Not thinking too much and letting go of self doubt……

“Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our heads with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something.    Igore them”   Janet Weight Reed -The Apple Exercise. 

rapid warm up exercises.  

I used the the same brush on all four sections.    The left two sections are on white paper, the right two are painted on a colour ground.


Adding cadmium orange to all four sections – (the same colour used for the ground) connects the images.


Prior to giving a workshop last week for SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Arts Society, I read some wise words from fellow blogger and writer  David Rogers…whose book  ‘Fighting to Win’ – Samurai Techniques For Your Work and Life,  talks about moving through the things that prevent us from being all that we can be.

I used the following two points from David’s book as the base line for the workshop.

1) Don’t think too much.          2) Let go of self doubt.

Rapid watercolour demonstration – Light on trees – one of the views from my window – Saorge. 


I always encourage a group to warm up and play at the beginning of a session….This is the foundation block for a day’s work and as vital to the artist as stretching is to the athlete and dancer.      In doing this we practise not thinking too much……and letting go of self doubt. 

Using photographs from my recent visit to  Saorge as  ‘jumping off points’- we begin to explore the rhythm and shapes of the landscape and Village.

Rapid watercolour of Saorge – on white paper.  


When we let go of self doubt and stop thinking too much, – when we allow our sixth sense and intuition to prevail, self imposed expectations disappear, freeing us up to explore the creative process.

Medieval village of Saorge – rapid watercolour  on white paper


In the following demonstration, I worked from a colour ground – which means any whites are added using Winsor & Newton Permanent White designer gouache.         ( When grounding paper its important to let the paint dry for a minimum of twenty-four hours before adding more paint.)

I am often asked what is the difference between watercolour and designer gouache?

Watercolour is transparent.     Designer gouache is opaque.       I often mix the two elements.    I began to do this about fifteen years ago when playing in my studio in Wales….

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen are used to explore the alleyways of Saorge.


As we warm up..we are reminded that everything reflects upon everything else – all of life is interconnected.       By moving colour around a painting we bring harmony to the image.

By observing the harmonious flow of nature we learn so much.    Observation, observation, observation….one can never get enough of it.

In this rapid sketch – I am looking down onto  trees and roof tops.   Note the roof tiles are a natural purple colour which integrates into the surrounding landscape where the roof slate comes from. 


A little humour to finish this post.

As I was watercolour painting on the deck of the house where I was staying in Saorge…one of the sketches blew onto another roof below….and for all I know it is still there.    An example of ‘letting go’ 🙂

watercolour sketch on Saorge roof. 


Next week, I am off to Chester and Liverpool.    My friend the artist Miza Tavares has invited me to demonstrate at a workshop she is giving.    We will be painting the human form…one of my favourite subjects.    I will write about this in my next blog.

Today I finish with magical hummingbirds…

This image is on the front of my new calendar…which is available through


A Bientôt








50 thoughts on “Not thinking too much and letting go of self doubt……

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Sue….I have been to parts of beautiful Cheshire, but interestingly not Chester nor Liverpool and so am really looking forward to this. Enjoy a lovely day in France Janet:)xx

  1. Timi Townsend

    Good morning, Janet! Thanks for this lovely post and the two adages of not thinking too much and letting go of self-doubt. I will try to work from that place as I start the sketches for the portrait commission I must deliver at Christmas–not that far off now! I like to procrastinate. 😉 Lovely paintings here and I must go look at your calendar. I do love your magical hummingbirds! 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Timi, I will look forward to seeing your portrait….I tend to work better with a deadline…but we are all different. Thank you so much taking a look at the calendar….I believe that the magical hummingbirds were with you and Ophelia recently:) janet. x

      1. Timi Townsend

        Yes, indeed, Janet, I think the magical hummingbirds had a hand in returning Ophelia to her home and me. 🙂 And again, I found several of your things on Zazzle too tempting to resist. Looks like several people will be getting some lovely JWR gifts and Christmas cards! 🙂

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good morning Timi….thank you so very much for being a supporter of my Zazzle site…I can’t tell you how much I appreciate. It’s lovely to know that we are all connected in so many ways….and may there hummingbirds continue to be with you and Ophelia…janet:)

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much – I always appreciate your comments. I am really looking forward to my Chester/Liverpool visit. It will be a first time for me in both cities. Have a lovely day.,…janet. x

  2. Teagan Geneviene

    Dear Janet, your “warm up exercises” are masterpieces to me. I’m sure some lucky soul managed to retrieve your painting from that roof. I am ever astounded by your talent. I especially loved the alleyway. Then you finished this gift of a post with a particularly lovely collection of magical hummingbirds. Marvelous!
    You’ll be happy to know that managed to “1) Don’t think too much 2) Let go of self doubt” enough to turn my old, very first blog serial into a book. I’ll post about it Friday evening (Eastern). You are an inspiration, my friend. Mega hugs.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      How exciting about your new book….I will be checking in on Friday to read. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the new book heralded a new move as well….new beginnings often seem to come in groups – anyway that’s what the magical hummingbird like to think:) Thank you so much for your lovely comments…they really do mean so much to me. Enjoy the day…I know you are off this week….may it be full of creativity…janet. xxx

      1. Teagan Geneviene

        Thank you for saying that Janet. I admit I’m about out of hope for moving… I don’t try as hard to make it happen during winter — because the prospect of driving across the country in winter weather is so daunting. But I’ll be giving it my all again come spring. Oh, by the way, I’m giving you a shout out next weekend at my 1920s party. Mega hugs.

  3. Margaret Parker Brown

    Great post and I would add “Don’t judge your painting as you work” a rule for myself lately. 🙂 I am always so encouraged when I view your work because you go bold with your color and semi-abstract…I simply love it! I am drawn to several color combinations in your paintings. If I may ask what they are….the fourth painting (Rapid watercolour of Saorge – on white paper.) those colors on the bottom right. Looks like yellow gold, a blue and a indigo? all those colors that make that rich greenish/black. Next….on your quick sketch of the roofs, I love that rich, dark green on the top middle section. Lovely colors! I am a color freak as you can tell. Your hummingbirds are gorgeous. I had to smile about the one that got away, truly you did let go!  

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Margaret….so lovely to see you back here. Looking forward to reconnecting with your blog this month and excellent advice re ‘not judging a painting as we work on it’ – because that can only stop the flow……
      I think I have mentioned before that I don’t use black….what I do use for my strongest darks is – a ‘prussian blue/burnt sienna’ mix. When dealing with a lot of greens I will add Winsor & Newton Green Gold to the mix…..(a must have very transparent pigment.) The key is as I am sure you know, to play with these colours and find out how many tones/values you can achieve. I am also using a lot of Daniel Smith’s Perylene Violet….a new favourite for me, plus Daniel Smith’s Raw Umber Violet. Both of these DS pigments mixed with prussian blue and other blues make for very rich darks. When I lived and worked in Chester County Pennsylvania, I learned many of my colour mixes from Andrew Wyeth who lived virtually next door. I never painted in the Brandywine tradition, but definitely benefited from his watercolour techniques and pigments. Have a lovely and creative weekend and may the magical hummingbirds be with you…..janet:)

      1. Margaret Parker Brown

        Thank you so much in getting back to me with your mixes. I figured that you don’t use black but I love the darkish almost black that I see. So much better than a true black in my opinion. 🙂 I recently purchased DS Prussian Blue and love the mixes that it makes. I will look at that new violet of DS, I did notice the violet but I was already slinging the questions at you. lol Oh to have lived so close to an artist! especially Andrew Wyeth! I am fortunate to live within 12 miles of a well known artist but her style is so different from me but just the fact that she lives in the area is exciting. Thank you so much for getting back to me and allowing me to pick your brain. Today is December 1st, so I’ll be posting what I have been up to for the month of November.

  4. davidjrogersftw

    A brief illness kept me from reading your post till tonight. But I want to tell you, as I’m sure I often have, that your water colors flabbergast me and fill me with admiration and happiness. Janet, I’d give so much to be able to paint with your skill—or to paint with any recognizable ability. But my talent is not in colors, but in words. I wish these words of mine too were physically beautiful and from the page would fill the reader’s eyes with the splendor of your yellows, blues, reds, browns, and oranges, and that a book’s pages could be mounted on a wall for visitors to see.
    I’m so happy you and your artist friends at the recent workshop were able to apply to their creative work the concepts of Not Thinking Too Much and Overcoming Self-doubt from my book Fighting To Win: Samurai Techniques For Your Work and Life. You needn’t tell me—I know they report that their work improved, and their sense of satisfaction. How happy I’d have been to be there. Thank you for referencing me so generously in your work.

    Best wishes, as always,

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning David….glad to hear that you are recovering….and thank you so very much for your lovely comments re my painting. I have often thought about the writer’s dilemma in needing people to take the time to read their words…whereas a visual artist/painter, can put up an exhibition or one painting, and there is an immediate impact. There is an immediate connection between viewer and artist..regardless of whether negative, positive or indifferent. It strikes me that marketing for writers is even more imperative than for visual artists for this very reason.
      I wish you could have been at the workshop….as I am quite sure you would have contributed so much. Using words from your book at the beginning, was a very good foundation block for the workshop….two simple theories, that can change the way we perceive the world around us and how we engage with it. Keep well and enjoy a creative weekend….we are experiencing so very cold, crisp, beautiful blue sky weather….most enjoyable as long as one keeps warm…..Janet:)

      1. davidjrogersftw

        Janet, I’d like to continue for a little while our conversation about differences in what can be accomplished by painters in comparison with writers and writers in comparison with painters.
        in my poem “Hobos in a Clearing” (below), you can see how a writer is able to capture some of the appeal of a painter’s picture—images and colors via language. Visual imagery is extremely important to me—I’m an Imagist if there ever was one. Maybe that’s why I respond to your paintings so strongly.
        I can imagine that you could paint what I wrote and it would be wonderful, though different for you—the bronze glow on the men’s faces, red embers flickering, streams of white and gray smoke, men in black squatting by the fires—a dramatic scene.
        At 17 and 18 I spent many months riding freight trains in the western part of the U.S.A. and lived in hobo camps with those men—being a hobo myself.

        Hobos in a Clearing
        David J. Rogers

        We reached the crest of the hill at dusk.
        Below us, like the camps of infantry,
        Burned the scattered fires of forgotten men,
        Each a separate picture.
        They lived in the open or in
        The opulence of tarpaper lean-tos against a tree,
        And migrated as punctually as geese.
        They wore black–perhaps it was the soot of freight trains–
        And squatted on their haunches like crickets
        Beside the snapping flames.
        Streams of smoke trailed off high into the trees
        And embers flickered and faded, flickered and faded
        In the harsh bite and sparkle of the wind,
        And glowed bronze on the men’s untroubled faces
        Late into the night.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good morning David, I love the poem – and yes it paints such a strong picture in words. I am realising more and more that the books I gravitate to the most do exactly that….they paint such a vivid image in my mind’s eye and so as I read the words I see the characters and places so vividly – they come alive in my mind. N C Wyeth comes to mind with is amazing book illustrations – Treasure Island being one of his classics. Also Normal Rockwell… I might surprise you one of these days I make an illustration of your poem….meanwhile, thank you for your thoughts…On this Sunday morning in London we have another very cold, frosty and sunny day….love it. Hope your weekend is going well. Janet:)

  5. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Good morning Sula…yes, I am so looking forward to this. Miza and I met in person once before when she stayed with me in London…and of course we are now fellow tutors at the school in Olhao Portugal. My next blog in a couple of weeks will be about the visit…Hope all is well with you and that you enjoy a lovely weekend…janet:)x

  6. Jet Eliot

    So wonderful, Janet, to read your techniques and see them in action. Your sketches of the streets were a marvel to me. Your advice was a great reminder, and I laughed about the wind whisking away your sketch, encouraging a let-go. I breathe in your words with gratitude. Have fun next week.

  7. olganm

    Inspiring words (that I might apply to a project I think… I’m overthinking) and beautiful sketches. You’ve given me much to think about, and I’ll check the calendar too. Have a magical and colourful weekend, dear Janet.

  8. Pingback: Not thinking too much and letting go of self doubt…… — My Life as an Artist (2) – earn more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.