My travelling portrait project…….

I painted watercolour portraits for many years as preliminary sketches for large oil paintings, however, it wasn’t until I returned to the UK/Europe in 1993 that I began to record people as I travelled.

It all started when I had an exhibition of portraits at the Centre Auguste Brizeux in France in 1995.   I had been asked to give a watercolour demonstration in the gallery each day and decided to paint portraits of the local people.      It was because of the response I received during this period that I realised this was something I needed to do much more of.

Cousin Lyn – watercolour  

I stayed with my cousin Lyn and her family for the first six months after moving to Crickhowell, Wales.     All the family became my models…..

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I soon realised that this method of communication was like a mediation.      Although each session only lasted for a half an hour at most, and sometimes just a couple of minutes, during the process, a complete focus and connection was made with my subject.

Through these portraits, people opened up to me…..

Tom Comitta – American Poet – watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen

I have known Tom since he was born and yet it wasn’t until I painted this quick portrait that I really felt that I knew him….I was able to get beneath the surface…and experience his essence.

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Lady in Akyaka, Turkey – watercolour

We had no common language, and yet during our time together there was a deep sense of communication.     Surrounded by natural beauty and bird song, we observed one another as if suspended in time.

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Quintin – Brittany France – 1995

I spent an afternoon with this little boy in a beautiful garden in Brittany.     His parents had been recently divorced.     To  begin with he was very quiet….said nothing, and then as I made several quick sketches, he relaxed.        By the time he had to leave, we had connected at a level that is beyond words.    That was the only time I ever saw him.   To this day I wonder where his life has taken him.   He would be about 26 years old now.       I have kept this painting.

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Christopher Seagrave-Dailey – American boy visiting Wales 

Christopher arrived in Crickhowell, Wales, in 1996.    He was travelling around Europe and it had been suggested that he come visit me.       He was glorious and so when he agreed to model for my weekly painting group everyone was delighted.    He brought extra magic into the Magical Town of Crickadoon.

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Ken – The Welshman. 

I met Ken immediately after moving to Wales.    As I took Bumble, my cousin’s dog for her morning walk, I would meet up with Ken and his lovely sheep dog..(who also features in the church panels as shown in my last blog)     Ken told me much about the history of the area.     I painted this portrait of him about three years after moving to Wales.    It was part of a series of portraits featuring the older people of the community.    As I painted them I encouraged them to talk about their life experiences.       I have these stories on tape….

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Throughout the years I have painted so many of these spontaneous watercolour portraits – I have honestly lost count….but every time I see one…sometimes many years after it was painted – I always remember the moment so clearly.

There are quite a few people who I painted when they were children who are now adults with their own children….This final portrait of Catherine in the States is an example of this.

Catherine the day before her wedding – Georgia, USA 2013

I had painted Catherine along with her brother and sisters many times when they were very young and and a few times in between, but this was the day before she was to be married….and I painted her again…what a special moment.       Catherine now has her own baby, who I hope to paint one of these days.

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As I begin the process of writing the book about my life’s journey, it is clear to me that many of my paintings, especially the portraits, will help enormously in focusing my mind.      Behind each painting there is a story – sometimes a book….

A Bientôt

43 thoughts on “My travelling portrait project…….

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Jayanthi….Each time I look back at one of these portraits, including the one I made of you, I am taken back to that very moment in time. Have a lovely weekend. Janet. xx

      Reply
  1. teagan geneviene

    Indeed — beyond each painting there is a book! Dear Janet, I am stunned that you can do such beautiful work so very quickly. That’s not just talent and skill… it’s some kind of magic. ⭐ It’s also wonderful that you were able to capture some of the conversations on tape. A book about your life’s journey? I think a multi-media series is in order. 🙂 ❤ You are a true inspiration. Mega hugs.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you, Teagan….I really appreciate your comments….It is the spontaneous nature of these portraits that gives them a sense of life…..If I find that I am struggling – then I must let it go and start again….I am finding that the writing of a book is a fascinating process…..watch this space:) have a wonderful weekend…Janet. xx

      Reply
  2. Carol Balawyder

    What a wonderful project you have given yourself, Janet. Your portraits are beautiful and are your diaries. I particularly like the one of Catherine the day before her wedding. I loved the colors in her hair and the pale yellow and orange strokes on her face. Very beautiful. 🙂

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Carol, thank you so much for this lovely comment. Painting Catherine the day before her wedding was very special….and as I say since then she has had a beautiful little girl, who I hope will be one of my subjects. Have a lovely weekend…janet. 🙂

      Reply
  3. olganm

    They are all gorgeous, each in its own way. I love the Turkish lady because it shows how much you can connect with somebody without words. I’m not surprised they bring so many memories… Thanks for sharing, Janet.

    Reply
  4. Jet Eliot

    I really liked this post a lot, Janet. I liked hearing the process of how you opened your scope to portraits, then hearing about each subject and your session with the individual. Each watercolor is truly rich with their personality…very moving. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful human intimacy with us — and best wishes in the writing of your book, I am sure the portraits will help a great deal. 🙂

    Reply
  5. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, What a wonderful story you tell in this post, and how your painting absorbs me so. Quintin–What a beautiful boy you make him. And Catherine–How lovely and mysterious she is. I find a parallel to your “method of communication” in my “Growing Up Stories” in which I go back in time to describe people in my life as a child, trying to understand them now better than I did then. My father was Welsh and grew up in a place called New Tredegar and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of nineteen. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning David, how lovely to see your comment. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this…and I know I would enjoy your ‘Growing up Stories’ – Tredegar was not too far from Crickhowell where I lived and worked for 12 years and still have very strong ties. Also my Grandfather on my Mother’s side was a border man…meaning he was born right on the border of Wales and England. – His name, Henry Lawson-Griffiths shows this. I love Wales and I love the Welsh – they are wonderful people. Have a lovely weekend. Janet. 🙂

      Reply

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