Fear and Love

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.

“When we are afraid, we pull back from life.   When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and acceptance.   We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and imperfections.   If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create.    Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open hearted vision of people who embrace life.”     John Lennon.

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (462)All of life in interconnected.     Mother Nature and the Magical Hummingbirds  remind us of this as they work together rather than in opposition.

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (1023)Most cultures teach us that safety is found in separation and disconnection.

If we really believe that what happens in one part of the world doesn’t affect the rest of the world, we are in fact living in denial, convincing ourselves that we are safe.

To rely on disconnection for protection is to rely on falsehood.

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (772)Mother Nature has given us the perfect example of what happens when we respect the laws of interconnection and also what happens when we don’t……..

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From the book – Buddhist Offerings:

You menace others with your deadly fangs but in tormenting them, you are only torturing yourselves. 

A Bientôt

Chance or Fate?

“There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.”    Frederick von Schiller.

My cousin introducing me to Crickhowell (The Magical Town of Crickadoon) in 1993 – a place I had never heard of before…..was that chance or fate?…….Certainly living and working in Crickhowell for twelve years constitutes a very important chapter of my life, and indeed will always be part of who I am.

large self portrait – Crickhowell Wales 2000 – rapid watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (955)Yesterday I visited my good friends Greta and Martin.     We met 12 years ago shortly after I moved to London from Wales.     It was a Sunday afternoon and I was giving a portrait demonstration for Artslink – a group I had recently connected with.       After the demonstration, Greta and Martin introduced themselves and asked if I would be interested in giving a workshop for SOFAP (Fulham/Hammersmith Arts Society) to which I said yes.      They also asked if I was related to Carol Weight, who it turned out was one of the early founders of the Society.     In fact, Carel was my Father’s cousin.

From Carel’s Memorial Service at The Royal Academy. 

20-11-15 - 1 (956)I will always remember that first workshop….because I knew in every fibre of  my mind and body that I was in the right place at that moment in time.     Subsequently, during the past 12 years, so much of the work I have done and people I have met in London can be traced back to that Sunday afternoon when I met Greta and Martin.   Chance or fate?

My first portrait workshop with SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Arts – eleven years ago20-11-15 - 1 (954)Recently, I have been experiencing a glut of ‘coincidences’ – or are they?     Six Degrees of Separation is the term we use to describe such happenings when we meet others for the first time who we find are in some way connected to our lives.

When in Portugal, some of the group were scrolling through my work on a pad and came across this painting – which is a ‘symbolic self portrait’ large oil on canvas – painted in my West Chester studio, Pennsylvania 1990.      They asked what the different objects in the painting represented.     I told them that the little egg cup in the front and centre of the composition represented my birth.     That it was given to me, and other babies born in England on 21st January 1946.    The silver egg cup has the inscription –  News Chronicle Centenary – 21st January 1946 – Janet Weight. 

At this point one of the group said that their family had owned the News Chronicle….for me a significant moment.    Chance or fate ?      The egg cup has been a Talisman for me throughout my life….and as I write this, it sits on a shelf in my book case.

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Claudia Nottale came into my life when she was 17 years old.   Introduced through a friend, she came from Paris to live with me and my young family.     I knew from the moment I met her that she would play a significant part in my life…and indeed she has and continues to do so.

I have painted and sketched Claudia many times over the years…. charcoal when Claudia was visiting Crickhowell in 1995. 

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It has been suggested to me that I write a book about the numerous  ‘coincidences’ that have occurred throughout my life….and indeed they will be a part of my book.  With the luxury of hindsight I can now look back and pin point how these events have shaped my life.

Like a tightly woven tapestry – our lives are intertwined.        When we look at a tapestry, like this magnificent piece from Hampton Court Palace, we tend to see the main features….but every thread is key to the whole….all of life is interconnected. P1120664I am quite clear that when these ‘coincidences’ occur in a glut…that the hummingbirds are indeed weaving their magic…..20-11-15 - 1 (788)

A Bientôt

 

 

Total Concentration: The Heart and Soul of Creative Work: Part Two

Another gem from David Rogers. This post ties in beautifully with my last post ‘A Day at the School in Olhao’ – where I speak about honing observational skills….so that we can actually ‘see’ what we are looking at…..Enjoy Janet

davidjrogersftw

A heart surgeon was performing a delicate operation when large chunks of the ceiling came crashing down all around him. People in the operating room screamed, the noise was deafening. But the surgeon was so concentrated on

the surgery that he didn’t notice.  When your creator’s mind is as deeply on the act of creation as it should be when you are painting, writing, dancing, acting, like that surgeon you will be aware of nothing else. You will look up and see that your friend has been talking to you and you didn’t notice or that rain is coming in the window that has blown open while you worked. You won’t hear blaring music from the apartment next door.

Creative people often notice that if their ability to concentrate while they are working is poor, their work is also poor, but that if their concentration is good, their work is…

View original post 1,363 more words

A day at the School in Olhao Portugal

One of the group sketching on Armona Island…..20-11-15 - 1 (903)People who sign up for courses at the School in Olhao – http://www.artinthealgarve.com come for several reasons, – yes of course the possibility of sunshine and being with like minded people, but for most it is to explore the creative process.       All levels of ability and experience are welcome.

Those that attend my courses usually come to ‘loosen up’ and so today I am going to talk about the process I use to help people to do this.

After a delicious 8.30 breakfast….we gather in one of the courtyards or studio for our morning warm up.     “Like athletes and dancers, artists need to warm up every day. Playful exercises will  help to awaken the senses”. – Janet Weight Reed

I begin the day with one or two quick demonstrations….an example of one. 

20-11-15 - 1 (995)At this point it doesn’t matter what the subject is, the key is to open one’s eyes and begin to see so that we ready ourselves for the day’s sketching and painting.

A goal of mine is that each person take home with them one or two new tools/techniques.

Something as simple as learning what your brush can do is vital information.    Understanding how different papers re-act….and so on.     By allowing ourselves to play we learn these things.

A warm up exercise by one of the group……20-11-15 - 1 (1018)

I emphasise the use of sketch books throughout the week to record both images and notes.  

A warm up sketch by one of the group showing me giving a demonstration…love this 20-11-15 - 1 (999)After the morning warm up, each person then decides where they would like to sketch.    Some choose to stay within the School with its endless supply of inspiration….or to  go out into the surrounding alleyways and town…..all within a minute’s walk of the School.

For those who have never enjoyed plein air sketching, this can be somewhat daunting, but I find that once people take the leap…..they quickly learn to enjoy the experience.

A sketch by a member of the group who came for the first time last year and had never sketched before…….now she can’t stop….20-11-15 - 1 (1023)After plein air work some members of the group bring their sketches back to the studio setting where they continue to develop their work.

This lovely watercolour from Jayanthi was taken from one of her many sketches from the Saturday Market.18198393_1511394575560684_5675669900655837280_nThose who have followed my blog will know that I believe the creative process in its many forms is the key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and so the week in Olhao is not only learning about new tools and techniques, but also experiencing those moments of deep contentment and wellbeing that the creative process can bring.

From one of the groups sketch book 18157384_1504663029567172_1420997864278064881_nI believe that by loosening up we advance our observational skills.    Regardless of what kind of work we would like to develop,….the loosening up process will help you to reach your goal. 

It’s important to remember that when plein air sketching…technique comes secondary to observation.       Observation is not just about looking, it’s about seeing.     Therefore,  rapid impressions of the subject helps us to actually see what it is we are looking at…….then if we wish to refine a sketch…..so be it.

20-11-15 - 1 (930)After a morning of sketching – we then join together for lunch at 1 p.m.

Each tutor has their own way of doing things, but I always have a two hour free period after lunch.    Some like to take a siesta….others to go out and about around the Town – observing life….etc. but it seems to work work well.

At 4 p.m. we come together again in one of the courtyards where I give another demonstration.

Two of the group this year were Botanical artists…..and so loosening up for them was a totally different experience.     They both jumped in wholeheartedly….allowing themselves to break free from their normally, very beautiful and detailed work.       One of the loveliest compliments I received from one of the ‘Botanicals’ (as they were dubbed) was at the end of the course when she expressed how much she had gained from the loosening up process.

One of my afternoon demonstrations…using one of the group as a model 20-11-15 - 1 (993)We then work from 4 p.m. til 6 ish.

I am very aware of body clocks and rhythms and so do try to plan a day where people have time to renew and organise thoughts.

At 6 – 6.30 ish people freshen up and prepare for the evening meal….which is always filled with  much conversation,  – a vital part of the week.      Sometimes the meal is taken at the School….freshly cooked by the wonderful Margarida.….or we go to a local restaurant….again just minutes walk from the School.

Speaking of Margarida…..This year there was a new addition – Charlotte – sister to Beatrice.    Yes, last year, Margarida was pregnant

You can just see her bump in this large water colour demonstration I did last year. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)

Here she is with the beautiful Charlotte….A woman of many talents….20-11-15 - 1 (865)And….lovely Joanna, who does the housekeeping and makes our  breakfast every day,  brought the twins to see us….who have grown so  much.

The twins….part of the School tapestry….20-11-15 - 1 (866)I couldn’t possibly finish this post without sharing the beautiful portrait of  me drawn by six year old Beatrice….(sister to Charlotte)….I will always cherish this.

Me – by Beatrice. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)For more images of the group’s work you can go to Art in the Algarve on Facebook http://www.artinthealgarve.com

My choice to day is to Soar above all the madness with the magical hummingbirds….

 

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sigA Bientôt

Art in the Algarve 2017 – Overview – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Another beautiful stay at the School in Alhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.         One week of sketching and writing on my own and a second week of tutoring a lovely group.

The group numbered fifteen and represented several different countries, UK, Canada, Cyprus, France and Ireland.

Here we are about to enjoy one of Margarida’s wonderful freshly cooked meals. 20-11-15 - 1 (972)I have written several blogs about the School and how conducive it is to the creative process.     David Clarke, founder of the School clearly understood what was needed.   He was a man of vision, and I for one will always be grateful for his gift to artists.

Three of the group working in one of the internal courtyards. 20-11-15 - 1 (981)Somewhat like the Tardis the outside doesn’t give away its many different levels, rooms, studio, and courtyards.

There is much to observe within the boundaries of the School.      The shadow play alone is magical.

150 year old olive tree in one of the School’s courtyards – producing exquisite shadow play. 20-11-15 - 1 (849)

20-11-15 - 1 (851)Given that the School sits in the middle of the old town of Olhao, which is a working fishing town – it is not necessary to get into a car during the entire week.   Everything one could need is within minute’s walking distance…..and for many sketching and painting around the town is an endless source of interest and inspiration

One of the many alley ways of Olhao…..20-11-15 - 1 (1056)Olhao history is long and fascinating…..Dating back to Roman times, with a clear influence from the Moors and Northern Africa, (400 miles away)     Much of the town is in need of restoration…however, this gives it a special kind of charm.  It is not the usual golf course, commercial touristy Algarve that we tend to see on advertisements….it is quite unique and very ‘earthy’.

Alleyway behind the School. 20-11-15 - 1 (145)Two of the many old doors that can be seen throughout the town…..along with decorative tiles ImageMarry the character of the town with the fish markets, busy fishing port and the beautiful Barrier Islands which are just fifteen minutes away, part of the Ria Formosa National Park, and it soon becomes apparent that there is much to explore, observe and paint.

Fish Market just a minutes walk from School  –olhao market

As is custom we were taken by Nuno and his lovely dog to Armona Island (10 minute  boat road) for a day’s painting and lunch at the Armona 4 Restaurant.   Armona is one of the Barrier Islands offering  beautiful beaches and given that there are no cars on the Island a respite from our busy world.

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Children playing with shells on Armona….20-11-15 - 1 (913)

One of Armona’s beaches…..magic

A mental image I am left with from this year was of one of the group floating in the small roof pool as a stork flew directly over her.       There was definitely magic in the air…..20-11-15 - 1 (832)Storks that nesting in Olhao. Image

Along with examples of the Group’s work, plus an outline of how the day/week is structured – in my next blog I will share more pictures of the Group sketching and painting in and around the School.

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During this visit and my short trip to Cardiff just before leaving for Portugal….Six Degrees of Separation were very much in play….in other words the magical hummingbirds were indeed weaving their magic.    More about this in my next blogs.

On that note, I can’t resist but to leave you with two of those magical little creatures…..

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A bientôt

 

 

 

 

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