Author Archives: janetweightreed10

About janetweightreed10

I have been a working artist for forty years. Best known for my love of colour, more of my work can be seen at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk.

None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..

My last post featured my stay in Brittany during the month of May.      

However, since then I have spent eight days in Kingston Hospital courtesy the wonderful NHS (National Health Service) and have been recouping ever since, all of which emphasises that none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………….

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I was two years old in 1948 when the NHS came into being. Having been fortunate enough to experience very good health during my lifetime, I have not had the need to use the Service very much, however, I have always held it in the highest regard.    

It’s important to say that nothing is perfect…..and indeed when the NHS came into being the world population was approx., two and half billion….now we are rocketing towards eight billion! This of course puts great pressure on all institutions……including the NHS.  

My recent experience in Kingston Hospital has brought home to me how fortunate we are in the UK to have such a Service. If necessary we must go to the barricades to preserve it from those politicians who might see it as a cash pot!!! They are out there waiting to get their greedy hands on it……..

The beautiful Brecon Beacons…Wales – watercolour/gouache

A little known fact is that The NHS is available to everyone within the UK no matter how wealthy or poor….it does not discriminate.     I know that in countries where free health care is only given to those who  are lacking in financial resources….much division has been caused.  

Magical Hummingbirds – watercolour  

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So what happened to me?    I think it’s fair to say that I had probably been overdoing things, especially as I hadn’t been feeling 100% since the beginning of the year.    I had been experiencing breathlessness…something totally new for me, and after a couple of visits to the doctor, I decided to let time sort things out!

I suppose time indeed did sort things out only not in the way I had hoped……

Crickhowell from the Bluebell Woods – watercolour

Having just returned from a lovely wedding celebration in Atlanta, Ga, I was resting in my flat when all of a sudden I experienced extreme pain through my middle section and nausea.    After fifteen minutes, I realised something was very wrong and for the first time in my life, called an ambulance.

The ambulance service was superb.    Once they arrived I simply let go and gave myself to their knowledge and understanding.      Magical hummingbirds were clearly overseeing the situation.

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On the way to the hospital it occurred to me that this might be it. It also occurred to me that where and how we die is not of great importance, ….the key is how we have lived our lives.

Have we loved and been loved? Have we loved the experience of being alive and all that entails? Have we done and said the things we wanted to do and say? Have we been grateful for gifts that we have been given? All of this was mulling around in my head….

Maybe it’s because I oversaw the care of my Mother for eleven years at home and in nursing homes, that I am very clear that I prefer quality over quantity. In other words, I would rather live a shorter life of substance and joy than a longer life inhibited by ill health.

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And so I arrived at the A & E department ready for anything…and at the same time, although in pain, very peaceful and calm inside.

It was found that I had fluid on my lung, plus blood clots…one of which had destroyed my left kidney. {The good news is that my right kidney is still in good shape.}

I had gone to my doctor a few times since the beginning of the year, but hadn’t always taken her advice. I was convinced that whatever was going on would sort itself out! Well this time it didn’t….

summer tree – watercolour

For the following eight days I received superb treatment. So many tests, I lost count, plus constant updates from nurses and doctors and a feeling of being very well taken care of.

I have never enjoyed hospitals, or needles (had a serious needle phobia up until the age of 60) but this experience was different. I found it all very interesting and it’s left me wanting to learn more about the internal workings of my body.. It was as if fear was replaced with intrigue. Plus there was some wonderful ‘people watching’ to be enjoyed – although having said that I didn’t have the energy even to sketch!

Other than my lovely next door neighbour Jeanie who brought in clean pjs etc I didn’t tell anyone else that I was in the hospital. My two children in the States are still recovering from the sudden loss of their father in February and so I didn’t want to alarm them….and given that I was so tired, and occupied with tests, etc. I wasn’t up to people visiting me.

I did let my children know after three days….Since then they have been so very supportive and have told me not to do that again……

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour

Since leaving the hospital, the support I have received has been wonderful….all of which I am very grateful for.

I suppose I am a little like a cat…..when I get sick, I tend to hide and nurse myself…..:) I even asked my dear friend Gail in Kent if I could hide out in their yurt. It hasn’t come to that, yet, but it seems like a good idea to me.

My aftercare has been excellent and is ongoing. Still lots of tests…including heart scans…. It’s all quite fascinating.

Church Path – Crickhowell – watercolour

I was asked by a good friend yesterday what has been the most important part of my life. My answer ‘creativity’.

It is this one element that has made sense of everything else and has enhanced and nurtured the great joys in my life, – my children, friends, animals, etc. It has also been a great buffer against the trials and tribulations that we all experience through life’s journey.

Those who read my blog will know that I am always banging on about ‘The Creative Process being the key to Emotonal, Physical and Spiritual Wellbeing’. It’s true.

watercolour /gouache

This experience has given me cause for much reflection.

Painting, writing, gardening, and all sorts of other creative endeavours will take precedence.

Much more time spent communing with Mother Nature……

As little time as possible in cities……

And I definitely need to organise my life so that I can have a cat again…..:)

Christeve the Cat – watercolour/gouache

Fortunately I don’t have anything on my calendar until October….and so my plan is to just hang loose. Each day I am able to do more writing and painting….and as I said earlier am feeling better all the time.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer and keeping well….and of course being creative.

A Bientot

Janet

Four weeks in beautiful Brittany…Part 1

I have decided to split this blog into two parts.       The first part will be an overview of my four week stay in Brittany.     The second part,  will focus on what our leaving the EU means to me and my many European friends.

When I began writing this blog nearly fourteen years ago, I made a commitment not to talk about politics.      However,  back then none of us had any idea of the madness we would find ourself in today!

After my recent trip, and then the commemoration of D Day and everything it stands for, I am moved to write on a more in depth personal level.

First the overview.

Separated by the English Channel, this map shows our close proximity to northern France.    Map - English ChannelI took the EuroStar train  (one of my favourite forms of travel) from London to Paris which takes two hours and twenty minutes.       From Paris Nord the metro to Paris Montparnasse where I caught the TGV to Lorient.       My dear friend Elisabeth was waiting to take me to the cottage at Lamor-Plage .      Everything on time, and very comfortable and if you book way ahead of time, inexpensive.

Elisabeth – in the cottage garden20190515_130110I first met Elisabeth when I was living in Crickhowell (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales almost thirty years ago and subsequently really got to know her when I had an exhibition in Brittany in 1995.        She is an amazing woman involved in many different areas always helping other people.    She is a good friend.

The poster from that exhibition28701436_10156170620555396_5832736884418070645_oI can’t feature Elisabeth without showing  her dog dear little Nouchka.     Nouchka is very special…..I love her:)20190527_190545The lovely cottage I stayed in came about because of Elisabeth.   When I was with her in March 2018, we had lunch with her friend Nicole, who just happened to mention that her son  had a cottage for rent……the rest is history.61452683_10157261746160396_3668991356094644224_oAnd to add icing to the cake – I arrived at the cottage to find all sorts of goodies, courtesy Elisabeth and Nicole…..a lovely welcome 60333444_10157206747210396_869104246006480896_oDuring my first week, French actress Patricia Pekmezian joined me and was kind enough to sit for several portrait studies.    We had a really lovely time together and talked at great length about the arts and life in general……

watercolour61676983_10157279497840396_5977241380945133568_o   watercolour/gouache20190513_084156Patricia in the cottage garden61954572_10157279495935396_6012649482175381504_oTowards the end of the month Alice Johnson arrived from the States….Another good friend and artist.    We go back many years.        We enjoyed painting together and everything else on offer….

Happy times were experienced at the Lamor-Plage beach.    Here is Alice waiting to enjoy another delicious French lunch.

20190527_150255Meanwhile,    it was so lovely to spend time by the beach and to experience the wonderful fresh air.       Patricia and I spent a day on L’ile de Groix – an island I would love to spend more time on.    There are miles and miles of amazing coastal walks to be enjoyed and of course so perfect for sketching and painting.

Patricia waiting for the ferry to take us to L’ile de Groix.20190511_100022The beach at Lamor- Plage580054b0_originalAnd then there were the wonderful musical concerts.     Brittany much like Wales is known for its love of music and we were not disappointed on this trip.       One of the concerts featured a Welsh and Breton choir….bringing home our deep connections and similarities.

Elisabeth’s partner Herve…is involved with Les Gabiers d Artimon.     As a choir they perform all over France plus more recently in Quebec, China and Russia.    Talk about wonderful ambassadors.    _1During Alice’s visit we were fortunate enough to attend a big concert in the Lorient Theatre with its one thousand seats….all filled.    The concert was uplifting and moving, and again cemented the positive ties that we in the UK have with so many of our European brothers and sisters.

Les Gabiers D’artimon performing at the Lorient Theatre. 2867_2019053011341487.jpg Then of  course there was the food…..Oh La La…….Eaten with Breton salted butter this bread is divine……...61992592_10157276804560396_3690182544344481792_nAnd the glorious patisseries that can be found in every village, town and city in France….d114f9d889e0ace18604cda0ef39966bThere is so much interesting history surrounding the area…especially involving WW2…which I will write about in my second half.

I could go on and on, but key to all of this was the amazing hospitality of the Breton people.        Beautiful people living in one of my favourite regions of France. 

I will be away for the next week or so to enjoy a very special wedding.     I  plan to write the second part of this blog after I return around the 21st June.

Don’t forget the magical hummingbirds….watercolour.

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A bientot

Janet.

I will catch up with blogs and messages after I return from the wedding.    Suit case will be packed away…and I am here for the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another excellent week at the School in Olhao Portugal…http://www.artinthealgarve.com

For those who have followed my blog they will have seen mention of the Faulty Towers element to the School in Olhao.       When I say this I mean it in a very positive way.    The School and all who work to keep it running are wonderful individuals and the whole place has an element of quirkiness to it…..Just one of the many reasons why it is perfect for  exploring the creative process and why I love to return each year.

Here are  Larry and Margaret in one of the courtyards looking through to Pauline in another…..20190421_123852    This year a couple more events added to the Faulty Towers element    The narrow alleys around the School had been dug up for utility maintenance, plus for our first two days and then last day, the now sandy lanes were inundated with rain.      Regardless, it didn’t seem to deter anyone from having a good time with much laughter.

A lovely picture of Mitsuyo as we waited for Nuno boat driver to pick us up. 20190419_101419In total we numbered thirteen…however, in this group picture taken in the studio on the last evening, we are missing three of our company – Elizabeth who unfortunately became ill early on, and then Inara from Norway and her daughter Eva from Latvia who had to leave a little earlier because of flights.       IMG-20190428-WA0000Inara from Norway produced some beautiful work.    This quick study of me teaching is superb,20190423_113931And this lovely piece from Eva – who lives in Latvia…..This was a totally new experience for her. 

20190423_115753Another different element to this year was the addition of tutor Dora Keogh.    Dora and her husband John are Canadians who also have a home in Olhao…Dora joined us for all the painting and some of the messing around stuff as well:)       I really enjoyed this, and hope that we are able to work together again.

After a full on week with us, Dora went on to teach her group….who I was fortunate enough to meet.

Dora sketching, 20190423_145539As is often the case, by the fourth day, people are getting into a flow.         This gem was painted by Jayanthi…..and is a clear example of what happens when a flow is achieved. IMG-0501These two beauties came from Mitsuyo’s brush.      Mitsuyo and Larry live in Kaikoura New Zealand.        During one evening Larry showed some slides of this beautiful part of the world, plus some of Mitzuyo’s magnificent jewellery. 20190423_120224It is important to remember that my courses are all about loosening up and letting go of preconceived notions.      I can say that everyone stepped up to the challenge. 

A completely different experience was to enjoy Celia’s and Oswald’s ceramics studio 4Elementos Ceramica & Azulejo in the middle of Olhao.      Our group and all the other groups coming to the School this year will make individual tiles to line the walls of the downstairs loo at the School……A fun idea that was enjoyed by everyone. 

20190420_111958Celia explaining to us how the colour of the glazes aren’t necessarily what they appear to be!IMG_5035The tiles produced by some of my group……what fun. 20190422_182605Demonstrating a loosening up exercise working from a colour ground. IMG_5135Boat driver Nuno taking us to Armona Island.     Note to the left is his beautiful dog who is always there to greet us. 20190419_102133One of many fine meals….this one at the Beach Cafe on Armona….fresh grilled fish and vegetables….and lots of lovely fresh air. 20190419_141944On this day we ate at a really good Indian restaurant in one of the Alleys in the middle of old Olhao.     I am no connoisseur of Indian food but this was delicious and Jaynthi, who knows all about India said it was very good.    I look forward to returning there.     IMG-0440Love Moira’s quick sketch on Armona Island.     My photograph does not do it justiceIMG-20190427-WA0009-2It’s important to recognise that many of these artists are used to working in a much tighter way…..It’s always gratifying to me to see when the looseness starts to show.     IMG-20190427-WA0004

I believe that by PLAYING every day and allowing ourselves to loosen up we benefit our expressive work as well as our more considered paintings.       It’s also more difficult that one might initially think.     To get into the preverbal flow, it is both a technical, physical and emotional challenge.     A week at the School is an excellent way to begin this process.

A beauty from Dora..     Capturing the shadow play and light on the pool in the Pool House courtyard.

20190423_125701There are so many more paintings to show…..Please check Art in the Algarve FB page…plus my FB page, twitter and instagram.

I had to include three of the School’s children.     The twins belong to wonderful Joanna who does all the housekeeping,……wonderful to see them growing every year….20190420_083126Carlotta is Margarida’s youngest……Unfortunately I didn’t get any of Beatrice this time.

All part of the School’s quirkiness……and special charm. 20190423_130149And wonderful Dora inviting everyone for a beer…..This was the biggest beer container i have ever seen:)

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Focusing on the loosening up element.     This time I took a roll of white wall paper lining, which we pinned to the studio wall.     The perfect place to make marks, PLAY and see what our brushes are capable of doing.

Making marks on wall paper lining……20190423_083506

Sketch books as always were key to this workshop.      We carried them with us everywhere we went……

I loved this from Eva. 20190423_094401Sketching at the Saturday market. 20190423_115913Famous for the storks that nest there every year, this little tree is right across from the Ceramics studio.    A great place to sit and sketch. 20-11-15 - 1 (491)

As always I want to thank Margarida and Joanna for all their tireless work…..and Camilla and the girls that added to the fun….plus the two Nunos…..:)      None of this would work without them.

Also a very special thanks to Margaret for having us all in fits of laughter  with her updated nursery rhymes during the last meal at the school.      I am sure they can be found on instagram.

Another sketchbook delight from the Saturday market. 20190423_115917

One more thing that made this week very special.     I met a lovely American couple on the plane from London to Faro.    Laura is a superb artist and her husband Marty, a doctor.     The day after we met they came to visit the school and brought with them their children and grandchildren.    How wonderful is that.    These are people I will definitely be keeping in touch with.

Keep painting, and remember ‘wet brush no paint’ – it can do wonders……….

A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

FB – Twitter – Instagram.

 

 

 

 

It’s time to travel…..

I am off to the School in Olhao Portugal early next week  http://www.artinthealgarve.com Then France for the month of May and after that a wedding in Georgia USA mid June.

I leave you with some sketches and photographs from Portugal….

watercolour/gouache sketch from the Saturday market Olhao Portugal 43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_oClare sketching on the Island of Armona – a fifteen minute boat ride from the School. 18403517_10155206867690396_5892022252939504336_nquick watercolour sketch – Culatro island 20-11-15 - 1 (63)A simple and lovely lunch of grilled fish on the Island of Armona. L1080100watercolour – steps in Olhao Portugal 20-11-15 - 1 (936)The 150 year old olive tree in the School courtyard Olhao Portugal  10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oOne of the many characterful faces of Olhao Portugal.     Olhao is a working fishing town. watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (199)Dancing and music during the Saturday market – Olhao Portugal 12916733_10153992590920396_3025259967763687254_oRapid watercolour of sun setting in Portugal P1160789Jazz at Cantaloupe Jazz Cafe, Olhao Portugal.    Excellent for sketching .20180923_185441A sun drenched wall with trees – Olhao Portugal 20190128_112330I leave you with colourful magical hummingbirds….   watercolour/gouache20190108_134301A bientot

 

 

 

 

 

In an ideal world………..

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The following are excerpts from a talk I gave twenty years ago.

Much of what I said then is relevant today.    However, it is important to note that during these past twenty years our world has changed radically…with  iPhones, social medial etc.     The genie is out of the bottle bringing with it all sorts of new challenges and opportunities to inspire creative energy.

Madame Nottale sketching me – At the time she was 94. P1030379

‘In an ideal world, everyone would spend a period of time during each day doing something creative.      It could be painting, playing a musical instrument, dancing reading, writing, singing, cooking, gardening, sewing, etc……

However, as we begin the 21st century, it seems that we are living our lives in boxes -boxes that constrain and seem to move us further away from creative living.

Milly visiting my studio….she loves to paint, P1110644Whether living in a large house or a one room bedsit, it is still a box.   We use metal box cars, trains, buses and planes to get around.     We tend to work in a box and then stay glued to the computer box.     At the end of our work day we get back into the metal boxes to return home to our original box, where many watch the TV box or continue to view the computer box……and so it goes.

This treadmill life can lead to frustration, anger, stress, anxiety and being desensitised to what is actually going on within ourselves and in the real world.

And yet we wonder why we have so many individual and societal problems.

Observe the focus of a child when creating. Young boy painting at an easel

At the end of such days, with little tangible evidence to show for our efforts, we feel a sense of anxiety about the prospect of repeating the cycle over again.    We feel trapped.

Recently the mother of a bright young man, with seemingly everything to live for, told me how concerned and upset she was because her son was very depressed.       (Since writing this talk twenty years ago, I would say that levels of depression among the young have risen dramatically!)

It is said that 70% of our children are suffering with emotional problems.   All of this at a time in history when we have never had so much material stuff, and in many ways our lives have never been easier.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Friends playing music at a local pub…..wonderful 20-11-15 - 1 (1411)

As we leave childhood and adolescence and move into the ‘real world….there is a natural need to conform.        I cannot tell you how many people I have met in later life who have regretted not doing what it was that they really wanted to do.        Instead of following their own desire they did what was expected of them. 

Using red and green apples as symbolic imagery…..I see the shiny red apple as a societal goal.     Looking good on the outside – despite what may or may not be going on within the core of the apple.1915661_200776310395_1768147_n

Green apples are often perceived as being different, and separate from the mainstream.     Artists and creatives fall into this category, fuelling the perception that the creative life is only for a certain mad few!

 

I believe everyone is a creative being, which making it imperative that creativity be incorporated into our daily lives.      Just as we need to breath we also need to create.

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Perhaps the answer to these questions has to do with our thought process.      The way we think influences everything in our lives.      How many times do I hear people say…..Ah but I am not an artist, cook, gardener, singer, photographer, dancer etc………..I could never do that……

Yes I was definitely that child hanging upside down:)12314060_10153693416745396_9179756764978779361_n

Everything ever accomplished was initially a thought.     We often meet people who are subject to the same set of circumstances, but who experience those circumstances in entirely different ways.

An ‘I can’t’ thought for one person can be a ‘I’ll find a way’ thought for another.    What some see as a set back, others see as opportunity.

Like all new habits we begin with baby steps….slowly but surely turning the ‘I can’ts’ into ‘I cans’………..

This is definitely an ‘I Can’ attitude 🙂 1524406_10201848550228748_892621687_o

A Bientot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lives of Talented Creatives

Another gem from David Rogers featuring the beautiful paintings of Richard Claremont who I follow on twitter. I highly recommend for all creatives and for anyone associated with a creative…….

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Painting of cherry pink blossom tree Cherry Blossom Tree in Shinjuku Garden by Richard Claremont

Creatives do exceptionally well what others find difficult, and that is the definition of a talent. Talent is the distinguishing quality of creatives, usually talent in one field.  Although a creative can be very talented in more than one area, as many bloggers are, as Vincent van Gogh, a wonderfully expressive writer of letters as well as painter was, the creative’s talent in one area dominates. My seven year old grandson is a much better painter than I am because he is gifted in art, and I certainly am not. (It doesn’t take long for the buds of talent to burst into bloom in a child). My talents are linguistic, and of all the arts I, who grew up in home where music filled the house, I’ve always wished I could write beautiful music–but I can’t.

I have a composer friend…

View original post 2,547 more words

An Accident of Birth – short story about Sid the Boxer

I always carry a sketchbook and watercolours with me so that I can make quick sketches of the fascinating people I come across.

This short story is about one of those meetings.    The day I met Sid The Boxer.

Sid the Boxer.    watercolour  20190304_141151I first visited Barnes, SW London in August of 2005.

I was preparing to leave Wales where I had been living and working for thirteen years  to move to London, primarily for work, and to be closer to my failing elderly Mother.     It had  been suggested that I rent rooms in a house in Barnes in SW London.

This particular visit was to take a look at the area before making the move in October 2005.

On what was a lovely summer’s morning, I packed my watercolours and something to eat and went off to explore.

I found a promising place in a little park next to the river Thames between Barnes and Mortlake and set myself up on a bench.     During the next hour or so I enjoyed the sense of peace and tranquility that comes when I am painting and communing with nature.

Across the little park from where I was sitting were a group of people on another bench.    Other than this group and myself, there seemed to be no-one else around.       Eventually the group got up and began to walk towards the river and then towards me.     My first thought was that I hoped they wouldn’t want to chat with me and disturb my solitude.

As the group steered towards the river (thank goodness) one of its members broke away and came directly towards me.       He was a big man with dark glasses, drinking a large can of beer and generally looking rather disheveled.      He said ‘Hey love – you wanna paint my portrait’?     I looked at him and said ‘Actually yes – I would love to on the condition that I paint one for you and one for me‘.      I motioned for him to sit at  the end of the bench.

Clearly very surprised at my response….he actually became quite nervous.     ‘Did I mind if he drank his beer‘?   ‘Should he take his dark glasses off’?     I told him to make himself comfortable and then as I painted him he began to tell me about his life.

His name was Sid the Boxer – be was born into a gypsy travelling family and had spent most of his life in reform schools and prison.     That he had only recently been released from Wandsworth Prison for attempted murder.   Banned from every pub in Barnes and surrounding areas, he basically spent most of his time wandering around with his friends during the day time, until they could return to their hostel.

As dangerous as this might sound, I knew instinctively, intuitively that there was nothing to be afraid of.       I learned that Sid had a daughter who he hadn’t seen for over thirty-five years.   Sid had been a very good boxer and he went on to tell me this talent had kept him alive and given him respect when in prison.   It had been his protection.

As we came to the end of our time together, he asked if I had gone to a special school to learn to be an artist.    I told him that I had gone to the Medway College of Arts in Rochester Kent, and he exclaimed with great delight.   ‘That’s where I went to Borstal’ – (a boys reform school for the uninitiated)”!

We shook hands and Sid the Boxer left with his sketch and I kept mine.     As I thought about our meeting, I recognised what an accident of birth our start in life is.   In the random nature of things, Sid had been dealt a tricky hand, however he used his best attribute, that of being a boxer to survive.

Wherever Sid the Boxer and his sketch is, I send him this magical hummingbird, and hope that he is able to drink from some of the sweet nectar of life – if not in this life, maybe the next……..

20190117_095823The moral to this story, is to never leave home without a sketchbook…..You never know what interesting person you might meet……

A Bientôt.

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com