Growth in Isolation

IMG-20191127-WA0010Be Prepared….

Having been a self employed artist since 1973, I know what it is to work in isolation.   In this post I  am offering some tried and true suggestions taken from my own experience.

At the moment a lot of people are talking about doing different things on line.   However, almost like New Years resolutions,  I have a feeling that if this goes on for weeks, months or longer the novelty of living this way might dwindle for many and so it is important to be prepared. 

My cottage garden in Wales with Christeve the Cat and friend on shed….This little garden taught me so much, not least of which was patience……til August 10 119A DAILY ROUTINE  

It is important to establish a daily routine that works for you.     Write it down.  

For single people this can be easier given that there are no interruptions.

However,  having raised a family I know what it is to live and work in a very busy household and at the same time stick to schedules. – not easy therefore structure becomes even more important.

An added plus is that by establishing a good daily routine you could encourage others in your household to do the same.    A learning experience for everyone.

All of this takes a level of discipline – a word that many people shy away from today.   I believe that Discipline equals Freedom….

If I have a good structure in place, it gives me the freedom to do the things I enjoy doing….painting, cooking, writing, and so on…..

watercolour/guache14435032_10154437102300396_4492475642371147944_oPURPOSE

Make sure there is a purpose to your day.

I knew when I went to bed last night that my purpose today would be to write this blog along with some watercolour painting,  reading a good book, and then catching up with my murder mysteries on I player this afternoon:)

However, someone else’s purpose might be to cook a lovely meal or do a jigsaw puzzle.   There are no rules, except to make sure you have a purpose.

Don’t wonder aimlessly through each day….this can only cause frustration and distress. 

Beautiful Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour/gouacheLandscape of trees, road and sky in blue, green and yellowEXERCISE

My daily exercise routine is fifteen minutes of stretching every morning.   It’s like brushing my teeth and makes a huge difference to my day and my overall feelings of well being.

Throughout the day I take a walk and make sure to move around…i.e. going up and down the steps that lead to my studio.

Play music and dance…..guaranteed to lift the spirits.

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PREPARATION – BE PREPARED

Set up a space that works for you.    It can be as small as a card table.  (no one else in the house is allowed to use that space).

If you have work equipment, (for me my arts supplies) make sure everything is in order and easy to access.

Choose the best time of day for you to go to your work space.   Make it a ritual. 

Air circulation

Try to keep air circulation within your living space.    Always have a window open….and if possible have some plants to look after and benefit from. .

27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_oDAILY SIESTA

I am seventy four years old, and thankfully in good health, and part of that I believe has to do with my stretching routine and taking a daily siesta.    For me that’s around  3 p.m. and lasts for approx 30 mins.    It never fails to refresh.

My work day begins at 8 a.m. and pretty much finishes at 3 p.m.   After that I watch my favourite European box sets….and murder mysteries…Oh how I love them.      Then maybe in the evening read or write some personal e mails. or whatever else floats my boat………

SLEEP

Sleep is so important – and particularly today to boost the immune system.

To achieve a good sleeping pattern it is important to understand our own personal body clock.

I am naturally a morning person…and so wake with the larks, and go to bed at 10 p.m.    I like to read before going to sleep.

Diet

Keep it simple….which during the next few months shouldn’t be too difficult.

Although I have lived alone for a long time, I always cook for myself.    More than ever nutritional food will be key during this period.

Millie visiting the studio…:)P1110644

Back to the title of this blog….

BEAUTY, GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY IN ISOLATION 

I see this time as an opportunity for individual and collective change.   If we are able to turn this around into a positive and use this time to FOCUS on what it is we love and who we really are…..we might all come out of this a lot stronger and happier and find that we have produced some beautiful work……

I will be posting art tips and tutorials on a regular basis so that everyone (including me) can keep their creative juices flowing.      Don’t forget to put 15th April into your diary when I will start a week at the School in Olhao –  http://www..artinthealgarve.com.   just as if we were there……

More than every before it is vital to stay in the simplicity of the present moment.    ONE DAY AT A TIME…..

ACCEPTANCE will be key during this period.     Denial won’t work anymore….

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May the magical hummingbirds be with everyone….spreading their unseen magic.

Oh and I couldn’t close without saying – WASH YOUR HANDS…….:)

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years I had to accommodate

I had my first large solo exhibition at the Chester County Arts Association in 1976 – a year after my daughter was born.

 

All of life is interconnected

Large oil on board…commissioned mural for public building in the States thirty years ago. 1948077_10152288380465396_1904179533_nWhen I was commissioned to paint this mural about thirty years ago….climate change was only talked about by a few people and the concept of all of life being interconnected simply wasn’t understood or recognised by most people

We believed that if we put a border around something, it was contained.    

However, artists have always understood the interconnection principle.   No matter whether painters, writers, dancers, musicians, etc.

I have often written on this blog about how changing one square inch of a huge mural, changes everything – it is the same with life.      

Today we see how one, unseen virus has already changed the world we live in.

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‘None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out’.….another one of my favourite expressions, and once again this virus is showing us without any equivocation that this is true.

Therefore it is key to remain in the simplicity of the present moment.    

Like everyone else, my ‘plans’ have been changed.

As I will not be giving my course in Portugal next month, I plan to give one week of tutorials on this blog mimicking what a week at the School in Portugal is like….Of course our imaginations will have to come into plan in terms of the atmosphere, food, sunshine, and everything else, but we can do it:)

courtyard steps – School Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – watercolour74235539_10157674169065396_4511698166164226048_o

And so my friends, keep well, take a daily walk, as I have just done, and make use of this time we have been given to do the things that really matter.

I think we can and will learn a great deal from this.

A bientôt.

 

 

 

Turn OFF the news and bring on the COLOUR……

I would suggest to anyone this weekend, to turn OFF the news and turn ON the colour. 

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I for one am fed up with hearing news commentators and politicians go on and on about every negative circumstance they can come up with.   You can almost hear the glee in their voices with each new pending disaster.

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I can only imagine the affect that all of this is having, with my biggest concern being for young children who must be very frightened and confused.

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As responsible adults we must try to bring a healthy prospective to all of this….and most importantly talk to our children, take them into Mother Nature and create wonderful things with them.   Get the paints out, sing and dance….Give them a sense hope…..

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We must look for the positive and try to live one day at a time.

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It is my hope that through climate change issues and now the coronavirus...we can all learn new ways of being.   Better ways of being.     So let’s stop worrying about hand gel and toilet paper….and focus more on what we can do to make lasting positive changes. 

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Enjoy the weekend.    🙂

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

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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.

Three 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’ – a subject I will write more about in a future blog.

After entering the nursing home, Madame Nottale began to paint and write every day.     When I arrived, I was amazed to see her paintings and drawings covering every surface available.

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 had been liberated – and given the space and time 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 life.

During this visit, Madame Nottale made a drawing of me…….here she is selecting a pastel….with daughter Claudia, who I have known since 1977.

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From this point of view, it was interesting for me to observe Madame Nottale’s astute observational skills.

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Along with painting, Madame Nottale is writing remarkable poems and essays.        Her son, Laurent, was telling me that some of the language used in the poems goes 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 last week of Madame Nottale

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Madame Nottale shows us 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.   A life very well lived. 

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A Bientôt

Mixing watercolour and Gouache and portraits of Claudia….

About twenty years ago when I was living and working in the Magical Town of Crickadoon,  (Crickhowell, Wales), I found myself experiencing a block….it happens…it’s quite normal.     The key is to find ways of moving through the block…..

The three ways that help me to do this, are – walking – visiting museums and allowing myself to PLAY.

In this instance, I set up long tables in my studio with large sheets of paper….and began to throw paint around…..anything, just to get the juices flowing.    I wet the paper, adding a mix of watercolour and gouache and watched with great excitement as the transparent watercolour mixed with the opaque gouache……Bingo….I had broken through the block:)

Initial sketch of Claudia – using watercolour/gouache on a gouache colour ground.460616_10151667714060396_2124306232_o

Until this point, I had only used transparent watercolours on white or tinted papers, but now with the opaque quality of gouache, I was able to paint off of  colour grounds.      Plus I loved the interaction of transparent watercolour with the opaque gouache. 

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I would urge anyone who feels a little stuck, or is just beginning to paint….to PLAY.        

It is not necessary to use expensive watercolours or paper….newspaper, brown wrapping paper, wallpaper lining, and inexpensive paints will do…..the key is to just do it. 

Claudia has been my Muse since 1977….460151_10151667716765396_353524529_o

The following portraits of Claudia are using different mediums….

Charcoal sketch of Claudia – Claudia is an actress and so projects many different personas

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pen sketch of Claudia working on her computer in Paris20-11-15 - 1 (276)

watercolour of Claudia, Wales 199520200218_123136

Small oil sketch of Claudia when she visited me in Wales20-11-15 - 1 (324)

The first portrait I ever painted of Claudia when she was 17 years old and living with us in the USA.    She is now in her fifties and a very successful director of theatre and actress.          oil on canvas. 10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-3

To finish  -a watercolour/gouache sketch of a magical hummingbird. 

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A Bientôt

Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

“Human subtlety sill never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”     Leonardo da Vinci. 

20-11-15 - 1 (478)Watercolour is a beautiful medium.        There are a few basic techniques to learn – each one taking time and patience to master.      Allowing oneself to play with the medium will help build confidence and ability.

In this instance I have sketched out two cala lilies – using yellow ochre.    I am working on a Saunders and Waterford Hot Pressed – heavy paper.  (more about papers at end of blog)

20-11-15 - 1 (607)Having sketched the basic image I add ‘juicy paint’ into the negative space.    I am using a mix of Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet and a little Winsor & Newton Cadmium Orange. 

When we add paint to the negative space – we automatically reveal the subject…..So often we struggle with a particular element of a painting, when all we need to do is observe the negative space. 20-11-15 - 1 (787)Using very small amounts of pigment I begin to add colour to the flower.    For this I use Winsor & Newton Green Gold and a touch of Windsor & Newton Cadmium yellow. For the dark green in stem and shadow I mix some Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna with a tiny amount of prussian blue and Gold Green. 

All whites are dry white paper. 

20-11-15 - 1 (799)I begin to build depth inside the lily using small amounts of pigment – making sure to leave dry white paper for highlights. 20-11-15 - 1 (805)As I build up the colour I am mindful of bringing the background colours into the Lilies.    Everything is connected….nothing is isolated.     By moving colour around a painting we bring a sense of harmony and rhythm.

It is important to note, that when we change one fraction of a painting – (no matter what the size) we change the whole.     This is true for everything in life. 20-11-15 - 1 (806)The finished watercolour is an observational exercise revealing the subtlety of nature….. and at the same time honing watercolour technique.       I hope that there is an element of energy and movement.  20-11-15 - 1 (478)The most important thing is to PLAY  and warm up.    This can be done on any paper including newspaper…..The key is to release any fears or anxiety about messing up a good piece of paper.  Ultimately this is a freeing up mechanism.

When purchasing watercolour paper – it is measured by weight and surface quality….Cold Pressed for rougher surface.  NOT (meaning not hot pressed) is smoother and Hot Pressed is very smooth.    My analogy is that using cold pressed is like roller skating and hot pressed like ice skating – NOT is somewhere in the middle.

When we purchase a piece of lb140 weight paper – this simply means that the ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs lb140 – and of course the same applies for all weights.    It’s a good idea to purchase a sample pack of papers….and again PLAY. 

I hope everyone enjoys a creative weekend….no matter what your medium….and that the magical hummingbirds are with you.

watercolour/gouache11194395_10153252694930396_8127371946973631924_oNew hummingbird products including some pretty nifty wrist watches in my Zazzle shop.

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

A Bientôt