Author Archives: janetweightreed10

About janetweightreed10

I have been a working artist for over forty years. I am best known for my love of colour and spontaneous style.

LIVING WITHOUT A CAR……

In 1993, when I returned to the UK after living in the USA for twenty eight years – I decided to stop driving for good.

I don’t like fragmentation in my life. I find it interferes with my thinking process and consequently my creativity. It’s all that stopping and starting…..

Those following my blog will note that I have travelled extensively, but it was always to a destination where I could remove myself from the madding crowd. A place where a car was not necessary.

Overlooking the Usk Valley in Wales where the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains meet. watercolour/gouache

In 1993 I moved to Crickhowell in Wales – a small market town in the Usk Valley – a place where I could walk to the butcher, baker and candle stick maker as well as pubs and coffee shops. The magnificent surrounding countryside along with the local people gave me all the inspiration I could ever wish for. As soon as I was introduced to the place by my cousin I knew that it would work for me. It was a place where I would not need a car.

The high street in Crickhowell –

Along with many other shortages currently in the UK there is a petrol shortage. I wont go into the politics and reasons behind this, but rather what it brings to the forefront.

As people fight on the forecourts of petrol stations and others fill any container they can find…it is clear that for most people the concept of not driving isn’t even part of the equation. It has also pointed out how much better off people are who have electric cars.

Back to sanity.

A sketch of the Crickhowell Bridge and behind it St Edmund’s Church which sits in the heart of the town. watercolour and Tombow Pen.

I lived and worked in Crickhowell for twelve years. When I needed a car to get to the train station at Abergavenny I simply called a taxi. Extremely convenient and far less expensive than keeping a car on the roads.

After living with my cousin and family for six months, I rented my first small flat on the High Street from Anne Trott. Over the years I painted her several times including a large oil on canvas which was exhibited in an exhibition in Brittany France in 1995.

Anne Trott – Crickhowell

What I have learned over the years is that society doesn’t make it easy for people to live without a car. Public transportation in some places is superb….but in many areas it is not good. As an environmentalist I have been banging on about this for years. To get people out of their cars we need to change the way we think and live.

My second home in Crickhowell – the cottage at number 11 Mill Street. A very special place. I was able to walk from the cottage to all the shops and everything else. All my needs were met and I had no car.

There have been times, including this past weekend when I have been driven by a friend. I fully appreciate this, but it is always a reminder to me that cars are not my favourite form of getting around. I prefer public transportation and walking.

Walking in the beautiful Usk Valley – watercolour/gouache

The effect on my body and mind of living without a car in a place where all my needs could be met was extraordinary. I was at peace….and very fit. The priorities of life were made clear.

Consequently, my days were not fragmented…but rather there was a gentle rhythm to them.

A photograph from one of my favourite painting places. Curlews is owned by good friends, and for me it is always a good place to get away from the madding crowd and to be reminded of just how beautiful our world is.

Curlews is just outside of Crickhowell way up high overlooking the Usk Valley – looking up towards Brecon.

On the way up to Curlews we passed John’s house whose portrait I painted a few weeks ago. John Addis is very well known in Crickhowell and his family go back a long way. He has produced some beautiful books with old photographs of the area…

I have painted and sketched so many people from Crickhowell….As I said earlier, along with the magnificent landscape there is a constant source of inspiration. All without a car……..

Like the rest of the world, even a place like Crickhowell and the Brecon Beacons is changing. There is a lot more traffic about than when I first went there in 1993. Thank goodness it is part of the Brecon Beacon National Park which does give some protection.

And hopefully we are all recognising that we do need to change our ways. That there is only so much space…and with mental illness growing in leaps and bounds we need to look at a more rhythmic and gentle life….in my opinion one with less focus on cars.

I no longer live in Crickhowell but I do live in another place where again I can walk to the butcher baker and candlestick maker……I have no car.:)

Enjoy a lovely weekend.

SHE WAS JUST SEVENTEEN…..Paul McCartney and Co at Glastonbury.

With two art school friends at the Commonwealth Centre in Kensington (now Design centre). I was seventeen…..

Last night at Glastonbury on the famous Pyramid Stage – Paul McCartney played a set. Celebrating his 80th birthday he looked and sounded fabulous:). He was joined by Dave Growl and Bruce Springsteen……what more could anyone want.

It took me back to a wonderful period in my life. I started art school aged 16 – a time when so many fantastic young musicians were involved in art schools….The Stones and the Beatles to name but a few. I feel so fortunate to have lived during those times….times that did seem to be much happier and less complicated.

Hope abounded……

On my Lambretta scooter, which I loved, with my art school friend Maureen. This was taken in Kensington.

As I say, at that time, Hope abounded….something I fear is lacking in today’s world.

This afternoon I am going to Eel Pie Island in Twickenham. Another place that takes me back to the sixties…..

Enjoy the day – and lathe music…:)

It’s time to Open the Doorways to our minds so that we can adapt to our changing world.

capturing shadow play on courtyard steps in Olhao Portugal – watercolour.   Disappearing steps symbolise for me – the unknown….P1160782If ever there is a place that is conducive to exploring the creative process….it has been the school in Olhao, Portugal where I have been fortunate enough to teach for quite a few years.      A place I have come to think of as a second home….

P1150689Situated in the middle of the old fishing town of  Olhao, and just a few minutes walk from the waterfront, market, shops, cafes, restaurant, etc. this school has allowed those who have visited to completely immerse themselves into the creative process.

After being met by Nuno at Faro airport, 20 minutes later we enter the School house.    It is in this inviting  space that so many freshly cooked meals have been served and enjoyed ….all overseen by the beautiful Margarida and Joanna.   It has also been a place of many interesting conversations and much laughter:)P1120438Margarida looking up from one of the lower courtyards.P1170645What is it that makes a place conducive to the creative process?    

I believe there needs to be a sense of harmony and cohesiveness.    I find that when people are running all over the place, never settling…there is fragmentation….which in itself can destroy the flow of creative thought and production.

ImageThe School has given us this, a sense of harmony and cohesiveness.  

When a new doorway between the School and Pool houses was introduced several years ago there was an immediate sense of further flow and harmony.       Almost like taking a huge gasp of fresh air….

The doorway became a metaphor for opening up creative expression. 

 When teaching I often talk about how changing one tiny part of a painting, changes everything, and so it is true for the doorways of life – we simply have to find and open them.

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It is now time to open the doorways of our minds.    Time to allow new thinking and creative expression to flow through previously blocked areas.    

Flowers for sale at the Saturday Market.    ImageAnd of course wonderful fresh fish………..ImageVisits to Armona Island, a fifteen minute boat ride from Olhao, were always very special.      I would like to spend more time on Armona Island. P1160130  

150 year old olive tree in main courtyard……a tree synonymous with he School. Image

Through the school I have met some wonderful people..and made lasting friendships.     I will always be grateful for the day that David Clark contacted me to see if I would be interested in being one of his tutors.    

Mostly I thank him for his vision which I believe will live on in ways that none of us is creative enough to know about at this time.   

I know that David’s legacy will continue through conversations, paintings, friendships and so much more. 

Thank you David, Camilla, Margarida, Joanna, Nuno (1) and Nuno (2) and I must not forget Carlos who opened up the doorway between the two buildings:) 

Sadly the School was yet another victim of Covid!.       It is dearly missed, but having said that many of us are still very much in touch and getting together in different places.      It’s legacy lives on. 

Janet. :)X

 

The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops’ is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E.M. Forster – first published in 1909.          

Caramany is a commune in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France.   13h century – watercolour/gouache 20200607_134303‘The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth.     Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard room, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent global Machine.      Travel is permitted, but is unpopular and rarely necessary.    Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine with which people conduct their only activity the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge”. 

Saorge is a commune in the Alps-Maritimes department in southeastern France – 14th century. 20200609_122845I highly recommend that people read this novella.     To say that it is prophetic is an understatement….and remember it was first published in 1909. 

Carrieres-sur-Sein  a commune in the Ile-de-France region in north-central France. – watercolour/gouache 13708331_10154243834580396_2480180553671285849_oI have chosen to show sketches from some of the ancient villages I have had the good fortune to spend time in.

They remind me of where we have come from…..and illustrate it wasn’t so long ago that we humans lived without electricity let alone smart phones and computers!    

Caramany – Southern France – watercolour/gouache 20200604_122355These places remind me of the importance of Community.      

The very existence of such towns and villages is based on communities sharing customs and working together – passing down knowledge from one generation to another, from learned experience. 

Caramany Southern France.  – watercolour20200520_182835The history of these villages and towns teach us everything we need to know about sustainable living and much more. 

We have seen more changes during the past fifty years than in the past five hundred years, and the pace of change continues to speed forward, fuelled by greed.     

Lock Down has taught us (I hope) that we don’t need to charge through life…..that we can and should stop to smell the roses.      That using our hands and creative abilities is key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.  

 Stay well, stay safe and keep all creative juices flowing.

Janet 🙂

USING TWO PIGMENTS – PRUSSIAN BLUE AND BURNT SIENNA

I have learned throughout life to ‘never say never’ HOWEVER, I can. honestly say that I never use black when watercolour painting.

The strong darks you see in this spontaneous demonstration of Cala Lilies…and all the other images in this blog are made up from a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna. All the whites are dry white paper…and the greenish hue is one of the many values I can get from these two pigments simply by adding water.

Some Prussian Blue/Burnt Sienna swatches. 1) pure Prussian Blue. 2) pure Burnt Sienna. 3.4 &5 are all Burnt Sienna/Prussian blue mixes. If you make your own swatches you will find that there are countless values that can be achieved depending on the amounts of pigment and water used. Give it a go and of course PLAY.

This quick sketch of my dear friend Patricia is made up from Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna and dry white paper.

I made this sketch of Amish children when visiting my son and his partner’s farm in Pennsylvania two years ago.. Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna. mix.

I love to sketch the birds at the River Thames close to where I live….All I need to take with me on for a days sketching is Prussian Blue/Burnt Sienna, brush, paper and water.

Another bird sketch from the River Thames

I cheated a little on this one – note that there is some violet in the negative space but the main attraction, Jenny the dog is all Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna.

In this quick watercolour sketch of a young woman in David’s Bar in Olhao Portugal – I worked from an orange ground….but only used Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the portrait.

As I look through my many sketchbooks I find countless images painted this way….

Although I am talking about watercolour in this post, here is an example of how I use the same mix in an oil painting. This large alla prima (Direct painting) self portrait, oil on canvas is made up from the same mix.

Strong darks can be made by using other blues and browns….the key is, like everything else, to explore and PLAY.

An interesting note. I first came across this mix when I was living in Chester County, Pa. in Andrew Wyeth territory. I never really fit into the Brandywine Tradition, but I learned from it like everything else in life, and took what works for me.

I hope everyone enjoys a lovely weekend and that the brushes are flying:) Janet.

‘LIFE DRAWING’ – perfect for honing observational skills.

During the last few years it’s been great to see that life painting/drawing is back in vogue.

Some of the images in this post are from a life session I tutored in Chester, UK.

To warm  up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model.   I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work.      20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I was fortunate enough to begin each day with a two hour life session.       I can’t think of a better way to get the creative juices flowing.

Twenty minute – full sheet watercolour and felt tip pen study – 

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I love short poses – preferably five to 20 minutes max.     This enables me to capture the energy, movement and gesture of my subject….

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to  life drawing.      Observation, observation, observation……

Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper).  the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition.     20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation frees an artist to explore their work with confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly build a strong foundation. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models I also enjoy working with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again it’s all about honing observational skills.

This man modelled for me in Paris….a beautiful dancer.   I often do quick portraits of my subjects in a life painting session. 

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In this instance one of my favourite models arrived with her new born baby….It was a magical session.     In the warmth of the quiet studio both mother and baby completely relaxed…..20-11-15 - 1 (780)Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother.      A  few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we only painted the hands and feet of our models.   An excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. – ten minute full sheet study. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Happy painting

Janet.

A dog’s life – far from the madding crowd………..

The above illustrates perfectly the difference between the thinking of a dog and that of a human being. The animal’s thoughts are simple and focused in each moment.

The humans thoughts are invariably scattered, constantly jumping from one thing to another. Along with many different thoughts come an array of emotions. Happiness, fear, anxiety, worry – all the things that feed the pesky little Chattering Monkeys that inhabit our minds.

‘Tiny’ belongs to my nephew. At this early stage in Tiny’s development he was all over the place – motivated primarily by food and play. With development Tiny has learned to focus….and again be present in the moment and thus a loving companion.

By the way, the Chattering Monkeys are the pesky little demons that fill our heads with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something! They are the Yin to our Yang……

Maybe as you begin to read this blog, they are shouting out, ‘You don’t have time for this, and it’s all nonsense anyway……..:)

What I say is IGNORE the monkeys and focus on what it is that you choose to do. Don’t allow them to sidetrack you.

This is dear little Maggie...totally loyal, loving and happy to be living in each and every moment. All she needs and wants is reciprocated love.

This is Bumble. Bumble was much like the dog in my first illustration. Loyal, loving and such a wonderful companion. When I think of Bumble….the word ‘Trust’ comes to mind.

Like all animals, her beautiful mind wasn’t filled with worries about the news, or how much money she had, or how successful she might be. She was focused on her next meal…and being with the people she loved and trusted.

It’s interesting that the word ‘Trust’ keeps coming up when I refer to dogs.

How sad it is that with so many of our human kind…it is often the word ‘mistrust and doubt’ that comes to mind. I wonder if that has to do with our not being present in the same way that animals are? If we are not present and our minds are constantly scattered – is it any wonder that our trustworthiness might be questioned?

This is dear little Phoebe. Phoebe belonged to a very good. friend. Sadly they are now both dead but the joy they brought to one another was immense. I remember very well when Phoebe was at the end of her life, she continued to show such love, loyalty and affection to Jose.

I have always loved animals – in many ways preferring their company to humans….and once again it all comes down to the ‘trust’ word. In their uncomplicated and loving way they give and teach us so much.

I met Jessie in Brussels about fourteen years ago. I was dog, cat and chicken sitting for an artist friend and at the same time working in her studio every day. It was a blissful summer.

When my friend Suzy left she warned me that Jessie most likely wouldn’t make it and that the vet was on alert in the event of severe illness or her death.

In the evenings Jessie would sit with me as I watched tv or read a book….she always sat with her back to me….just like in this sketch. I was there for the summer, and by the time Suzy returned home Jessie and I had completely bonded and as Suzy said she looked ten years younger. Jessie lived for another six months…..I will always remember her with great affection.

In this commissioned painting, we can see the devotion and calm emanating between this man and his dog.

It demonstrates a moment of pure love, trust and calm.

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” Dean Koontz.

All these images are watercolours. Over the years I have painted/sketched more dogs and cats than I can possibly remember. I love every one of them:)

It is never too late. Madame Nottale harbouring a deep well of creativity.

I will be continuing with my life story vignettes soon, but meanwhile, here is another post from the past.

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My first encounter with Madame Nottale was when I was invited to dinner at the family home in Marley le Roi – (south west of Paris) in 1983, when she made a huge impression on me.

I first painted her in 1994 (above portrait watercolour/gouache)…..At which point Madame Nottale was still raising her family of eight children and working full time as a nurse.

Five years ago, I visited Madame Nottale in a nursing home situated in the historic district of Le Pecq, south west of Paris.     Interestingly, it’s an area I am familiar with as I have  other friends who live almost next door to the home.      It’s what I call a personal ‘hot spot’.

After entering the nursing home, Madame Nottale, for the first time in her life,  had the space and time to paint and write every day.       When I arrived, I was amazed to see her paintings and drawings covering every surface available in her room, including the ceiling.

A fraction of the work on display…….

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In this quick watercolour I caught the profound changes that had become evident in her face.       She was now liberated – and free to tap into a deep well of creativity which she had been harbouring all of her life.     

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At this time she was 92 and no longer able to speak, however she said so much with eyes that sparkled with enthusiasm and life.

During this visit, Madame Nottale made a drawing of me…….here she is selecting a pastel….with her daughter Claudia.

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From this point of view, it was interesting for me to observe Madame Nottale’s astute observational skills and deep concentration and focus.      Creativity had become her life force.

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Along with painting, Madame Nottale was writing remarkable poems and essays.        Her son, Laurent, was telling me that some of the language used in the poems went back to her early childhood when she and her brother lived with foster parents on a farm.        It is language that wouldn’t be used to day….language and thoughts that have been harboured throughout her life.

It’s a joy to see the life and energy within her work.

Quick Watercolour I made last week of Madame Nottale

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Madame Nottale demonstrates to us all that it is never too late to draw from within…..to immerse oneself into the joy and fulfilment of the creative process.

Needless to say, I came away feeling inspired and uplifted.

Madame Nottale died in 2016 aged 94, leaving behind a wealth of information through her paintings and writings.  

A Bientôt

Before I begin the next group of vignettes from my life story – I am re–posting some from the past.

I was reminded recently of the importance of listening

THE ART OF LISTENING

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand – they listen with the intent to reply”. Roy Bennett.

My dear friend Claudia, actress and theatre director listening. – charcoal

I watched a superb episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ this week featuring Dame Judi Dench.

I have always enjoyed her as an amazing actress but what struck me during this programme was the way she listened so intently to whoever was speaking to her. She not only listened but also made constant eye contact.

Aged 86, I was struck with how beautiful she continues to be. So much of her beauty comes from her ability to be present for others using both her listening skills and her eyes to communicate.

My friend Charlotte fully present and listening…..

Tony is a therapist which means his life is all about listening to others. He and I have been good friends for a long time. It occurred to me after watching Dame Judi Dench, that one of the reasons Tony and I continue to be such good friends is because he is such a good listener.

I know how frustrating it is to be in the company of those who keep interrupting and so to have a friend like Tony is very special..

I am also fully aware that I don’t always listen as well as I should….but I work on it. When I find myself wanting to jump into the conversation so that I can be heard, I step back and stay quiet for a while. Not only does this give the conversation an opportunity to flow, but I inevitably end up learning something.

Tony – The Listener – oil on canvas

“Listen with your eyes as well as your ears” – Graham Speechley

In this portrait of my friend Fran – she is listening to the unseen energy surrounding her….Sometimes we don’t need someone talking with us to listen intently.

‘One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say’. Bryant H McGill

Patricia – French actress and such a wonderful listener.

I am a teacher and am very aware of how much is missed by not listening.

I would also suggest that putting aside all distractions – i.e. mobile phones is a very good first step to effective listening.

I hope you get to see the Dame Judi Dench – Who Do You Think You Are episode. It’s wonderful..

RANDOM VIGNETTES FROM MY LIFE STORY – 17

THE YEARS FROM 1987 TIL 1994

AFTER THE BREAK THROUGHTHE TURNING POINT

This vignette focuses on the years from 1987 til 1994 – during which time I produced a huge body of work. Even though I had been painting professionally since 1972, this period was different….a new beginning on all levels.

Because I chose to leave my marriage without alimony – I moved into what was my only asset a that time the studio on Prescott Alley which had no heat or running water! This had been fine when I had the luxury of a fully equipped house just fifteen minutes away but shall we say somewhat challenging without.

I have written a great deal about this particular chapter. It is still one of the more memorable and in many ways interesting periods of my life. I like to say that it is when I grew up and although there were those who thought I had gone mad…I had in fact gone sane. One thing I was clear about…I would not and could not give up painting. Making art was my life work.

It seemed that after the ‘break through’ all sorts of people appeared in my life that wanted to advise and help….To name a few, there was Jean Frohling, Albert Willett, Howard Thorne, Gay Robinson, Alice Johnson, Carol Petersen, Hilda Kaufman and Adze Mixxie. Gay and her friend Lolly Davies would turn up at the studio with hampers of food…..and then there were the wonderful brothers who did the plumbing. I could go on and on….but it proved the point to me the when we are brave and take the right pathit is as if all manner of help appears in ways that we can never be creative enough to imagine.

Autobiographical still life. – large oil on canvas. This was the first of a large series of symbolic still life works (about 30 paintings) that I produced during this period. I chose this theme because I needed to re-structure my life and work and to re-hone my observational skills.

All the paintings in this series represented people in my life at that time.

This still life speaks of two good friends.

Star quilt on white wicker chair….A gift from Uncle Sammy.

Albert’s painting.

At the same time, my art agent and dear friend – Bonnie Paul (who sadly died four years ago) started to get me well paid corporate mural commissions.

Bonnie and I together in 2000 after I had moved back to the UK/Wales – a place she loved to visit. Behind us is the self portrait I painted from the beginning of this period. ‘The Turning Point.’ I keep it with me at all times to remind me that I can rise to whatever challenge is put in front of me.

One of many mural commissions I received through Bonnie. This was for the Philadelphia Heart Institute. These murals paid well which allowed me to paint what I wanted to paint. Christie and I in front of mural

Symbolic mural for the Massara Building, USA. My friend Patricia in front of mural gives an idea of the scale.

Mural in progress. Working from the many watercolour sketches I made for the mural.

Bonnie also got me some really good private commissions....and because in my early years of painting I had been known as a wildlife painter – every now and then this factor came into play.

This large oil on canvas elephant was commissioned by people who went on many safaris and built a room onto their home to house this and other paintings. Wok in progress photographed in the Prescott Alley studio.

At the same time I was teaching at The Chester Country Arts Association and painting watercolour and oil portraits….it was a very busy time.

I have often thought that had I not had to make my own way financially – I might never have done so much of this work.

Ironically I ended up with three studios. The one on Prescott Alley…..another in the Massara Building and one in Jean Frohling’s carriage house …..all within minutes walking distance of each other.

Three eighteen ft mobiles I designed and built for the Massara Building.

Another dear friend the artist Howard Thorne helped me with the installation of these mobiles..

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The artist Howard Thorne who helped with the installation of the mobiles. large oil on canvas painted in Howard’s studio. I painted him in front of one of the stained glass windows he designed.

This painting was at the Chester County Arts Association exhibition just before I moved back to the UK.

Artist and friend Charles Jay – oil on canvas. – with me in London.

Watercolour sketch of my dear friend. Sue Hineman – with me in London.

Adze Mixxie the astrologer…..large oil on canvas from a newspaper clipping.

There was so much more. Behind every painting, mural, portrait, workshop were many more often fascinating stories.

This vignette gives an overview of that period….Little did I know at the time that my cousin Lyn would come to visit me from Wales which would lead me to wonderful Crickhowell Wales and to another new and exciting beginning.

In this photograph taken in my Prescott Alley studio in 1987 I am standing in front of one of the large Rock and Nude paintings…which is still one of my most important series of works one I continue to work on to this day.