The Intangible healing of creativity –

“The creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”   Janet weight reed

My hummingbird imagery symbolises the unseen and intangible in our world.    Just because we can’t see or touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there or is having a profound effect on our lives.

20190218_111017The Aboriginals, Native Americans and many other indigenous peoples around the globe have a deep understanding of our spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to the land.       They believe all of life as it is today, human, animal, bird and fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships.       They understand fully the importance of land management towards our health and overall wellbeing. 

Crickhowell Wales – watercolour-  the continual flow of Mother Nature. 52905723_10157042659595396_8724979844233822208_oIt seems that many people today,  young and old from all sectors of society,  are experiencing physical and emotional illnesses and distress.         Given our fast pace of life and that so much of the world’s population is now plugged into technology of one kind or another, is it any wonder  that our collective senses are being deadened?

 In this fast watercolour sketch from Portugal last October, everything within the image is interconnected.    There are no starts and stops…no beginning and no ending, rather a continual flow.

20180930_125738Feeding our senses by spending time in the natural world, is healing.   However, like all good medicine, it needs to be enjoyed on a consistent basis.

Many have forgotten the simple pleasure of sitting beneath a tree and how restorative it is.    14435032_10154437102300396_4492475642371147944_oI have been listening to a radio programme about the power of the placebo…and how it has been shown time and time again to cause a sense of wellbeing even though the recipient is fully aware that they are taking a sugar pill.     This has everything to do with mind, body connection.

When we immerse ourselves into the creative flow, our minds are taken into what I call deep time.     A place that is totally different from our clock watching, rushing to the next appointment type of time.       An intangible sense of calmness and wellbeing ensues.   We return to what we were designed for – being part of nature and engaging our senses.

Portugese children on Armona Island playing with shells….20-11-15 - 1 (913)    Trying to exist in this brave new world and finding a space for creativity, in all its many forms….might for many sound impossible.

I have raised a family and worked all my life and like most people have lived through some very stressful times.      I have learned that if I simply stop….and give myself some soul food each day, I am immediately calmed and feel a sense of well being.    Soul food time enriches and supports everything else we need and have to do in life.

It costs nothing.   It doesn’t mean major life changes.     It simply means addressing the part of ourselves that is in desperate need for daily food and nurturing.

Brecon Beacons Wales 46361144_10156801851710396_7419123831345774592_o

From Buddhist Offerings….

‘We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual constant transformation and flux.      There is always the possibility of radical change.    Every moment – not just poetically or figuratively, but literally – every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all life’ 


Since I first wrote this post we have all experienced a radical change.  

The Coronavirus Pandemic has given us all, individually and collectively, time to re think our lives….and hopefully learn what is important and what isn’t.

Janet 🙂


‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ on BBC4 TV prompted me to post this…..

In light of the new BBC4 TV show entitled ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  which I viewed last night, I am re-posting a blog on the subject.

In early December, I was invited by my good friend and fellow artist, Maria Do Rosario Tavares (Miza to me) to give a painting demonstration for a group she is working with in Chester.    The subject, ‘life painting’  – one of my favourites.      It was only a two hour session, but a very good one.    The group and the model were lovely.

To warm  up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model.   I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work. 20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I began each day with a two hour life session in my studio.       I hope to have that opportunity again one of these days.

Twenty minute – full sheet watercolour and felt tip pen study – 


I love short poses – preferably five to 20 minutes max.     This enables me to capture the energy, movement and gesture of my subject….

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to  life drawing.      Observation, observation, observation……

Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper).  the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition.  20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation block frees an artist to explore their work with more confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly hone observation skills. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models we also worked with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again honing observational skills.

This man modelled for me in Paris….a beautiful dancer.   I often do quick portraits of my subjects in a life painting session. 


It’s exciting to see that ‘life drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that people who attend sessions regularly recognise that along with honing observation skills it is a wonderful form of meditation.

In this instance one of my favourite models arrived with her new born baby….It was a magical session.     In the warmth of the quiet studio both mother and baby completely relaxed…..20-11-15 - 1 (780)Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother.      Quite a few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we painted the hands and feet of models.   Excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Beginning in 1982 I began a series of works integrating the human form with the rock formations of Isle au Haut, Maine where I spent much time painting.     Thirty eight years later I am still working on this series.           

‘The moment people turn their backs on one another’. 6ft x 4ft oil on canvas. (1982)Painting of human figures in shades of brownFor those who would like to try life drawing – I suggest tuning into ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  BBC 4 TV—–a good way to get started. 

Happy painting






A Welsh Cat in a French landscape – the story behind the painting.

5ft x 4ft (1.5 x 1.2 meters) oil on canvas.   A Welsh Cat in a French Landscape.96214822_10158339963345396_6930736945429479424_oPainted during lock down, this symbolic image of Christeve the Cat overlooking the village of Mas Cabardes – SW France  demonstrates why sketch books are so vital in the life of an artist.

I used two of the many rapid sketches I produced in Mas Cabardes eleven years ago as the foundation block for this image. 20200518_101650Sketches are thoughts on paper…in this case very quick responses to what I was seeing.         They can become excellent reference material.    


Given that Christeve the Cat lived with me in Wales for several years, I have a zillion sketches of her:)37741212_10156512625865396_5819395929748275200_o

In many ways Christeve the Cat is my alter ego.    In the little children’s book,  ‘Christeve the Cat finds her Home’.  –  she is lost and alone and looking for a home of her own.

The book is about homelessness,  courage and trust in the unseen and is directed to children of all ages from different belief systems.     Yes, the magical hummingbirds play an important part in the story. 

65184284_10157321058520396_8159511051407196160_oUltimately, Christeve the Cat finds that her home is right there in front of her.

‘As Little Cat came closer to the only light she could see, she realised that it was shining from the cottage across from HER tree’20200521_101859

So why a French village given that the book is set in Crickhowell Wales (the Magical Town of Crickadoon?).         

I have always loved the French landscape and particularly the villages of  SW and Southern France with their orange roofs.    I have many dear friends in France and have painted and exhibited there a great deal.       For many years I have wanted to live there…and maybe one day I will,    but not wishing to sound like a cliche – the lock down has reminded me that home is ‘within’.

Plus as we now must surely understand.   ‘everything is interconnected’

Wishing one and all a beautiful and creative weekend.

Janet 🙂







A special Cat day…..I LOVE cats:)

There is a story behind each one of these cats…..Some lived with me and others belong to dear friends.   wherever I travel I adopt the resident cats…..

Christeve the Cat – A Welsh Cat – with hummingbird37741212_10156512625865396_5819395929748275200_o

A sun spot cat…from England


A French cat….15110842_10154633606525396_8505028180039884441_o

Iccle – from Brussels – now resident in SW France68457757_10157462546565396_2909676004706353152_n

Fiona from West Chester Pennsylvania USA83968967_10157981236010396_315480655154642944_o

Coco lives in California. 15288531_10154661805525396_4147593072811180097_o

The twins from the Farm – Pennsylvania USA20200309_160358

From Colorado USA81880440_10157889709575396_1003395070054891520_o

Christeve the Cat with Theodore the Tiger and hummingbird – illustration for children’s book and posters. 45713832_10156787139300396_2534145006604648448_o

The International Cat Association sponsored this poster which raised a lot of money for a new tiger’s area at the Philadelphia Zoo…78108030_10157758157435396_2967704508978692096_oThere are so many more cats in my life, but I thought it would be fun to share a few with you today.   

In my next life I would like to be a cat:)


Sketches from people who joined me on my visit to Amish Country.

The lock down has given millions the opportunity to explore their creativity.     It has shown that even when we are stripped of great chunks of our lives our creative spirit is what ultimately shines through.  

Several joined me on my visit to the farm in Amish Country and produced some beautiful sketches.        It was not a formal workshop, but rather a group of people enjoying the creative process together. 

Here they are in no particular order:-

MOIRA – Three Amish boys – watercolourIMG-20200517-WA0000

MOIRA – portrait of Amish boy.   watercolour on newspaper. 


DORA – Amish family working – watercolourIMG-20200515-WA0004

NAN – Amish boys playing – watercolourIMG-20200514-WA0006

JILL – apples – watercolourIMG-20200513-WA0004

JILL – watercolour – flower


NAN – AMISH PLOUGHING –  pen and watercolourIMG-20200513-WA0005

CORYN – still life – watercolourIMG-20200514-WA0008-2

DORA – buggy ride – watercolourIMG-20200512-WA0001

JILL – watercolourIMG-20200516-WA0001

BOB – still life watercolourIMG-20200514-WA0002

MOIRA – Amish boy – watercolourIMG-20200518-WA0000

DORA – Amish boys – watercolour

IMG-20200515-WA0006DORA – line drawing 


MOIRA – pen sketch 


DORA – Jacaranda trees, Olhao – watercolour


MOIRA – watercolour IMG-20200515-WA0008

Thank you everyone for joining in the fun… It is my hope that your sketches will inspire others to pick up brush or pen.

I have had so many messages from people during the lock down saying that the one thing that has helped them to move through it with sanity intact is the creative process🙂

‘The creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual well being”

My next VIRTUAL trip will be to the Brecon Beacons Wales.  probably in July – watch this space.




Final day of my virtual trip to Amish Country.

Horse and mule power…Amish Country Pennsylvania.   received_2767525950142896If I had been staying on the farm for two weeks as planned I would have filled a couple of sketch books.

Instead what I have done to wrap up this VIRTUAL week is a Montage which I think would work well for a children’s book illustration…hint hint to Jarrod who has written a couple of lovely children’s books….I think a children’s book. about life on the farm and living along side The Amish would be lovely……

I sketched this rapidly with my water soluble Tombow pen and then added watercolour washes.    Sheila the dog likes to mother all the other animals and so it’s only right that she should be front and centre.20200515_073020

I am enjoying VIRTUAL travel.     It’s gentle and quiet and free from stress.     It allows me to think and focus and although I am not physically with Jarrod and Kendle – I am with them in spirit.

Jarrod took this lovely photograph yesterday of a young cardinal in the hay barn…..IMG-20200513-WA0006Here are more timeless images showing horse, mule and man power on the farm.    

Jarrod baling with the Amish. received_335522404081185

received_2931003953619650Bringing in the hay…..received_3172043156180411Man and beast take a rest after a long days work. 



…..Once again the little magical hummingbird flew into the house this morning….a very good sign indeed.       She will join us for a big breakfast….


20200114_135504With so much hard work on the farm good hearty food is necessary.    For breakfast we enjoy more fresh farm eggs and English sausage rolls straight from the oven.FB_IMG_1589293642853-2

Plus a  PUDDING PRESENT from the Amish, given to Kendle for driving one of the women to a school meeting yesterday.      It is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Scrapple cake.


The stable yard and farm are now wide awake.received_674081663375358The Amish laundry is hanging out to dry….20200512_134055-2Visitors have arrived across the road…..20180521_112545-2-1Kendle takes a gentle ride on Baby, one of her favourite horses  before helping with the hay harvest.


Along with showing and dressage Kendle also teaches at the farm.   Here are just a few of her rosettes….FB_IMG_1589290411587

It’s now time to think about the evening festivities for everyone involved during this week, including those from my workshops who have been filling their sketch books.  

Jarrod will be cooking for us this evening…..

He is preparing chicken cooked in a white wine reduction sauce, diced tomatoes, spinach, portabella mushrooms, with melted cheese and Jamine rice.    

IMG-20200514-WA0000Although He suggests a nice rose to go with it, Jarrod will be having his Captain Morgan Spiced Rum with cream soda.….which might be worth trying..

And now the recipe for Sangaritas….and a couple of other exotic cocktails……..


Sangritas recipe

Blend one pound of strawberries with a splash of lime until smooth. 

Pour strawberry puree and lime juice, plus one cup of tequila, a quarter cup of triple sec into a large pitcher.    Stir and pour into the mix one bottle of rose wine. 

Add a quarter cup agave nectar…….

Optional) Margarita salt around the rim of glasses making sure that there is no salt inside the rim. 

and then ENJOY…:)



What a way to finish the day and week. received_536372750581083

Thank you Kendle and Jarrod for hosting a fantastic week and here’s to many more fun times with you on the Farm. 

[I will be asking those who have been sketching with me on this trip if they are happy for me to post a special blog on Monday showing their work….watch this space}









MY VIRTUAL TRIP TO Amish Country….Day 3

I mentioned in my first post that during the twenty three years that I lived in Chester County, Pa,  I lived in two houses built by The Amish.

This is the interior of one of them.    For those who have enjoyed  the film ‘Witness’ you will remember the ‘barn raising’ scene.     This house was raised in that fashion.       It is a post and beam structure made from solid oak.     The fireplace is built from field stone.

I used the upstairs area with the sky lights for my studio.

During the winter the stone chimney heated the whole house.

The house is a one and half hour drive from the farm where I am staying. with Jarrod and Kendle.

The large oil painting hanging over the fire place is one of a series of work I completed in the late eighties/early nineties.        It shows the interior of my favourite studio on Prescott Alley in West Chester with Amish quilts and apples.    Everything in the painting is symbolic of my life at that time. 20200512_153850In the breezeway which connected two areas of the house, I painted a colourful mural and installed ‘sugar feeders ‘(which hummingbirds love) and a small fountain all of which served to attract hummingbirds.      A beautiful place to sit and ponder.    The Brandywine River flowed below the house…20200512_153903


When I was visiting the farm two years ago I walked across to the Amish neighbours to purchase some flowers.    Behind the house I found a group of children playing and although I know its not really the thing to do, I managed to take a couple of pictures.        The Amish children. don’t speak any English until they go to Amish School at around six years old.    Their natural language is Pennsylvania Dutch which is similar to German, however the universe language of smiles works very well.

They are beautiful children and as Jarrod and Kendle were saying,  mature beyond their years.

Amish children are used to being part of a large family that does everything together – and the family is part of a larger community.   I would imagine that they feel very secure.

There is always washing on the line and bread baking in the oven….


The Amish believe that happiness is a byproduct of their Godly life not a goal in itself.  

Assigned responsibilities by the time they are five years old…Amish children  become proficient at wood working, cooking, quilt making and farm work all done within the community structure.

Watercolour/Gouache sketch20200511_100149

In warm weather the children go bare foot…33362844_10156349758240396_5951106779826880512_o

Amish girls going about their daily chores. – pen and wash.


One of the pastures on the farm. received_550006645891325More new life….a dear little rabbit….received_239714503767752Jarrod fence building with two of the Amish neighbours.      The Amish help a great deal with the farm and as Jarrod and Kendle said they are some of the best neighbours you could ever wish for.

FB_IMG_1589290388394Fresh baked bread a gift from The Amish neighbours.received_233417374775920

On that note, it’s time for coffee and something sweet…


And an opportunity to watch Kendle ride.

Dressage is Kendle’s speciality. FB_IMG_1589298737599

After a full day of working on the farm – tending the crops and feeding all the animals it is now time to relax and get ready for the evening’s festivities.


Kendle as I remember her as a little girl….always on a pony…..10485530_10152303152607875_921033080895123590_n

And so for this evening, we have pulled pork tacos with wine (Maryland Merlot:) and Quarantinis….

received_265478547925820For anyone following on this trip concerned that Amish Country was a DRY area…Kendle sent this picture of the local booze shop


Something else Kendle does in her spare time….I really like this.


Along with playing the guitar, singing and writing music, this is one of things that Jarrod does in his spare time.


Meanwhile, I spied Sheila and one of the twins going for a late afternoon walk….


Tomorrow I will be visiting lots of friends in West Chester, and so my next post will be on Friday.

It will be a summary with cocktail recipes and more sketches.