Tag Archives: crickhowell wales

A very special trip to France. Viva la Difference………

Viva la Difference.       I have just visited two very different regions of France.    For the first half of the trip I stayed in an ancient hill village situated in the Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon region.     (I will write about this in my next blog)   20-11-15 - 1 (1315)For the second part of my trip I stayed in Ploeumeur – very close to Lorient in the Brittany Region.

In 1995 (two years after I returned to the UK/Europe from the United States) I had an exhibition in Brittany.    At that time I fell in love with the people and the wonderful traditions of the region.

My subject in the exhibition poster is a young girl named Solen.    I remember painting her when she visited Crickhowell, Wales– which brings forth another important connection.     Wales and Brittany are both of Celtic heritage.      Both places share a love of the arts, music and enjoy very strong traditions.

Note that in 1995, I was still signing my paintings  Janet Reed.   Shortly after this, I began to use my maiden name Weight Reed. 20-11-15 - 1 (1642)During this visit I stayed with my dear friend Elisabeth (Babeth), her lovely partner Erve and their beautiful little dog Nouchka:)    I first met Elisabeth when she visited Crickhowell, Wales in 1993 – the year I arrived there….and we have been good friends since.      Today she lives a minute’s walk from beautiful beaches…..and is very happy.

With multi talented Elisabeth on a windy beach in Brittany.    Elisabeth paints, makes music and is a wonderful cook. 20-11-15 - 1 (1584)And with Helene (Elisabeth’s sister-in-law) who I have also known for many years….such special friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1582)It was through the 1995 exhibition that I realised how much I enjoyed painting people in a rapid watercolour style.    I recognised that I captured through the portraits a moment in time…..and most importantly, I was able to connect with the people I met in a very special way. 

I first painted Vincent, one of Elisabeth’s children, when he was seven years old – today he is in his mid thirties.      This little portrait shows a moment in time – a moment in Vicent’s life. 20-11-15 - 1 (1566)And beautiful Maelle – Elisabeth’s daughter – seventeen years old when I painted this and now a mother of two children and living in Vancouver. 20-11-15 - 1 (1568)And dear Nicholas – who I saw on this visit (now in his mid thirties) and today resembling one of Cezanne’s self portraits.    As I spoke with Nicholas I could still see the little boy in him.20-11-15 - 1 (1567)I have so many lovely stories about the people I have painted in many different countries.    Often we don’t speak a common language, but painting like music becomes a Universal language – crossing all barriers.

A quick watercolour of Elisabeth as we enjoyed conversation….201820-11-15 - 1 (1572)Another of her partner Erve – musician and all round good man.  201820-11-15 - 1 (1571)Erve who is part of a Breton male choir ‘Les Gabiers d’Artimon’ –   playing the Binjou – a bagpipe type instrument20-11-15 - 1 (1588)Erve leading a group on an exercise programme in the sea very close to where he and Elisabeth live.        They do this no matter what the weather…20-11-15 - 1 (1517)One of the many beautiful beaches that go on for miles and miles….20-11-15 - 1 (1541)The Little Port of Doelan in Finistaire- where the French version of Doc Martin is filmed…..What a surprise that was !   Along with Nicole, a lovely friend of Elisabeth, we enjoyed a superb lunch and afterwards a walk along the cliffs. 20-11-15 - 1 (1621)In visiting this region I am reminded that England and France were once geographically joined.…which is why parts of SW England (Cornwall and Devon) resemble so much of Brittany.    Other than the fact that Brittany has better summers, the weather is also also similar.

And then there are the crepes – in every flavour imaginable….and they are delicious, as is all French food………20-11-15 - 1 (1525)During my forty five year career I have experienced moments when I wondered how could I continue….how could I go on?      This trip has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have lived the life I have – to have met so many wonderful people.    To live the life of an artist.

I must finish this post with darling little Nuouchka, who has definitely found a place in my heart. 20-11-15 - 1 (1561)And of course a magical hummingbird – or Colibri Magique.….they were with me all the way. 20-11-15 - 1 (766)Wishing one and all a beautiful day and weekend ahead.

A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Christmas story about a homeless little cat and how she found hope, trust and courage….

The subject of homelessness becomes more prevalent every day.     Whether one of the millions of stateless people roaming the earth, or people we encounter on the streets of our towns and cities – the problem looms ever greater.

I wrote and illustrated a children’s Christmas story 15 years ago entitled ‘Christeve the Cat Finds Her Home’.     Based on a true story, it focuses on the arrival of a little cat into my life on Christmas Eve 1996 when I was living in Crickhowell, Wales.   

I have been displaced a couple of times in my life, and know what it is to yearn for a home of my own.    In many ways this story is autobiographical.   It is filled with symbolism including of course the magical hummingbirds.

In the story the little cat was homeless and had been living in a tree across from my cottage.   I believed that she belonged to Mr. Pickford, one of my neighbours and so had not been concerned about her.

My neighbour, Mr. Pickford. 20-11-15 - 1 (1340)Here is the lonely little cat wishing she could live in a nice warm cottage like the one across from her tree. 20-11-15 - 1 (1330)“Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with magical hummingbirds weaving their love” this story takes place in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

The little cat looking over the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1339)During the long dark cold nights, every noise would give the little cat a fright, and sometimes she would cry.20-11-15 - 1 (1328)   One night when the winds began to roar and howl, the little cat had a visit from a wise old owl.    The wise owl told the little cat to be patient and trust.    To close her eyes and dream of magical hummingbirds.

Something inside of  her always knew that there was nothing to fear and that help was always near……..20-11-15 - 1 (1337)The little cat began to make friends with the birds and animals that lived beneath her tree.      After days of fun and play with her new friends the little cat would fall into a deep sleep and dream about finding a home of her own.

Some of the little cat’s new friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1336)One of her new friends, a red robin, told the little cat that she would never be alone because hummingbirds were always near, helping her to find a new home of her own. 20-11-15 - 1 (1325)One morning red robin and little cat woke to see that the Magical Town of Crickadoon was completely covered in snow.    everywhere the little cat looked, there was a special glow.20-11-15 - 1 (1335)Later that night when little cat was dreaming in her tree, a beautiful white hummingbird appeared.      White hummingbird told little cat that there was nothing to fear, and that after a terrible storm, all would be clear. 20-11-15 - 1 (1338)The next morning when the snow swirled and whirled and the winds roared and howled, the little cat felt so cold and alone was beginning to think that she would never find a home of her own.        20-11-15 - 1 (1334)In her dreams the little cat heard White Hummingbird say – “Don’t give into your fear, soon all will be clear. – Follow the light through the storm and there you will find your home, so cosy and warm”. 

As the little cat came closer to the only light she could see, she realised that it was shining from the cottage across from her tree.     As little cat reached the door and raised her paw she called out as loudly as could be…Meeeeeoooooowwwww, I am here, I am here…….

The door to the cottage across from her tree opened wide and there was Janet the Artist waiting inside. 20-11-15 - 1 (1333)Janet the Artist scooped up little cat with tenderness and love, and from high above the Magical Town of Crickadoon, hummingbirds of every colour were flying under the moon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1332)Janet the Artist named the little cat, Christeve the Cat because she had arrived on a very special Christmas Eve.

THE END

This is the actual cottage where Christeve the Cat and Janet the Artist lived together in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

30371_309193229185374_253873514_nChristeve the Cat settled into her new home and sitting on her favourite chair302846_309648909139806_918859733_nChristeve the Cat (on the left) with one of her friends sitting in her favourite place in the garden of her new home. til August 10 119http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk    http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts

A bientôt.

The colours of Autumn….

“Autumn’s the mellow time”      William Allingham

I am off to Wales and Somerset to be with good friends and of course take photographs and make watercolour sketches.     As usual I will take a break from technology during this period.

Back here around the 24th November.

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour22289730_10155714657220396_7484313288302574968_oMist over the Usk Valley – Wales – watercolour21731439_10155640296835396_1011210038349474506_oCrug Howell – Usk Valley Wales – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (1)view from Curlews – overlooking the Usk Valley Wales – watercolour21587193_10155634459635396_3638491708032799665_oBrecon Beacons Wales – watercolour/gouache22424479_10155722668785396_4972642561881605246_oI will of course travel with the Magical Hummingbirds….20-11-15 - 1 (772)

A Bientôt.

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

When life is manageable

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, which spans 185 million years of geological history.  – reminding me that we are but a blip in time and that ultimately Mother Nature rules!  watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1231)Given that I hadn’t been on the Isle of Wight since 1965, I decided to take a taxi from the Ryde ferry terminal to Bembridge where I was staying.      The taxi driver was lovely…a man who had moved to the Island from London thirty years ago.      As he pointed out, the Island works best for young families, people over sixty, and of course those who love to sail  – Cowes being a world class sailing arena.        His grown children have returned to London, a story I heard several times.     As he pointed out that despite a good internet connection, until the day a bridge or tunnel is built, connecting the Island with the mainland,  life as it is will probably continue.       (let’s hope they never build a tunnel or bridge…..)

After checking into my B & B I had planned on seeing my friend, artist and blogger, Sarah Vernon (First Night Design) however Sarah was taken into hospital on the day I arrived!       I am relieved and pleased to say that Sarah is now home, and will tell you all about her ordeal in her own words when she is more rested.   Get well soon Sarah.

Proving that there is a silver lining in most circumstances,  I did get to visit Sarah in Newport Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to take the beautiful and relaxing one and a half hour bus ride from Bembridge to Newport.

One of the photographs I took of Sandown from the top of the number 8 bus from Bembridge to Newport….it was a beautiful day.  20-11-15 - 1 (991)My overall first impressions were of a much slower pace of life,  of almost going back to how the UK was when I was growing up.    Everyone I encountered was extremely helpful, including the bus drivers.    People still queue.…and of course being a Brit I do like queues :).      There was no litter or graffiti….a sense of order prevailed.      In short it all felt very manageable.

It felt as if the Island has not outgrown its infrastructure.  Life appeared to be integrated rather than fragmented.    The opposite to feeling overwhelmed and isolated – which I believe is a huge problem for many in today’s society.  

Newport, the principal town of the Island, is often referred to as its capital.    Again very manageable, very easy to walk around…..I had a wonderful fish and chip lunch for £4!    Newport Hospital was just a short bust ride away from the town centre – everything felt easy.

Outside the Art Centre in Newport.    20-11-15 - 1 (1009)This visit was about getting a feel of the place.     Would I want to spend time there painting?    These are always my prime questions.     The answer is yes.    I would choose a village location with a bus route.    This would allow me to walk to shops/pubs etc, and with my London bus pass – free bus travel.     So it will definitely go on my list of places to explore and paint.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline. 1500-isleofwight-creditNTI returned to the mainland via the Cowes ferry to Southampton where I had the sudden realisation that the last time I was on Southampton dock was  January 28th 1966 when I took the United States Liner to New York!   Talk about deja vu.   My friend Suzy, whose office sits right on the dock then drove me to Dorset.

I stayed with art college friend Maureen….always very enjoyable.       Although I don’t do very well with cars (anyone who knows me will  be smiling at this:)  Maureen took me to Lulworth Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast- and I am so pleased she did.     The weather could not have been more perfect and most importantly it was  visual feast.

Three different views of Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Jurrasic Coast  Dorset….watercolours. 20-11-15 - 1 (1235)

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This image of Lulworth Cove is taken a half a mile away from where I painted Stair Hole….61029843I began this post with Thomas Merton’s quote about balance, order rhythm and harmony.…elements I believe we all need in our lives.

Along with Crickhowell Wales, Saorge and other locations in France, the isle of Wight goes on my list of places where these elements are still to be found.

I am constantly reminded as I paint the magical hummingbird of how we can learn from Mother Nature – be it on the minute scale of the hummingbird or the rugged and grand scale of the Jurrasic Coast.       It is at our peril that we lose sight of this.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life. – watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-358A Bientôt

 

A special visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon on my 10th Blog and FB anniversaries – they are connected.

My visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon….(AKA Crickhowell Wales) turned out to be particularly special.      It also happened to coincide with my 10th anniversary of blogging and involvement with social media.        I write about both these events together as they are connected…..

The view from my bedroom window on the first morning.       My first impression – a river of mist floating across the Usk Valley.       Magical, and even more so to observe the mist lifting, slowly revealing the beauty beneath.

20-11-15 - 1 (190)watercolour/gouache sketch – The Usk Valley where the Black Mountains meet the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (493)This visit was the first time since I left Crickhowell, twelve years ago, that I was able to completely relax and allow myself the joy of visiting old haunts and connecting with dear friends.

 

 

The 16th century bridge spanning the River Usk.      I have walked over this bridge so many times….and like the surrounding hills and landscape the colours and atmosphere constantly change.

80503814The market Town of Crickhowell has a population of approx 3,000.      It still has the butcher, baker and candlestick maker and much much more.     A manageable and vibrant community.

High Street Crickhowell 

Crickhowell-148295When I lived there in my little cottage on Mill Street I was able to walk everywhere, including to twelve (or was it thirteen) pubs? – all of which served good food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.      That is still the case.

This little watercolour sketch looking over the town up towards Brecon was painted shortly after I arrived in Crickhowell (1994) from the Castle Motte.   131500_307466586024705_32046251_oSo why you might ask did I leave.       In 1999 I began working on a project for children which used the power of art and colour to teach about environment, homelessness and many other social issues.      Had it been successful, it would have solved long term financial issues.    After what looked like a very promising beginning, in 2003 it was clear that the project was not going to work.    A very sad moment for me.

However – ‘None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..’

watercolour/gouache sketch20-11-15 - 1 (489)

This precipitated a move to London, my base for the past twelve years.       France was to be my next permanent move….but once again circumstances and personal responsibilities caused my plans to be changed.

 

From my sketch book on this trip…The light over the Brecon Beacons changes by the second. 20-11-15 - 1 (479)All of which brings me to ten years of blogging and social media…………

Ten years ago in the midst of this change, I had heard about blogs, but didn’t have a clue of what they were.    I knew nothing about social media, until my daughter suggested that I join something called Facebook.    My response  – Why not?

As it happens, my decision to get involved was a life saver.     Given that this period has been somewhat fragmented, blogging and social media have allowed me to continue working, and at the same time meet many new and interesting people.    I would recommend anyone who is going through a time of change and upheaval to use consistent blogging as a way to bring a sense of stability into life.

I also believe that had social media been in play when I began my project in 1999, things might have worked out differently.   No regrets – simply an observation.

Having a base in London has also been very good for my work and again I have met wonderful people….

Watercolour from sketch book. 20-11-15 - 1 (320)

However, I am now free of personal responsibilities and can move forward unencumbered, which is why my trip to Crickhowell this time around was so special.

I have no idea what the future will bring….I am one of those people that tries to live in the moment and take each day as it comes…..however, we do have to make plans, and it is my hope that I will now spend longer periods of time in places liked Crickhowell, Saorge France, Portugal etc.

As I continue to work and travel, I plan to do much more plein air work and of course record the people who I encounter along the way.

Ella sketching. – pen and wash

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I wish one and all a beautiful beginning of Autumn.

Magical hummingbird symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world.      

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A Biento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room With a View…….

Sometimes we visit a new place and feel as if we have known it all our lives….That’s what happened to me when I first visited Crickhowell, Wales in 1993, (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon), and once again this experience occurred when I visited Saorge, a commune located in the Alpes-Maritimes Department of south eastern France.

A sketch from the view to the right of my bedroom window……watercolour/gouache sketch20-11-15-1-558

20-11-15-1-656As I mentioned in my last post – ‘Following Life’s Clues’  – good friends from Wales have been renting a house in Saorge for the past year and suggested that I visit.    They felt that Saorge encompassed many elements of Marmite Heaven..……my place in the sun:)

The view from my window looking to the left…… Oh the glorious light….. 

20-11-15-1-667After being met at Nice airport by my friend Gareth, we drove up into the mountains along the Italian/French border into what is the magnificent landscape of the Roya Valley.   Being mindful that this was a very short trip, I had to gulp in the dramatic scenery.

As we approached Saorge – one of the ‘Perched Villages’ – it was clear to see how this place has survived the centuries.    Perfectly place to fend off enemies and also part of the ancient Salt Route – which fuelled one of the great economies of Europe.

The view looking down the Roya Valley from my room.   ( Note the train coming through the Valley.)     The roar of the Roya River beneath  is constantly present.     This is a place where all the senses are nourished.

20-11-15-1-580We arrived around  4 p.m. and immediately took a walk through the Village where no cars are allowed.   Parking is available at both ends of the Village.

One of the fascinating elements of Saorge is that on the one side of the Village the views are vast and majestic and then on the other side of the houses – you enter the medieval cobbled lanes which lend a sense of intimacy and protection.

The lane outside of the house where I was staying. 

20-11-15-1-542In the Marmite Heaven of my dreams, I will be removed from the madness of our 21st century world.    I will write every day and  paint a series of portraits recording the people living within the community.    Saorge certainly has a lot of wonderful characters to draw upon.

After a delicious Italian meal at Restaurant Lou Pountin just a minutes stroll away, Gareth and I were joined by his friend Simon.    As we sat on our high perch on the second floor of the house, listening to the Roya River way beneath us and looking out onto a seemingly vast open expanse, I observed how ‘detached’ I felt from everything,  and I was.       Wonderful

One of the views of the approach to Saorge.saorge

I will be writing more about my first visit to Saorge in the next couple of weeks, along with impressions of  the very lovely and interesting people I met, plus cats and dogs……       Also I will be making mention of Monastere de Soarge  which looks over the Village and Roya Valley.    Along with its fascinating history and intrinsic beauty, it is here writers and other creatives gather.

One of the many ancient arches, nooks and crannies in Saorge….watercolour/gouache

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Meanwhile, let it suffice to say that the magical hummingbirds were definitely with me….and just how much they were with me will be revealed in my next blog focusing on our visit to Notre Dame des Fontaines where we met beautiful Miriam, a direct connection to the world of hummingbirds, or in French – Colibris.…..

Soaring above all the madness like the magical hummingbird…..

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A bientôt

 

 

 

1st September – beginning of my new year………

1st September always signifies for me the beginning of a new year.     After a period of reflection during the slower summer period, September is when I start to get excited about my new work goals for the coming months.

I am pleased to report that the magical hummingbirds (tiny flying jewels)  are definitely in place this year….symbolising for me the unseen magic in our world.

watercolour

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Speaking of which, I have just had a very special time with my friends who live high up on a hill outside of The Magical Town of Crickadoon in Wales, overlooking the beautiful Usk Valley, where the Brecon Beacons meet the Black Mountains.

Watercolour painting – overlooking the Usk Valley

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Along with sketching, relaxing, eating superb food – and enjoying good conversation – I had time to reflect.

Early morning watercolour/gouache in my sketchbook….

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I left London, filled with it’s fast pace and noise on a very hot summer’s morning….and arrived in Wales to find cooler temperatures, sweet tasting air, and the sounds of Mother Nature……

The sounds of sheep in one of the fields beneath where I was staying…

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The ever changing landscape….is a joy and excellent for honing observational skills.       I remember when I first came to this area 23 years ago, I was mesmerised by the colours and constant changes in light.

The clarity of early morning light….   

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The atmospheric quality of misty evenings and mornings……

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And the beautiful sunsets…..

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To top it all the resident cat, Tarantino, who is now 18 years old, completes the picture.     He is so very sweet…..

watercolour/gouache sketch of Tarantino

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sketch of Tarantino sleeping….watercolour/gouache

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Although I need routines and rituals – (they give me the freedom to create)………more and more I am able to go with the flow of life.     I find that in doing so, I am can follow life’s clues more easily.        I tend not to miss those  little gems of information – and moments of deep intuition.       

My friends and I talked about time and the fast pace of 21st century life.    Sally then said something  which I found to be quite profound.     “We do things because we can”….We get in cars and drive long distances simply because we can.   We are able to keep in constant contact with one another through new technology…simply because we can….. 

Of course,  just because we can, doesn’t mean that we necessarily have to do it!:)     Which means that discernment is ever more key to sane living.

Watercolour from my May visit to Wales. 

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I realise more and more that no matter how much we mere mortals try, we can’t control the timing of things….We can make plans, but in doing so we have no idea what other plans are being made around and beyond us.      None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………’

Always reminding me to stay in the present moment like the magical hummingbird.

watercolour

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A Bientôt