Flying off with the hummingbirds….

As of tomorrow, I will be travelling, painting and writing….first in Cardiff, Wales for just a couple of days where I will  enjoy a friend’s birthday and a visit with my cousin.     Then back to London to pack…..and onto wonderful Olhao, Portugal for the rest of April….which means I will be back here in May with hopefully lots of new work and thoughts…..

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (823)This year I will be spending the first week in Portugal painting and writing on my own, and then the group arrives for a week of creative adventure at the school in Alhao….http://www.artinthealgarve.comone of my favourite places.

Looking down into one of the courtyards from an upper balcony at the School……20-11-15 - 1 (186)I always take time  out from my on line activities when I go on my trips so that I can fully focus on observing, sketching and writing…..

Armona Island, just a hop, skip and a fifteen minute boat ride from the School….20-11-15 - 1 (128)Which means I wont be back here until the beginning of May…..20-11-15 - 1 (824)I wish one and all a beautiful April…..filled of course, with magical hummingbirds.

20-11-15 - 1 (819)A Bientôt

Love After Love – by Derek Walcott.

 

loveafterlove

 

watercolour1417725_10152071173270396_106616243_oDerek Walcott’s words remind me that we can search for all of our lives, but ultimately as surely as spring follows winter,  we always come back to ourselves.

watercolour/gouache – some hummingbird magic.20-11-15 - 1 (788)

Derek Walcott – Nobel Prize in Literature 1992 – T.S. Eliot Prize 2011   – (1930 -2017) 

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

Plein air painting – Time to Stand and Stare……

‘What is this life if,  full of care,  We have no time to stand and stare.    No time to stand beneath the boughs  And stare as long as sheep or cows…….’     from the poem ‘Leisure’ – by William Henry Davies. 

Plein Air painting affords us the opportunity to stand and stare.     As we observe the ever changing light, we become present to the sights,  sounds and smells that surround us.    After a while we become one with our subject and with that comes a sense of wellbeing.

Kent landscape – watercolour/gouache P1140440This post is to encourage those who might feel a little nervous of painting in public, to throw caution to the wind, and give it a go……..

Some tips:

1) Travel light.  –  A small sketch pad, one brush, sketching pen, a plastic cup for found water….i.e. river, stream, puddle, pub…..(Unless you are in the desert water is usually easy to find)

2)  A limited palette. –  I take seven colours….and could easily cut down to four.

2)   Some people prefer a sketching stool….I look for steps, walls, benches, rocks….

3)    Sun hat – (sunglasses distort colour)

4)    snack and water to drink.

5)    Optional – a camera to use as reference for future studio work.

Note that in this photograph I have found a table….(I was staying with good friends in Wales)    Also note the plastic bag on the table.    Normally for cosmetics it’s compact, has a zip and a handle, and makes for finding a brush or a tube of paint quick and easy.     Perfect for plein air sketching.

Overlooking the Usk Valley where the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park meet…..20160824_121557One of the watercolours I painted during that visit.   I plan to return again this year and do many more sketches there. 20-11-15 - 1 (267)It’s important to remember that when painting outside technique comes second to observing the essence of the subject.    The aim is to capture a sense of place…rather than every detail.

In this quick felt tip pen and watercolour sketch from Mas Cabardes S. W. France….I picked the essential components of the scene….capturing an idea of place.   20-11-15 - 1 (250)When I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache sketch, I was on the edge of a 4,000 ft cliff overlooking the white village of Zuheros, Andalucia, Spain,  with forests and olive groves going off into the distance.    It was very windy, and numerous lion eagles were flying overhead.   An extremely exhilarating moment.

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed with the visual feast set before you, and so again the key is to pick the essential components.   In this instance, I used blocks of colour…rather than any detail. 20-11-15 - 1 (36)From a pocket sized sketch book – Fishing boats on Armona Island, Portugal…..20-11-15 - 1 (63)

I remember this vividly.   I was in Portugal and the sun was setting over the hills….and I needed to capture the moment…and so again there is no detail whatsoever – just my feeling of what was happening.   watercolour. 11722205_10153408010935396_6808764412248363582_oI sketched this on a boat in Kinsale Harbour, County Cork Ireland.…and the colours were just like this…..Often when working in sketchbooks,  I join up the pages as you can see here. 10842265_10153035398130396_9042918393838052530_oAnother very happy moment.   I was with my dear friends Mariethe Salort (artist) and Bonnie Halsey Dutton (artist).    We were celebrating July 4th that day and sketched this village – Courrier-sur-Sein – not too far from Paris……watercolour/gouache.    I remember there were lots of little  boys who wanted to get in on the action. 🙂11834711_10153477485855396_4950983751547778998_oFrom a pocket sized sketch book off the coast of Akyaka, Turkey.     watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (768)

This final piece was painted in Monet’s Garden at Giverney.    My friend Mariethe Salort had arranged that we could paint in the gardens when all the visitors had gone.   It was such a wonderful summer’s evening and one I will never forget.     watercolour/gouache 10917160_10153020589015396_3953042147092516531_o-2

If you have not done anything like this before and are nervous to go it alone….there are groups you can join….or art associations that organise days of plein air painting for all levels, including beginners.     I can not recommend it enough…..

Of course I always surround myself with magical hummingbirds no matter where I am in the world…..and every now and then I am in places where they are the subject.   watercolour

p1170342

Happy sketching…..

A Bientôt

 

For International Women’s Day

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.   In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Large alla prima oil on canvas – self portrait – 1989 -The Turning Point. 20-11-15 - 1 (765)International Women’s Day reminds me of the courageous women who have gone before and those who through example continue to encourage and inspire today.

The symbolic imagery in this large oil on canvas (1990) speaks of all women.

The brick wall behind the chest symbolises a special place….Everyone needs a special place in their hearts – to be in, to dream about and hope for. 

Photograph of the large self portrait.symbolising  awakenings and turning points. 

The quiltsymbolic of both peace and turmoil. 

The pewter vessel  – Throughout the millennia – the vessel has symbolised the female. 

The silver egg cupA talisman symbolising the day of  my birth.

The appledefinitely not forbidden fruit for me, rather a symbol of new life.    The apple reminds me not to judge a book by its cover but rather to understand what’s at the core. 

The sculpted armMade by American artist, Janet Cleveland.   In its uplifting gesture, it says ‘Yes, I can do it…..’

Large oil on canvas – Symbolic self portrait – circa 1990.     20-11-15 - 1 (773)And I do believe that women can do just about anything that they put their minds, heart and soul to – the key is to never give up.  

For those women who feel alone and whose lives are racked with struggle….this day represents a beacon of light and hope.    It is an opportunity for women to come together.

This magical hummingbird symbolises the unseen magic in our world, – something that each and everyone of us can tap into…….20-11-15 - 1 (772)

A bientôt

A very special visitor…..Boo Boo Chevalier

Boo Boo Chevalier….(yes that is his name)  with one of my large oil paintings as a backdrop.     A good friend and Boo Boo came to visit recently. 20-11-15-1-357I have loved many cats and dogs, however during the past 11 years since London has been my base, I have learned to enjoy other people’s animals.

I continue to look forward to living and working in Marmite Heaven where cats, dogs, chickens and all manner of other creatures will abound.

Because I believe in visualisation – here is a large oil on canvas – work in progress (5ft x 4ft) – of a mythical Marmite Heaven, based on many of the places where I have stayed in France.

Note that Chriseve the Cat is observing the village and a cockerel is sketched in…….hummingbirds to come……20-11-15-1-763Which brings me to  Christeve the Cat of the Magical Town of Crickadoon.…having a conversation with a tiger – overlooked by a magical hummingbird….

In my world  of imagination anything is possible……watercolour illustration for children’s book703902_309194122518618_437499646_oAnd Tarrantino whose company I recently enjoyed in Wales….watercolour/gouache from sketch book. 20-11-15 - 1 (406)  Just as the creative process is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing, so I believe is the natural world which  – definitely includes the likes of Boo Boo Chevalier. 🙂

And of course the Hummingbirds that symbolise for me the unseen magic of our world. 20-11-15-1-453

A bientôt

 

 

 

Achieving Mastery in Creative Work

I always enjoy David’s blog….and this one is no exception. Highly recommended. janet.

davidjrogersftw

david-youngWhen I was a little boy about eight or nine, I was playing in front of the TV in our Chicago apartment when an old black and white English movie came on.  I knew nothing about acting, though I had once played a tree in a skit. But there was one actor on the screen who I could see was remarkable. He was just different, unlike any of the other actors, though I couldn’t say how. But I could see that something special right there on the screen.

What he was doing, how he was acting, the impression he was making made me feel a sensation which I now know was awe. I realized I was watching an extraordinary accomplishment I had never seen in movies before, in my life before. I pointed at the man and said, “Who is that, Mom?” She was a movie buff, so she knew…

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