Monochromatic Underpainting for St. Edmund’s church, Crickhowell, Wales

Monochromatic underpainting for one of the two panels in St. Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell, Wales.

church panel underpainting

I lived in Crickhowell, Wales (aka – The Magical Town of Crickadoon) from 1993 til 2005.

In 1995 I was commissioned to paint two large panels for St. Edmund’s, the ancient church which sits in the middle of Crickhowell.

Because I wanted the panels to tell a story, I began work with monochromatic underpaintings, which allowed me to compose the paintings before adding colour.     These  formed a  foundation block showing the tonal range and overall rhythm of the composition.        During this process, changes can be made and indeed many were on both panels before colour was added.

The two finished panels….`My friend Cyma Horowitz standing with me beneath the panels.

st eds murals 2

When I was commissioned to paint the panels, I was given the following passage from Song of Soloman as inspiration.

‘Arise my love and come to me for the winter is past the rains are over and gone.      Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land’  (Song of Solomon 2:10-12) 

I had already fallen in love with the outstanding natural beauty of the area and its people, and so this passage resonated with me.     My daily walks prompted a sense of deep gratitude and celebration.     Using symbolic imagery, my goal was to integrate these feelings with the words from the passage and I particularly wanted the paintings to speak to the children of the area.

For example, the egg shape window in both panels represents new life; the peacock – everlasting life; the calla lilies – trumpets,  and so on.    The children of the area are depicted as angels.    Many of the animals represented I knew and loved.     The church spire and 16th century bridge that crosses the River Usk are included.

To the left of this detail is Bumble the golden labrador.    Bumble introduced me to the people of Crickhowell as I took her on long daily walks.   Christeve the Cat is front and centre and a friends beautiful sheep dog sits to the right. 


As I added colour, I took into consideration the colours used in the stained glass windows and alter dressings – therefore seeing the church in its entirety as my canvas.

I see the underpainting as a metaphor as I compose and establish new rhythms in my life today.

A bientôt

32 thoughts on “Monochromatic Underpainting for St. Edmund’s church, Crickhowell, Wales

  1. tedgiffin

    That’s IT!!! You are truly a Master. These feel so soft and flowing, undulating. At first, I believed that these were made in 1500’s in Italy. Also under painting as metaphor. Must think on that, and my mind immediately goes to the question was is the equivalent of that in music? Perhaps the back-beat in rock n roll, low in the mix…Enjoy your work always..

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment….and although I am not a musician, I believe you are right in saying that it is the back-beat in rock n roll, low in the mix that is the basic underpainting and fundamental rhythm of the music:) Yes, the technique of underpainting goes back to the 1500s….In a formal underpainting, three colours are used, black, white, and yellow ochre, which I what I did here. Janet.

  2. snowbird

    I just love how you have incorporated your animals and the collie! The underpaintings are beautiful and ethereal in their own right. How marvelous to have such beautiful pieces in the church. I hope your writing is going

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Dina….I mentioned earlier that there is a fascinating story about the painting of these panels which is all on video tape….I need to have that transferred to a CD…..I am now establishing new rhythms in my daily life and yes, the writing has commenced:) Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend. janet. xxx

      1. inesephoto

        It makes me think why cats and dogs have never been included in Nativity scenes. May be because it was presumed they were sleeping in the warm house ?

  3. olganm

    Beautiful work. I must try and get there to see it in situ. And thanks for explaining the process. I love how you have included the animals, the people and the landscape. And the inspiration they gave you. I’ve just finished reading Geraldine Brooks ‘A Silent Chord’ about the life of King David and it got me thinking… I’ll share the review soon. Not everybody agrees but in my opinion it is an extraordinary book. Have a beautiful weekend.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Olga for this lovely comment….you have intrigued me re ‘A Silent Chord’ – and so will look forward very much to your review. When I painted the panels it was such a magical time for me….Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend. Janet.

  4. Jet Eliot

    Oh how i enjoyed this post so much, Janet. Your paintings are spectacular, and I enjoyed hearing about the commission (wow) and the technical process. And your story of moving there and having pets who introduced you to the community, including them in the art, and finding peace in the environment — it’s all a really beautiful story. Thanks so much.

    1. Richard Dunwiddie

      Janet this wonderful monochromatic artwork and location are an amazing added dimension of you I am discovering!! How wonderful it is for your mind to visualize these art images and then send all the needed motor neuron simulations to your ready hand. Indeed, you have a special artist’s creative mind. Each of you dimensions have your unique signature. That sets you apart as a great artist to please your minions like me!!

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good morning, Richard – thank you so much for this lovely comment. I really appreciate it. The twelve years that I lived and worked in Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) were very special years…and when I painted the panels, an especially magical time. I consider the time spent in and around the beautiful Usk Valley as one of the great gifts I have received in life. Janet.

    2. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Jet for this lovely comment. When I painted these panels it was a magical time…one that is recorded on a video…and so will now have that made into a CD. It will be interesting to relive the experience myself. Janet.

  5. Margaret

    These pictures are a joy to look at. The serenity within is just so peaceful and uplifting. You left us a wonderful asset to crickhowell. It was a pleasure to know you Janet Margaret( petals)

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Margaret….how lovely to see you here. I have such happy memories of my time in Crickhowell and remember so well when I would come to your shop when it was in the Market Place…and buy plants for my little garden:) I am thrilled to see that Petals is surviving and doing so well….you deserve it. I might be coming down to Crickhowell for an overnighter with a friend during the run up to Christmas…if so, I will definitely come into the shop and say hello. Love you you and many thanks. Janet.


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