How Creativity and a simple daily plan contribute to holistic wellbeing.

My Life as an Artist (2)

‘Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit – the realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our state of well-being’.   Greg Anderson. 

Through Mother Nature we see how all of life is interconnected. – watercolour27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_oWhat is Holistic wellbeing?  

Holistic wellbeing is characterised by the treatment of the whole person.    It is to look at the self from a whole (holistic) perspective and to understand the mind, body, spirit connection.  

To change one fraction of a painting, – changes the whole painting.     This is true for we humans….to change one small part of ourselves, (positively or negatively), changes the whole. 

watercolour20180610_130630-1In our ever more complex and stressful day to day living, finding ways to balance the different aspects of our lives can at times seem overwhelming.     It is for this reason that…

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Returning to Crickhowell (AKA The magical Town of Crickadoon)

Watercolour sketching at Curlews – overlooking the beautiful Usk Valley where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet. 17353562_10155013949100396_7123396617463630765_nI start this blog where I finished off last time.    I had just been driven by Heather from the beautiful Rhiwiau to the busy little market town of Crickhowell where I met up with my friend Jane at the Dragon Inn.  

Looking down the High Street towards the Dragon Inn and River Usk.     The hills you see are Llangattock where one of the biggest cave complexes in UK can be found.  img-2516-jpgI lived in Crickhowell for twelve years from 1993 til 2005.      During that time, along with commissions and teaching,  I worked on a project, entitled Focusing on the Future which used the power of art to teach children about their environment and issues such as  trust, loneliness and homelessness.      Without going into all the details, it almost made it, but sadly in the end it had to be put aside.

Christeve the Cat (who appeared at my cottage door during a violent storm on Christmas Eve 1996) was the key character in the project along with hummingbirds symbolising the unseen magic in our world, and as anyone following my blog will know…the magical hummingbirds continue to thrive.

Christeve the Cat with magical hummingbird.   From Focusing on the Future project. 1487662_10152647679605396_162251845225224083_oOn this visit I stayed at the Dragon Inn which brought back many happy memories.   When I first returned to Wales in 1993, I stayed with my cousin and family who initially introduced me to Crickhowell, and then I moved into a small flat over the antique shop right next to the Dragon.      The people who ran the Dragon at that time, allowed me to use the functions room to paint portraits and entertain my guests….how wonderful is that……

The Dragon Inn Crickhowell, which I highly recommend.   The food is superb. 20180713_093632One of the many portraits I painted in Crickhowell.   This is Ken…a man of Wales.   As I painted people, I asked them to talk about their lives in Crickhowell all of which I have on cassette tapes.   watercolour15042281_10154594783145396_4050497219327933999_oIn hindsight, when I arrived in 1993, it was the end of an era,     With the advent of technology the area has become busier, but thankfully because of protection offered by The Brecon Beacons National Park, it still keeps its charm and has a great sense of community.

I walked for at least two hours every day – initially with the company of Bumble, the beautiful golden lab that I included in the paintings in St. Edmund’s Church.  Through Bumble I met the people of Crickhowell.

One of my many favourite haunts was the Bluebell Wood.  watercolour sketch20180717_075614 It has taken a few years for me to feel totally comfortable again in returning.   I think along with feelings of sadness, I felt a sense of letting many people, especially the children down because the Focusing on the Future project didn’t come to fruition.     However, I am now pleased to say that all of those negative feelings have gone, allowing me to thoroughly enjoy this very special place again.

When I return now it is lovely to see many of the people I would encounter every day when I lived there.    It was such a pleasure to enjoy a meal with Zena the post mistress..one of the many lovely people who were such a big part of my life.

We enjoyed a fantastic evening, and a lovely day of  painting, at Curlews with Sally and Gareth Reese, children and friends…it was perfect.     Company, food, and of course the amazing setting.

The view from Curlews..watercolour16904783_10154965677830396_2036381033997258090_oAnother good friend, Lizzy Wilson joined us for a day…..bringing back many happy and some difficult memories.    Lizzy was so supportive when things didn’t work out with the project, and helped me to clear my studio before moving to London.

A sketch of Lizzy shortly before I moved to London in 2005. 20180725_084258I could go on and on, but needless to say, Crickhowell and the whole area holds a very special place in my heart.    I will now look forward to many more visits.

I finish with this poster from the Focusing on the Future project featuring Theodore the Tiger, Christeve the Cat and a magical hummingbird.   watercolour10468017_10152494449725396_6097248723310984565_o

May the magical hummingbirds be with you all.

A Bientot

http://www.jcrhumming.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rhiwiau, Yew trees and The Magical Town of Crickadoon.

“To find the universal elements enough, to find the air and the water exhilarating: to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter – to be thrilled by the stars at night:  to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of a simple life.”   John Burroughs.

The Rhiwiau – The big stone barn is to the left of the house….note the small shepherd’s hut in front of the barn – this is where I slept.FB_IMG_1523948682803 I first visited the Rhiwiau, the home of my friends Anne and Mike Ranstead , about twenty-four years ago.    Along with enjoying happy hours with Anne and Mike and  painting in the surrounding hills, this place represents a ‘hot spot’ for me.

When I left my home in Crickhowell in 2005 to move to London, I stored my furniture in the stone barn for four years.       Prior to that, two large panels I painted for St. Edmund’s Church in Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) – were stored in the barn for a period of time.     All of this is recorded on a video.

The two completed panels hanging in St. Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell.   They were installed in 1996.     20180713_100147Then five years ago my two good friends, Heather and Andrew bought the Rhiwiau from Anne and Mike.    Hill walkers and dog lovers, they are the perfect people to take over.  They have now made the Rhiwiau into an Air B’nB – attracting people from around the world who love hill walking and all the other bounties that the Brecon Beacons National Park has to offer.      Here are the links to their air BnB.

airbnb.co.uk/rooms/6074819      and    airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13812920

Close to the Rhiwiau is Llanfeugan Church in Pencilli.      In this unspoiled place Heather took me to see a circle of Yew trees that are around two thousand years old.

Heather and one of the magnificent Yew trees at Llanfeugan Church, Pencelli. 20180708_125531  Old head stones interspersed amongst the Yew trees.    A magical place20180708_125821During my stay Heather introduced me to Janis Fry –  artist, writer and expert on the Yew Tree.  http://www.janisfryart.co.uk     Janis has written two books on the subject – ‘The God Tree’ and ‘Warriors at the Edge of Time’    

Janis and Heather are now giving tours aimed to introduce people to some of the best examples of ancient yews in Wales.   They occur in a relatively small area, probably due to the culture of revering yews and planting them which dates back to the Silures, the Celtic yew tribe who inhabited this area and fought the Romans.   The tour starts with a five thousand (5,000) year old yew and ends with one of four thousand (4,000) years and is designed to take up a weekend.    For more information go to http://www.janisfryart.co.uk

Heather and I went to The International Welsh Rarebit Centre in Defynnog to meet Janis.   I had been told that the food (especially the welsh rarebit) was excellent – and I was not disappointed.    Not only is it a very attractive place, run by an interesting woman named Rose, the Welsh Rarebit – and I had Stout Welsh Rarebit was fantastic.

Some of the best Welsh Rarebit I have ever had…….89bf7a63dd98854fcd0aa13e38ffb66fInterior of The International Welsh Rarebit Centre….An art gallery and meeting room up stairs. IMG_7047I haven’t mentioned yet how hot it was.    Usually when it’s hot in London or even in Crickhowell….when you get up into the hills the temperature drops by a few degrees, however, not during this heatwave…and more worryingly a drought!    Anyway,  given that the house was filled with Air B ‘n B guests, I slept in the Shepherd’s hut which sits just in front of the barn….and I loved it.

As I lay there in my bed looking out at the beautiful scenery and listening to the sounds of nature, I was reminded of the joys of the simple life.   I thought of how much ‘stuff’ we carry around with us, both emotional and physical – stuff that weighs us down.     In the shepherd’s I felt totally free and at peace.  

My abode for two nights…..had everything I needed and much more, i.e. Mother Nature surrounding me.    20180708_080411My view from inside the Shepherd’s hut along with the sounds of sheep and birds…….perfect.20180709_124803Another special visit was to the artist Janet Foster who lives and works in the village of Llanfynach.   I met Janet when I was tutoring for the Brecknock Art Society and have always enjoyed her work. 20180708_120944

I love to doodle in a small sketchbook when travelling.   Quick images and thoughts forever remind me of special moments…..

20180716_113134I couldn’t complete this part of my post without mentioning Bounty….a beautiful horse I met that lives just down the road from the Rhwihau.   I really liked her. 20180708_094441After two blissful days at the Rhhwiau – Heather drove me to Crickhowell (about ten miles) where I met up with friend Jane who had driven from London for her first visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon, where we stayed at the fantastic Dragon Inn.      Having heard me talk about it for twelve years, at last she could see it.

I have decided to write a separate blog about the Crickhowell part of the trip…which I will post next week.     Arriving in the hustle and bustle of The Magical Town of Crickadoon, as I call it, felt like a great metropolis after being at the Rhwiau……….20180713_093600A few watercolour sketches painted when visiting the Rhiwiau over the years – always trying to capture the ever changing light of the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (204)

20-11-15 - 1 (35)

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A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

Egrets, landscapes, flower …and of course a hummingbird….

I am off to beautiful Wales to paint…where I will be visiting good friends and enjoying the landscape that I love so much.

I leave you today with a selection of watercolours.

Egrets20180703_105444Dancing egrets

20180702_121621Egrets

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Brecon Beacons Wales – watercolour/gouache14469553_10154468939745396_1844020549123219472_nBrecon Beacons Wales – watercolour16904783_10154965677830396_2036381033997258090_owatercolour10382397_10152516622955396_2496524330039626324_o-2

Magical Hummingbird.

20180629_072804I will be back here in about ten days.       Janet

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A highlight from my recent trip..visiting the farm in Pennsylvania.

Our world is changing so rapidly that travel has taken on new dimensions.      On my recent trip to the States, along with visiting family and good friends and seeing many familiar places, I was fascinated by some of the pronounced changes I found, even since I was there five years ago.

I first visited the States in 1966, shortly after leaving art school.   Originally I was to visit for two years, but two years turned into twenty-eight.    The United States is where I raised my children and started my career as an artist.    In 1994, I returned to the UK/Europe.   

This time around it felt as if I was seeing everything through a clearer and more focused lens and with that came great pleasure.    

One of the highlights of my trip was to visit my son Jarrod and his partner Kendle on their farm in Nottingham, Pennsylvania.

The horse farm in Nottingham Pennsylvania where I visited Jarrod and Kendle. 20180520_102119-1Nestled into the Pennsylvania countryside, with a River running by it,  the farm is beautiful.    Jarrod took me for a tour on the Gator.    It was such a happy day – and I was reminded of how much I love the countryside and of course all the animals………..

Along with being a superb cook Kendle trains horses for dressage.  On this day she had just finished a training session with her friend Sarah.      20180518_161057-1The three bordering farms are owned by Amish families and although I have been in that part of the world before, and once lived in a house built by the Amish, this was my first experience to observe first hand the ‘plain’  lifestyle chosen by this community of people.

Amish children playing behind their house across the road from Jarrod and Kendle’s farm20180521_112002-4The Amish children (who speak Pennsylvania Dutch until the age of six),  have never experienced TV, computers or mobile phones.     Within their tightly bound community it is believed that technology weakens the family structure.     It is also part of their belief that the conveniences the rest of us use, create inequality.20180523_153648_resized_kindlephoto-363889774     Kendle’s mother, (a fellow artist and friend I have known since 1974) walked with me to one of the neighbours to purchase some flowers.    A group of about seven Amish men were sitting on the porch in front of their house.       I introduced myself as Jarrod’s Mother….and from there we had a really interesting conversation.    I would have liked to talk with them for much longer.     It was one of their holidays, which is why the men were not working.     Children were playing happily and women were preparing food.   At that moment in time, the world seemed to be a very simple and beautiful place.

The Amish don’t use electricity or tractors…rather they farm the land in the old way.     20180524_161748_resized_kindlephoto-302450113Called the ‘Plain’ lifestyle – this is not an easy way of life, however, since 1989 the population has more than doubled in America and Canada from 100.000 to an estimated 251.000 today.      Researches estimate the population will double again to half a million within about 21 years.         This is down to large families and their settlements spreading  around the States…from New York, to Missouri, Wyoming, Montana and Oklahoma.     However, the strongest growth is on the east coast, with five new settlements in Maine all less than twelve years old.

A father and his two sons arriving in their horse and buggy for the holiday festivities. 20180521_112545-2-1Having escaped religious persecution in Germany about three hundred years ago the Amish accepted William Penn’s offer of religious freedom as part of Penn’s ‘Holy Experiment’ of religious tolerance.

Love and compassion towards others is their life’s theme.    Vengeance and revenge is to be left to God.       Living in this way was demonstrated to the full in 2006 when ten Amish girls aged six to thirteen were shot at the West Nickel Mines Amish School.    Immediately after this awful happening, the Amish not only looked after their own but immediately forgave the murderer, offering help and support to his family.    The press at that time couldn’t understand it………We could learn so much from others.

The Amish are very industrious.   Along with farming, they are involved with many cottage industries – furniture making, cattle auctions, selling plants, vegetables, baked goods, and of course the beautiful quilts made by the women.

An Amish quilt auction…..these are works of art. 2007-May-19-024Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the farm and look forward to returning for a longer period in 2020  when I can paint more and hopefully have more conversations with the Amish.

Jarrod and Kendle had a lovely party for me – with tons of good food and friends I have known for many years plus some new friends….it was a joy.

And then there were the animals ….oh how I love  being in a place with lots of animals:) This duck has known Jarrod since the moment it was born…it follows him everywhere. 20180521_154452There was Shiela the dog, several wonderful cats, ducks, chickens, horses, and so on…..again all of this means lots of work, but from my point of view – it’s more than worth while.

Kendle and Jarrod are now going to have an Air B’n B on the farm.

There is so much to do and see…and an excellent place for special interest groups, such as artists, writers, walkers, kayaking, etc.      More about this to come. 

Today, I finish with a watercolour chicken from the farm…..20180617_180846

 

 

And of course, some magical hummingbirds….watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-71

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

When the Universe whispers……..

Magical Hummingbird – watercolour20180610_130630-1

“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around.  It’s time.   All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt, has to go. 

Your amour is preventing you from growing into your gifts.   I understand that you needed these protections when you were small,  I understand that you believed the armour could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. 

Time is growing short.    There are unexplored adventures ahead of you.   You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think.    You were born worth of love and belonging.    Courage and daring are coursing through you.   You were made to live and love with your whole heart.   It’s time to show up and be seen.’

Brene  Brown

20180610_140403-1Wishing one and all a beautiful weekend.

A Bientôt

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

‘Overview’ of my trip to the States.

“Travel makes one modest.   You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”   Gustave Flaubert

During the past month, I have visited seven States, have slept in ten different beds, taken two Amtrak trains, one domestic flight from Washington DC to Atlanta, five car rides and one ferry.

Along the way, I have been with family, dear friends, three babies, numerous animals and have met some wonderful new friends who I am quite sure I  have met in previous lives…..

I dodged some major storms, experienced lots of rain and sunshine in almost equal measure and throughout it all so much joy and laughter prevailed.

After having made plans for the trip, I then let go of all preconceived notions and allowed things to unfold naturally, and they did in the most perfect of ways.    The magical hummingbirds were clearly with me all the way….  20-11-15 - 1 (1073)The adventure began with my beautiful daughter Christie meeting me at Boston’s Logan Airport.      I then got to meet LILO aka Fluff Puff –  He is as beautiful in the fluff as he is on my computer screen:) 20-11-15 - 1 (349)          Harvard Square – virtually next to where Christie lives in Cambridge.   This is where the adventure began.     harvard-squareBoston is looking very healthy and the new water front development is particularly impressive.   When I visited five years ago, very little of it existed.

Next stop Ipswich Mass.…(about one and half hour drive from Boston) where cousin Kate and the now ten year old twins live.   Ten years old is when you still see the world from many different points of view.      They are so much fun. P1250548The view from the cottage window, which changes constantly with the ebb and flow of the tides.      This is an area known for its delicious clams. P1250531Then onto Essex in upstate New York, via Vermont and the Charlotte Ferry which crosses beautiful Lake Champlain. 

Here we stayed with Sandy and Barbara Lewis.   I first met Sandy in New York fifty-one years ago when he interviewed me for a job.  (more about that in another blog)    Last time Christie and I visited the Lewis Family Farm was eight years ago…  20180507_084850The Lewis Family Farm offers the best USDA certified grass-fed beef.     A magnificent farm – from this view you can see Lake Champlain….lewis family farmHere is an early morning view of the Adirondack mountains from the farm….P1250583After two days of stimulating conversation and much laughter with Sandy and Barbara, we drove drove back to Boston.

Our next stop – Stonington, Connecticut  where my friend and fellow artist, RB Jones lives.    Currently RB is building a new studio, which we were pleased to see…plus he makes the best Margaritas ever:)     

Along with being a beautiful town with excellent cafes and restaurants, Stonington is a vibrant seafaring community with an interesting history.      When we arrived the trees were in full blossom.          20180511_144723After three lovely days in Stonington, Christie and I parted ways temporarily….I then took the Amtrak train to New York City,  where I stayed with another good friend, Cyma Horowitz.  Christie returned to Cambridge to make sure Fluff Puff was OK……

Grand Central Station in New York – where Cyma introduced me to The Campbell Bar – tucked away in a discreet corner of the Grand Central Terminal.      Originally the office of American financier, John W. Campbell…this iconic New York institution is now a space where people can meet and enjoy the unusual ambiance, but very few know about it…………..definitely worth a visit. 20180512_171125Cyma Horowitz and Ferne Speiler are the best people to show anyone around New York City.    Cyma has been a volunteer Big Apple Greeter....someone who shows visitors around the city.   Ferne, who has lived and worked in New York all her life is the person responsible for coming up with the name  ‘Crickadoon’.       When visiting me in Wales, she mentioned how much Crickhowell reminded here of Brigadoon….hence the name.

Next stop, via Amtrak to West Chester Pennsylvania  where I stayed with my good friends Tom and Carolyn Comitta.     Carolyn is Representative at Pennsylvania House of Representatives and was busy working on the primaries when I arrived.    Along with friends of long standing,  on this visit I met some new friends – again more about this leg of the trip later in a separate post. 20180518_113040After four days in West Chester, my son Jarrod Reed picked me up to take me to the farm in Nottingham, Pa where he and his partner Kendle live and work and what a magical place it is.

I will be writing much more about this leg of the trip and showing numerous pictures….but for this overview let it suffice to say that for anyone who enjoys the countryside and are interested in the Amish people’s way of life...this is a place to visit.   Jarrod and Kendle will be having an Air B n B at the Farm. –   Much more to come about that.

Jarrod with one of his favourite chickens20180518_171322Jarrod took me around the farm on the Gator to enjoy the stunning views.  Kendle trains horses for dressage and is a fabulous cook.      Kendle, who I have known since she was five years old,  thinks about horses in the same way as I think about painting  and Jarrod thinks about music – in other words it is her life.      20180520_103210-1Sketching Jarrod on their deck while Jarrod played beautiful music….a special  moment. 33194620_1913316375345814_5120458571477155840_oJarrod and Kendle’s three immediate neighbours are Amish farmers.  I had the great pleasure to meet several of their community and will be writing more about this experience in a further blog. 20180524_161748_resized_kindlephoto-302450113

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Anne Buffington, Kendle’s mother is an artist friend of mine going back to 1973 – and so my next stop was Anne driving me from the farm to the Annapolis area.      We packed in a lot of conversation and laughter during that time….

Next day Anne very bravely drove me to Washington DC – taken from the car. 20180523_112458-1-1

Here I re-connected with Christie and Jenifer Gausman.     We had so much fun for the ensuing 24 hours.   Here we are at Whiskey Charley – at the beginning of a superb evening. 🙂

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Next stop Atlanta, Georgia.       After Jen’s lovely mother , Jorjie drove both Christie and I to the airport….Christie flew back to Boston and I flew onto Atlanta where I was met by my friend of many years, Lynn Kearns, and this is where the final leg of the trip began.

Staying with the Kearnsclan, as I call them is like being in the heart of family.    I was at Lynn and Stratton’s wedding many moons ago, knew their parents, have watched their children grow and now their grandchildren…hence this picture.   We have a much shared history. 

Meet Millie the dog, Eva, Charlotte and Miles…..I am laughing so much because all the parents are jumping up and down in front of me getting the children’s attention. image1-3This is where the magical hummingbirds came to visit me every day when I was with the Kearnsclan.    I would sit in a connecting porch and paint as they would fly around.    Beyond is Lynn’s very impressive vegetable garden – all of which is surrounded by acres of ancient woodland…..rolling down to Lake Lanier.    A real retreat. 20180525_094054One day when Lynn and I were out purchasing water colour paper, we bumped into Rosemary Dodd – a real (Steal Magnolia) whose 100 year old father I painted as a portrait demonstration at the Quinlan Visual Arts Centre about 20 years ago.   One of many lovely coincidences on this trip.

Rosemary Dodd – a Southern Lady and super creative artist. 20180528_181749-2

Again I will be writing much more about this part of the trip, but two of the Georgia highlights were visiting the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple, and on my final day becoming an anchor woman for CNN!IMG_6149_kindlephoto-507100660-2Although this was not a painting trip per se, I did do a lot of sketching and have returned filled with many thoughts and ideas…..in other words the creative juices are flowing.

I finish this overview with a magical hummingbird.10996309_10153250856200396_1092698130640243063_o

 

A  Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk