Mixing watercolour and Gouache and portraits of Claudia….

About twenty years ago when I was living and working in the Magical Town of Crickadoon,  (Crickhowell, Wales), I found myself experiencing a block….it happens…it’s quite normal.     The key is to find ways of moving through the block…..

The three ways that help me to do this, are – walking – visiting museums and allowing myself to PLAY.

In this instance, I set up long tables in my studio with large sheets of paper….and began to throw paint around…..anything, just to get the juices flowing.    I wet the paper, adding a mix of watercolour and gouache and watched with great excitement as the transparent watercolour mixed with the opaque gouache……Bingo….I had broken through the block:)

Initial sketch of Claudia – using watercolour/gouache on a gouache colour ground.460616_10151667714060396_2124306232_o

Until this point, I had only used transparent watercolours on white or tinted papers, but now with the opaque quality of gouache, I was able to paint off of  colour grounds.      Plus I loved the interaction of transparent watercolour with the opaque gouache. 

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I would urge anyone who feels a little stuck, or is just beginning to paint….to PLAY.        

It is not necessary to use expensive watercolours or paper….newspaper, brown wrapping paper, wallpaper lining, and inexpensive paints will do…..the key is to just do it. 

Claudia has been my Muse since 1977….460151_10151667716765396_353524529_o

The following portraits of Claudia are using different mediums….

Charcoal sketch of Claudia – Claudia is an actress and so projects many different personas

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pen sketch of Claudia working on her computer in Paris20-11-15 - 1 (276)

watercolour of Claudia, Wales 199520200218_123136

Small oil sketch of Claudia when she visited me in Wales20-11-15 - 1 (324)

The first portrait I ever painted of Claudia when she was 17 years old and living with us in the USA.    She is now in her fifties and a very successful director of theatre and actress.          oil on canvas. 10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-3

To finish  -a watercolour/gouache sketch of a magical hummingbird. 

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A Bientôt

Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

“Human subtlety sill never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”     Leonardo da Vinci. 

20-11-15 - 1 (478)Watercolour is a beautiful medium.        There are a few basic techniques to learn – each one taking time and patience to master.      Allowing oneself to play with the medium will help build confidence and ability.

In this instance I have sketched out two cala lilies – using yellow ochre.    I am working on a Saunders and Waterford Hot Pressed – heavy paper.  (more about papers at end of blog)

20-11-15 - 1 (607)Having sketched the basic image I add ‘juicy paint’ into the negative space.    I am using a mix of Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet and a little Winsor & Newton Cadmium Orange. 

When we add paint to the negative space – we automatically reveal the subject…..So often we struggle with a particular element of a painting, when all we need to do is observe the negative space. 20-11-15 - 1 (787)Using very small amounts of pigment I begin to add colour to the flower.    For this I use Winsor & Newton Green Gold and a touch of Windsor & Newton Cadmium yellow. For the dark green in stem and shadow I mix some Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna with a tiny amount of prussian blue and Gold Green. 

All whites are dry white paper. 

20-11-15 - 1 (799)I begin to build depth inside the lily using small amounts of pigment – making sure to leave dry white paper for highlights. 20-11-15 - 1 (805)As I build up the colour I am mindful of bringing the background colours into the Lilies.    Everything is connected….nothing is isolated.     By moving colour around a painting we bring a sense of harmony and rhythm.

It is important to note, that when we change one fraction of a painting – (no matter what the size) we change the whole.     This is true for everything in life. 20-11-15 - 1 (806)The finished watercolour is an observational exercise revealing the subtlety of nature….. and at the same time honing watercolour technique.       I hope that there is an element of energy and movement.  20-11-15 - 1 (478)The most important thing is to PLAY  and warm up.    This can be done on any paper including newspaper…..The key is to release any fears or anxiety about messing up a good piece of paper.  Ultimately this is a freeing up mechanism.

When purchasing watercolour paper – it is measured by weight and surface quality….Cold Pressed for rougher surface.  NOT (meaning not hot pressed) is smoother and Hot Pressed is very smooth.    My analogy is that using cold pressed is like roller skating and hot pressed like ice skating – NOT is somewhere in the middle.

When we purchase a piece of lb140 weight paper – this simply means that the ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs lb140 – and of course the same applies for all weights.    It’s a good idea to purchase a sample pack of papers….and again PLAY. 

I hope everyone enjoys a creative weekend….no matter what your medium….and that the magical hummingbirds are with you.

watercolour/gouache11194395_10153252694930396_8127371946973631924_oNew hummingbird products including some pretty nifty wrist watches in my Zazzle shop.

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

A Bientôt

 

‘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 on player 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 made this rapid watercolour/gouache of David, the model.

20161207_142829Those who have followed my blog probably equate my work with hummingbird images, which of course is right:)   However I also love to paint the human form,

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

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

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school at the beginning of the sixties.   For the first year, we made charcoal drawings of nudes, almost exclusively.      I quickly learned what an important foundation block the observation of the human form is.

Twenty minute watercolour study…(all the white is dry white paper)20-11-15-1-432In the late sixties, it was said that the ‘busts were thrown out of the studio windows’ and replaced with a less formal mode of study.      Personally, I feel that if you have a strong foundation block – it frees an artist to explore with more self confidence….much as I believe, that ‘self discipline equals freedom’   

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. 

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It’s exciting to see that ‘life painting/drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that many people who attend recognise how relaxing it is and that it is a 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 hands of the mother. P1160912Another model I really enjoy who wears blue stockings, 20200206_101535

I love grabbing 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.        

If we wish we can use the sketches made in a life session and take them to new levels…..which can be where my last post  ‘How Does the Creative Process work’ comes I into play. 

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

Happy painting20200114_135504A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

watercolour exercise……IRIS

This watercolour exercise is all about letting go and loosening up.    There are no mistakes.      Whatever the paint does….let it happen, and most importantly allow yourself to PLAY PLAY PLAY…….20-11-15-1-725

All the white areas are DRY WHITE PAPER……(In some areas I have added some permanent white gouache where the watercolour and gouache bleed).

I am allowing the paint to bleed and do its own thing where it touches a wet area……

20-11-15-1-726The strong dark I have added in this next frame is a mix of BURNT SIENNA AND PRUSSIAN BLUE – I don’t use black.20-11-15-1-728In this frame I have scraped out some of the dark with a knife to add energy.   All white areas continue to be DRY WHITE PAPER.20-11-15-1-730Note that I am moving colours around the image to produce a sense of rhythm.27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_oThe most important thing is to have FUN…..and to PLAY a little every day.

20190915_125625For those of you who have been waiting to see the video we shot in December….you will have a little longer to wait…..

In doing this filming, I learned a great deal and will now be far better equipped to put some videos together…..watch this space:)

A Bientôt

 

 

Earliest childhood memories and what they indicate….

Having recently celebrated my 74th birthday, I find myself thinking a great deal about my journey through life, starting with my earliest childhood memory.

An atmospheric sketch I made in Brittany France last May – watercolour/gouache69260072_10157477854895396_666887689538109440_oTen years ago I attended an Adlarian Workshop here in the UK.   The whole experience was good, but the one thing that made an impression and has stayed with me since was the Alarian understanding that we can learn about who we are and what our purpose in life is by acknowledging our earliest childhood memory.

A sketch from a balcony in the beautiful village of Saorge, Southeastern France – watercolour/gouche69855152_10157518440245396_6175012092211363840_oIn many ways I am fortunate to have a visual record of my life journey through sketches/ painting and more latterly writing.        Otherwise given that life seems to move so rapidly, I can see how easily it would be for memories to merge together in a bit of a blur.        Being able to look at sketch books over the years reminds me of all sorts of moments that I know might otherwise have disappeared into the ether and been forgotten…

walking the Brecon Monmouthshire Canal…Crikchowell Wales. – watercolour/gouache20200126_111008The story of my earliest childhood memory.

It was 1949 and my Mother and I were living in Dovercourt Essex.    My Father was still in the Royal Navy on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.    I can remember being cold (no central heating at that time – only coal fires).     Even at that tender age I knew that my Mother was not happy, and I can understand why.     Even though the war was over….my father was still away and my young mother was on her own with a small child.

rapid watercolour/gouache sketch from Brecon Monmouthshire Canal overlooking Crickhowell 

39887021_10156586330645396_9141085084848226304_nOne day when playing in the garden, I somehow escaped…and made my way into the centre of the little town where I had seen a beautiful and colourful carousel in the window of a cobbler’s shop.

When the cobbler came out to ask me where I lived, I gave him my Grandmother’s address in Kent…..Meanwhile, my poor Mother was frantic and the police had been alerted.

Dovercourt is a seaside town and where we lived was minutes away from the sea, sometimes a very rough sea…..causing much concern.

Seas and rocks….watercolour/goauche. 20200126_143102When I looked at this incident which was one of my clearest and earliest childhood memories I recognised that Escaping and seeking out the Colourful carousel were indications of my my life story. .

This is the sketch I made during the Adlarian workshop…of the three year old me  in front of the colourful carousel in the Cobbler’s window. 20200126_132619 And just to confirm my ‘escape artist’ tendencies….in this photograph I am wearing my harness and reins…complete with bells:)

til August 10 226

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A Bientôt.