Tag Archives: drinking from the sweet nectar of life

Magical hummingbirds for Mary Oliver

The American poet and writer Mary Oliver (1935-2019)  died last week.    However her soul and spirit will live on in her beautiful and evocative words.


She asks her reader    

‘Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…..’  

20190115_094047She reminds us that material stuff clutters our lives.

“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things……”


We are reminded of the importance of giving time, power and energy to that which we love and feel passionately about.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”20190115_092149

“You do not have to be good.   You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.   You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…….”20190120_145359

In this poem she speaks of her intense love for Mother Nature and the smallest of birds flying among the scarlet flowers……..and that she cannot wait to be the hummingbird……26733700_567669383565711_6812376656265793633_n

Thank you Mary Oliver for showing us how to drink from the sweet nectar of life….like the magical hummingbirds.

20190117_095809A Bientot



Painting nudes in Chester, and my visit to Liverpool

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 made this rapid watercolour/gouache of David, the model.


Those who have followed my blog, probably equate me with hummingbird images, which of course is right:)   However, today I thought I would share with you just a tiny fraction of the nudes i have painted in the last few years.

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 and movement of my subject….

five minute watercolour study


I was fortunate to go to art school at the beginning of the sixties.   For the first year, we made charcoal drawings of nudes, almost exclusively.      I quickly learned what an important foundation block the observation of the human form is.

Twenty minute watercolour study…(all the white is dry white paper)

20-11-15-1-432In the late sixties, it was said that the ‘busts were thrown out of the studio windows’ and were replaced with a less formal mode of study.      Personally, I feel that if you have a strong foundation block – it frees an artist to explore with more self confidence….much as I believe, that ‘self discipline equals freedom’   

Ten minute study using one of my favourite models  


Along 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 nude painting session. 


It’s exciting to see that ‘life painting/drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that many people who attend life sessions recognise how relaxing it is…..in many ways it is a form of meditation.

twenty minute watercolour – 

20-11-15-1-48After the painting session, Miza and I returned to New Brighton a suburb of Liverpool.    Later, we took a tube train which ran beneath the River Mersey…..(it was not crowded !)  this took us into the centre of Liverpool….where we met fellow, blogger, artist, and all round amazing person, Dina Cuthbertson, and then my goodness did we have fun:)

Twenty minute portrait of Scarlett – during a life painting session. 


I left Liverpool knowing that I want to return.    The people were so very friendly and I hear more and more about the art scene there….excellent galleries, etc.

The magical hummingbirds were clearly with me during my quick but very sweet visit – always reminding me to drink from the sweet nectar of life…..


A Bientôt


For all magical hummingbird lovers…..

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Any comments would be greatly appreciated.




Unseen Magic….capturing movement in watercolour

In my workshop yesterday we talked about capturing movement using the medium of watercolour.      Magical hummingbirds are the perfect subject to demonstrate this.

The magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life….watercolour

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To capture movement, I need to experience it in my own mind and body…and then transport the feeling of energy to paper.

Often it is the very fast, spontaneous images which work best.

watercolour on a gouache ground….20-11-15 - 1 (53)

These rapid/spontaneous images take less than a minute to complete.     The idea is to transfer the feeling as rapidly as possible onto paper.


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My suggestion to artists who wish to produce a more representational/realistic image, is to warm up initially with these rapid sketches…..This will hone observational skills and have a positive impact on finished work.

watercolour – a medium perfect for capturing a moment or essence of my subject. 

20-11-15 - 1 (115)It’s also good to imagine the stillness of a hummingbird – a rare moment for we humans to see….but nevertheless part of this amazingly magical creature’s charm.

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I wish everyone a beautiful weekend….Janet:)

A Bientôt


Magical Hummingbirds for the weekend.

During the cold winter days and nights…..think pink…


and drink from the sweet nectar of life…..


Float free of time


And engage with beautiful colour….


Have a beautiful weekend, surrounded by Magical Hummingbirds and painted elephants:)


A Bientôt