USING TWO PIGMENTS – PRUSSIAN BLUE AND BURNT SIENNA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another bird sketch from the River Thames

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE CAN CHOOSE…………..

We can choose to be stuck in negative energy or we can choose to take a walk in the great outdoors – where we can breath fresh air and enjoy nature’s bounty. Doing this is pretty much guaranteed to change our mood and attitude.

watercolour/gouache – Brecon Monmouthshire canal

We can choose to turn off the constantly depressing and repetitive news or we can choose to put on some beautiful and uplifting music.

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We can choose to be a couch potato or not!

We can choose to smile:) at those we encounter or not

We can choose to say thank you or not……..

Listening to water running over a weir can be soothing and mood changing.

No matter what our circumstances we can make choices. There is no question that it is easier for some than others, but even the smallest choice can change our day and the way we feel.

As we enter spring….it is time to hone our observational skills and choose to delight in Mother Nature’s bounty and ignite our creative energy.

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

‘LIFE DRAWING’ – perfect for honing observational skills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy painting

Janet.

FEBRUARY FULL MOON – and CHILDHOOD INNOCENCE

In a world where so much is changing….we can look towards the moon for stability and understanding.

This little boy is the grandson of dear friends who I have known for most of my life. What we see here is a gentle moment in time.

I hope everyone enjoys a gentle moment today and that we all remember to smell the flowers and enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty.

janet 🙂

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.

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

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

A fraction of the work on display…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Watercolour I made last week of Madame Nottale

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

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

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

A Bientôt

Painting over old sketches.

I am often asked the question – When is a painting finished?   

This quote from Jidda Krishnamurti is my jumping off point for thoughts on this subject.

‘There is no end to education.   It is not that you read a book,  pass an examination and finish education.    The whole of life,  from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.’

The piano – rapid watercolour/gouacheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach painting we work on (including preliminary sketches and warm up exercises) is connected to all the work we have produced in the past and any work we will produce in the future…….Everything is interconnected.

Unlike many jobs where there is a clear beginning, middle and finish – a painting can take minutes, hours or years to complete…….and even when the painting is not being worked on – the seed of it’s idea is still sprouting information, even if at a subliminal level.

I painted a ground over an old watercolour to make this image…A great way to recycle old paintings that haven’t worked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomething to consider is that striving for perfection can sometimes cripple the creative process.

As artists we seek to attain technical prowess, however it’s important to remember that warming up,  playfulness and risk taking are all part of the exploration and creative processOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlways try to work on more than one image at a time.     This can prevent overworking the painting and producing mud, particularly when working with watercolour!

When the question is asked – ‘where do I go next with this painting?’  It is time to stop.   Move onto the next painting and  invariably at a later date the answer will be revealed to your initial question.     Paintings communicate with us if we allow enough space and time…….            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  When working on canvases….it is customary to turn paintings to the wall – sometimes for long periods.     This helps an artist to see the painting in a fresh light at a later date.    Any work produced in the interim feeds the artist with new information, which is often relevant to the original piece.          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARegardless of the end goal…rapid sketches in any medium, along with honing observational skills help an artist to focus the mind.

Many years ago, I gave a workshop in Wales where a group of us walked the Brecon/ Monmouthshire Canal for one day.      Every fifteen minutes we stopped and sketched for fifteen minutes.….Initially, this was daunting to some of the participants….however, by the end of the day…people were producing quick sketches, filled with information.

The point of this story is that sketches had to be finished within fifteen minutes – which again was an excellent way of focusing the mind and also removing the desire to achieve the ‘perfect’ sketch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we focus on the journey and not the destination – we are freed from restraints which might otherwise interfere with the creative flow.   The joy and learning will be  found in the doing, and answers will be revealed in their own good time.

Janet:)

Does Lockdown stifle or encourage creativity?

It’s been one year since the pandemic began and lockdown became a part of our lives….time enough to ask the question ‘Does lockdown stifle or encourage creativity’?

Birthday flowers given to me by a neighbour – perfect for my daily warm up exercise to get the creative juices flowing.

I believe the answer to this question ultimately lies in the attitude we bring to each day. This applies whether in lockdown or not.

Most importantly do we have a routine that works for us? Pre lockdown many might have had routines imposed upon them. Certain trains to catch, times to be at the office/school etc…but without those imposed routines, life is quite different.

A year ago, at the beginning of the first lockdown, I was very aware that many people were in what I call the ‘New Years resolution’ mode. Excitement reigned as people ordered all sorts of art supplies, knitting, and sewing kits, and of course cook books galore and indeed it seemed that many got stuck in.

We had beautiful weather during the first and second lockdowns…which allowed people to be creative with their gardens, balconies and windowsills. Generally speaking spirits seemed high as creativity blossomed throughout our communities. The little rainbows that began to appear in neighbourhood windows were uplifting…..and I am sure fun for the children to make, plus it helped them to feel that they were part of the bigger picture, and consequently making a difference.

Having posted tutorials on my blog for many years, I was delighted to see thousands of others doing the same, catering to all sorts of creative endeavours. Then there were the millions of people jumping on board the ZOOM experience, all of which seemed to be a great idea.

It gave me hope that through this pandemic experience – lives could be changed in many positive and lasting ways.

Working from home meant that families were able to spend more quality time together. Without long commutes people appeared to have more energy and zest. We were able to take time to hear the birds…..

I could see by mid summer that people were getting restless….I didn’t hear so many people talking about their new hobby or what they had just learned through an on-line seminar…I started to hear people say how bored they were and that all they wanted to do was get back to ‘normal’………….

TO ZOOM OR NOT TO ZOOM….

Even those who had taken on Zoom with great gusto….were beginning to say how tired they were of their screens and communicating with groups of people in little boxes. And then I began to hear people say – that they had so many ZOOM appointments that they didn’t have time for themselves or to pursue the hobby that they had begun to enjoy! Fragmentation was taking hold which is a big enemy of creativity.

In other words the wonderful new lessons we were starting to learn at the beginning of lockdown were being lost.

Summing up…I believe that lockdown has encouraged creativity for many people…..

However, as was the case pre-pandemic – we need to bring consistency, structure and most importantly routine into our lives so that we may benefit fully from this time. The attitude we bring to each day is vitally important.

Enjoying a creative endeavour during this period will not only bring a sense of fulfilment and tangible evidence of who we are, but will also be highly beneficial for physical and mental wellbeing.

Janet

A PERFECT PLANET on BBC 1. A must watch.

When I change one tiny section of a ten meter mural…everything is changed.    The rhythm, balance and composition.    The same is true for all of life.

Last night I watched the final episode of ‘A PERFECT PLANET’ on BBC 1.     Once again David Attenborough lays it on the line.    He has warned us over and over again about environmental problems….but this episode is all about US and how HUMAN DESTRUCTION is threatening our beautiful planet.  

It is a must watch. 

watercolour….demonstrating how everything reflects upon everything else. 

P1100748Today we find ourselves with many leaders who clearly have no understanding of interconnectedness, rhythm, harmony and balance, and it is these same leaders who are overseeing and governing our collective futures.      We wake each day alert to what new form of madness, they have imposed upon us!     

Meanwhile, our beautiful world becomes more and more unstable……

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So many feel a deep sense of frustration and loss.     How can we make a difference?   How can we help to bring some form of equilibrium back into our lives?    

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Given that our beautiful planet is out of sync – so are we.   Remember all things are interconnected and so when the planet feels pain, so do we. 

Through the creative process in all its many forms, we can begin to heal ourselves and consequently the planet. 

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By healing ourselves we heal all that we are connected to. 

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I found this on FB yesterday and think it speaks volumes.      Simple ways to make a difference.  

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A new tutorial coming up soon.

A Bientôt

Janet

How Creativity and a simple daily plan contribute to holistic wellbeing. Tutorial

Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit – the recognition that everything we do effects our state of well-being’.   

Through Mother Nature we see how all of life is interconnected. – watercolour27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_o

To change one fraction of a painting, – changes the whole painting.     This is true for life….to change one small part of ourselves, (positively or negatively), changes the whole. 

Adding 15 minutes of movement can change our whole day.  (running a marathon is not necessary)

Clearing the space in which we live, can clear our minds…

Without establishing simple routines, our need to be creative can be neglected. 

When we begin to address these simple needs we experience a sense of wellbeing. 

This watercolour exercise demonstrates that as we change one small portion of a painting, or ourselves, everything changes. 

  All the pure whites you see here are ‘dry white paper’.   I am sketching with brush and watercolour allowing some areas to bleed.    This is very quick…don’t overthink things – simply allow the paint to flow.    There is no right or wrong way to do this. 

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In this frame I have added a mix of burnt Sienna and prussian blue for the dark area at the bottom of the painting.         Using a knife I have scraped out some of the paint while it is still wet.    All the remaining white areas are ‘Dry White Paper’20-11-15-1-729As we make positive simple changes, stress is replaced with a calmness which supports the whole.     This is holistic well-being.    

Note I have moved the light and darker purples around the painting…in order to achieve a sense of rhythm and balance. 

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Make sure to begin with a simple daily plan.    

15 minutes of creative playfulness can change everything.

Enjoy the weekend. Janet 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The doorway became a metaphor for opening up creative expression. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope to see you all soon in beautiful Olhao. 

Janet. :)X