Category Archives: Uncategorized

HIDING OUR LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL…..

Watercolour of my dear friend the concert pianist Arsha Kaviani

I was first introduced to Arsha Kaviani by his mother and have come to know him well over the years..

Every now and then we get together and always have exciting and enriching conversations….thus was the case this past Saturday.

We discussed how tempting it is to ‘hide ones light under a bushel’ in order to protect friends, colleagues or family members who might, for whatever reason, find it difficult to accept the successes of others.

watercolour of Charlotte.always the life and soul of the party, but what I see in this portrait painted some years ago, is introspection and depth. In hindsight, all Charlotte’s friends, including myself, wanted to see the party animal in her- not interested in her more serious self!

Wonderful Madame Nottale – a woman I respected and loved very much. I painted this portrait some years ago when she was still working as a nurse and raising a large family singlehandedly. Always kind and giving, she had very little time for herself.

watercolour/gouache – Madame Nottale

When she became old and infirm, she moved into a lovely nursing home in Le Pecq – SW of Paris. For the first time in her long life she was able to pursue the things that had laid dormant within her….i.e. painting and writing.

I painted this quick watercolour of her during that period. It shows how the weight of so much responsibility over the years was lifted. It shows a lightness of spirit.

This amazing woman is the mother of a dear friend from Lebanon. To the outside world and to her family and friends she was the giver…..someone who sacrificed so much for her large family. I didn’t know this woman personally but am fascinated with her powerful face which says so much. I would love to have had the privilege of spending time with her – of learning about her dreams and aspirations. Through her daughter I feel as if I can know her.

Sue Hineman was a dear friend – someone I met when living in the States. She was kind and so giving to others. Very sadly not long after I moved back to the UK in 1993, Sue took her own life.

I promised Sue that I would keep this painting with me at all times, and I have. It’s with me here in London as I write this.

My dear friend Tony….oil on canvas

Sometimes we meet people and initially don’t click…..which was the case with Tony. However over the years he has become one of my dearest friends and a supporter of my work. He is a therapist and a very good listener…..and someone I feel safe in sharing my deepest thoughts with. everyone needs a friend like this…… What you see with Tony is what you get…..

The point of this post is to talk about how we tend to hide our light under a bushel. Yes, we all have to compromise but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could be completely ourselves – warts and all….

Gail is a childhood friend and a good friend to this day

. An amazing woman and artist she also has given so much to so many.

I finish with this oil on canvas portrait of my friend the American artist and chess player Charles Jay.

Of all the people I know, Charles is seemingly the most at peace with himself. Although from a big and loving family Charles has lived a simple, quiet life of making art, playing chess and contemplation…

During the eighties I would accompany him to Times Square New York to watch him play speed chess.. We would also take the free bus from Philadelphia to Atlantic City where we would spend the quarters we had been given to gamble on pizza and other goodies on the board walk. We both enjoyed people watching.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Out deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Marianne Williamson

If there is a lesson to be learned from this post it is to be oneself….and if that is a new experience….get to know oneself ….

Janet.

Cat Naps….

Cristeve the Cat – watercolour/gouache

Animals teach us so much….including the restorative values of a cat nap.

I find that the natural rhythms of the body and mind usually suggest a cat nap at about 2.30 to 3 p.m:)

A fifteen minute cat nap can change the whole nature of the day….from possibly feeling a little sluggish to being wide awake and ready to go:)

Enjoy.

THE ART OF FOCUSING…..

Amish boy – pen sketch.

Several people commented on how attentive and focused the Amish children were as they watched me paint – (see previous posts). Which prompted me to write this post about my experiences of painting with children and how creativity helped even the most distracted child – or for that matter adult to FOCUS.

In this instance I was painting the portrait of a French teacher….part of an exhibition I was having in France. Note how completely focused the children are…..

One of the many things the Amish taught me is that by ‘starving distractions’ i.e removing electronics and anything else that get in the way of what our purpose is we can then focus on what it is that we wish to accomplish. It works like a charm…

A little boy in Wales who came to one of my workshops with his grandmother….was fascinated. Shortly after watching me he painted a superb portrait of me.:)

Children in a school in Philadelphia.

No matter what country I was in, or where the children were from….to a one they all focused when I painted.

I remember working with a group in Boston….where I was told by the teacher that it would be impossible for the boys to sit for half an hour…..Well we achieved the impossible, because they actually sat and watched for one hour and at the same time asked excellent questions.

Children in a school in Wales….

In the mid nineties, Using the power of art, I organised a project which was all about helping children to focus, and at the same time learn about their environment.

By focusing on art and the environment the children accomplished a great deal including organising worthy fund raisers. I have written much more about this project…but for now let it suffice to say that it taught me a great deal about children of all ages and what they respond to…..namely art.

In this school the children watched me paint a watercolour of two of cats (on the easel). They in turn painted their own pictures which were sold to their parents. With the proceeds they bought a new chair for a local old people’s home. A win win for all concerned.

This is the cover of the little book ‘Christie the Cat Finds Her New Home…..

The book talks about homelessness and how our environment offers up all the answers that we need. We simply need to trust and focus.

This gorgeous brother and sister combo would come to the studio where I was working on this project and paint with me. They would now be in their thirties!

Given that our focus determines our reality – it is vital that we develop the skill of being totally present – and focused.

I have hundreds of photographs taken in schools where I observed the magic happen as children were set free from all unnecessary distractions

I finish with this one because it represents to me ‘pure joy’. These little angels were from a school in the Welsh Valleys…and oh how they loved to watch me paint….It warms my heart to see this photograph.

Focus on all that you love this day….and enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

A MOMENT TO TREASURE ON A SUNDAY IN SEPTEMBER

Holding a four month old Amish baby with my son and daughter at my side.

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon on the farm and apart from Kendle who had a nasty does of covid, which meant her having to isolate in the cottage next to the house, all was well with the world.

Sunday is the one day of the week when the Amish rest and so it was such a pleasure when one of the neighbouring families turned up at the door and came out to the porch to watch me paint.

Because Kendle was in the bedroom in the cottage she was able to take photographs…..looking down on us.

To my great surprise the mother of the children asked if I would like to paint the baby……(For those who are familiar with the Amish this is both unusual and an amazing honour). I made a very quick watercolour sketch and was then asked if I would like to hold their beautiful four month old baby.

The first photograph shows me holding the baby with my daughter Christie on one side and son Jarrod on the other. The baby, who has known Jarrod since she was born smiled broadly when she saw his face:). Absolutely heart melting.

One of the neighbouring Amish families enjoying a rest on the Sabbath.

Another beautiful gift from the Amish was this example of ‘nail art’. Like all things the Amish do it is an example of sustainable living.

Over and over I keep saying out loud and to myself...’We can learn so much from the Amish’. ……something I will write much more about.

Another day and another experience I. will never forget.

watercolour sketch.

Another major highlight was when I was invited to the Amish school….I will keep that for next time.

Enjoy your weekend. Janet ๐Ÿ™‚

THE AMISH FARRIER..

The above photograph signifies a special moment I spent with my son, Jarrod. One when I felt totally removed from the madness of 21st century day to day living.

Other than the sound of David the farrier’s tools and the occasional movement of the pony – the room was totally silent. A silence that enabled me to observe and be completely present. . A silence that allowed all my senses to be heightened – and so it was on this early autumn morning.

After making some quick sketches David offered me this beautiful gift of a pumpkin made from horse shoes…..it will be cherished.

As you can imagine, there is much work to be had for the likes of David…..everywhere I looked there were beautiful horses…..

LIVING IN HARMONY WITH NATURE….

The Moon Children…..one of many quick sketches from my recent trip..

On the 9th September as dusk was settling in – Jarrod invited me to jump on the Gator (a small vehicle used to drive around the farm) so that he could take me to visit some of the Amish neighbours.

As we drove over a ridge, there in front of us was the most glorious Harvest Moon I have ever seen. As we approached I saw that many of the Amish children were playing in the fields – in front of the moon……what an image this presented.

Because the Amish don’t like to be photographed, I had to make rapid sketches in my ever present sketch book to remind me of that moment. It’s a case of taking in large gulps of information....and recording asap. This particular image will always stay with me.

When I said to some of the Amish children…”what a beautiful full moon” – they said the full moon is not until tomorrow:). This made me smile and appreciate the fact that these people are only too aware of the rhythms of nature.

Here is the Gator. Those who follow my blog will know that I haven’t driven for over thirty years since returning home to the UK/Europe. However, having said that I do like the Gator and if I lived in the countryside I would definitely have one.

And just to add to the magic….these two enormous pumpkins were at the end of the driveway leading to the Amish farm.

It also turns out that the Amish do NOT change their clocks. This meant being very mindful of when we visited the Amish.

12 noon to us was not 12 noon to them…..

I was fortunate to be invited into one of the Amish homes…..and as was the case with all the Amish, it was a hive of industry.

Barbie, the mother, a beautiful soul, was ironing (using an old fashioned flat iron) She was ironing her white Kapp and apron for the Sunday service and at the same time two of her daughters were preserving beans and making grape juice from the grape vine in the garden. Nothing is wasted. This is sustainable living…..

Some of the ever present laundry hanging out to dry….

The ever present laundry was hanging on the lines outside the kitchen and as I stood there talking with Barbie, penninAmos (her husband) and a team of mules returned from the fields in preparation for the mid day meal.

On hooks against the wall in the kitchen/living area were the hats and jackets of the men. Another moment I will not forget.

By the way it’s important to note that simple sketches like this one remind me of the visuals, sounds and smells….. at that moment in time. It’s as if these sketches open up a portal in my mind.

Meanwhile Sheila the dog, the cats and many birds were always there to greet us. All the animals and Amish children love Jarrod. I call him the resident Animal whisperer.

This was the table on the deck where I painted every day…..Thanks to Kendle for presenting me with the beautiful gourds to use for warming up:)

LEARNING FROM THE AMISH

Time is such an illusion.

I just re-read my last post written shortly before leaving for the States at the beginning of September – and here I am mid October back home in the UK with some beautiful new memories and stories to tell.!

Fortunately I always keep a sketch book/diary with me at all times. These books become an invaluable source of information. So much can be forgotten without a written record.

It was Jarrod’s 56th birthday on the 10th September….this watercolour was his birthday card from me. Moo Mar was Jarrod’s nickname for me as a young child and I was to quickly learn Jarrod had taught the Amish children to call me Moo Mar…which I loved:)

The inquisitive little chick is Woodstock….

Although I hadn’t seen Jarrod and Kendle for nearly four years – social media, Skyping etc. presents us with the illusion that we have been connected throughout…….

We arrived at the farm around 7.30 p.m. It was so lovely to see Sheila the dog – the cats, numerous birds and of course the horses. Within a half an hour two little Amish children, a boy and girl…came to say hello…..which was when I knew I had really arrived.

I painted this large watercolour for Jarrod and Kendle after my last visit. It shows, Sheila the dog, the twins, chickens, ducks horses in the meadow leading up to the house. It was lovely to see that all the animals were still present and alive:)

One of the Amish families visiting on a Sunday afternoon. The children are watching me paint. There’s much more to say about this image, which I will save for another post.

When I last visited the farm I met some of the Amish neighbours and so was delighted to find that they remembered me.

I was greeted with firm handshakes and a warm welcome.

This lovely little Hackney poney is Jarrod’s birthday gift from Kendle… Jarrod tells me that the Amish children have fallen in love with her…..I can understand why….

One of the highlights of the stay was Posey (Jarrod’s pony) and Jazz taking us for a beautiful ride. The person driving is a friend of Kendles….

I keep saying that there is so much that we can learn from the Amish – or in many cases re-learn.

Their work ethic is bar none….which entails a sense of discipline and order – They live, as opposed to existing.…I look forward to writing much more from my observations and experiences

For now I wish everyone well, and look forward to catching up with your blogs.

Janet

Oh and I did see one hummingbird which visited me on the deck as I was painting.

Travelling to Amish Country

a watercolour/gouache sketch of Amish Father and son working the fields.

On the 7th September I fly to Philadelphia where I will be met by my son Jarrod. We will then drive to Nottingham township in the heart of Amish county where he and his partner Kendle run a horse farm.

A picture taken on my last visit of Kendle, Jarrod and Sheila the dog – plus chicken. I am of course looking forward to seeing Jarrod and Kendle and my daughter Christie who will join us but I am also looking forward to seeing Sheila and all the other animals:)

From the last trip….me sketching Jarrod as he serenades me on the guitar. I am looking forward to more of this.

Sitting on the deck surrounded by trees and birds. I think the hummingbirds will have already started their journey south, but one never knows – I might be lucky.

During these past three years time has taken on a very different feeling for all of us.

As I write this post I remember that at the beginning of lock down I gave a ‘virtual workshop’ for my students based on a trip to the farm. That seems like light years away.

Also during the many trans Atlantic trips I have taken over the years I think this will be the first time that I will have stayed in one place for my entire stay. Normally I fly to several different states, often giving workshops, seeing family and friends.

On this trip it will be lovely to unpack my suit case and not repack until I return to the UK at the end of September.

On the farm I will be surrounded by horses, dog, cats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and lots more…my idea of heaven:)

And then there are the Amish working in the fields and driving their horses and carriages along the country lanes.

On this visit I am hoping to paint with some of the Amish children – as opposed to painting them.

Painting/sketching them has to be done very discreetly as the Amish prefer not to be photographed or painted. It means taking in great gulps of visual information and quickly recording into my sketch books.

Tonal sketches from my last visit…

I have much to do before I leave on the 7th….and so this will probably be my last post until I return in October.

Finishing with a little humour.

We all know how crazy travel is these days. Just getting on the flight and having both passenger and suit case arrive at the same destination is a real plus.

One time a few years ago when taking a puddle jumper from Philadelphia to Boston…I arrived to find that my suit case was missing!

I was asked if there was anything unusual in my black suit case which would identify it…. When I told the flight lady that there were six watercolours of male nudes in the lid she was somewhat surprised:) We found my suitcase……

May the hummingbirds be with you all. I will be back here in October. Janet.

Tree gratitude…..

I love trees – always have and always will – they give us so much.

This tree is on a beautiful estate in the UK – a place where I enjoyed attending Adlerian workshops for several summers.

Along with its magnificence, it sheltered us. Sitting beneath its beautiful limbs we could dream while taking in its magic. watercolour.

Trees don’t have to be grand to be beautiful…..This little tree in the main square of Olhao Portugal is a beauty. Whenever I saw it or sat beneath it I thought of all the many other people who had sat there enjoying the shade – and dreaming. – watercolour

We are experiencing a drought in the UK, along with many other places in our beautiful world…..Our green and verdant land is looking very brown and tired….

Protecting our trees is paramount to our wellbeing.

A little olive tree I sat beneath when painting in Conca de Marini Italy.

The 150 year old olive tree in the courtyard in Portugal....a tree I always think of with love. So many happy times experienced beneath this tree….so many conversations and meetings.

As in all life of these trees are interconnected. They bring so much for which I am most grateful.

Wherever you are enjoy the day and find a tree to sit beneath and soak in the magic…..

SEEING LIFE THROUGH A PRISM OF COLOUR…..

My rock chick/astrologer friend Carolyn…..watercolour/gouache

I can

I can live within a monochromatic world or a world filled with colour….it all depends on the way I choose see things….

A spontaneous full sheet watercolour – wearing my favourite walking hat in Wales…..

A very happy day with friends – picnic in France….- so much colour and joy within and without….

A second of bliss on the Amalfi Coast Italy……one of hundreds of sketches

David, a lovely man – a lovely model.

Peacock and hummingbirds – watercolour/gouache

The silent boat…..

Blue boats beneath Hampton Court Bridge…..

I hope this colour brings some joy to your day….Janet ๐Ÿ™‚