Tag Archives: isle au haut maine

Don’t judge a book by its cover……

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover….’

Much like a book cover, all too often we form opinions about someone or their work based on very little information – usually brief meetings, or in the case of visual artists, one painting, exhibition or gallery representation.

In this post, still thinking about how social media has, and continues to play an important part in my life….I want to address the difficulties of being pigeon holed as an artist.         This can happen on the back of one painting, exhibition or gallery representation as well as other people’s assumptions of who you are.

This large oil on canvas (circa 1982) depicts the moment that people turn their backs on one another….(Part of a large series of paintings)Featured Image -- 19828

Making a living as an artist is not easy.     It takes tenacity, courage and a great deal of creativity.     As I look back on my nearly fifty year career I can see that my journey has been eventful, exciting, sometimes desperate, but throughout there has always been the knowledge that I was following the right path.

Despite the difficulties and disappointments along the way, I have, and continue to experience great joy as an artist and will forever be grateful to have chosen this path.

Large oil on canvas (circa 1990) depicting what was one of the most important turning points in my life and career. 

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By the time I painted this self portrait (circa 1990) – I had already learned that to make my way as an artist I would need to adapt to unusual situations and trust in my intuition.    By 1990, sadly my marriage was dissolved and I was left with no money or support.

Refusing to give up my life as an artist, I listened to my intuition and chose to live and work in my West Chester, Pennsylvania, studio, which at that time had no heat or running water.     I learned so much about myself during this period.

Along with giving workshops at the Chester County Arts Association, I began working with Bonnie Paul, a well established art consultant.       Bonnie provided the art work for large corporate entities….and through her I received many commissions.

Part of the studio in West Chester Pa., on Prescott Alley.   By this time I had heat and running water in the building.    

The large still life painting  you can see through the opening was part of a series of work that sold well and paid for renovations, etc.     Scan 74 

What I haven’t mentioned is that I began my career as a ‘wildlife painter’ – and so when I was commissioned to make a fund raising poster for the Philadelphia Zoo of course I jumped at it.    Proceeds from the poster were to contribute towards a new big cat area at the zoo.

Another way to make income and remember this is all before Social media…..

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In 1993, I returned home to the UK and moved to Crickhowell, Wales (the Magical Town of Crickadoon)  where I stayed with my cousin Lyn and her family.    Through Lyn and PJ’s design company, I continued to paint murals and at the same time give workshops. and exhibit. 

I took this photograph last weekend when visiting my cousin Lyn in Cardiff.   Here is Lyn standing in front of a large oil on canvas portrait I painted of. her in 1994. 

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It was during my twelve years in Crickhowell, that I was introduced to the internet.   It was still prior to social media, digital phones/cameras etc….but seeds were being sown and something about it appealed to me. 

It’s important to note that I only use social media to view other artists work and to show my own….I don’t use if for much else, which is why I still probably enjoy it. 

Social media allowed me to show hummingbirds, and all sorts of other work.   Many of my friends on both sides of the Atlantic have noted that social media joined up all the dots…..   In short it got me out of the pigeon hole syndrome…..

Detail from large mural…where I first began to incorporate the hummingbird symbolising the unseen magic in our world.  (circa 1989)30073021_10156254550480396_5015561812048311931_o

This past weekend, I filmed my first web cam demo.   Hopefully within a week or so it will be edited so that I can share with you all.    Another way that social media helps we artists.

For now I wish you all well and send a magical hummingbird.

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A bientôt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no lines around Mother Nature….

Large oil on canvas…6′ x 4′ – Interconnections20-11-15-1-16Every now and then people send me images of paintings or sketches which I have long forgotten.      This week a friend posted a sketch (apparently she found it on the back of another painting) which immediately took me to a point in time that has continued to have a huge influence on my work.

This was the sketch……..One of many initial ‘rock and nude’ sketches from the early eighties. 

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For those who have followed my blog for a while, they might remember other posts about this period, however the unearthing of this sketch has prompted me to tell the story of how the series came about and more importantly why it continues to influence my work and thinking today.

In 1981/82 – I was invited to paint on Isle au Haut, a rugged island (about the size of Manhattan Island, New York) part of Acadia National Park, Maine.      At that time other than a few lobster fishermen, for the most part the Island was uninhabited.   There was a depot where basic provisions could be bought.    Blueberries, clams  and other natural delights could be foraged and the fisherman were always happy to sell some of their catch.

I took this photograph from the Internet as in 1981 we didn’t take a camera…everything was recorded with brush and paints.  

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Boom Beach.      Ecologically speaking this is a very young Island….there is a sense of rawness….which I loved.

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Initially, I was interested in painting the rocks….and indeed made countless watercolour sketches.      After returning to the mainland, It was from these sketches that I painted large canvases.

One of the first Rock paintings – large oil on canvas.   I believe this painting is in Colorado.  Note that it was signed before I began to use my maiden name as part of my signature (Weight Reed)

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As I observed and explored the Island, the deep understanding came to me that  ‘there are no lines around Mother Nature – Everything is fluid’        All of life is interconnected.   

I  believe it is because we have ignored this basic principle that our world is in such a mess today…..!

The more I observed, I saw human form within the rock formations, which lead me to begin a large series of work where I consciously integrated the two elements.     (My header painting was the first in that series, and I am glad to say it is now with me in London)

Another in the series….large canvas. 

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Over the years, I have travelled a great deal and lived in different places.   I have had big studios, and small studios….which often account for my working in one medium or another.     In other words a big studio usually equals large canvases….smaller studios mean paper pieces….and when I am travelling and painting…watercolour is a much easier medium to manage.

Currently I am living and working in a relatively small space in London which is a good base to travel from and at the same time oversee the care of my 95 year old Mother who is in a nursing home close by.        However, should that change I plan to spend much more time in France, and other parts of Europe, and ultimately develop a studio in Marmite Heaven.…(more about that in another blog)

One might ask – how the magical hummingbirds are influenced by this period?    

Hummingbirds are a constant reminder of the wonders and fluid nature of all life.  watercolour/gouache

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A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The creative process is all about experimenting…….

‘The creative process is all about experimenting, letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during our lifetimes, and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense’.    From my book – The Apple Exercise. 

This image is from my ‘interconnections’ series which I started in 1982 and am still working on.     It was inspired by a photograph I came across in a magazine  of a Mother and Child who had been caught up in a Mexican drug war.

Although Mother and child were dead – the last action taken by the Mother was to try and protect and hold her child in her arms.

I was so moved by the image, that I had to honour the lives of these two human beings.   The swans symbolise fluidity, intuition and emotions: –  the hummingbird unseen magic, and the rocks and water the natural elements that we come from and will return to.

Watercolour and Gouache. P1120730

A Bientôt

Processing information beyond the Intellectual – Interconnections

I have a relatively small bolt hole in London where I paint and live.    Consequently I have had to be creative in organising the space.  It’s more studio than living which suits me very well.

Along with my watercolour painting, I work on large canvases and have paintings stacked against walls, etc.      However, the light is good, and it meets all my needs until Marmite Heaven is revealed.

This image shows my new watercolour brush on the work table in the foreground and a large oil on canvas (still a work in progress) against the wall.P1160490

This is the story behind the series….and how it has developed since 1982, when I first spent time on Isle-au-Haut – an island in the Penobscot Bay – Maine.   I am hoping to return there next year.

In hindsight, I can see that until this point – my work was all about acquiring technical know-how and very little about the intangible – or thinking beyond the intellectual.     

It was while water-colour painting and sketching the incredible rock formations on Boom Beach, Isle-au-Haut,  that I had the sudden and intense insight that all of life is interconnected….I began to see and understand the ‘whole’ rather than life in fragmentation and can now see that this was when I began to process information beyond the intellectual…..

This large oil on canvas was painted in 1982 after my insight on Isle-au-haut.    Here I have integrated the human form with the rock formations…….It’s about the poignant moment when people turn their backs on one another. 

Although this painting might appear to be unrelated to the large canvases I am now working on…..in fact they are totally interconnected.            

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Since 1982, I have worked on many corporate/private commissions, exhibitions and so on, but throughout the journey, it is this series that holds my real interest.

When painting, regardless of size or subject matter….the fact is that when we change one tiny fraction of a painting – we change the whole….and this is true for life.

I believe that until we as a human species fully understand this concept….we will continue to self destruct.      

More about the paintings I am working now….

When I sit and observe nature….I see a symphony of colour/shape/shade/light – and natural rhythms.     There are no beginnings or endings – everything is interconnected. 

Using symbolic imagery – my goal, as this series develops, is to establish an intangible energy and rhythm in the paintings – celebrating the interconnections rather than the separations…

A Bientôt

The return of old friends……

Since Fudge the cat came to stay on Christmas Eve…my luck seems to have turned.   The new year has begun on a very positive footing.

Fuge the Cat. 

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Old friends returned today in the form of two paintings.    Both paintings have been safely housed with good friends in Wales for the past eleven years.    It’s wonderful to have them back.

This self portrait (large oil on canvas), circa 1987 holds great significance for me given that it was painted at an important turning point in my life.

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I live in a one bedroom flat in London, which is already filled to the brim, and so stacking is definitely now in order:)

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The other very large oil on canvas, was painted in 1982, inspired by the rock formations on Isle-au-Haut Maine, an island which sits in the Penobscot Bay, part of Acadia National Park.    After painting on the Island I then integrated the rock formations with the human form.    

Part of a large series, this painting represents the final time that people turn their backs on one another.       They may live together for many more years, but the backs have been turned!

Here it is leaning against the wall in my bedroom.     As I say, I live in a one bedroom flat!:)

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And so another lovely day.   Quite Clearly, the Magical Hummingbirds are working overtime:)

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The influence of Henry Moore.

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Walking though the different galleries at Tate Britain last Friday we came across the work of one of my favourite British artists, Henry Moore.     An artist whose work has influenced me.

So much strength, gentleness and emotion captured in this large bronze of  The Family. 

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From early childhood when I first saw the work of Henry Moore,  I have been drawn to its simplicity of form and how within that form a myriad of emotions are evident.

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I painted this large oil on canvas in 1984.    This painting and the subsequent series were Influenced by Isle au Haut an island in the Penobscot Bay, Maine part of Arcadia National Park, and Henry Moore’s sculpture.

I saw within the boulders and rocks on Isle au Haut the human form.   It felt as if I was surrounded by Henry Moore’s work.   

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My series of work which began in 1984 on Isle au Haut is still in progress.   Over the years it has evolved.

This large watercolour/gouache was inspired by a tragic photograph I saw of a Mother and child who had been killed as innocent victims of the Mexican drug war.

I painted this to restore the Mother and Child’s dignity.   The swan symbolises transformation and the hummingbird guides them from this world to the next.

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A Magical Hummingbird for today.

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Photographs from the ’80s and ’90s

As I look through some of the photographs from the ’80s and ’90s.  I realise what an incredibly busy period it was and how swiftly time moves on.  

I begin this post with a symbolic self portrait (large oil on canvas), painted 1989 in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.   The brick wall behind the chest is the studio.   The photograph is of a large self portrait (oil on canvas).    The sculpted arm was made by artist Janet Cleveland.   The pewter vessel symbolises the female, and the quilt, a subject which featured in many of my biographical still life paintings from that time, symbolises peace and turmoil.    Apples feature quite frequently in my paintings.  

I almost forgot the silver egg cup in the centre of the painting.    I was born on the 100th anniversary of the News Chronicle a famous English newspaper of the time.    All babies born that day were given silver inscribed egg cups to commemorate the date.    It symbolises for me my birth and I have carried it through my life like a talisman. 

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At the beginning of 1980 my son Jarrod was fourteen and Christie was six.  This photograph was taken in the studio behind our house in Westtown.       As a family we were busy individually and collectively and that was to continue throughout the ’80s and ’90s.

About one year after this photograph was taken we moved three miles into the town of West Chester to a house which sits virtually on the West Chester University campus.      

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Shortly after moving into West Chester, I purchased half of an old carriage house on Prescott Alley which had no heating or running water, just electricity.   It had very high ceilings and a great atmosphere and I knew it would be a good studio space.     

The next photograph was taken after heat and water had been installed.    I was able to have several large easels going at one time…which is how I like to work.     After my divorce in 1987, I used one half to live in and the other for work, and at the same time managed to get water and heat into the building.   I always say that this was the year I grew up!  

During this period I began to work on corporate mural commissions, for hospitals, banks, hotels, etc.    Mural painting was a good way to make money and to keep my tools honed.     Working with art consultant, Bonnie Paul in the States and others in the UK the fifteen years when I took mural commissions taught me a great deal.    

The large painting in the foreground of my studio was inspired by a visit to Isle-au-Maine in the Penobscot Bay, Maine in 1984…where I saw and understood for the first time, the interconnections of life.      I saw the human form in the rock formations on the Island and after making many paintings, I returned to my studio where I integrated the human form with the rocks.  

The large oil paintings I am currently working on continue to be about – interconnections.  

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Around this time, I received a call from my Mother in England who was clearly very upset.    My Father, who had walked home from his weekly bridge game, had collapsed with a major heart attack and died.    He was only 62, and such a wonderful human being.    

The death of my Father affected me much more than I realised at the time.    He was one of the most kind, gentle people I have ever known – and wonderfully eccentric at times:)    I think of him every day.    

This photograph was taken just two weeks before my Father died when my parents ware at a wedding.    I am so grateful to have it.

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Two of my beloved West Chester studio cats….Tushy and Sasha….They would always sit on my still life set ups. and they loved to cuddle up next to the life models……

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Two images from around 1985.   The photograph on the left shows me, my husband and artist friend Mary Ellen Bilisnansky at a costume evening at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.     The other shows me in the studio with one of the big canvases behind me, inspired by the rock formations on Isle au Haut, Maine. 

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We always had a thing about costumes and dressing up….each year we would get together with this close group of friends to have our Easter hap parade.   This would have been taken around 1983…Sadly, two of the group have since died…..but my oh my we did have fun.     Looking at these photographs is such a reminder of the importance of making the best of every single moment of each day….

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I had known since my divorce in 1987 that when Christie entered college, and Jarrod was 27, I would return to the UK/Europe.   Meanwhile, during the seven years between my divorce and returning home, I completed large mural projects, my own paintings and gave workshops….At one point i was working from three different studios. 

In 1993, I moved to Crickhowell, a beautiful part of Wales and for the first six months stayed with my cousin Lyn and her family.     It was a very special time for me. 

This picture of me and my two cousins, Lyn and Michael was taken at the heads of the Valley –  overlooking the Usk Valley.  Crickhowell sits in the Brecon Beacons National Park….a very beautiful part of Wales.        

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For the twelve years that I lived in Crickhowell or as I call it The Magical Town of Crickadoon, life continued to be busy.   In 1995, I had solo exhibitions in Cardiff and France….as well as mural commissions at the new Cardiff Bay  and St. Edmund’s Church.     I continued to commute back and forth to the States where I gave workshops on the east and west coasts, the midwest and in some southern states.    During these trips I was able to be with my children and visit friends….and they of course came to visit me in Wales. 

This photograph taken with my dear friend Jane Lukas, who I referred to as my surrogate Mother….This was taken at her home on a lake in S. Carolina.     After giving a one week workshop at the Quinlan Arts Centre, Georgia….I would spend several days with Jane and Jack and be thoroughly spoiled…usually before moving onto the next East Cost stop. 

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For a while there I had an identity issue.     When I first moved back to Wales, all the locals referred to me as an American artist, even though I was English!    Then when I travelled  I was referred to as a Welsh artist…..

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After returning to the UK, I met up with my relative, the artist Carel Weight.     In the States I had painted under the name Janet C, Reed (my married name) and so when I returned I asked Carel about picking up my maiden name Weight again….he thought it was a very good idea, and so that’s what happened.    Since then I have used my full name Janet Weight Reed. 

After Carel’s death there was a lovely party to celebrate his life at the Royal Academy and this was the programme – Carel’s painting of Turner drifting up to heaven…..

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I could show so many more pictures of when people visited me from the States  along with photographs of Wales, France, Spain and goodness knows where else, but let it suffice to say that life was full.    During the twelve years I lived in Wales I walked every day in and around the beautiful hills surrounding The Magical Town of Crickadoon.

This is my wonderful cat Christeve….It was Christeve who turned up at my cottage door on a stormy Chrismas Eve in 1997 and consequently inspired the book, Christeve the Cat finds her new home…..along with a trans Atlantic project which began in 1999.   

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My friend Jim Poffley, who I have known since 1970, with his children Sam and lizzy on their way back to the States from Australia….They are sitting on the cottage wall…where Christeve and I lived together…   

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And here is Christeve’s garden….she is sitting on the roof of shed with a friend….

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I lived in The Magical Town of Crickadoon from 1993 til 2005 when I moved to London.   Next Friday, life from 2005 til now. 

One of the Magical Hummingbirds that helped Christeve the Cat to find her new home……

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend – here in the UK, it is yet another bank holiday weekend:)

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A Bientôt