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It’s April which must mean Portugal :) – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

After the weekend I return to the School in Olhao, Portugal – hard to believe another year has past.      http://www.artinthealgarve.com

It’s always lovely to be reunited with the olive tree that meanders up through the internal courtyards all the way to the roof of the School – and given that sun and warm weather is forecast there will be lots of wonderful shadow play to observe and paint:)    After a long, wet, cold winter it will be wonderful….and oh the light, let’s not forget the light. 10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oI always look forward to being at the School – seeing Margarita and the rest of the team who make it feel like home, and being immersed in what I feel is one of the more conducive places to explore the creative process.      This year I am looking forward to it more than ever.

one of the exterior stairways in the School – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)One of the group sketching on Armona Island – 15 minute boat ride from the School. 20-11-15 - 1 (900)Quick sketch of fishing boats – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (63)The studio P1150901From top level of the School where the rooftops of old Olhao can be seen.  There is a small pool on the roof and another in one of the ground floor courtyards. P1150939Storks nesting top of one of the Olhao churches.       Olhao  part of the Ria Formosa National Park is a superb place for birders.    ImageOlhao is a working fishing town…. fish from the local marketImagesketching in the alley behind the School 20-11-15 - 1 (145) Playful hummingbirds to set the mood – watercolour. 

20-11-15 - 1 (38)Those who follow my blog will know that when I am away and painting, other than checking e mails, I have a holiday from blogging and social media…

After I return from Portugal I will have six days and then on 3rd May I fly to Boston.    I will post a blog before leaving.

A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk 

 

 

“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  

Meir's birds 2

“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 –

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

 

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 day at the School in Olhao Portugal

One of the group sketching on Armona Island…..20-11-15 - 1 (903)People who sign up for courses at the School in Olhao – http://www.artinthealgarve.com come for several reasons, – yes of course the possibility of sunshine and being with like minded people, but for most it is to explore the creative process.       All levels of ability and experience are welcome.

Those that attend my courses usually come to ‘loosen up’ and so today I am going to talk about the process I use to help people to do this.

After a delicious 8.30 breakfast….we gather in one of the courtyards or studio for our morning warm up.     “Like athletes and dancers, artists need to warm up every day. Playful exercises will  help to awaken the senses”. – Janet Weight Reed

I begin the day with one or two quick demonstrations….an example of one. 

20-11-15 - 1 (995)At this point it doesn’t matter what the subject is, the key is to open one’s eyes and begin to see so that we ready ourselves for the day’s sketching and painting.

A goal of mine is that each person take home with them one or two new tools/techniques.

Something as simple as learning what your brush can do is vital information.    Understanding how different papers re-act….and so on.     By allowing ourselves to play we learn these things.

A warm up exercise by one of the group……20-11-15 - 1 (1018)

I emphasise the use of sketch books throughout the week to record both images and notes.  

A warm up sketch by one of the group showing me giving a demonstration…love this 20-11-15 - 1 (999)After the morning warm up, each person then decides where they would like to sketch.    Some choose to stay within the School with its endless supply of inspiration….or to  go out into the surrounding alleyways and town…..all within a minute’s walk of the School.

For those who have never enjoyed plein air sketching, this can be somewhat daunting, but I find that once people take the leap…..they quickly learn to enjoy the experience.

A sketch by a member of the group who came for the first time last year and had never sketched before…….now she can’t stop….20-11-15 - 1 (1023)After plein air work some members of the group bring their sketches back to the studio setting where they continue to develop their work.

This lovely watercolour from Jayanthi was taken from one of her many sketches from the Saturday Market.18198393_1511394575560684_5675669900655837280_nThose who have followed my blog will know that I believe the creative process in its many forms is the key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and so the week in Olhao is not only learning about new tools and techniques, but also experiencing those moments of deep contentment and wellbeing that the creative process can bring.

From one of the groups sketch book 18157384_1504663029567172_1420997864278064881_nI believe that by loosening up we advance our observational skills.    Regardless of what kind of work we would like to develop,….the loosening up process will help you to reach your goal. 

It’s important to remember that when plein air sketching…technique comes secondary to observation.       Observation is not just about looking, it’s about seeing.     Therefore,  rapid impressions of the subject helps us to actually see what it is we are looking at…….then if we wish to refine a sketch…..so be it.

20-11-15 - 1 (930)After a morning of sketching – we then join together for lunch at 1 p.m.

Each tutor has their own way of doing things, but I always have a two hour free period after lunch.    Some like to take a siesta….others to go out and about around the Town – observing life….etc. but it seems to work work well.

At 4 p.m. we come together again in one of the courtyards where I give another demonstration.

Two of the group this year were Botanical artists…..and so loosening up for them was a totally different experience.     They both jumped in wholeheartedly….allowing themselves to break free from their normally, very beautiful and detailed work.       One of the loveliest compliments I received from one of the ‘Botanicals’ (as they were dubbed) was at the end of the course when she expressed how much she had gained from the loosening up process.

One of my afternoon demonstrations…using one of the group as a model 20-11-15 - 1 (993)We then work from 4 p.m. til 6 ish.

I am very aware of body clocks and rhythms and so do try to plan a day where people have time to renew and organise thoughts.

At 6 – 6.30 ish people freshen up and prepare for the evening meal….which is always filled with  much conversation,  – a vital part of the week.      Sometimes the meal is taken at the School….freshly cooked by the wonderful Margarida.….or we go to a local restaurant….again just minutes walk from the School.

Speaking of Margarida…..This year there was a new addition – Charlotte – sister to Beatrice.    Yes, last year, Margarida was pregnant

You can just see her bump in this large water colour demonstration I did last year. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)

Here she is with the beautiful Charlotte….A woman of many talents….20-11-15 - 1 (865)And….lovely Joanna, who does the housekeeping and makes our  breakfast every day,  brought the twins to see us….who have grown so  much.

The twins….part of the School tapestry….20-11-15 - 1 (866)I couldn’t possibly finish this post without sharing the beautiful portrait of  me drawn by six year old Beatrice….(sister to Charlotte)….I will always cherish this.

Me – by Beatrice. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)For more images of the group’s work you can go to Art in the Algarve on Facebook http://www.artinthealgarve.com

My choice to day is to Soar above all the madness with the magical hummingbirds….

 

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sigA Bientôt

Plein air painting – Time to Stand and Stare……

‘What is this life if,  full of care,  We have no time to stand and stare.    No time to stand beneath the boughs  And stare as long as sheep or cows…….’     from the poem ‘Leisure’ – by William Henry Davies. 

Plein Air painting affords us the opportunity to stand and stare.     As we observe the ever changing light, we become present to the sights,  sounds and smells that surround us.    After a while we become one with our subject and with that comes a sense of wellbeing.

Kent landscape – watercolour/gouache P1140440This post is to encourage those who might feel a little nervous of painting in public, to throw caution to the wind, and give it a go……..

Some tips:

1) Travel light.  –  A small sketch pad, one brush, sketching pen, a plastic cup for found water….i.e. river, stream, puddle, pub…..(Unless you are in the desert water is usually easy to find)

2)  A limited palette. –  I take seven colours….and could easily cut down to four.

2)   Some people prefer a sketching stool….I look for steps, walls, benches, rocks….

3)    Sun hat – (sunglasses distort colour)

4)    snack and water to drink.

5)    Optional – a camera to use as reference for future studio work.

Note that in this photograph I have found a table….(I was staying with good friends in Wales)    Also note the plastic bag on the table.    Normally for cosmetics it’s compact, has a zip and a handle, and makes for finding a brush or a tube of paint quick and easy.     Perfect for plein air sketching.

Overlooking the Usk Valley where the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park meet…..20160824_121557One of the watercolours I painted during that visit.   I plan to return again this year and do many more sketches there. 20-11-15 - 1 (267)It’s important to remember that when painting outside technique comes second to observing the essence of the subject.    The aim is to capture a sense of place…rather than every detail.

In this quick felt tip pen and watercolour sketch from Mas Cabardes S. W. France….I picked the essential components of the scene….capturing an idea of place.   20-11-15 - 1 (250)When I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache sketch, I was on the edge of a 4,000 ft cliff overlooking the white village of Zuheros, Andalucia, Spain,  with forests and olive groves going off into the distance.    It was very windy, and numerous lion eagles were flying overhead.   An extremely exhilarating moment.

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed with the visual feast set before you, and so again the key is to pick the essential components.   In this instance, I used blocks of colour…rather than any detail. 20-11-15 - 1 (36)From a pocket sized sketch book – Fishing boats on Armona Island, Portugal…..20-11-15 - 1 (63)

I remember this vividly.   I was in Portugal and the sun was setting over the hills….and I needed to capture the moment…and so again there is no detail whatsoever – just my feeling of what was happening.   watercolour. 11722205_10153408010935396_6808764412248363582_oI sketched this on a boat in Kinsale Harbour, County Cork Ireland.…and the colours were just like this…..Often when working in sketchbooks,  I join up the pages as you can see here. 10842265_10153035398130396_9042918393838052530_oAnother very happy moment.   I was with my dear friends Mariethe Salort (artist) and Bonnie Halsey Dutton (artist).    We were celebrating July 4th that day and sketched this village – Courrier-sur-Sein – not too far from Paris……watercolour/gouache.    I remember there were lots of little  boys who wanted to get in on the action. 🙂11834711_10153477485855396_4950983751547778998_oFrom a pocket sized sketch book off the coast of Akyaka, Turkey.     watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (768)

This final piece was painted in Monet’s Garden at Giverney.    My friend Mariethe Salort had arranged that we could paint in the gardens when all the visitors had gone.   It was such a wonderful summer’s evening and one I will never forget.     watercolour/gouache 10917160_10153020589015396_3953042147092516531_o-2

If you have not done anything like this before and are nervous to go it alone….there are groups you can join….or art associations that organise days of plein air painting for all levels, including beginners.     I can not recommend it enough…..

Of course I always surround myself with magical hummingbirds no matter where I am in the world…..and every now and then I am in places where they are the subject.   watercolour

p1170342

Happy sketching…..

A Bientôt

 

Portrait painting workshop……

Tomorrow I am giving a Portrait painting workshop.    My goals are to help the group to be playful, remove the fear that often arises when the words ‘portrait painting’ come up and to focus on capturing the essence of their subject.

I will begin the day with a watercolour demonstration using one of the participants as my model…and then encourage the group to make quick studies of one another.   As this will be part of the warming up process, newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining can be used….

Simplifying the subject as demonstrated in this quick study, helps the artist to begin to see what’s in front of them.      I often say that we can live with someone for thirty years but it’s not until you draw or paint a subject that you actually see them.

felt tip pen and a watercolour wash.20-11-15-1-750I highly recommend carrying a sketch book….This offers perfect opportunities to observe people and make quick studies.

During a lecture at an Adlarian Summer School, I made this quick sketch of Vincent.   I used a pen during the lecture and then applied wash afterwards.

pen and wash. 20-11-15-1-747In this study of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Wales – I wanted to capture the stern quality of her expression.

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen study   20-11-15-1-754Silvern was one of the actors I painted last year when in Nantes France.      I have to say that working with the group as they rehearsed for a production was one of the year’s highlights.    As actors they were naturally very expressive and wonderful to capture.

Note in this watercolour all the whites are dry white paper.

When giving a portrait workshop, I often see people struggling with one aspect of a face, i.e. the nose.    More and more paint is added, causing confusion to the painter and the portrait –   Often all that is needed is a shadow next to the nose – and voila.

watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (371)This young woman was enjoying some spring sunshine….note all white areas are dry white paper.    By adding the dark background, the profile is revealed.    I have used the same tone in the background as in the shadow areas of the face….Remember everything is interconnected.

watercolour19853_341904480395_7803458_nIn this alla prima  (painted in one session) oil sketch of my son when he was 26 years old (he’s now 50), note that the strong shadow on his neck reveals his chin…..The top lip is in shadow revealing the bottom lip….The dark in his hair frames and reveals the face. til-august-10-187I painted this oil sketch of Megan about 32 years ago when I was working on  a large portrait of her Mother in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.    After a sitting, Megan asked if I would paint her, and so I used the paint left on my palette capturing her in about twenty minutes.

rapid alla prima oil on canvas sketch P1150316A rapid sketch of Eli.    I love drawing/painting children.   The proportions are completely different.      It’s a case of ‘less is more’.

from one of my travelling sketch books.  – pen20-11-15-1-752I painted this spontaneous watercolour portrait of Margarida as a demonstration in Portugal last year.    At the time, Margarida was pregnant (I get to meet the new baby in April. 🙂       I used an elephant sized  sheet of paper.      I didn’t worry about the outcome but simply enjoyed the moment…which is something I highly recommend that others do.

Large, spontaneous watercolour of Margarida. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)And then there is the self portrait.

When models are scarce we always have ourselves.  I have painted several self portraits over the years, and find them to be illuminating – always learning something new about  myself.        This alla prima oil sketch was painted on January 3rd 2000 when I was living in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.    I loved that hat, and somewhere along the way have lost it…..ah well, I still have it in the painting.

alla prima oil on canvas. – self portrait. P1140993Happy painting.

A Bientôt

Peter Griffen and Denise Lithgow return to Art in the Algarve – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

I first met Australian artists Peter Griffen and Denise Lithgow two years ago when they made their debut at the School in Alhoa, Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com

They are much fun to be with, interesting and above all superb artists, and as you will see from their work, multi faceted.    Together they offer a very exciting workshop opportunity.    Dates for Olhao Portugal workshop – 24th til 31st May.

Denise and Peter prior to their workshop two years ago in Olhao….it was such a beautiful day P1170677One of Peter’s dynamic paintings – acrylic on canvas.   You can read and see more about Peter’s work at –     http://www.petergriffen.com              16602280_10207804664946650_393120165238367697_oDenise’s medium is Felt.       When I first saw her work, I was amazed at what Denise is able to create with the medium.    See more at    http://www.deniselithgow.com

Some of Denise’s felt vessels…..10958098_10153556116493835_9102219834970811781_n

“I believe that to make discoveries, risks must be taken:  the traveller must get lost.  A well planned journey can only lead to an already known destination”.   Peter Griffen.     

An example of Peter’s plein air painting – acrylic on paper.

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“My textile practice revolves around free flowing design and bright, vibrant colours.    This approach is dispersed into different areas including silk painting, dying fabrics, machine embroidery and felting”.

Denise modeling her art to wear.

543723_4537711129410_264464360_nWith years of teaching experience between them, along with numerous solo and group exhibitions plus awards and prizes….a workshop with Peter and Denise will be both illuminating, exciting and much fun…..

Peter and Denise in their Sydney, Australia studio. 

img_0144Again dates for the upcoming workshop are 24th til 31st May.     There are still places available, but I would book soon if you have an interest in joining  what I am quite sure will be a superb week.

For all information about booking and courses go to …http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Janet.