Taking a break…..

For all my friends during this holiday season.

My Life as an Artist (2)

“People say that what we’re all seeking is the meaning of life.   I don’t think that’s what we’re seeking.  I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”     Joseph Campbell 1904-1987

watercolour/gouache – magical hummingbird 20-11-15 - 1 (1073)I will be painting, writing, celebrating life and enjoying the company of dear friends during the next few weeks……

watercolour10996309_10153250856200396_1092698130640243063_oOnce again I have been reminded through the untimely death of a good friend of the importance of making the very best of every moment we have.

watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (716)Not to put off what we really want to do….but rather to take on life’s new adventures with a sense of excitement.

watercolour11090885_10153267522075396_95320469508928867_oNot to wait for the perfect time to do…

View original post 91 more words

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 Cakes – 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 our 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 gong 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.

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. )

As always magical hummingbirds were with me – watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (139)I am away with good friends for the holidays which means that this will be my last post until the new year.

I wish everyone a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and love…..and of course magical hummingbirds.    Janet 10514440_10153357891290396_5852947368901642044_o

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas story about a homeless little cat and how she found hope, trust and courage….

The subject of homelessness becomes more prevalent every day.     Whether one of the millions of stateless people roaming the earth, or people we encounter on the streets of our towns and cities – the problem looms ever greater.

I wrote and illustrated a children’s Christmas story 15 years ago entitled ‘Christeve the Cat Finds Her Home’.     Based on a true story, it focuses on the arrival of a little cat into my life on Christmas Eve 1996 when I was living in Crickhowell, Wales.   

I have been displaced a couple of times in my life, and know what it is to yearn for a home of my own.    In many ways this story is autobiographical.   It is filled with symbolism including of course the magical hummingbirds.

In the story the little cat was homeless and had been living in a tree across from my cottage.   I believed that she belonged to Mr. Pickford, one of my neighbours and so had not been concerned about her.

My neighbour, Mr. Pickford. 20-11-15 - 1 (1340)Here is the lonely little cat wishing she could live in a nice warm cottage like the one across from her tree. 20-11-15 - 1 (1330)“Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with magical hummingbirds weaving their love” this story takes place in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

The little cat looking over the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1339)During the long dark cold nights, every noise would give the little cat a fright, and sometimes she would cry.20-11-15 - 1 (1328)   One night when the winds began to roar and howl, the little cat had a visit from a wise old owl.    The wise owl told the little cat to be patient and trust.    To close her eyes and dream of magical hummingbirds.

Something inside of  her always knew that there was nothing to fear and that help was always near……..20-11-15 - 1 (1337)The little cat began to make friends with the birds and animals that lived beneath her tree.      After days of fun and play with her new friends the little cat would fall into a deep sleep and dream about finding a home of her own.

Some of the little cat’s new friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1336)One of her new friends, a red robin, told the little cat that she would never be alone because hummingbirds were always near, helping her to find a new home of her own. 20-11-15 - 1 (1325)One morning red robin and little cat woke to see that the Magical Town of Crickadoon was completely covered in snow.    everywhere the little cat looked, there was a special glow.20-11-15 - 1 (1335)Later that night when little cat was dreaming in her tree, a beautiful white hummingbird appeared.      White hummingbird told little cat that there was nothing to fear, and that after a terrible storm, all would be clear. 20-11-15 - 1 (1338)The next morning when the snow swirled and whirled and the winds roared and howled, the little cat felt so cold and alone was beginning to think that she would never find a home of her own.        20-11-15 - 1 (1334)In her dreams the little cat heard White Hummingbird say – “Don’t give into your fear, soon all will be clear. – Follow the light through the storm and there you will find your home, so cosy and warm”. 

As the little cat came closer to the only light she could see, she realised that it was shining from the cottage across from her tree.     As little cat reached the door and raised her paw she called out as loudly as could be…Meeeeeoooooowwwww, I am here, I am here…….

The door to the cottage across from her tree opened wide and there was Janet the Artist waiting inside. 20-11-15 - 1 (1333)Janet the Artist scooped up little cat with tenderness and love, and from high above the Magical Town of Crickadoon, hummingbirds of every colour were flying under the moon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1332)Janet the Artist named the little cat, Christeve the Cat because she had arrived on a very special Christmas Eve.

THE END

This is the actual cottage where Christeve the Cat and Janet the Artist lived together in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

30371_309193229185374_253873514_nChristeve the Cat settled into her new home and sitting on her favourite chair302846_309648909139806_918859733_nChristeve the Cat (on the left) with one of her friends sitting in her favourite place in the garden of her new home. til August 10 119http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk    http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts

A bientôt.

“Every child is an artist………..” Picasso.

It was Picasso who said –

“Every child is an artist.   The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

In the midst of a rather gloomy train of thought with regards to Black Friday and the mad commercialism of the holiday season, a brilliant ray of light entered into my day – one that reminded me of Picasso’s words.  

Meir Rogers, a five year old artist from Chicago sent me one of his beautiful pictures and all of a sudden everything made sense.

In Meir’s painting we see the freshness, spontaneity, wonder and pure magic that the artwork of a child brings.     Thank you Meir 🙂

Birds by artist Meirs Rogers  

Meir's birds 2

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”   Dr. Seuss

When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

When we observe children at play we see them following the words of the great Dr. Seuss.    Filled with curiosity and playfulness they take in all that surrounds them and much more.

Sad to say that by the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Painting with children in Somerset, UK.    These children would be in their early twenties now.    They love to watch an artist paint….in this instance, I was painting Cristeve the Cat for them.   After I left them they painted their own version of Cristeve the Cat. 703984_10151335674775396_172685478_oIf we adults could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world appeared as a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.      We might see things in a much broader context than the one prescribed to us by our cultural experience.

Painting portraits with a group of children in France.     

til August 10 129As adults we forget how wonderful it is to play with colour….We are concerned about how we appear to others…..which often stifles the creative process.

In children we see a freedom of expression…..especially when a child is encouraged.    In Meir Roger’s case I happen to know that he receives great encouragement from his parents and grandparents.   I wish that this were true for all children.

Working with children in Brittany, France on a mural for their school.      I will always remember when the children sang me the song….’Red and Yellow and Pink and Blue………………. – a very special moment.      (these children would all be in their mid thirties today…..til August 10 126It saddens me greatly to hear a child chastised because they are making a mess, being silly or not behaving in a normal fashion.

Words such as these can stay with a child for the rest of their life and prevent them from experiencing the joy of creative expression.              Encouragement is key.

It’s OK to fail at being normal, whatever that is……When we observe children exploring their creative energies, we see other ways of seeing and being.    12314060_10153693416745396_9179756764978779361_nOver the years, I have collected a lot of children’s art….and have had many beautiful portraits painted of me by children from around the world.

As I observed six year old Beatrice focus with complete confidence on her artwork, it was a delight.   As is often the case when painting portraits…a very special connection is made.

A portrait of me by 6 year old Beatrice from Portugal. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)Painting water colour portraits of two very special young girls in Portugal 13076555_1162891533744325_7774473167615565835_nMy suggestion to children or adults as we approach the holiday season is to get paints and paper and make the creative process an important part of the festive season….and of course for every other season.      If you are not sure where to start…why not paint your own wrapping paper….now there’s a thought…..p-kids-hand-painting-owpMN8ZSw8-1And last but not least I leave you with a watercolour of  Cristeve the Cat and a magical hummingbird.    12238351_10153687926025396_2738025815690721220_oA bientot –

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

 

Happy Thanksgiving……

I saw this mural in Ipswich, Massachusetts a few years ago…It tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.      In front of the  mural stands my niece, daughter and mini niece…a very happy memory. 13603834_10154207083495396_5242055752857820943_oI Lived in the States from 1966 til 1993 when I enjoyed many a happy Thanksgiving celebration.      I always look upon this holiday with great affection.

I came across this example of Mother Nature’s magnificent bounty when visiting a friend in Haye on Wye.        20-11-15 - 1 (1120)We are reminded today to be thankful for each moment and grateful for all our blessings.

I have just had a beautiful time away for which I am so grateful.    To spend time with good friends is one of life’s greatest joys.

May everyone be surrounded with magical hummingbirds this day.   – watercolour

15129403_10154629951660396_7254253705154814862_oA Bientôt.

The colours of Autumn….

“Autumn’s the mellow time”      William Allingham

I am off to Wales and Somerset to be with good friends and of course take photographs and make watercolour sketches.     As usual I will take a break from technology during this period.

Back here around the 24th November.

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour22289730_10155714657220396_7484313288302574968_oMist over the Usk Valley – Wales – watercolour21731439_10155640296835396_1011210038349474506_oCrug Howell – Usk Valley Wales – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1)view from Curlews – overlooking the Usk Valley Wales – watercolour21587193_10155634459635396_3638491708032799665_oBrecon Beacons Wales – watercolour/gouache22424479_10155722668785396_4972642561881605246_oI will of course travel with the Magical Hummingbirds….20-11-15 - 1 (772)

A Bientôt.

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

Playing and letting go…..

“The creative process is all about experimenting, letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during our lifetimes, and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.”     from The Apple Exercise – Janet Weight Reed. 20-11-15 - 1 (1079)I like to begin my day with a warming up exercise.      This awakens my senses and connects me to my materials and environment.           With regard to subject matter – it can be anything.   It is  helpful to have a ‘jumping off point’.      In this instance, I used a picture of an Iris.    In itself very attractive as a photograph but lacking in vibrancy and energy.

20-11-15 - 1 (1012)Our minds tend to be conditioned by what we have been taught, rather than what we actually see or feel.      When I look at this photograph, in my mind’s eye I immediately see a field of Iris infused with energy, light and shade.

All these images are 5 minute studies.    They are all about observation and letting go of preconceived notions.       Remember – it’s only paper.

20-11-15 - 1 (1011)    It is important to note that even if your end goal is to paint a detailed, realistic image, warming up and exploring a subject in this manner will help enormously. 20-11-15 - 1 (1001)If we were able to time travel back to our earliest formative years, (1 to 3) when the world appeared as a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes.   When our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form. 20-11-15 - 1 (1067)As pointed out in previous blogs…any fear of messing up a good piece of paper, can be removed by using newspaper or brown wrapping paper to start with.   Simply allow yourself to put strong marks onto the paper.     See all the wonderful things that your paintbrush can do….and have fun. 20-11-15 - 1 (1079)The more we exercise and practise our creative thinking, the easier and more fluent the process becomes.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life…...rapid watercolour.

20-11-15 - 1 (716)A bientot 

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