A very special trip to France. Viva la Difference………

Viva la Difference.       I have just visited two very different regions of France.    For the first half of the trip I stayed in an ancient hill village situated in the Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon region.     (I will write about this in my next blog)   20-11-15 - 1 (1315)For the second part of my trip I stayed in Ploeumeur – very close to Lorient in the Brittany Region.

In 1995 (two years after I returned to the UK/Europe from the United States) I had an exhibition in Brittany.    At that time I fell in love with the people and the wonderful traditions of the region.

My subject in the exhibition poster is a young girl named Solen.    I remember painting her when she visited Crickhowell, Wales– which brings forth another important connection.     Wales and Brittany are both of Celtic heritage.      Both places share a love of the arts, music and enjoy very strong traditions.

Note that in 1995, I was still signing my paintings  Janet Reed.   Shortly after this, I began to use my maiden name Weight Reed. 20-11-15 - 1 (1642)During this visit I stayed with my dear friend Elisabeth (Babeth), her lovely partner Erve and their beautiful little dog Nouchka:)    I first met Elisabeth when she visited Crickhowell, Wales in 1993 – the year I arrived there….and we have been good friends since.      Today she lives a minute’s walk from beautiful beaches…..and is very happy.

With multi talented Elisabeth on a windy beach in Brittany.    Elisabeth paints, makes music and is a wonderful cook. 20-11-15 - 1 (1584)And with Helene (Elisabeth’s sister-in-law) who I have also known for many years….such special friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1582)It was through the 1995 exhibition that I realised how much I enjoyed painting people in a rapid watercolour style.    I recognised that I captured through the portraits a moment in time…..and most importantly, I was able to connect with the people I met in a very special way. 

I first painted Vincent, one of Elisabeth’s children, when he was seven years old – today he is in his mid thirties.      This little portrait shows a moment in time – a moment in Vicent’s life. 20-11-15 - 1 (1566)And beautiful Maelle – Elisabeth’s daughter – seventeen years old when I painted this and now a mother of two children and living in Vancouver. 20-11-15 - 1 (1568)And dear Nicholas – who I saw on this visit (now in his mid thirties) and today resembling one of Cezanne’s self portraits.    As I spoke with Nicholas I could still see the little boy in him.20-11-15 - 1 (1567)I have so many lovely stories about the people I have painted in many different countries.    Often we don’t speak a common language, but painting like music becomes a Universal language – crossing all barriers.

A quick watercolour of Elisabeth as we enjoyed conversation….201820-11-15 - 1 (1572)Another of her partner Erve – musician and all round good man.  201820-11-15 - 1 (1571)Erve who is part of a Breton male choir ‘Les Gabiers d’Artimon’ –   playing the Binjou – a bagpipe type instrument20-11-15 - 1 (1588)Erve leading a group on an exercise programme in the sea very close to where he and Elisabeth live.        They do this no matter what the weather…20-11-15 - 1 (1517)One of the many beautiful beaches that go on for miles and miles….20-11-15 - 1 (1541)The Little Port of Doelan in Finistaire- where the French version of Doc Martin is filmed…..What a surprise that was !   Along with Nicole, a lovely friend of Elisabeth, we enjoyed a superb lunch and afterwards a walk along the cliffs. 20-11-15 - 1 (1621)In visiting this region I am reminded that England and France were once geographically joined.…which is why parts of SW England (Cornwall and Devon) resemble so much of Brittany.    Other than the fact that Brittany has better summers, the weather is also also similar.

And then there are the crepes – in every flavour imaginable….and they are delicious, as is all French food………20-11-15 - 1 (1525)During my forty five year career I have experienced moments when I wondered how could I continue….how could I go on?      This trip has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have lived the life I have – to have met so many wonderful people.    To live the life of an artist.

I must finish this post with darling little Nuouchka, who has definitely found a place in my heart. 20-11-15 - 1 (1561)And of course a magical hummingbird – or Colibri Magique.….they were with me all the way. 20-11-15 - 1 (766)Wishing one and all a beautiful day and weekend ahead.

A Bientot


48 thoughts on “A very special trip to France. Viva la Difference………

  1. Ben Aqiba

    Wonderful pictures Janet,

    it is amazing how is Erv’s pictures realistic.So simple but so realistic. Colors are beautiful, and you really have a gift !

  2. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Dear Janet, thank you for giving us this beautiful glimpse of your tour. I look forward to the next post. Your portraits always amaze me. *You* amaze me. I enjoyed seeing the photos too — such a gorgeous place and lovely people. It seems magical. Hummingbird hugs!

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good morning dear Teagan….yes I am all fired up…and in April I go to the school in Portugal and so am on a creative roll. Also will be on the East Cost of the States for all of May….We have snow in London this morning and it is very cold, but spring is just around the corner. Hope all is well with you and Crystal. Hummingbird hugs Janet xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much. I must admit that I felt the same way….everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves a great deal. Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate. Janet 🙂

  3. ShimonZ

    That is such a beautiful poster for the exhibition. You know how much I love your water colors, my dear Janet. That portrait of you with your friend by the sea is wonderful too. Welcome home. xxx

  4. davidjrogersftw

    Thank you for this special trip you took us on to those two of your favortie places, introducing us to your frineds and sharing with us your ideas and the beautiful portraits. You are so mystical and romantic, and appreciiative, it seems to me, of everyone and everything you encounter. That’s a special ability, a talent in itwelf. You probably know that Gauguin spent considerable time painting in Brittany.

    I’m reminded that my father told me that when he was a boy in Wales–before he moved to the U.S.–that fishermen would visit his village from Normandy to sell their fish, and that he and his neighbors could understand them and had a great deal in common with them though no one in my father’s village could speak French.

    I very much like your finding specialness in moments that makes them privileged. Then you write about them or you paint them, and we out here benefit.

    Best wishes and thank you very much,

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning David. Yes, I am aware that Gauguin (one of my all time favourite painters) worked in Brittany. I once gave a workshop in Pont Aven where Gauguin and Van Gogh painted together – Wonderful. I do enjoy meeting people and you are right every encounter is a special one. The portrait painting helps me to connect in a way that I probably wouldn’t otherwise.

      Your Father’s story is right on the money. The Welsh and Breton languages are very similar as are the people of those regions. In my next blog I will be writing about Caramany, the ancient hill village in the south I visited before training up to Brittany (by the way the French trains are fantastic) Totally different from Brittany, and new for me, but once again some lovely connections made.

      I hope you enjoy a lovely Monday and week ahead…filled I am sure with news of the upcoming baseball season 🙂 Janet

  5. Katherine

    I am sure your portrait painting does help you to connect.I have been trying to draw faces recently and even though they are not so good it makes me realise how little we see normally.So it has a value even it is not something to hang on the wall.Ane it also takes your out of yourself to be looking closely at other people.Or trees or flowers

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Katherine. I always say that until we paint someone we never really ‘see’ them. We can live with a person for thirty years and it’s not until we paint or draw them that we actually see……It is all about observation, regardless of the subject. Thank you so much for your thoughts and comment and I hope you have a very lovely and creative weekend. Janet xxx

      1. Katherine

        Yes,I thought I was looking at people’s faces but I realised the truth!I hope you enjoy what promises to be a sunny day and have a great weekend.Katherine xxx

  6. Jet Eliot

    I loved seeing part of your recent adventure to France, Janet, and look forward to the other part too. I enjoyed the bracing seaside photos, especially seeing you in the colorful brilliant scarf, and the happiness in your eyes. I enjoyed meeting your friends and hearing about your long and special times together, embracing their children, and seeing the watercolors from their early lives. How special it must be for them to have these watercolor captures of their younger selves. And, sigh, I can’t tell you how comforting it was to hear you had your doubts of your art career, because I have these moments too. Always such a pleasure to receive the truth and beauty that is you, Janet.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Jet. I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading about my recent adventures….I have just posted part two….It was a very happy time for me to be in Brittany…so many good friends and I love the place. I will be there for a month in May 2019 which I am really looking forward to. Your comment about being comforted by my admission of doubts (oh yes so many doubts over the years:) has prompted me to want to write a blog about this subject, and so I think before I leave for Portugal on the 18th April, I will do that. Thank you so much for giving me the idea. I think of you a great deal and hope that life is progressing forward. What a year you have had. Onwards and upwards my friend. Have a lovely week. Janet 🙂


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