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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.

Happy Thanksgiving……

I saw this mural in Ipswich, Massachusetts a few years ago…It tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.      In front of the  mural stands my niece, daughter and mini niece…a very happy memory. 13603834_10154207083495396_5242055752857820943_oI Lived in the States from 1966 til 1993 when I enjoyed many a happy Thanksgiving celebration.      I always look upon this holiday with great affection.

I came across this example of Mother Nature’s magnificent bounty when visiting a friend in Haye on Wye.        20-11-15 - 1 (1120)We are reminded today to be thankful for each moment and grateful for all our blessings.

I have just had a beautiful time away for which I am so grateful.    To spend time with good friends is one of life’s greatest joys.

May everyone be surrounded with magical hummingbirds this day.   – watercolour

15129403_10154629951660396_7254253705154814862_oA Bientôt.

Turning the corner…..with magical hummingbirds

After a week of flu like symptoms, I can feel that I have turned the corner.    In a couple of days I I should be back to my normal, energetic self……of course with the help of the Magical Hummingbirds:) 

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As I said in my  post at the beginning of last week….I have been blessed for much of my life with very good health, and so am acutely aware of the changes that happen both physically and mentally when things are not quite right.

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It’s as if my world of colour diminishes.

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However, as the corner is turned, the colour becomes brighter and the desire to spread some of that colour around with brush and paint ever stronger…..Yes:)

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Most importantly I am reminded of just how fortunate I am.

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And to never take good health and all that accompanies it for granted….

Have a day filled with colour and magical hummingbirds.

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A Bientôt

We must not forget our ties to nature….

‘In the past all of life was based on trees.   Their flowers gave us nourishment, their leaves and fibres clothed us and provided us with shelter.   

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We took refuge on their branches for protection from wild animals.   We used wood for heat, and for canes to bear our weight when we grew old. 

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and to make weapons to defend ourselves…….

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We were very close to trees.

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Today, surrounded by sophisticated machinery and high-performance computers in our ultra-modern offices, it is easy to forget our ties with nature……The 14th Dalai Lama. 

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Enjoy the Magical Hummingbirds today.

 

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A  Bientôt

Magical Hummingbirds for Friday….

Some Magical Hummingbirds for Friday and the weekend ahead.

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Hummingbirds symbolise the link between heaven and earth….

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Joy and Beauty

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They remind us to drink from the nectar of life.

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And to float free of time.

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A Bientôt

Landscape exercise using gouache.

I visited my old school friends Mick and Gail last weekend in Kent, and although quite warm there was a feel of change in the air, and indeed this week all of a sudden autumn is definitely with  us.

I love the subtle change in colour as one season moves to the next, which I recorded in this landscape exercise.

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I began by using an old sketch.    Remember this is an excellent way to warm up.   There’s a sense of freedom about working on paper that has already been used.

This was the old sketch, which I turned upside down.   I will use this sketch as I would a colour ground…

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I am using Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache for this exercise.    Gouache is opaque which means it can cover strong colours.       With a wet brush I add some Permanent white, and allow the colour underneath to be picked up and mixed with it.

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I am working the sky area in an energetic manner – again allowing the colour on the original sketch to blend into the white……

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Note the suggestion of blue hills on the right of picture and how I have lightened the sky above the hills and horizon line.

I then add light green and naples yellow into the foreground, and while the paint is wet, indicate dark trees and hedgerows.     There is no detail….it’s an impression, and I am working very quickly.

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Given that the sky reflects upon the land, I have taken some of the Naples Yellow into the sky so that the two elements of the picture, sky and land are interconnected.

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Final image.

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Regardless of my subject matter, or where I am painting, Magical Hummingbirds are always with me.    HummingbirdHQ.com

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Have a lovely weekend.

 

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A Bientôt

A Blast from the Past – self portrait

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This painting is a blast from the past….a self portrait painted in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio – circa 1986.

And of course a Magical Hummingbird:)  Have a lovely weekend.

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A Bientôt –

 

Nothing is fixed….2

‘For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed.     The earth is always shifting, the sea does not cease to grind down rock.    Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.    The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us.    The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out…..’

James Baldwin (1924-1987) A vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and ’60s.

Mother and Child

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The awesome beauty of Earth from space.

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The beauty of the natural world

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A Bientôt

Observing the Human Form

September is always the beginning of a new work year for me.   A time to re-evaluate.

I was fortunate enough to go to art college in the early sixties when life/figure drawing was a key element.     In fact, there  is no better way to hone observational skills than to work from either a nude or draped model.

It’s good to see that this traditional way of training the artist’s eye is back in vogue.    I see that life groups are springing up all over the place.

Note that in this watercolour, I am again using the same techniques as shown in my tutorials.     By applying juicy paint into the negative space surround the model…..the model is revealed.     All the white you see in this image is dry white paper.    

Twenty minute watercolour from Boathouse Studio series.   

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In an ideal world, I would work from a life model at the beginning of each day.     As I have mentioned many times before on this blog, artists are no different than dancers, athletes or musicians…..we need to warm up….and the most integral part of warming up is to hone observational skills on a daily basis. 

In a life drawing/painting session it is the norm to begin with a series of very fast one to 5 minutes sketches.      When I tutor life painting sessions, I suggest that people use newspaper for the very fast sketches.    As mentioned before, this frees people up to make rapids marks without the fear of messing up good paper.    Consequently, this is often when the best work is done.     

It is during these fast sketches that we begin to observer the model’s form, and equally as important the space surrounding the model, (negative space.)      By observing and sketching the human form we hone all our basic skills.

In this fast fell tip pen and watercolour sketch, I have left the space surrounding the model (negative space) as dry white paper.    

In these sketches it is my goal to capture the gesture and essence of my subject.    Once again, less is more comes into play.     We don’t have to fill in all the spaces, the viewer’s eye will do that.

Twenty minute watercolour from the Boathouse Studio series. 

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For those who are concerned about their drawing skills, here’s something to think about.     None of us came into the world able to write our own signature.    We had to learn how to do this……and it is exactly the same with drawing the human form or anything else. Remember the fifteen minute a day exercise….This quote from the book Buddhist Offerings, says it so beautifully……

Do not take lightly small, good deeds, believing that they can hardly help.    For drops of water, one by one, in time can fill a giant pot.

A Bientôt

 

 

Beware of the Chattering Monkeys

I was fortunate to go to art college in the early sixties where  the importance of figure drawing/painting was emphasised.    During the coming week, I will write more about this discipline and how it formed the foundation block for my creative life.

For today, this twenty minute watercolour portrait of a model painted at the Boathouse Studio demonstrates some of the same techniques that I have been showing in my tutorials.  

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All the white, is white paper.   I have used a mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue for the darks with hints of Cadmium Orange and a touch of violet. 

One of the key elements in preventing creatives from working on a consistent basis, are The Chattering Moneys. 

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Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our heads with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

They are the Yin to our Yang…..

I am sure just as you begin to paint, they are telling you that you don’t have time and that you can’t draw or paint anyway!

Ignore them. 

Just begin, and eventually they will go away……..

‘Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts.   What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future?   Remain in the simplicity of the present moment.      From the book Buddhist Offerings. 

A Bientôt