My New Private Passion – KNITTING…..Why Not?

Yes, in between painting and writing, I am now knitting…….

I mentioned some time ago that a new community centre has opened just a three minute walk from where I live. The Inspired HUB.

Through THE HUB, I am meeting lots of new and interesting people – one of them being Kit who is a real knitter/artist. Kit has turned me on to playing with knitting needles. Who would have thought:)

Clearly the hummingbirds are spinning their unseen magic – once again proving the point that all we have to do is be prepared and open to all possibilities. – watercolour

At this point in my knitting career I am only making scarves (the beanie hat you see is made by another knitter who can turn corners – something I am yet to master:). However, watch this space…..a beanie is in the making.


I am loving all the colours…which is no surprise, but it’s also something to do with the rhythm of knitting and seeing whatever it is I am making ( a scarf of course) grow right in front of my eyes. Almost as satisfying as watching paint flow and blend.

Kit started a ‘Knit and Natter’ group at the HUB on Thursday afternoons….and so I thought why not??? pourquoi pas???? and I am very glad I was open to the possibilities of knitting and nattering with people I might otherwise never have met..

I highly recommend this to anyone. Either joining a group or starting a new one…again Why not indeed?

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

Given that the school holidays have just started this would be a wonderful thing for children of all ages to do….WHY NOT INDEED?

Have a lovely weekend.

Janet 🙂


We can choose to be stuck in negative energy or we can choose to take a walk in the great outdoors – where we can breath fresh air and enjoy nature’s bounty. Doing this is pretty much guaranteed to change our mood and attitude.

Summer tree – watercolour/gouache

watercolour/gouache – Brecon Monmouthshire canal – autumn

We can choose to turn off the constantly depressing and repetitive news or we can choose to put on some beautiful and uplifting music.


We can choose to be a couch potato or not!

We can choose to smile:) at those we encounter or not

We can choose to say thank you or not……..

We can walk in the ethereal glow of sun beams through trees….

Listening to water running over a weir can be soothing and mood changing.

No matter what our circumstances we can make choices. There is no question that it is easier for some than others, but even the smallest choice can change our day and the way we feel.

The Brecon Monmouthshire Canal…where I have walked many many times. watercolour/gouache

As we enter summer….it is time to hone our observational skills and choose to delight in Mother Nature’s bounty and ignite our creative energy.

watercolour/gouache – Brecon Beacons – Wales

On Wednesday I am giving a workshop at the HUB We will be focusing on painting trees using watercolour and gouache.

May your creative juices flow:)


I have reached that stage in life where I find myself reflecting. Not dwelling on the past, but reflecting on my life experiences and those who have shared them with me. Reflecting on who I am and what I stand for.

One of the wonderful things about ageing is the freedom that comes with it. Gone are the self conscious worries that seem to follow us when we are young. Instead there is a real understanding of how precious every single day is. And of course an understanding of the need to use the time we have wisely.

I believe that we all harbour a well of creativity within, and that it is never too late to explore that part of ourselves. Never too late to late to find unexpected joys in our lives…..

Sometimes in observing visual reflections like those that I am showing here. Photographs I took of the little harbour in Kinsale, Country Cork. We see the infinite possibilities in the world…..we can grasp that the surface rarely shows us what’s really going on. As we look down into a reflection, it seems to go on for ever….which I believe is how life is.

My first love is portrait painting. It never ceases to excite and amaze me when I get beneath the veneer of my subject. Sometimes it might be someone I have known for many years, but in painting them I see so much more…..

Like deep reflections, when we get beneath the veneer of a fellow human, we see so much more and in doing so understand the infinite possibilities that are beneath each one of us….

During this past year….not only have I had time to reflect, but also an opportunity to see new possibilities.

One thing that has come home very clearly is that wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit. The recognition that everything we do and indeed think affects our state of well-being. Given that everything and everyone is interconnected…our state of being also affects those around us…..and visa versa. It is an infinite spiral, much like looking down into a reflection.

Next time you stand by a river bank – look down into the reflections…..they go on for ever.

Janet 🙂

PURE LOVE for the Bank Holiday Weekend….

Pure love is so often expressed between animal and human.

If you need to relax and dream beautiful thoughts – find an animal that needs lots of love and they will return it to you.


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”. Anatole France.

Robby- watercolour

Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog or a cat can be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation.

Christeve – watercolour

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet”. Colette


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Mahatma Gandhi

Christeve with a magical hummingbird. watercolour

Little Maggie..- watercolour/gouache

Tiny as a puppy – (but not longer Tiny:). watercolour

One of my cats sitting in a sun spot…..waiting to be loved.

Enjoy the weekend and remember to communicate with the animals and of course birds of the world.

Janet 🙂

How we label ourselves and others…..

I was having a conversation recently with a vibrant, energetic and interesting woman. I asked her if she would be a portrait model for a small group I was about to work with. She said she would love nothing more. She then went onto say that as a child everyone referred to her as being ‘shy’. No matter what she did or wanted to do..parents would step in and say – ‘you do realise that Carrole is very shy’. Carrole had been labeled……

Watercolour of my friend Charlotte…who was always considered to be the life and soul of the party. As I look at this portrait many years after it was painted, I see ‘introspection and a depth ‘- two traits not necessarily associated with Charlotte. Two traits that didn’t fit in with her label. The problem with labels is that they cannot capture the complexity of the human spirit.

Being labeled often happens when we are very young….even during our first three formative years, and so often that label sticks for life. A label can shape our identity and dictate our future!

This is Quintin (watercolour) – a dear little boy I met in Brittany France in 1995. He was very sad during this moment in time because his mother and father had just divorced. He and I spent a lovely day together. I haven’t seen him since I painted this portrait. and so I wonder what labels have been put on him?

In this (watercolour/gouache) portrait of Christie I have added two hummingbirds. Hummingbirds symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ that surrounds us all. Of course for the magic to work, it must be acknowledged and believed….and Christie always has believed in it. Christie is my daughter and so it’s difficult to be objective, but I feel this portrait speaks of her.

This photograph of me with my new born baby Jarrod was taken in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1966. During my life, I have been labeled many things, but at this time In the States I was labeled a ‘foreigner’ and ‘alien’. Jarrod was labeled an American citizen.

The thing is that during life we grow, evolve and change…..and so what happens when we are still stuck with the same labels that we were given at an earlier time – particularly if those same labels hold us back throughout our lives.

watercolour Madame Nottale – an exceptional human being…who later in life stripped away the labels and found herself.

Madame Nottale had been a mother of eight children, a wife, a nurse and someone who could always be counted on to give and care for others. In her late eighties she was put in a nursing home where she found her true self. She painted and wrote every day for the last few years of her life and to the amazement of her children and everyone else, incredible poems flowed from her….and so many paintings that the walls in her room were covered – top to bottom.

From one of my recent posts. ‘It is never to late’. It is never to late to get rid of labels that hold us back.

By the way it’s not just humans that are given labels. Animals are also labeled….Adorable, cute, gorgeous or what???:)

Janet 🙂

Mixing watercolour and Gouache plus other mediums for quick portraits.

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 which had spatters of paint on it. 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 over colour grounds.      Plus I loved the interaction of transparent watercolour with the opaque gouache. 

Claudia (2


I would urge anyone who feels a little stuck….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. 

Charcoal sketch of Claudia – Claudia is an actress and so has projected many different personas – 1995

20-11-15 - 1 (951) 

Small oil on panel sketch of Claudia when she visited me in Wales – 199520-11-15 - 1 (324)

The first portrait I ever painted of Claudia when she was 17 years old.     Now in her fifties she is a successful actress and director of theatre.          oil on canvas. 10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-3

Patricia is an actress friend of Claudia.     She and I spent a week together in Brittany France 2019 when I made numerous sketches of her.    watercolour on white paper.    Like Claudia she is very expressive and a joy to work with. 

Observing the sitter from different points of view is important.

If you are lacking a model…look in the mirror:)


The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops’ is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E.M. Forster – first published in 1909.          

Caramany is a commune in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France.   13h century – watercolour/gouache 20200607_134303‘The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth.     Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard room, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent global Machine.      Travel is permitted, but is unpopular and rarely necessary.    Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine with which people conduct their only activity the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge”. 

Saorge is a commune in the Alps-Maritimes department in southeastern France – 14th century. 20200609_122845I highly recommend that people read this novella.     To say that it is prophetic is an understatement….and remember it was first published in 1909. 

Carrieres-sur-Sein  a commune in the Ile-de-France region in north-central France. – watercolour/gouache 13708331_10154243834580396_2480180553671285849_oI have chosen to show sketches from some of the ancient villages I have had the good fortune to spend time in.

They remind me of where we have come from…..and illustrate it wasn’t so long ago that we humans lived without electricity let alone smart phones and computers!    

Caramany – Southern France – watercolour/gouache 20200604_122355These places remind me of the importance of Community.      

The very existence of such towns and villages is based on communities sharing customs and working together – passing down knowledge from one generation to another, from learned experience. 

Caramany Southern France.  – watercolour20200520_182835The history of these villages and towns teach us everything we need to know about sustainable living and much more. 

We have seen more changes during the past fifty years than in the past five hundred years, and the pace of change continues to speed forward, fuelled by greed.     

Lock Down has taught us (I hope) that we don’t need to charge through life…..that we can and should stop to smell the roses.      That using our hands and creative abilities is key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.  

 Stay well, stay safe and keep all creative juices flowing.

Janet 🙂


I have learned throughout life to ‘never say never’ HOWEVER, I can. honestly say that I never use black when watercolour painting.

The strong darks you see in this spontaneous demonstration of Cala Lilies…and all the other images in this blog are made up from a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna. All the whites are dry white paper…and the greenish hue is one of the many values I can get from these two pigments simply by adding water.

Some Prussian Blue/Burnt Sienna swatches. 1) pure Prussian Blue. 2) pure Burnt Sienna. 3.4 &5 are all Burnt Sienna/Prussian blue mixes. If you make your own swatches you will find that there are countless values that can be achieved depending on the amounts of pigment and water used. Give it a go and of course PLAY.

This quick sketch of my dear friend Patricia is made up from Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna and dry white paper.

I made this sketch of Amish children when visiting my son and his partner’s farm in Pennsylvania two years ago.. Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna. mix.

I love to sketch the birds at the River Thames close to where I live….All I need to take with me on for a days sketching is Prussian Blue/Burnt Sienna, brush, paper and water.

Another bird sketch from the River Thames

I cheated a little on this one – note that there is some violet in the negative space but the main attraction, Jenny the dog is all Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna.

In this quick watercolour sketch of a young woman in David’s Bar in Olhao Portugal – I worked from an orange ground….but only used Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the portrait.

As I look through my many sketchbooks I find countless images painted this way….

Although I am talking about watercolour in this post, here is an example of how I use the same mix in an oil painting. This large alla prima (Direct painting) self portrait, oil on canvas is made up from the same mix.

Strong darks can be made by using other blues and browns….the key is, like everything else, to explore and PLAY.

An interesting note. I first came across this mix when I was living in Chester County, Pa. in Andrew Wyeth territory. I never really fit into the Brandywine Tradition, but I learned from it like everything else in life, and took what works for me.

I hope everyone enjoys a lovely weekend and that the brushes are flying:) Janet.


We can choose to be stuck in negative energy or we can choose to take a walk in the great outdoors – where we can breath fresh air and enjoy nature’s bounty. Doing this is pretty much guaranteed to change our mood and attitude.

watercolour/gouache – Brecon Monmouthshire canal

We can choose to turn off the constantly depressing and repetitive news or we can choose to put on some beautiful and uplifting music.


We can choose to be a couch potato or not!

We can choose to smile:) at those we encounter or not

We can choose to say thank you or not……..

Listening to water running over a weir can be soothing and mood changing.

No matter what our circumstances we can make choices. There is no question that it is easier for some than others, but even the smallest choice can change our day and the way we feel.

As we enter spring….it is time to hone our observational skills and choose to delight in Mother Nature’s bounty and ignite our creative energy.

‘LIFE DRAWING’ – perfect for honing observational skills.

During the last few years it’s been great to see that life painting/drawing is back in vogue.

Some of the images in this post are from a life session I tutored in Chester, UK.

To warm  up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model.   I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work.      20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I was fortunate enough to begin each day with a two hour life session.       I can’t think of a better way to get the creative juices flowing.

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


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

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to  life drawing.      Observation, observation, observation……

Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper).  the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition.     20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation frees an artist to explore their work with confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly build a strong foundation. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models I also enjoy working with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again it’s all about 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. 


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 and gentle hands of the mother.      A  few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we only painted the hands and feet of our models.   An excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. – ten minute full sheet study. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Happy painting