Tag Archives: formative years

“Every child is an artist………..” Picasso.

It was Picasso who said –

“Every child is an artist.   The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

In the midst of a rather gloomy train of thought with regards to Black Friday and the mad commercialism of the holiday season, a brilliant ray of light entered into my day – one that reminded me of Picasso’s words.  

Meir Rogers, a five year old artist from Chicago sent me one of his beautiful pictures and all of a sudden everything made sense.

In Meir’s painting we see the freshness, spontaneity, wonder and pure magic that the artwork of a child brings.     Thank you Meir 🙂

Birds by artist Meirs Rogers  

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“Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”   Dr. Seuss

When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

When we observe children at play we see them following the words of the great Dr. Seuss.    Filled with curiosity and playfulness they take in all that surrounds them and much more.

Sad to say that by the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Painting with children in Somerset, UK.    These children would be in their early twenties now.    They love to watch an artist paint….in this instance, I was painting Cristeve the Cat for them.   After I left them they painted their own version of Cristeve the Cat. 703984_10151335674775396_172685478_oIf we adults could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world appeared as a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.      We might see things in a much broader context than the one prescribed to us by our cultural experience.

Painting portraits with a group of children in France.     

til August 10 129As adults we forget how wonderful it is to play with colour….We are concerned about how we appear to others…..which often stifles the creative process.

In children we see a freedom of expression…..especially when a child is encouraged.    In Meir Roger’s case I happen to know that he receives great encouragement from his parents and grandparents.   I wish that this were true for all children.

Working with children in Brittany, France on a mural for their school.      I will always remember when the children sang me the song….’Red and Yellow and Pink and Blue………………. – a very special moment.      (these children would all be in their mid thirties today…..til August 10 126It saddens me greatly to hear a child chastised because they are making a mess, being silly or not behaving in a normal fashion.

Words such as these can stay with a child for the rest of their life and prevent them from experiencing the joy of creative expression.              Encouragement is key.

It’s OK to fail at being normal, whatever that is……When we observe children exploring their creative energies, we see other ways of seeing and being.    12314060_10153693416745396_9179756764978779361_nOver the years, I have collected a lot of children’s art….and have had many beautiful portraits painted of me by children from around the world.

As I observed six year old Beatrice focus with complete confidence on her artwork, it was a delight.   As is often the case when painting portraits…a very special connection is made.

A portrait of me by 6 year old Beatrice from Portugal. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)Painting water colour portraits of two very special young girls in Portugal 13076555_1162891533744325_7774473167615565835_nMy suggestion to children or adults as we approach the holiday season is to get paints and paper and make the creative process an important part of the festive season….and of course for every other season.      If you are not sure where to start…why not paint your own wrapping paper….now there’s a thought…..p-kids-hand-painting-owpMN8ZSw8-1And last but not least I leave you with a watercolour of  Cristeve the Cat and a magical hummingbird.    12238351_10153687926025396_2738025815690721220_oA bientot –

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Spontaneous watercolour/gouache exercise.

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When we are very young, we have no problem at all in throwing paint around.   In fact, we quickly learn how enjoyable it is to put colour and marks on a surface  – any surface.  🙂

An exercise capturing energy and movement 

20-11-15-1-675By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around the age of seven, the narrow definition our respective nurturing and culture have imposed upon us has begun to take hold.

We begin to be fearful of ‘making mistakes’ – of not fitting into our particular norm.

I began this exercise by working from a colour ground….you can pick any colour.   Make sure that a ground has had 24 hours or more to dry. 

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By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with, and confidence in, our inner creative energy.

Remember to move colour all around the image.    Changing one small fraction of an image changes the whole. 

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This spontaneous exercise is all about letting go of expectations and allowing ourselves  to be expressive and  PLAY.    Playing on newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining helps to alleviate the fear of messing up a good piece of paper…..and is a wonderful way to warm up before a day’s painting.

Because I am working rapidly and parts of the image are very wet, I am painting on a flat surface.   It’s important to allow the wet paint to do its own thing….all sorts of lovely surprises occur. 

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Be bold – make marks, enjoy colour and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings.      

Regardless of where you wish to take your creativity….this form of exercise will help.

To complete, I scrape out areas with a knife which reveals the underlying colour ground of  cadmium orange. 20-11-15-1-710Remember that the ‘creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing’. 

A Bientôt

Seeing differently

There are some who see a great deal and some who see very little in the same things’.  T.H. Huxley

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If we could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when our world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes, we could regain our natural curiosity and love of colour and form.  

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After the formative years, we begin to see the world through the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us.

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Our heads can be filled with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

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Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that most of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses have been deadened. 

Just as dancers and athletes exercise their limbs,  our eyes need to be exercised….so that we can begin to see the world around us in our own unique way. 

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The photographs in this post are of an old wooden table I used to do my water-colour painting on….Added to the wonderful paint stains are the lilies and their shadow play. 

‘I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive….’  Joseph Campbell. 

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

Tutorial 10: – Seeing Differently

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an apple?

It could be the iconic Apple Mac symbol…or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher:)

What The Apple Exercise demonstrates is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of different ways. 

Upside down and inside out…..

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If we were able to time travel back to our earliest formative years, from 1 to 3, when our world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form. 

If we are able to see the apple in many different ways, we will begin to see everything else differently. 

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A collage of apple exercise sketches. 

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This week along with a couple of watercolour demonstrations and more information about brushes and paper,   I will talk about the imagination, and how we can encourage it to blossom. 

Think left and think right and think low and think high.   Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.’   Dr. Seuss. 

A Bientôt

 

 

Tutorial 5. Warm up landscape.

In this short video, I am using the same techniques used in the Calla Lily tutorial.

This is a warm up exercise that I have used for many years. You end up with a little landscape painting, which again can be modified in many different ways, by changing the horizon line, adding some mountains, etc. The key is that it’s all about warming up and playing. By the way any colours can be used.

Before e mail, when I would send lots of snail mail around the world, I would paint these little landscapes on the envelopes. A great way to warm up, and the receivers always enjoyed.

For the sky area I am using – Winsor & Newton Cotman series, Turquoise and Dioxazine Violet.

Between the sky and land, Winsor & Newton Gold Green, and a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the foreground.

I use a knife or credit card to scrape out grasses in the foreground.

It’s important to note that I don’t use black in my watercolours. Rather I mix Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks. I would suggest that you play with swatches of this combination.

Note that I bring colour from the top of the painting into the foreground….because the sky naturally reflects upon the land. Everything reflects and everything is interconnected. This also helps to balance and bring harmony to the image.

This little story points out how our minds are conditioned by what we are taught, rather than what we actually see or experience.

When giving a workshop in Wales one beautiful sunny January morning, one of the participants painted a landscape he had seen on the way to the workshop. He explained that the fields in the landscape was actually blue, and then went onto say that as there are no blue fields in winter, he painted them brown……..

The fact was, the man had seen blue fields. He had seen the reflection of the clear blue sky onto the white frost covering the fields. Rather than believe what he actually observed, he instinctively chose to go with what he had been taught.

When we first enter the world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

Happy warming up and playing.

All these exercises can be found in my book The Apple Exercise. The book is available through the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt