landscape20180925_173536-4Peppers from Saturday market. 20180925_173603-3Armona beach umbrellas20180925_173559Fishy business….

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flowers from the market. 20180925_173634-5Woman with dog in Olhao 20180925_173546red onions from market20180925_173559-5jazz – sketching

20180925_173634-6From Armona looking towards Olhao42297450_10217472407830001_5950361310943248384_nThe Saturday market. 20180925_173634-3Pink umbrellas next to Art School

20180925_173651more jazz20181007_091627landscape20180925_173603-2warming up on newspaper

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Fisherman’s huts – Fuseta

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From this sampling it is fascinating to see how different everyone’s work is.

More work can be seen on the Art in the Algarve FB page…and as I receive more images I will post them.

My goal is that each person take with them one or two new techniques as well as a heightened awareness.

I was delighted to receive this image made by one of the Australian participants since they returned home.     Given that watercolour is a relatively new medium to Lynne, I am over the moon with the results and more importantly that she is motivated to paint.IMG_8768

The following is a list of tips and sayings I give to people as a reminder of what they have taken on board.

  1. It’s only paper and we are all going to die anyway!:)
  2. Warm up using  newspaper
  3. Warm up using envelopes. – cut up old paintings and send as cards.
  4. OBSERVATION OBSERVATION OBSERVATION
  5. Use photographs only as a JUMPING OFF POINT.
  6. Look at everything from many different points of view.
  7. Sketch using Yellow Ochre
  8. Remember the Negative Space
  9. WET BRUSH NO PAINT – this helps to avoid mud
  10. Move colour around the picture
  11. Everything reflects upon everything else
  12. Fifteen minutes a day practise works
  13. It takes 28 days to establish a new habit
  14. Allow your brush to DANCE
  15. Always remember to PLAY
  16. Ignore the Chattering Monkeys when they say you can’t do something….
  17. Paint with children – we can learn so much from them.
  18. ENJOY

And hummingbird from two of the group……

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My next blog will be about my second week in Portugal with artists Bonnie Halsey Dutton and Vicki Snaddon.

A Bientôt

 

 

 

Overview of week with Art in the Algarve. http://www.artinthealgarve.com

This is the first of three blogs about my recent visit to the school in Olhao, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.   The first is an overview, the second will show sketches/photographs from the group, and the third will be about my second week with my friend, artists Bonnie Dutton and Vicki Snaddon.

watercolour/gouache of Saturday market – Olhao Portugal. 20181008_130843My workshops are all about loosening up, letting go and getting into a flow and rhythm of work and most importantly enjoying the process.

The school at Olhao is set up in such a way that allows for the creative process to blossom….and although each course is only one week, much is accomplished.

The group dynamic is always important.     To date, everyone I have met adds something special to a course and this week was no exception.    What a great group!

These two photographs were taken when we were (all cleaned up on our way to dinner) in front of a black and white mural on the side of Pingo Doce the local super market in Olhao.    The mural depicts the lives of  the hard working fishermen and their wives.     Olhao is a working fishing town. 

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Four Australians, two from Perth, two from Sydney….a wonderful couple from Iceland, and some lovely Brits made up this group.     They were all great fun and most importantly accomplished a lot, especially in their sketch books, which I put a huge emphasis on.

Having arrived on the Wednesday – Thursday starts out with a loosening up demonstration.   It is a time for people to begin to feel comfortable within their new surroundings.    By the end of the day everyone feels like they have been there for quite a while…..

The sitting room in the Pool house leading out into one of the internal courtyards.  20-11-15 - 1 (165)On Friday we spent the day on Armona Island.    Nuno, a scientist and environmentalist takes us on his boat (approx 15 minutes).      He is extremely knowledgeable about the Lagoon and the Ria Formosa National Park.    From Nuno we also learn about the history of the fishing industry and folklore in and around the Algarve. 20180921_164238There was much sketching on the Island and at one point in the beach Cafe at the end of the Island, we sketched and sang along to sixties music.    Unfortunately I don’t seem to have pics or a sound track of that moment…….

Maggie May, Linda and Dorothy sketching after lunch at the really lovely A 3 wine bar and beach restaurant.     A new venue for us, but one the group thoroughly enjoyed.  20180921_144016After sketching, Joan and Dorothy take reference photographs.20180921_121813Maria from Iceland, sitting in the shade at the A-3 restaurant.     Maria filled her sketchbook and made many other watercolour studies….  She and her husband John were lovely additions to the group.  20180921_153527Lunch at the A-3 wine bar and beach restaurant.    A place I definitely look forward to returning to.    42292016_10217464505912458_7726417140667908096_nOne of the delicious dishes at the A-3 wine Bar and Restaurant. 

20180921_133715Saturday is market Day in Olhao.     Positioned in front of the two permanent market places, it runs along the water’s edge.     Filled with colour and energy, it is a place to ignite all the senses.    20181007_083252I took some of these peppers back to the school.   You will see in my next post that they were used creatively by members of the group.

20180922_095315Sunday is a studio day….where we begin to see the coming together of our observations, sketches and studies.

Plus, and this has become a new thing for my groups, we now go to Cafe Cantaloupe around 5.30 p.m. so that we can enjoy the superb Jazz (different groups each week)    Cafe Cantaloupe sits by the water and is the perfect venue for listening to good music…and of course sketching………afterwards dinner at Ria Formosa.

Linda, Lois and Angela sketching during the jazz performance. 20180923_182842   The pianist/singer from Bali was sublime, as was the rest of the group.     There are different groups every Sunday. 20180923_185441Monday we spent the day at Fuseta.     Some of the group thoroughly enjoyed this and others would have preferred to stay in Olhao to work.    I will  be talking with Camilla and Margarida about the possibility of a Free day for Mondays.    Those who wish to visit elsewhere could, others can stay in Olhao.      I think many feel that the getting to a from a place disrupts the flow of work.

I asked the group to pay special attention to the shapes, lights and shades of the boats and their reflections. 20181007_084216Along with daily demonstrations to get everyone’s juices flowing (this one focusing on shadow play) – I emphasis the need to warm up before each and every session.

Newspaper is excellent for warming up.…as are our sketchbooks.    Like athletes and dancers, painters do need to exercise each and every day.   By the way, Lizzy ….Please do send me your fabulous sketch of peppers on newspaper…..:)  42229931_10217458903932412_5798085856803684352_nGiven that the School is set in the middle of the old town of Olhao…everything, including the fish/vegetable markets, water, marinas, shops, cafes, etc are within minutes walking distance.        This allows for people to have a sense of independence.   Should they need a break they can sketch in the surrounding alleyways or by the water….or sit in one of the numerous local cafes sketching the interesting faces of the local people.

A face I found of particular interest.    Nut brown from the sun and a lifetime of hard work.     So much character. 20-11-15 - 1 (199)Some of us even got to do a little dancing……my oh my what fun…….:)

I think this photograph of Lois sums up the mood off the week.

 

 

 

20180924_131554 And last but definitely not least…none of this could happen without the hard work and humour of dear Margarida, Joanna and Camilla…..thank you all very much.    21192388_1633115536721920_90386551072864859_nMy next post will feature more photographs and some of the work accomplished by the group.    I will post this tomorrow.

A Biento