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Another excellent week at the School in Olhao Portugal…http://www.artinthealgarve.com

For those who have followed my blog they will have seen mention of the Faulty Towers element to the School in Olhao.       When I say this I mean it in a very positive way.    The School and all who work to keep it running are wonderful individuals and the whole place has an element of quirkiness to it…..Just one of the many reasons why it is perfect for  exploring the creative process and why I love to return each year.

Here are  Larry and Margaret in one of the courtyards looking through to Pauline in another…..20190421_123852    This year a couple more events added to the Faulty Towers element    The narrow alleys around the School had been dug up for utility maintenance, plus for our first two days and then last day, the now sandy lanes were inundated with rain.      Regardless, it didn’t seem to deter anyone from having a good time with much laughter.

A lovely picture of Mitsuyo as we waited for Nuno boat driver to pick us up. 20190419_101419In total we numbered thirteen…however, in this group picture taken in the studio on the last evening, we are missing three of our company – Elizabeth who unfortunately became ill early on, and then Inara from Norway and her daughter Eva from Latvia who had to leave a little earlier because of flights.       IMG-20190428-WA0000Inara from Norway produced some beautiful work.    This quick study of me teaching is superb,20190423_113931And this lovely piece from Eva – who lives in Latvia…..This was a totally new experience for her. 

20190423_115753Another different element to this year was the addition of tutor Dora Keogh.    Dora and her husband John are Canadians who also have a home in Olhao…Dora joined us for all the painting and some of the messing around stuff as well:)       I really enjoyed this, and hope that we are able to work together again.

After a full on week with us, Dora went on to teach her group….who I was fortunate enough to meet.

Dora sketching, 20190423_145539As is often the case, by the fourth day, people are getting into a flow.         This gem was painted by Jayanthi…..and is a clear example of what happens when a flow is achieved. IMG-0501These two beauties came from Mitsuyo’s brush.      Mitsuyo and Larry live in Kaikoura New Zealand.        During one evening Larry showed some slides of this beautiful part of the world, plus some of Mitzuyo’s magnificent jewellery. 20190423_120224It is important to remember that my courses are all about loosening up and letting go of preconceived notions.      I can say that everyone stepped up to the challenge. 

A completely different experience was to enjoy Celia’s and Oswald’s ceramics studio 4Elementos Ceramica & Azulejo in the middle of Olhao.      Our group and all the other groups coming to the School this year will make individual tiles to line the walls of the downstairs loo at the School……A fun idea that was enjoyed by everyone. 

20190420_111958Celia explaining to us how the colour of the glazes aren’t necessarily what they appear to be!IMG_5035The tiles produced by some of my group……what fun. 20190422_182605Demonstrating a loosening up exercise working from a colour ground. IMG_5135Boat driver Nuno taking us to Armona Island.     Note to the left is his beautiful dog who is always there to greet us. 20190419_102133One of many fine meals….this one at the Beach Cafe on Armona….fresh grilled fish and vegetables….and lots of lovely fresh air. 20190419_141944On this day we ate at a really good Indian restaurant in one of the Alleys in the middle of old Olhao.     I am no connoisseur of Indian food but this was delicious and Jaynthi, who knows all about India said it was very good.    I look forward to returning there.     IMG-0440Love Moira’s quick sketch on Armona Island.     My photograph does not do it justiceIMG-20190427-WA0009-2It’s important to recognise that many of these artists are used to working in a much tighter way…..It’s always gratifying to me to see when the looseness starts to show.     IMG-20190427-WA0004

I believe that by PLAYING every day and allowing ourselves to loosen up we benefit our expressive work as well as our more considered paintings.       It’s also more difficult that one might initially think.     To get into the preverbal flow, it is both a technical, physical and emotional challenge.     A week at the School is an excellent way to begin this process.

A beauty from Dora..     Capturing the shadow play and light on the pool in the Pool House courtyard.

20190423_125701There are so many more paintings to show…..Please check Art in the Algarve FB page…plus my FB page, twitter and instagram.

I had to include three of the School’s children.     The twins belong to wonderful Joanna who does all the housekeeping,……wonderful to see them growing every year….20190420_083126Carlotta is Margarida’s youngest……Unfortunately I didn’t get any of Beatrice this time.

All part of the School’s quirkiness……and special charm. 20190423_130149And wonderful Dora inviting everyone for a beer…..This was the biggest beer container i have ever seen:)

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Focusing on the loosening up element.     This time I took a roll of white wall paper lining, which we pinned to the studio wall.     The perfect place to make marks, PLAY and see what our brushes are capable of doing.

Making marks on wall paper lining……20190423_083506

Sketch books as always were key to this workshop.      We carried them with us everywhere we went……

I loved this from Eva. 20190423_094401Sketching at the Saturday market. 20190423_115913Famous for the storks that nest there every year, this little tree is right across from the Ceramics studio.    A great place to sit and sketch. 20-11-15 - 1 (491)

As always I want to thank Margarida and Joanna for all their tireless work…..and Camilla and the girls that added to the fun….plus the two Nunos…..:)      None of this would work without them.

Also a very special thanks to Margaret for having us all in fits of laughter  with her updated nursery rhymes during the last meal at the school.      I am sure they can be found on instagram.

Another sketchbook delight from the Saturday market. 20190423_115917

One more thing that made this week very special.     I met a lovely American couple on the plane from London to Faro.    Laura is a superb artist and her husband Marty, a doctor.     The day after we met they came to visit the school and brought with them their children and grandchildren.    How wonderful is that.    These are people I will definitely be keeping in touch with.

Keep painting, and remember ‘wet brush no paint’ – it can do wonders……….

A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

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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.

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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……”

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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

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

A Traditional English Christmas Cake story – sustaining life and enhancing international relations…….

The following is a true story about my Mother’s traditional English Christmas Cake…and how it saved my life and helped to sustain others….:and at the same time enhanced international relations………:)

In 1960 when I was 16 years old, my parents sent me to Holland for the summer.    Travelling by ferry and train,  I was to stay with friends who lived in the countryside outside of Eindhoven.

Before leaving my Mother made sure to pack some of her traditional Christmas Cake into my suitcase.     No matter where I went this always happened.   It was my Mother’s theory that if I got lost, or ran out of food, her cake would sustain me.

A traditional English Christmas Cake xmas cakeFor those who are not familiar with traditional English Christmas Cake – a little more information.

My Mother made the cake months before Christmas every year.    All manner of fruits and spices were mixed and liberally doused with brandy in order to preserve the cake.

During the several month standing process the cake would be fed with more alcohol during two week intervals…..then wrapped in a cheese cloth and put into a north facing pantry to settle.    Christmas-Cake-easyAbout two weeks before Christmas the cake would be covered in marzipan along with a  thick white icing resembling snow….and then Christmas decorations added.

Given that the cake was very rich….there was always quite a lot left over….plus my Mother would make two cakes at a time….leaving one un-iced, filled with booze, waiting for any natural or man made disasters to occur!5245504474_028169b808_zAfter a wonderful summer in Holland…swimming in canals with local children, riding bicycles around the countryside – stopping at farms where we were given the most delicious fresh cheese and milk straight from the cow, and of course sketching…..even back then I carried a sketch book with me.        Alas, it was time to return home.

This was the sort of canal we swam in…boys-in-canalI was put on a train heading towards the Ferry port at Calais France.       

I am not sure when I realised that something was wrong…..I suppose when I arrived in Germany!!

In those days it was quite normal for trains to split – one end going to one country and the other to another, and this is what had happened.    I got on the wrong end of the train.

This meant getting back on the right train, and then arriving at the Calais Ferry Terminal far too late to catch the ferry that my parents would be meeting me from at the Dover Ferry Terminal – which in turn meant a long wait.

And this is where Mother’s Traditional English Christmas Cake came into its own.

Calais France Ferry Terminal – just 29.4 miles from Dover UK. car-ferry-terminal-at-calais-france-BM6WAKWhen I arrived at the Calais Terminal I joined many other young people from all around Europe sitting on the floor waiting for ferries.

Remember this was many years before fast food, mobile phones, and of course the Euro Star train – everything was simple and basic.

I was hungry as were many of my fellow travellers.      I removed the tin containing Mother’s English Christmas Cake from my suit case and shared it with young people from around Europe.      The Christmas cake brought us together. 

Ferry docking at Dover Ferry Terminal   2464338180_d3b492f903_b    After docking at the Dover Ferry Terminal, I found a policeman waiting for me.      Clearly alerts had been sent out…..

The policeman took me and a young German boy I had befriended to the Dover Police Station.     There we were given a slap up breakfast while we waited for my parents to arrive.      I had assured the German boy that my parents would give him a lift to Canterbury and then he could hitch hike on to London.       The German boy and I kept in touch for many years.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Be Prepared and always carry extra food – especially traditional English Christmas Cake. 

(I was reminded of my story when recently a 100 year old fruit cake was found in Antarctica – perfectly preserved.     I rest my case. )

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I wish everyone a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and love…..and of course magical hummingbirds.    Janet

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September – new beginnings and a time of renewal.

‘Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that’.  From ‘Buddhist Offerings’ 

watercolour/gouache – Rays of sunlight as I walked through the woods1917262_186338425395_7900997_n

Moving from August into September has always meant new beginnings for me.        Along with the onset of cooler weather and visible changes in nature….there is also a perceptible change in mood.      Children go back to school and many return to work. The world around us becomes busier.    I am speaking from an English point of view.     For my friends living in the southern hemisphere….there are also new beginnings – for them Spring is arriving.

Those who follow this blog will be aware that I usually go to Portugal in April.    This year, I am also returning on 18th September for a workshop at the school in Olhao http://www.artinthealgarve.com      The School is one of my all time favourite venues – a wonderful places to explore the creative process.

Olhão Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)After working with a group for the first week, fellow artist and good friend Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com  arrives from South Dakota to give a course.     As always we take these opportunities to spend some time together.     I will also see another artist friend, Vickie Snaddon, who has a house not far from Olhao. It is Vickie who runs the beautiful lodge in Belize http://www.pookehilllodge.com     Needless to say, I am really looking forward to it.

Given that Olhao is part of the Ria Formosa National Park...beautiful wildlife abounds – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (226)watercolour

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Nesting storks on one of the local churches.    ImageI With its courtyards, communal areas and excellent studio space, plus shops, cafes, markets, Lagoon  all within a few minutes walk from the school – plus of course the wonderful Margarida and Joanna who take care of all our needs….what more could an anyone wish for.

The Pool House courtyard….I love all the levels, shapes and shadow play. P1150740The studio. P1150901The 150 year old Olive Tree that meanders from one of the courtyards up through the three levels of the school.   You can see the blue of the roof top pool through the tree. P1150724watercolour20180703_105444

Another exciting development this year is that I have been invited to exhibit five watercolours at the Chongqing Museum of Art, China.   This is part of a French/Chinese annual cultural exchange.    I was invited by French artist Claude Lesur  who organised an exhibition I had in France eleven years ago.   The opening in Chongqing will be on 17th November and next spring the exhibition will come to Paris.    I will write more about this after I return from Portugal.

The Art Gallery in Chongqing where the exhibition will be held. 

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20180702_121621This has been one of the best years I can remember.   I have visited places, friends and family I love and along the way enjoyed wonderful conversations and much laughter.   I am so grateful for this moment in time and that I have been able to focus on what is truly of value in my life.

The magical hummingbirds have been with me all the way……

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A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A wonderful week at the School in Olhao Portugal http://www.artintheargarve.com

‘Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties’.    Gail Sheehy

This watercolour was painted by Ginny, one of the group in Olhao Portugal last week. 20-11-15 - 1 (285)Throughout my years of painting and teaching, I have heard so often the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but who always seem to find that life gets in the way!

The School in Portugal is a place where we can immerse ourselves into the creative process.    Water colour warm up exercises at the beginning of each session, along with sketch books enable us to let go of all the stuff we carry around in our day to day lives.   We are able to explore possibilities and take risks, not worrying about outcomes.

We were a harmonious group of twelve with two additions.    Geoff Levitus, an Australian artist http://www.geofflevitus.com, who is tutoring a group this week joined us for meals and conversation,  and during the final two days Keith, Ginny’s husband joined us.    Both brought a great deal to the week.   IMG_7071        We had lovely sunshine and warm temps for most of the week, plus one night of storms which made for interesting and very paintable skies, and one day of rain…..but did we let it deter us???….not at all!     I love this photograph of us on our way to the Saturday market:)    IMG_0603We spent a perfect day on Armona Island and as always was treated to a delicious lunch of fresh grilled fish and vegetables at Armona 4 restaurant.       sketchbooks were in full use.

Armona Island – 15 minute boat ride from Olhao.    11187445_10153252694165396_2243442094541078611_oAfter a delicious breakfast, thanks to Joanna, each day begins with demonstrations.    The group can then choose to paint in the School or around the town.    Some prefer to paint alone and others in a group.     Lunch is served at 1 p.m. and then we have a two hour free period.     We meet again at 4 p.m. when I give more demonstrations and the group continues to work until approx. 6.30.

Those who have followed my blog will know that I often refer to the School as having a touch of Faulty Towers.     One of our group Deborah had just returned from India and said she thought the School reminded her a little of The Marigold Hotel…..and she is right.     It is a perfect place to explore creativity, to let go and to laugh a lot.

From the top level of the School with pool overlooking the rooftops of old Olhao.     There is another pool in one of the downstairs courtyards. 20-11-15 - 1 (832)I find the School to be one of the best places to explore the creative process.    Set on many levels with all sorts of areas for private or group work – it is perfect.    Added to that is the wonderful family atmosphere provided by the team…….I love seeing Joanna and Margarida’s children growing year by year…..

Joanna, Margarida and Camilla…..A fantastic team21192388_1633115536721920_90386551072864859_nWatercolour, painted by Jayanthi showing a lovely sunny day in the park. IMG_6664We had some lovely and unexpected surprises.    Dora Keogh, another of the School’s tutors had an exhibition in the town.  http://www.dorakeogh.com      Dora’s work is excellent and we all enjoyed the evening.    30742261_10215513701455379_6786450564252172288_oAll Dora’s paintings were based on Olhao. 30707018_10215513696175247_1227137379840557056_oWe were also introduced to the Republic Community Centre – A beautiful old building with superb gallery space plus a bar and terrace and a really lovely large courtyard.       The paintings on display were of a high calibre….and it was much fun to meet more local artists who like many who attend the School come from around the world.

I like the shadow play of these trees against the yellow ochre/sienna walls in the courtyard at the Republic.     Definitely a place to paint next time. 20-11-15 - 1 (257)Minutes from the school is 4Elementos Ceramics & Azulejo – a shop and studio owned by artists Celia and Oswald.    They very kindly allow members of the group to paint in the charming patio behind the studio and over the years have become friends.

Celia in her studio….at 4Elementos Ceramics & Azulejo15822793_1458821127492187_3689521458487455520_nThe patio behind the studio at 4Elementos Ceramics and Azulejo20-11-15 - 1 (241)Given the techno charged fast pace of our lives today, it often seems that our collective senses are being deadened.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us with more and more frenetic activity, frustration levels grow.

When we take time to feed our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms,  miraculous changes can and do occur, leading to a sense of well being and fulfilment.

Looking down into one of the courtyards from my room 20-11-15 - 1 (120)watercolour by Olga20-11-15 - 1 (295)Our final day coincided with the Carnation Revolution celebrations….Here are some of the group celebrating the occasion. 20-11-15 - 1 (506)I can’t write a blog without mentioning the Magical Hummingbirds.    They were clearly with us all the way on this trip.      I enjoyed a really meaningful conversation on my way to the airport with, Peter, one of the visiting Australians and (this is a bit of an inside joke for those attending this week)   I had a beautiful little eleven month old girl sitting next to me on the plane.:)

Also, as a lovely blob of icing on the cake, I got to see my friend Vicki Snaddon who runs the lodge in Belize http://www.pookshilllodge.com      A magical place filled with hummingbirds.   I will  be seeing Vicki again in September.

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There are many more photographs of the groups work…which can be found on the facebook page of Art in the Algarve. 

I am off to Boston on Thursday morning and will be gone from here until June, at which point I will catch up with the blogs of all my friends.

OBSERVATON OBSERVATION OBSERVATION – and remember to carry a sketch book at all times. 

A bientot

Janet                                                   http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

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 

 

 

Time is free, but it is priceless……..

20-11-15 - 1 (248)“Time is free, but it is priceless.    You can’t own it, but you can use it.   You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.    Once you have lost it you can never get it back.”   Harvey Mackay.

Having just celebrated another birthday, I am only too aware of the rapid movement of time and how precious every moment is.

Flowers from an English country garden.   A beautiful moment in time. 27164812_10156033362095396_1542881300197917602_oWhen I sit observing Mother Nature’s bounty, I am reminded that all of life is fragile and temporary.    A flower in full bloom reminds me that beauty is a fleeting and enjoyable event,  however it is the full evolution of a plant that teaches us so much more.

watercolour27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_oAs Charles Darwin said – ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent – it is the one that is most adaptable to change’

This is possibly one of the many reasons that I am so attracted to the hummingbird.   The Hummingbird goes into a deep torpor during the cold nights – a death like sleep where the little creature lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%.      As the warm sun rises, so does the metabolic rate of the hummingbird.    The tiny bird awakens from this state with enough energy reserves to see it through the first feedings of the morning.      The hummingbird’s circadian clock triggers its time of arousal, one or two hours before dawn.

watercolour/gouache16463495_10154868634630396_3944780471682145171_oCircadian rhythms are found in human beings and most living things, responding primarily to light and darkness in the environment.       However in today’s 24/7 techno charged world where time zones are crossed without even a thought and light pollution prevails around major cities,  we humans seem to have lost track of the natural rhythms of life.     Our time clocks are out of alignment .

watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (268)Is it any wonder then, that so many are feeling stress and an inability to slow down and relax?    Is it any wonder that many young children who are glued to screens, often in their bedrooms, never feel at rest?

Potting plants in a Somerset garden20-11-15 - 1 (1101) From Marcus Aurelius – ‘Time is a river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.’

All of which convinces me how important it is to make the very best of every moment we have, because once that moments gone, it will never return.

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A Bientôt                           http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk