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…

View original post 1,035 more words

Portrait painting workshop……

Tomorrow I am giving a Portrait painting workshop.    My goals are to help the group to be playful, remove the fear that often arises when the words ‘portrait painting’ come up and to focus on capturing the essence of their subject.

I will begin the day with a watercolour demonstration using one of the participants as my model…and then encourage the group to make quick studies of one another.   As this will be part of the warming up process, newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining can be used….

Simplifying the subject as demonstrated in this quick study, helps the artist to begin to see what’s in front of them.      I often say that we can live with someone for thirty years but it’s not until you draw or paint a subject that you actually see them.

felt tip pen and a watercolour wash.20-11-15-1-750I highly recommend carrying a sketch book….This offers perfect opportunities to observe people and make quick studies.

During a lecture at an Adlarian Summer School, I made this quick sketch of Vincent.   I used a pen during the lecture and then applied wash afterwards.

pen and wash. 20-11-15-1-747In this study of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Wales – I wanted to capture the stern quality of her expression.

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen study   20-11-15-1-754Silvern was one of the actors I painted last year when in Nantes France.      I have to say that working with the group as they rehearsed for a production was one of the year’s highlights.    As actors they were naturally very expressive and wonderful to capture.

Note in this watercolour all the whites are dry white paper.

When giving a portrait workshop, I often see people struggling with one aspect of a face, i.e. the nose.    More and more paint is added, causing confusion to the painter and the portrait –   Often all that is needed is a shadow next to the nose – and voila.

watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (371)This young woman was enjoying some spring sunshine….note all white areas are dry white paper.    By adding the dark background, the profile is revealed.    I have used the same tone in the background as in the shadow areas of the face….Remember everything is interconnected.

watercolour19853_341904480395_7803458_nIn this alla prima  (painted in one session) oil sketch of my son when he was 26 years old (he’s now 50), note that the strong shadow on his neck reveals his chin…..The top lip is in shadow revealing the bottom lip….The dark in his hair frames and reveals the face. til-august-10-187I painted this oil sketch of Megan about 32 years ago when I was working on  a large portrait of her Mother in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.    After a sitting, Megan asked if I would paint her, and so I used the paint left on my palette capturing her in about twenty minutes.

rapid alla prima oil on canvas sketch P1150316A rapid sketch of Eli.    I love drawing/painting children.   The proportions are completely different.      It’s a case of ‘less is more’.

from one of my travelling sketch books.  – pen20-11-15-1-752I painted this spontaneous watercolour portrait of Margarida as a demonstration in Portugal last year.    At the time, Margarida was pregnant (I get to meet the new baby in April. 🙂       I used an elephant sized  sheet of paper.      I didn’t worry about the outcome but simply enjoyed the moment…which is something I highly recommend that others do.

Large, spontaneous watercolour of Margarida. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)And then there is the self portrait.

When models are scarce we always have ourselves.  I have painted several self portraits over the years, and find them to be illuminating – always learning something new about  myself.        This alla prima oil sketch was painted on January 3rd 2000 when I was living in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.    I loved that hat, and somewhere along the way have lost it…..ah well, I still have it in the painting.

alla prima oil on canvas. – self portrait. P1140993Happy painting.

A Bientôt

Painting exercise – An Iris, symbolising love a wisdo

Even though we are still in February, I am feeling the onset of Spring.     Everywhere I look, I see the signs.    So many bulbs shooting up through the soil and that tell tale sign of the sap beginning to rise.     Such an exciting time of the year.    These feelings are begging me to use vibrant colour…..and so I am using an Iris as my jumping off point for a watercolour/gouache painting exercise.

rapid watercolour with a little gouache here and there…….20-11-15-1-731I have learned that the Iris symbolises love and wisdom  – two elements that we can never have enough of…..

This is a playful exercise….a good way to warm up.

Using a big brush, I apply bold colourful marks to the paper….You can do this exercise on newspaper, inexpensive wallpaper lining, anything at hand.   The key is to go for it and enjoy. 

20-11-15-1-725

I begin to establish the form of the Iris….important to note that all the whites you see thus far are dry white paper.     I am emphasising keeping dry white paper areas in this exercise, rather than wetting the whole sheet.    This will give more control and ultimately those dry white areas bring sparkle to a watercolour painting.

20-11-15-1-726I add paint to the background and pull out certain areas with a clean wet brush….all the white areas showing are dry white paper.

To avoid muddiness – a clean wet brush can do wonders in moving paint around.     20-11-15-1-727I then decide to give the image more drama and add a dark wash into the negative space surrounding the Iris.      I don’t use black…this dark is made up from  a Burnt sienna/ Prussian Blue mix plus some of the purple I have used in the Iris. 20-11-15-1-729While the surface is wet, I scrape out some areas with a knife.   I have also added a little Permanent White Gouache into the final frame….note how the gouache bleeds from the Irish into the surrounding paint.

Very important to move colour around the picture and to allow the paint to do its own thing….this is where watercolour mediums are quite magical20-11-15-1-731I have several short videos on YouTube which can be helpful.   They can be found by entering my name into the YouTube search engine.

Along with Podcasts I plan to do some longer videos during the coming year.

Remember love and wisdom are the words for today….two elements the Magical Hummingbirds understand well.

20-11-15-1-545

A Bientôt.