Day 4 of VIRTUAL trip to Wales – Playful sketching at Tretower Court.

Playing is the name of the game today.     For this image I  took a throw away sketch and added the little lambs….This is a good way to warm up and at the same to use old sketches. 

For the lambs I used my sepia colour Tomboy Pen,  plus some Winsor & Newton Permanent White gouache – allowing some of the sketch beneath to show through.

Tombow Pen/watercolour/gouache – using old sketch as a ground 20200709_075228After meeting the group at The Dragon, I thought it would be a good idea to take a quick look at the High Street which is always bustling in the mornings.

By the way, after I lived with my cousin and the family for six wonderful months I rented a little flat next to the Dragon (43 High Street) where I was very happy for a year before moving to my cottage on Mill Street. .    Chris and Allan who then owned the Dragon allowed me to use the functions room to paint portraits of the locals.    It was the perfect set up.

When I walked from my cottage to the post office most days (this was before e mails) it took a long time, because there were so many people to greet and talk to including Dai the Post and Carl the Milk…..a real community. 

The High Street.  – always busy in the mornings.     3500 high street crickMike Cashell’s the family butcher is to the left..and in my estimation his meat and cheeses are as good as anywhere and the service is nothing short of fabulous.    One of my favourite Welsh cheeses is Y Fenni – it’s delicious.

117-0 cashells front

Hi Mike Cashell – lovely to see you:)cashells-master-butcherAs I mentioned at the beginning of this trip – when I lived here I was able to walk to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker…and it is still true today. 

I have spoken with friends during lock down…and have been told that all the shopkeepers were working together delivering food and anything else needed to the community. 

Before we get too involved with the shops we’ll pick up some goodies from Bookish – a lovely place for coffee, cake, lunch and browsing through their superb book range. bookishcake2-1024x684and then Gareth the taxi driver will take us by mini van to visit Tretower Court – about two miles from Crickhowell.tretower court

A late medieval defended house, possibly better than any other surviving example, it reflects the changes in fashion and taste of the wealthy landowners of Wales between 1300 and 1700.

The house is the direct successor of an earlier castle stronghold just 200 yards away.  Together they demonstrate the transition from castle to domestic residence, and thereby reflect important changes from a situation of warfare and defence in the Middle Ages, to one of more settled and peaceful times in later centuries. 

There is such a feeling of mystery in this part of the world.    A place steeped in legend and folklore.    When the mists fall over the valleys there is a sense of other worldliness…..

watercolour/gouache20200702_101603One of the other positive elements for artists in and around Crickhowell is that regardless of weather..there are plenty of places to paint inside – looking out...such as here at the Court.the courtI have given workshops within the house and the surrounding grounds many times….and particularly enjoy the shadow play and drama of the interiors.


imag3480Shakespeare productions are performed here during the summer months. tretowerThe walled garden is a lovely place to sit and sketch….often visited by beautiful chickens strutting their stuff.

garden tretower

Let’s begin with some warm up exercises.        The important thing is to not get stuck….be PLAYFUL.      

Throw some colour on paper – and let the paint do its own thing.   It is only paper….this will set the stage for your sketching.  In my mind warming up is one of the most important parts of the overall process.27788536_10156059179925396_5090428923930061989_o

Using yellow ochre I start with a quick sketch of the tower and then add colour into the NEGATIVE SPACE – the areas surrounding the subject.    It’s all very loose and spontaneous.   A sort of map.20200708_134356In this next frame I add more strength of colour to the trees and dark wall in front of the tower using Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna/Prussian Blue mix plus the Daniel Smith Underwater Green.    20200708_150241

Here I add more body to the sky.   After laying in a wash of blue I then bleed in  W & N Permanent White gouache for the clouds.    I then strengthen the colours throughout.

Remember this is playing.…sketching…don’t get stuck on trying to make everything perfect....Allow yourself and your brush to be free. 20200709_074833 Something that always occurs to me when I am visiting an ancient ruin is how man believed then, and still does that by building immensely thick walls he is protected…but ultimately the walls do crumble and only nature survives.

After a stop into the pub at Cwmdu (pronounced Cumdee) for a little respite, it’s back home to clean up and then drinks and dinner at The Bear.    (a two minute walk from the dragon)


Here, over a good meal we can talk, laugh and enjoy one another’s company.

I love Jacob sheep – one features in the church panels.     On my daily walk to the canal I would pass a small holding where some lived and of course I would sketch them.

This bunch of Jacob sheep are quite amusing – they look like the best friends of Shaun the Sheep:)


Tomorrow is our last day….and so I will try to list all the places and things I didn’t have time to mention before and show some portraits of the people I painted when living in Crickhowell…AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon.  

Sleep well

Lechyd da…..











DAY 3 – VIRTUAL trip to Wales – sketching along the MONMOUTHSHIRE BRECON CANAL……

We will take this beautiful Welsh Border Collie ‘Jen’ on our walk along the canal today.    20180611_142155-1Having enjoyed another delicious Welsh breakfast, we are now heading for the Monmouthshire/Brecon Canal.

During the years that I lived in Crickhowell, each day I would walk across the Crickhowell bridge  to LLangatock – through the fields, up past the Dardy to the Monmouthshire/Brecon canal tow path.         It is a place to slow down and commune with the natural world.

mon-and-brec-1I always carried a tiny sketch book, watercolour palette and pen.    As I walked the tow path I would observe everything around me and make notes like this one.

Looking through the trees down into the Valley – I could see Crickhowell bathed in light.

I encourage people to make little notes and sketches.      This one has been in one of my many sketchbooks for over twenty years….and when I look at it all my senses are immediately awakened to that moment in time. 20200705_112656Another spontaneous watercolour/gouache sketch from the Canal tow path with shafts of light seeming to envelop the Valley. 39887021_10156586330645396_9141085084848226304_n

I have many happy memories of tutoring for the Brecknock Arts Society.    On one occasion – one of my groups met in Brecon with a plan to walk the tow path to Llangattock, stopping every fifteen minutes and then sketching for another fifteen minutes.     The idea of this exercise was to loosen up, hone observation skills and nurture spontaneity.         Although a long day – it worked and I remember it very fondly.

I would suggest that people start their day this way.   Don’t get stuck in one spot.   Remember to look in every direction, including up and down.       We are recording thoughts ideas and observations….and to do that effectively we need to be open to all that surrounds us. monmouthshire-and-brecon 5I always enjoyed meeting and greeting people on their narrow boats..     Canal-Llangattock 2Along with the beautiful views – to our left, right, ahead and behind, all our other senses are fed.

During lock down we have all been reminded of how Mother Nature responds  when we look after her..……..I don’t think I have ever heard a better dawn chorus than the ones we have experienced this spring. 20200705_131837

Along with beautiful views, there are always surprises when walking in nature, including this Giant Redwood which somehow found its way to the tow path just beyond Llangatock.       It has now become a landmark. redwood

There is often an ethereal quality about the light as shown in this quick sketch .    It was a place where I often felt totally detached from what was going on in the wider world. 20200703_104547Birds and other wildlife are to be found…..and if you walk the canal every day you get to experience and know nature’s beautiful rhythms.

I will use this image as my ‘jumping off point’ today.   I like the abstract shapes it presents.     Heron CanalI am using a mix of purple and yellow ochre for the dark shadows.   With my usual large brush I block out the composition.    All the remaining whites are dry white paper. 20200707_111332I then add Winsor & Newton gold Green and a little Daniel Smith Undersea Green under the archway making sure to bring some of the same greens into the foreground – ensuring a sense of balance. 20200707_120759I am not looking for a realistic image..but rather a spontaneous impression.      I am constantly reminded that everything reflects upon everything else….all of life is interconnected. 

Using the same greens which are trees reflecting into the water, and a little burnt Sienna to suggest trees and that’s enough.    20200707_140321

After another very jolly pub lunch:)  later in the afternoon as we walk back to Crickhowell across the fields, the ever present Table Top (Crug Hywel) is bathed in a golden light.     40796539_10156617046710396_3228209612809306112_oAfter cleaning up we prepare for a trip to the Sugarloaf Vineyard – where we will sample Welsh wines and delicious food produced in Wales. .

Before that we will drop into the 14th century St. Edmund’s church which sits in the middle of Crickhowell to see two large panels I panels measure 12ft x 8ft.    This is not a very good photograph but you will see that many of the animals and birds represented in the panels come from my sketches and experience of living in Crickhowell.     I particularly wanted children to enjoy them.

The panels were inspired by the following passage from the Song of Solomon and my love of the place.

‘Arise my love and come with me for the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.   Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land’.   (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

During the ceremony when the panels were officially installed in 1995, the children of LLangattock Church in Wales Primary School read this poem  to me….a very moving moment.


And now we go to Sugarloaf Winery gratis my favourite taxi driver, Gareth…..

Sugarloaf Mountain Crickhowell – where we will be sampling Welsh wines. Unknownsugar loaf

Tomorrow morning after breakfast we visit  Tretower Court (approx one mile from Crickhowell).    A place steeped in history and atmosphere.

Lechyd da…….








Day two – VIRTUAL painting at River Usk Wales.

After a good nights sleep and a superb breakfast we are now ready to walk to the River Usk and spend the morning making quick sketches.

Remember to always carry a small sketch book so that you can take quick notes…

Quick sketches get our creative juices flowing….For those who have taken my courses you will know that I consider ‘warming up’ to be a very important part of the painting process.     These little sketches/notes open our eyes and hearts to the world around us. 

Tombow pen and watercolour wash – a gang of lambs…..20200706_114215Remember to keep things simple.    A small palette of watercolours, a couple of. brushes,  a Tombow pen, two or more containers for water.  (the river will provide all the water we need) and something to drink.

We will paint until one o’clock ish and then enjoy a pub lunch at the Bridge End Inn on this side of the river.     Photo-24-05-2017-13-05-56-e1501602224492The following pictures were taken on the Glen Usk Estate (about one mile from Crickhowell) where I was giving a workshop some years ago.   I have used one of the pics as a ‘jumping off point’ for a demo.

Children were frolicking in the river….it was quite lovely…and of course they were fascinated by the group painting. 20200706_111926One of my demonstrations that day was to express the joy and movement of the children.     This sketch was very fast (a few minutes) – trying to capture the essence of the moment.


In an ideal world it is best to do several spontaneous sketches….this helps us to understand what it is we are looking at and get beyond the obvious. 20200706_111847

It’s a good idea to take photographs, but only to use them as ‘jumping off points‘ not to copy them …….

People come to me to loosen up and bring spontaneity to their work.      To help achieve this I often suggest doing some physical exercises before painting.   It’s surprising how much it helps. 

This is the picture I am using for my ‘jumping off point‘ demo today.   I liked it because it emphasised the strong darks and lights – with very little detail. 20200706_111906

Mixing Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks (I don’t use black when working in watercolour) I throw on some juicy colour in all the shadow areas – leaving  DRY WHITE PAPER for my highlights.  

I indicate the dark shadows on the rocks using the same Prussian blue/burnt Sienna mix.

I then add some Winsor & Newton Green Gold plus Daniel Smith Undersea Green….into some of the dry white areas. allowing the paint to bleed and do its own magic.    (when using a transparent pigment like W & N Green Gold…a little paint goes a long way.)

One of the many things I love about watercolour is that it teaches us to ‘let go and get out of the driver’s seat’….When we do this magic happens. 

20200706_115807Here I have added some burnt Sienna around the rocks.   Any time I add a colour, I apply it to other areas of the picture to achieve a sense of  balance and harmony. 20200706_124059With a clean wet brush I blend some of the areas together.

I suggest that you put in your own figures – maybe others in the group who are posing on rocks in the middle of the river.?20200706_131311Like this sketch of Claudia Notalle – a dear friend from France who visited me shortly after I moved to Crickhowell.    The river was running very low that day and so I was able to catch her lying on a rock in the middle of the river, reading a book.

Rapid watercolour sketch. 20200706_113237Everywhere we walk we are surrounded with the magnificent landscape of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons which is why it’s so important to carry a little sketch book and pen to take notes .     The light and colours can change so rapidly,

There is much drama in the landscape here……Be spontaneous and use your imagination a well as recording what you see.     44935594_10156759117095396_1169890757184585728_o-3Wild Welsh hill ponies. – Tombow pen on a qouache ground with watercolour wash. 20200702_103056

After a day at the river and lunch in the pub and more sketching I am sure we are ready for tea and cake at the Courtroom Cafe located close to the war memorial.

It is run by a group of local farmer’s wives and all the food is home cooked.    They used to be in the Cheesepress..which is now Bookish – another place I will take you to later in the week.

When I used to have people for a meal these wonderful women would cook the food for me and put it in my dishes so it looked as if I had done the work!     I always ended up telling the truth:).   I visited them when I was in Crikchowell a year or so ago and was so pleased that they all remembered me……


Dinner at The Dragon this evening….and then everyone can walk home to their respective accommodations and collapse – or take a taxi if necessary……

Tomorrow morning we meet at the Dragon and then, along with other delights,  we will walk the beautiful Monmouthshire Brecon Canal...something I did every day when I lived there.

ps…..For those who like a good gin and tonic….make sure to ask for BRECON’s excellent.

Lechyd da……










Introduction for my VIRTUAL trip to beautiful WALES

In the Spring of 1993, I first set eyes on Crickhowell Wales,  a small market town that sits in the beautiful Usk Valley where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet.    I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to settle.

Crug Hywel (Also known as Table Mountain) an Iron Age hill fort overlooking the town of Crickhowell. 


First, some history about how I came to find, live and work in this magical place for twelve years.

Prior to 1993, I had been living and working in the United States for twenty-eight years.  From 1972 I had been happily married, raising my two children and establishing myself as a working artist.       However,  as we all know life can throw curve balls, and so when my marriage came to an end in 1987,  I made the decision to stay in the States until my two children were of an independent age and then return to the UK/Europe.

Between 1987 and 1993 along with getting heat and running water into my studio where I was also living  (a story unto itself) – I produced an enormous amount of work.    Numerous large corporate murals, several series of paintings, and continued to give workshops.

There were those who saw me struggling to survive and living in my studio who thought I had gone mad, but in fact I had gone sane….It was the beginning of a new journey – a major turning point.

The 17th century bridge crossing the River Usk leading into Crickhowell. Crickhowell

In 1992 my cousin Lyn Statham came to visit me in the States.     Knowing that I wanted to return to the UK/Europe, she suggested that I come to visit the family in a place called Crickhowell Wales. with a view to settling there…..and the rest is history.

I re-call vividly Lyn and her husband PJ picking me up at Heathrow Airport and then driving me to Wales.      As we left England and approached Wales my heart began to leap, and then as we drove over the 17th century bridge from Llangatock into the town of Crickhowell….I knew deep down in my gut that this was the place I wanted to be.

At that time Lyn, PJ and their two younger children, Andrew and Kara were living in the town of Crickhowell and my Aunt and Uncle (my father’s sister and husband) lived one mile from the town.     For the first time in a few years I felt as if I belonged and was part of a family again.   It was wonderful.

My uncle, cousin Lyn and a very happy me:) 199320200704_105256During this first visit, I fell in love with Bumble the family dog and through Bumble began to meet the people of Crickhowell.    Everyone knew Bumble:).       After I moved there  permanently, Bumble and I walked for miles every day…..

watercolour.- BumbleIMG_2648

Tom, Tasha and Bumble at Ty Gwyn 20200704_121438-2Tom, Kara and Tasha putting on a play in the garden at Ty Gwyn…next to a little mural I painted on one of the ancient walls.    Before tablets and I phones……20200704_105342Prior to 1993 I had never been much of a landscape painter, however the Usk Valley, and Brecon Beacons were to change all of that for me.    The stunning and dramatic shift of light moving over the the magnificent landscape was, and still is mesmerising


This quick sketch of part of the Crickhowell bridge is the first ever watercolour I painted in Wales.   I sat in Bull Pit Meadow next to the River Usk and felt as if I had died and gone to heaven:)

Note that in 1993 I was still signing my work ‘Janet C Reed’ (Reed being my married name)     After moving permanently to Crickhowell in 1994 I added my maiden name ‘Weight’ to my signature.

I remember the joy I felt when I. made this sketch.   l still have the original and the same brush I used that day. 20200701_161544Having fallen totally in love with Crickhowell and the surrounding area on that first visit,  I  returned to the States to make plans for a permanent move home.

I was forty-seven, my son twenty seven and my daughter about to enter University.

One of my first decisions was to stop driving.    In the States I always felt as if I had a car attached to my body.   In Crickhowell, I could walk everywhere…including to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.      Twenty-seven years later, I still do NOT drive.   I have continued to design my life so that I don’t need a car – and can honestly say I have never missed it.

Mist over the Brecon Beacons   BKFHY9_369503892_599400181-920x613

Not only could I walk to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker but I could also walk to about twelve pubs – all of which served food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.     How about that for convenience?

This is one of the many reasons Crickhowell and the surrounding area is perfect for walkers and artists.

There are many places to stay – from hotels, Pubs, to Air B’n Bs and self catering cottages, and the painting opportunities are endless.

The Dragon Hotel is a personal favourite of mine….and the breakfasts are amazing.   The Dragon will be our central meeting place during our VIRTUAL week. the-dragon-inn-crickhowell_221220091630184384

As far as transportation is concerned...Cardiff Airport is about an hour and a half away and of course there are trains from London and other parts of the country.      Abervavenny train staton is seven miles from Crickhowell.      Plus for those who do drive there are easy routes from around the UK.      Also there are some excellent taxi services and so for meals in outlying pubs – or airport pick ups –  no problem at all.

I am of course writing this after Covid which is why this trip is a VIRTUAL…..but hopefully it will give everyone a taster into what they can expect when we visit in reality.  

During the next few days, I will take you to different places in and around Crickhowell known for their historic interest and beauty – as well as excellent sketching opportunities.

We will sample the foods, wine and local spirits…..all of which can be purchased in Crickhowell’s delightful local shops.

Grenfell’s one of the many local shops – just across the road from the Dragon. 20200705_133138

One of the many Air B ‘n Bs in the surrounding area.   FB_IMG_1523948682803I couldn’t write about Wales without adding some sheep to the equation.

Tomboy pen, watercolour on a gouache ground. 20200702_095902

For those who joined me on the last two VIRTUAL trips – to Portugal and Amish country, USA..the format here will be similar.

Please feel free to make any comments on the blog and sketch along with me. 

We are meeting at 11.30 today at The Dragon Inn for lunch and whatever else floats your boat…..

This evening, after a walk around the town, we will eat at The Bear – a few hundred yards from the Dragon…..148298-Crickhowell

We meet again tomorrow at The Dragon and then sketch by the river….

Lechyd Da to one and all..






















MOMO the kitten in his new home.

Little MOMO in his new loving home. IMG-20200624-WA0011[7971412]

This little angel was left in a shoe box at the end of a friend’s driveway.     Whoever left him put some milk in a saucer next to the box ………MOMO  (his new name) is now in a very happy home where he is much loved.

He now has fans all over the world…including me:)

A reminder that next Monday 7th July I will be going on a VIRTUAL trip to Wales with lots of sketching….Please do join me. 



Confidence weakens when you are unable to decide what to do!

I once had someone say to me that ‘indecision will kill you’ – that was about 55 years ago. Since then I make decisions…and learn from them. Janet

My experience

Confidence weakens when you are unable to decide what to do. You look to others for your decision. Never think that what will happen if your decision is wrong? You will make a mistake once,then learn from it and become stronger. Making mistakes is better than not making a decision. This is the first condition to move towards betterment make yourself strong from within, learn to take decisions and do your work with full confidence

View original post

The pleasures of old fashioned correspondence……

Hummingbirds weaving unseen magic and energy  – watercolour56120192_10157111829470396_1016385752692424704_oDuring the last few days I have been going through many albums and files looking at old photographs and letters in preparation for my VIRTUAL trip to Wales which will begin on Monday 6th July. 

One file contains many letters from my dear friend Albert Willett – who sadly died in his late eighties about twenty years ago.

I first met Albert when he signed up for one of my courses in the States.    We didn’t hit it off initially.     Albert who was a large man in stature had been a leading scientist for DuPont and was used to getting his own way.      It didn’t matter what I said, he disputed it!:)


I even went so far as to alert a big art centre in Chester Country Pa to not allow him to sign up for my courses – (something I had not done before or since).      However, he slipped through the cracks and so when I arrived to start a new session with about twenty in attendance, there was Albert.

watercolour/gouache12240245_10153660498710396_1062230259067325046_oAs work commenced Albert began his usual telling everyone what to do and contradicting everything I said.      (I am chuckling to myself as I write this)  

Half way through the session, I stopped everything and told Albert that it was very clear I couldn’t teach him…and  perhaps it would be best if he left.

Well, you could have heard a pin drop – everyone in the studio was in a state of shock, including me.    Albert very slowly packed up all his supplies and left.

watercolour87583109_10158058998575396_700668135602126848_o-2Two weeks later I received a long apologetic letter from Albert – asking if I would join him for lunch at his home.      His late wife had been a very fine weaver and carver and he wanted to show me the studio and some of her work and apologise to me in person.

Never one to hold a grudge – I accepted. 


After that lunch we became good friends.        We enjoyed long interesting conversations/debates.           Along with preparing soup and home made bread for lunch he had the most beautiful dog called Bonnie.   As a lover of all animals seeing Bonnie every couple of weeks was well worth any disputes we had:)

Albert didn’t sign up for any more of my workshops…however during the years we knew one another he bought several paintings, and came to all my exhibitions and was supportive of everything I did.

watercolour/gouache87047088_10158036883860396_2938683530923737088_o    It will take a while to read all of his letters, which I am finding so much more interesting now than when he first sent them to me.       A little like the second reading of a good book.  

It was Albert who introduced me to the GASOC (Guardian Angel Society).     As he writes in one of his letters      “The GASOC rarely tell you what to do – they just arrange events, or point out pathways”.  and my experience has shown that this is so true.


It was Albert that taught me to always consider the ‘unseen energy’ that effects us in ways that we can never imagine.

It is because of Albert that I used the hummingbird as a symbol of the ‘unseen energy’ that surrounds us in the world we live. 

watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (71)How glad I am to have this file of letters – and the letters of so many other people who have played huge parts in my life.     

How beautiful it is to pick them up…smell the paper and be able to read them like a book. 



As stated earlier in this post.   I will begin. my VIRTUAL trip to Wales on Monday 6th July.

This is for anyone interested in learning about the area of Wales where I lived and worked for twelve years.     A place called Crickhowell which sits in the beautiful Usk Valley,  where the Brecon Beacons meet the Black Mountains..

It is free for anyone who would like to join in and sketch along, and will be posted here on this blog.


til then I hope that everyone can feel the magical energy of the hummingbirds surrounding them.

Janet 🙂






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.    

Saorge – southeastern France.  – watercolour.gouache20200606_122237

My daughter, Christie Reed, sent me this quote.

It definitely speaks to me and offers hope.


In July I will be going on a VIRTUAL painting trip to the place in Wales where I lived and worked for twelve years.     A place where the beautiful Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet.      A place filled with ancient towns, buildings and wisdom.     More about this in the next couple of weeks.

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

Janet 🙂







The Intangible healing of creativity –

“The creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”   Janet weight reed

My hummingbird imagery symbolises the unseen and intangible in our world.    Just because we can’t see or touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there or is having a profound effect on our lives.

20190218_111017The Aboriginals, Native Americans and many other indigenous peoples around the globe have a deep understanding of our spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to the land.       They believe all of life as it is today, human, animal, bird and fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships.       They understand fully the importance of land management towards our health and overall wellbeing. 

Crickhowell Wales – watercolour-  the continual flow of Mother Nature. 52905723_10157042659595396_8724979844233822208_oIt seems that many people today,  young and old from all sectors of society,  are experiencing physical and emotional illnesses and distress.         Given our fast pace of life and that so much of the world’s population is now plugged into technology of one kind or another, is it any wonder  that our collective senses are being deadened?

 In this fast watercolour sketch from Portugal last October, everything within the image is interconnected.    There are no starts and stops…no beginning and no ending, rather a continual flow.

20180930_125738Feeding our senses by spending time in the natural world, is healing.   However, like all good medicine, it needs to be enjoyed on a consistent basis.

Many have forgotten the simple pleasure of sitting beneath a tree and how restorative it is.    14435032_10154437102300396_4492475642371147944_oI have been listening to a radio programme about the power of the placebo…and how it has been shown time and time again to cause a sense of wellbeing even though the recipient is fully aware that they are taking a sugar pill.     This has everything to do with mind, body connection.

When we immerse ourselves into the creative flow, our minds are taken into what I call deep time.     A place that is totally different from our clock watching, rushing to the next appointment type of time.       An intangible sense of calmness and wellbeing ensues.   We return to what we were designed for – being part of nature and engaging our senses.

Portugese children on Armona Island playing with shells….20-11-15 - 1 (913)    Trying to exist in this brave new world and finding a space for creativity, in all its many forms….might for many sound impossible.

I have raised a family and worked all my life and like most people have lived through some very stressful times.      I have learned that if I simply stop….and give myself some soul food each day, I am immediately calmed and feel a sense of well being.    Soul food time enriches and supports everything else we need and have to do in life.

It costs nothing.   It doesn’t mean major life changes.     It simply means addressing the part of ourselves that is in desperate need for daily food and nurturing.

Brecon Beacons Wales 46361144_10156801851710396_7419123831345774592_o

From Buddhist Offerings….

‘We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual constant transformation and flux.      There is always the possibility of radical change.    Every moment – not just poetically or figuratively, but literally – every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all life’ 


Since I first wrote this post we have all experienced a radical change.  

The Coronavirus Pandemic has given us all, individually and collectively, time to re think our lives….and hopefully learn what is important and what isn’t.

Janet 🙂


‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ on BBC4 TV prompted me to post this…..

In light of the new BBC4 TV show entitled ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  which I viewed last night, I am re-posting a blog on the subject.

In early December, I was invited by my good friend and fellow artist, Maria Do Rosario Tavares (Miza to me) to give a painting demonstration for a group she is working with in Chester.    The subject, ‘life painting’  – one of my favourites.      It was only a two hour session, but a very good one.    The group and the model were lovely.

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 began each day with a two hour life session in my studio.       I hope to have that opportunity again one of these days.

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


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 block frees an artist to explore their work with more confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly hone observation skills. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models we also worked with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again 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. 


It’s exciting to see that ‘life drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that people who attend sessions regularly recognise that along with honing observation skills it is a wonderful form of meditation.

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.      Quite a few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we painted the hands and feet of models.   Excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Beginning in 1982 I began a series of works integrating the human form with the rock formations of Isle au Haut, Maine where I spent much time painting.     Thirty eight years later I am still working on this series.           

‘The moment people turn their backs on one another’. 6ft x 4ft oil on canvas. (1982)Painting of human figures in shades of brownFor those who would like to try life drawing – I suggest tuning into ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  BBC 4 TV—–a good way to get started. 

Happy painting