Taking a break

Brecon Beacons National Park – wales.  – watercolour/gouache 

20-11-15 - 1 (267)

I can hardly believe that it is the 11th August which means I have now begun my ninth year of blogging!      Thank goodness I listened to my intuition because through this medium I have learned a great deal,  met some wonderful people…and all in all feel richer for the experience.

Table Top – overlooking Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales.  watercolour

20-11-15 - 1 (1)

I usually take a break from my schedule at this time of the year.    Time for some R & R and also time to prepare for autumn – one of my favourite seasons.

20-11-15 - 1 (7)

I will be back here at the beginning of September, hopefully with all sorts of new images and news….

Capturing the ever changing light over the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, Wales.   Watercolour/gouache. 

20-11-15 - 1 (286)

Of course the hummingbirds will still continue to spread their magic.   – watercolour

20-11-15 - 1 (195)

A bientôt

 

Negative Space in this years Royal Academy summer exhibition

I have visited the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition many times, and have to admit that for the most part I am rarely inspired, often leaving with a sense of confusion  and frustration!

watercolour of dancing birds…..Lots of negative space.

20-11-15 - 1 (151)

Traditionally during this large exhibition,  paintings have been hung close together in overcrowded galleries.   This year, the galleries had been hung far more sensitively,     allowing more space between the paintings, which in turn gives viewers the opportunity to actually see and enjoy the works on display.

20-11-15 - 1 (178)

I wasn’t planning to attend this year, until my friend, Jayanthi asked if I would like to meet her there.     The prospect of spending time with her was enough for me to change my mind.

Jayanthi, taking a photograph in one of the galleries. 

20-11-15 - 1 (187)

Allowing space around and between paintings gives the eye and mind time to rest and focus, rather than being bombarded with too much information.

Looking through galleries at the RA. 

20-11-15 - 1 (189)

The same principle is honoured in Japanese gardens and theatre…..we recognise it in beautifully composed music, literature and paintings.     A place within the whole, which allows the mind to rest – to take in with clarity what it is we are experiencing.

The calm and serenity of a Japanese garden. 

japanese-garden-forest-2

I hope everyone enjoys a lovely weekend, with some space and time for reflection…..

magical hummingbird soaring through space and time…..

20-11-15 - 1 (321)

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

Becoming a bird…….

I am giving a workshop on August 17th for the Chiswick Pier Trust based on bird life found on the River Thames.

For those who follow my blog, you will know that I paint hummingbirds – a subject I have used as symbolic imagery in my paintings for over thirty years.     However, I don’t often show other bird images, and so thought this would be a good opportunity to do so, and at the same time talk about how I approach the subject.

Mallard duck in flight – River Thames

20-11-15 - 1 (76)

In painting birds, I need to become a bird.   I have to experience within myself the sensation and feeling of freedom and movement which so inspires we mere mortals.

Kingfisher diving. 

20-11-15 - 1 (59)

The medium of watercolour is perfect for this.       It allows me to express myself spontaneously – and at the same time capture the essence of my subject.

Two Kingfishers 

20-11-15 - 1 (73)

 

How often do we say – I would love to be as free as a bird……..

When I can’t make sense of the world, I imagine that I am a bird – observing our world from a much clearer point of view.        It can be very illuminating……

Mallard duck coming in for landing….

20-11-15 - 1 (82)

“The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.”   J M Barrie. 

Of course, I must finish with hummingbird…..The little flying jewels that symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world.    Hummingbird with Bird of Paradise….

20-11-15 - 1 (81)

 

A bientôt

A Life Well Lived – Madame Nottale – a remarkable woman.

Madame Nottale died a few weeks ago.    Selfishly I would have loved to spend much more time with her, however at 94 years old she was ready to move on.     I feel a deep sense of gratitude for having known such a wonderful human being, whose life was indeed well lived.

A recent photograph of Madame Nottale with her daughter Claudia. 

P1050879When Claudia Nottale came to stay with my family in the States in 1978 she was just seventeen years old.    I had no idea at the time that she would become a life long friend.

Claudia Nottale – 17 years old – oil on canvas

10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-2In 1984 on one of my trips back to the UK and Europe to visit family and friends, Claudia’s Mother  invited me to dinner at her home in Marley le Roi, not too far from Paris.       I will always remember the first moment we met.        Her warmth and love shone through.

So much could be said about her life….Mother of seven remarkable children, nurse, friend to so many, lover of nature and in her latter years when she had time for herself….the brilliance of her painting and  writing shone through.

Portrait of Madame Nottale in 1985…..watercolour/gouache

1658677_10152253045490396_1279733086_o

She was a woman who exemplified what it is to live life well.     She exhibited great courage and at the same time compassion for others. – I would say that she spent much of her life alleviating suffering in others in tangible ways as a nurse and Mother and in less tangible ways simply by being who she was.    For to be in her presence was indeed a beautiful experience.

Madame Nottale drawing me September 2015

P1170885

She loved colour and chocolate…….two things we had in common:)    During her latter years she painted and wrote every single day.    The walls and every other surface in her room were covered in her work.

P1170865

Three  years ago, I made this watercolour of her….which I feel demonstrates her letting go of worldly worries and coming home to her true calling…..that of being an artist and writer.

135830_10151286353205396_2041716361_o-2

Deeply spiritual, and an inspiration to all……Madame Nottale must surely be in a heaven with unlimited paints, paper, brushes and pens…and of course surrounded with beautiful flowers and hummingbirds:)

A special moment with Madame Nottale……

P1040540

‘There are always flowers for those who want to see them.’     Henri Matisse.  

Moon, Mountains and Magical hummingbird – inspired by a drawing by Madame Nottale. 

20-11-15 - 1 (6)

A Bientôt

 

 

Turning to Mother Nature….

Along with painting, Mother Nature always gives me solace…..and so during a very difficult time in the UK….I give you the hope and energy of a glorious sunflower. 

12322664_10153939868475396_4618710270338821368_o

And of course a magical hummingbird soaring above all the madness……

20-11-15 - 1 (20)Enjoy the weekend…

A Bientôt

Happy Independence Day to all my friends in the USA

I took this photograph of my niece, daughter and one of the ‘angel twins’ in front of a mural in Ipswich, Massachusetts.    It’s the perfect image for Independence Day. 

P1090520

Make sure to drink from the sweet nectar of life today, like the magical hummingbird.   

11103130_10153167729850396_3849010582039597816_o

A bientôt

At a time of division, wise words from Nelson Mandela

“I am fundamentally an optimist.   Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.   Part of being an optimist is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward.     There were many moments when my faith in humanity was surely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.    That way lays defeat and death.”    Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom’

Portuguese woman – 201620-11-15 - 1 (199)As a portrait painter, I have been fortunate enough to work with people of all ages, nationality, faith and gender from around the world.

Quentin – Brittany, France – 1995P1150314

What I have learned is that we are intrinsically the same.    We have the same needs, hopes  and fears.

Young girl – Mission Hill School – Boston – 2013

1002137_10151787376825396_932078604_n

When we look at life only through the lens of different cultures we tend to see the surface.    However, when we get past the veneer, we are able to learn and gain so much from different customs and ways of doing things…….and in doing this we also learn about our similarities.

Zebedee – Crickhowell, Wales – 1995

1077572_10151794329765396_713720459_oI wrote a blog recently about my childhood in England after WWII – when the powers that be were beginning to integrate the young people of Europe with the hope that it would prevent more terrible wars.       It was a time of hope and of bringing people together from many different cultures.

Peter James Redmond – USA – 2012

192175_10151147549835396_728758025_o Today we are seeing the UK and Europe suddenly divided – something that did not have to happen.     I personally feel that the British public have been made pawns in a political poker game, regardless of how they chose to vote.       

Akyaka, Turkey  – 2008

P1180016

I am very clear that nothing is perfect and that throughout our world today there is much misery, hardship and danger  – and yet I am also clear that there are times in history when humankind has stepped backwards….and I fear that we in the UK have just taken such a step.

However, I will continue to hold onto my belief that the creative process in all its many forms, which in essence is all about communication….is one of the key elements which can lead us towards emotional, physically and spiritually wellbeing, regardless of our social identity.

Margarida – Portugal – 2016

20-11-15 - 1 (93)

And so I for one will keep heading towards the sun, keep moving forward…..and like a magical hummingbird endeavour through my work to soar above all the madness:)

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sig

 

A bientôt