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.

The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note.

Happy, peaceful, healthy and creative New Year to one and all.

The  ‘Apple Exercise’ is a positive way  to begin the new year for anyone wishing to express themselves and explore their creativity.

Throughout my many years of painting and teaching, I have heard over and over the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but always seem to find that life gets in the way……..

The new year is a good time to re-think and re-look at the way we live our lives.   A good time to make new and positive habits.

1915661_200776310395_1768147_n

In principle this exercise is very simple and effective.   If followed three positive changes will occur:-

A new positive habit will be formed which will benefit all areas of our lives.   

Fifteen minutes of PLAY every day for one month will hone observational and technical skills.    

Participants will begin to ‘see differently’

There are three simple rules:-

Pick the same 15 minutes every day – a time that works for you. 

Set up a small table, such as a card table, which doesn’t have to be moved or shared. 

Turn off mobiles and any other potential distractions……

Here are just a few of the things you can use to explore and PLAY with.    If you don’t have artists paint, use house paint or anything else you can get your hands on. 

20190104_110725

If you are scared to mark a new piece of paper, then use newspaper, old magazines, wrapping  paper or inexpensive wall-paper lining.

Playing – using magazine paper, felt tip pen and some paint……20190104_112054

Allow yourself to doodle until you begin to relax.    Artists, writers, dancers, musicians all need to stretch and warm up.    PLAYING  is the best way to do this.

Remember that the apple is simply a ‘jumping off point’   – it doesn’t have to be copied perfectly.

This image helps us to remember the importance of Negative Space....the space that surrounds the subject we are painting.     By putting colour around the apple shape…the apple is revealed.

20190104_113225Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses are being deadened.

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us, with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which can lead to a sense of well-being and fulfilment.

Warning  –  Beware of the Chattering Monkeys….

20190104_124642

Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our minds with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

I am sure as you begin this exercise, they will be shouting out…‘you don’t have time to do this’, and you can’t draw or paint anyway…..

IGNORE THEM 

As you move forward with the apple exercise and establish a routine, you will find that the Chattering Monkeys will go away…….

Note these apples cast their natural colour into their shadows.    Each apple reflects upon the other.      All of life is interconnected….

20190104_120714When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

By the time we reach adulthood most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Colour effects our every mood and emotion.    Allow yourself to PLAY with colour….Apples can be any colour you wish them to be…..Be bold – make marks and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings. 20190104_121604When we think of an apple we might visualise the iconic Apple Max symbol, or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher.

What the Apple Exercise will demonstrate is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of ways.

Seeing the apple differently…….

20190104_121721

If we could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.

Instead of just looking straight ahead, look in every direction, including up and down.

Instead of always sitting in the same chair view your favourite room from many different points of view

.Look at the whole – not just the shiny red outer image….remember there are fascinating pips inside the apple.      

20190106_105001

 

The creative process is all about experimenting.    Letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during out lifetimes and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.

It is about awakening the senses.  

Stride out in confidence into this new year and enjoy the transformation that creativity and colour can bring.          watercolour/collage from one of my children’s book illustrations. 

1917496_216406645395_1196671_n

My book ‘The Apple Exercise’ can be found on the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk 

My next painting course will be in Portugal beginning April 18th  at http://www.artinthealgarve.com 

a bientot

 

 

 

Approaching Christmas with childlike, wide eyed wonder……..

Yesterday I was on the bus returning home from Kingston upon Thames.     Most people were carrying large shopping bags and looking pretty exhausted and fed up…..and then quite spontaneously three little children began to sing Christmas carols….and everyone smiled and began to talk to one another.   Everyone’s mood changed…………

watercolour/gouache29872646_10156236175455396_8857424718959096304_oIt”s so easy to get caught up in all the adult stuff.       I remember very well when my own children were young and being responsible for putting on Christmas celebrations with all the trimmings.     Quite often, the real meaning and essence of the celebration was lost,

It would seem that for the most part we humans insist on making life complicated and in doing so forget the pure joy of simple pleasures.

Millie visiting my studio and being caught up in all the colour and magic. P1110644Capucine – a little girl I painted in France this year.    Her eyes were filled with wonder and curiosity  20-11-15 - 1 (1449)

Look at the amazement and curiosity in the eyes of these little Amish boys who had come across a field camera his week in Pennsylvania.      They had no idea what it was or what the flashing light indicated….but were clearly amazed and filled with wonder.    (My son sent me this picture from a friend’s farm). 1397175_10200103094498419_1961274517_oAs adults we don’t have to give up our childlike ways – in fact I believe that a fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child.    The child-like wonder that still lives within us is what keeps us filled with the promise of the unexpected, the spontaneous.

dancing hummingbirds – symbolising the unseen magic in our world……watercolour10841985_10152900246405396_684849903434205677_oIt would seem that it is the simple elements of life that give us all great pleasure.     Singing, dancing, giving to those in need, being part of a community and laughter….and of course a simple smile can change the day for so many people.  

Christmas decorations at Hampton Court Palace. trees hcp I hope that everyone enjoys a Christmas with elements of spontaneity and joy and of course some really good food:)

I will spend the holidays with friends and then my daughter Christie arrives from the USA on the 27th December and will be here with me to celebrate the new years.    What a gift.

May magical hummingbirds surround us all.    26758187_10155992367365396_6811764365978108756_o

A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

 

A Traditional English Christmas Cake story – sustaining life and enhancing international relations…….

The following is a true story about my Mother’s traditional English Christmas Cake…and how it saved my life and helped to sustain others….:and at the same time enhanced international relations………:)

In 1960 when I was 16 years old, my parents sent me to Holland for the summer.    Travelling by ferry and train,  I was to stay with friends who lived in the countryside outside of Eindhoven.

Before leaving my Mother made sure to pack some of her traditional Christmas Cake into my suitcase.     No matter where I went this always happened.   It was my Mother’s theory that if I got lost, or ran out of food, her cake would sustain me.

A traditional English Christmas Cake xmas cakeFor those who are not familiar with traditional English Christmas Cake – a little more information.

My Mother made the cake months before Christmas every year.    All manner of fruits and spices were mixed and liberally doused with brandy in order to preserve the cake.

During the several month standing process the cake would be fed with more alcohol during two week intervals…..then wrapped in a cheese cloth and put into a north facing pantry to settle.    Christmas-Cake-easyAbout two weeks before Christmas the cake would be covered in marzipan along with a  thick white icing resembling snow….and then Christmas decorations added.

Given that the cake was very rich….there was always quite a lot left over….plus my Mother would make two cakes at a time….leaving one un-iced, filled with booze, waiting for any natural or man made disasters to occur!5245504474_028169b808_zAfter a wonderful summer in Holland…swimming in canals with local children, riding bicycles around the countryside – stopping at farms where we were given the most delicious fresh cheese and milk straight from the cow, and of course sketching…..even back then I carried a sketch book with me.        Alas, it was time to return home.

This was the sort of canal we swam in…boys-in-canalI was put on a train heading towards the Ferry port at Calais France.       

I am not sure when I realised that something was wrong…..I suppose when I arrived in Germany!!

In those days it was quite normal for trains to split – one end going to one country and the other to another, and this is what had happened.    I got on the wrong end of the train.

This meant getting back on the right train, and then arriving at the Calais Ferry Terminal far too late to catch the ferry that my parents would be meeting me from at the Dover Ferry Terminal – which in turn meant a long wait.

And this is where Mother’s Traditional English Christmas Cake came into its own.

Calais France Ferry Terminal – just 29.4 miles from Dover UK. car-ferry-terminal-at-calais-france-BM6WAKWhen I arrived at the Calais Terminal I joined many other young people from all around Europe sitting on the floor waiting for ferries.

Remember this was many years before fast food, mobile phones, and of course the Euro Star train – everything was simple and basic.

I was hungry as were many of my fellow travellers.      I removed the tin containing Mother’s English Christmas Cake from my suit case and shared it with young people from around Europe.      The Christmas cake brought us together. 

Ferry docking at Dover Ferry Terminal   2464338180_d3b492f903_b    After docking at the Dover Ferry Terminal, I found a policeman waiting for me.      Clearly alerts had been sent out…..

The policeman took me and a young German boy I had befriended to the Dover Police Station.     There we were given a slap up breakfast while we waited for my parents to arrive.      I had assured the German boy that my parents would give him a lift to Canterbury and then he could hitch hike on to London.       The German boy and I kept in touch for many years.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Be Prepared and always carry extra food – especially traditional English Christmas Cake. 

(I was reminded of my story when recently a 100 year old fruit cake was found in Antarctica – perfectly preserved.     I rest my case. )

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (358)

I wish everyone a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and love…..and of course magical hummingbirds.    Janet

http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts      http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – a time of Thanksgiving

‘Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.    Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.’   Denis Watley. 

watercolour45487165_10156777268340396_893438499913465856_oI think it took me until I was forty to begin to understand the meaning of gratitude.   Until that point, I had wondered through life, sort of hanging on, and trying my best to put one step in front of the other, often under challenging circumstances, and then boom, an epiphany – something occurred which opened my eyes to what gratitude is all about.

I began to see and feel everything in ways that I had not experienced before.    Fear and anxiety had been the underlying emotion ruling my life since early childhood….and so when it was removed all of a sudden I was free.   I began to see and really experience the world around me rather than to observe it from a distance.

bluebell woods Crickhowell Wales – watercolour44740914_10156746580470396_1767998054465536000_oOf course this didn’t mean that life would be easy from that point on.    As a working artist for the past forty-five years, I am fully aware of the feast or famine syndrome and what it’s like to live on a knife edge.       However, with this new way of being life’s challenges have become much easier to live with and to move through and more importantly I am able to learn from them….

The simple pleasure of a cat sleeping…..watercolour 45683106_10156784344175396_6268958295583621120_o

Perhaps it takes losing the ‘stuff’ of life to fully understand that as long as our needs are met and we keep things simple, and most importantly that we find purpose in our daily lives….all the other things that we strive for are in the most part irrelevant.

long tailed hummingbird – watercolour20181121_083646-2

I saw my first hummingbird in 1967 in the mountains of North Carolina…but it wasn’t until after my epiphany that I really saw hummingbirds.    Not only did I see them, but I sensed their vital place within Mother Nature’s rich tapestry.   It was at this point that the hummingbird became something deeper, symbolising the unseen energy and interconnectedness of our world. 

Normal Rockwell’s wonderful classic illustration showing a family enjoying Thanksgiving. Freedom from Want - Norman Rockwell - 1943I lived and worked in the States from 1966 til 1993 when I returned to Europe, consequently I enjoyed many Thanksgiving celebrations.    However,  I do wonder if I had real understanding of what it was all about.    Sadly I think the running around  and worrying about if every detail was correct obliterated the true meaning of the day.    We live and learn…..

And so I wish my friends and family n the United States a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.

Remember not to sweat the small stuff…..it doesn’t matter and ‘this too shall pass………’:)

magical hummingbird – watercolour20181120_112602

Mixing watercolour and Gouache….the transparent with the opaque.

“No Experiment is ever a complete failure.   It can always be used as a bad example”.   Paul Dickson. 

watercolour/gouache – view from the Rhiwiau in the Brecon Beacons Wales Viewfromrhiwiau1master.jpgcompI am always asked what is the difference between watercolour and gouache.

Watercolour is a transparent medium.    Gouache is Opaque.    Watercolour and Gouache are intermixable….

In this post, I will show examples of pure watercolour as well as the mix of watercolour with gouache.

Pure watercolour – Brecon Beacons Wales 20181029_115354  About eighteen years ago – I was in my studio in Wales going through a period of feeling blocked.     Always a difficult time for a creative!

Over the years I have learned that the best thing to do when this happens is PLAY.     I put out big sheets of inexpensive paper on long trestle tables.    Using large brushes and anything else at hand I began to throw paint around.      I found some gouache, something I had not used before and began mixing it with watercolour and voila……..I loved the results and have been playing with the mix ever since.

I noticed that the gouache was bleeding into the transparent watercolour producing some very interesting marks.

The top swatch of colour is Winsor Violet watercolour mixed with Permanent White gouache on an orange background.  (more about colour grounds in a minute)

The second swatch is pure watercolour. 20181029_122319

The following portrait sequence of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.….shows in the first example, pure watercolour – where all the white you see is dry white paper.20181030_090534The second example shows pure watercolour on an orange ground.20181025_095849The third example shows a mix of watercolour and gouache.     When painting this way, permanent white gouache needs to be applied for highlights because all the white paper has been covered.  20181025_102005It’s important to note, that no one way is the right way.    The whole point of being a creative is to experiment….as my opening quote points out.

When I am going outside to paint I will prepare some of the pages in my sketchbooks with a ground so that if I wish to use a watercolour/gouache mix, I am ready to do so….which was the case here.    Ground colour naples yellow with a little burnt sienna. 20181029_140537 So what is a colour ground?        

It is when we cover our paper or canvas with a colour.     When using watercolour/gouache it’s important to remember that paper must be grounded at least 24 hours before using so that it is totally dry.    

I often use paint left on my palette for grounding.    If at the beginning of the work day I am struggling to warm up…grounding paper will often do the trick.

As you can see from this example, the paint does not have to be uniform or all one colour.   I am known for my orange grounds, but often use naples yellow, burnt sienna or anything else left on the palette.   You can use both watercolour and gouache  separately or mixed together to make a ground. 20181025_095826I hope this helps those who are interested.     The key is to allow yourself to EXPERIMENT and PLAY,    Remember it is only paper……

I leave you with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life.…paiinted on an orange ground using a watercolour/gouache mix. 20-11-15 - 1 (358)

A Bientôt.

My second week in Portugal

The second week began with the arrival of my good friend the artist Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com      Bonnie, who had travelled from the Black Hills of South Dakota with her group, was to give the next weeks course at the School in Olhao.

Bonnie Halsey Dutton – artist – http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com    Bonnie Halsey-Dutton 2018 4x6   During the thirty years I have known Bonnie we have shared many experiences and on occasion have worked together.     Extremely talented and organised she always does what she says she will do – something I really appreciate.    Next year she will  be running a workshop in the Black Hills of S. Dakota.    I will write more about this at a later date.

Bonnie’s group in Olhao.     Interestingly I had met at least one of the group when I visited and worked in Spearfish, S. Dakota about 20 years ago!  Small world. ST Group with JanetTogether with Bonnie in Deadwood, S. Dakota – 1998.    Just about to hold up the local bank!  

10339356_10152418307250396_7349314486916299457_o

After a day of rest another artist friend, Vicki Snaddon arrived at the School to take me back to her farm, about an hour and half drive north of Olhao.

Although I stopped driving 25 years ago when I returned to Europe, sometimes I enjoy being a passenger in new territory, as was the case this day.      So much to see.

Being in the lovely and private setting of the farm gave us the opportunity to relax and talk….about art, life in general, and of course Pooks Hill Lodge where hummingbirds abound and where Vicki spends half her year.      http://www.pookshilllodge.com

Pooks Hill Lodge – http://www.pookshilllodge.com – Belize. 20286788_1650204498324154_7558641117066166373_oA lovely place to stay…..right in the midst of Mother Nature’s bounty. 13147623_1204718832872725_2256505133500364186_o

Vicki Snaddon – at the farm in Portugal – a place where I could spend much time painting. 20180930_112814The light was so lovely. 20180929_101923After a morning of sketching, the following afternoon we drove to the Marina de Lagos Art Academy for an exhibition.

When in Portugal, Vicki goes to the Academy every week for life drawing sessions,  given by artist, Kasia Wrona, who I met and liked very much.

 

A great picture of Kasia and Vicki at the exhibition20180929_185745The work on display was by photographer, Jacek Ulinski (to the right of the picture).   The Marina is in the background….All in all a very smart space,  a very different vibe from the the School in Olhao.       42887279_1178263239017684_658336809083731968_nSunday we drove back to Olhao just in time to join Bonnie and her group for the jazz session at Cafe Cantaloupe where we enjoyed  Miguelo Delgado Motu Cordis.   What a great jazz venue this is. 20180930_193206In my first ‘overview’ blog about the trip, I showed my group in front of a black and white mural which is on the side of the local super market.   It depicts the hard working fishermen and women who inhabit Olhao – a working fishing town.

The following are better pictures of some of the panels…..Unfortunately because of the way it is set up I can’t take the whole mural in one image.    I am trying to find out who the artist is. 30-EAFT-1200x751

40266355695_bbf6ea66bf_b

26247423877_70a09eb361_b40967641792_585beb771d_bThis picture of my group in front of one of the panels, gives a better idea of the scale.

20180923_174418After another day of relaxation and sketching, it was time to return to London.

Portugal, and especially Olhao, have become very special to  me.    It never ceases to inspire.

Somewhat different from hummingbirds, this is the kind of wildlife that abounds in the Ria Formosa National Park.…close to Olhao.  – watercolour

20181005_103332A Bientôt

Overview of week with Art in the Algarve. http://www.artinthealgarve.com

My Life as an Artist (2)

This is the first of three blogs about my recent visit to the school in Olhao, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com.   The first is an overview, the second will show sketches/photographs from the group, and the third will be about my second week with my friend, artists Bonnie Dutton and Vicki Snaddon.

watercolour/gouache of Saturday market – Olhao Portugal. 20181008_130843My workshops are all about loosening up, letting go and getting into a flow and rhythm of work and most importantly enjoying the process.

The school at Olhao is set up in such a way that allows for the creative process to blossom….and although each course is only one week, much is accomplished.

The group dynamic is always important.     To date, everyone I have met adds something special to a course and this week was no exception.    What a great group!

These two photographs were taken when…

View original post 892 more words