Tag Archives: letting go

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

Not thinking too much and letting go of self doubt……

“Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our heads with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something.    Igore them”   Janet Weight Reed -The Apple Exercise. 

rapid warm up exercises.  

I used the the same brush on all four sections.    The left two sections are on white paper, the right two are painted on a colour ground.

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Adding cadmium orange to all four sections – (the same colour used for the ground) connects the images.

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Prior to giving a workshop last week for SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Arts Society, I read some wise words from fellow blogger and writer  David Rogers…whose book  ‘Fighting to Win’ – Samurai Techniques For Your Work and Life,  talks about moving through the things that prevent us from being all that we can be.

I used the following two points from David’s book as the base line for the workshop.

1) Don’t think too much.          2) Let go of self doubt.

Rapid watercolour demonstration – Light on trees – one of the views from my window – Saorge. 

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I always encourage a group to warm up and play at the beginning of a session….This is the foundation block for a day’s work and as vital to the artist as stretching is to the athlete and dancer.      In doing this we practise not thinking too much……and letting go of self doubt. 

Using photographs from my recent visit to  Saorge as  ‘jumping off points’- we begin to explore the rhythm and shapes of the landscape and Village.

Rapid watercolour of Saorge – on white paper.  

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When we let go of self doubt and stop thinking too much, – when we allow our sixth sense and intuition to prevail, self imposed expectations disappear, freeing us up to explore the creative process.

Medieval village of Saorge – rapid watercolour  on white paper

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In the following demonstration, I worked from a colour ground – which means any whites are added using Winsor & Newton Permanent White designer gouache.         ( When grounding paper its important to let the paint dry for a minimum of twenty-four hours before adding more paint.)

I am often asked what is the difference between watercolour and designer gouache?

Watercolour is transparent.     Designer gouache is opaque.       I often mix the two elements.    I began to do this about fifteen years ago when playing in my studio in Wales….

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen are used to explore the alleyways of Saorge.

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As we warm up..we are reminded that everything reflects upon everything else – all of life is interconnected.       By moving colour around a painting we bring harmony to the image.

By observing the harmonious flow of nature we learn so much.    Observation, observation, observation….one can never get enough of it.

In this rapid sketch – I am looking down onto  trees and roof tops.   Note the roof tiles are a natural purple colour which integrates into the surrounding landscape where the roof slate comes from. 

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A little humour to finish this post.

As I was watercolour painting on the deck of the house where I was staying in Saorge…one of the sketches blew onto another roof below….and for all I know it is still there.    An example of ‘letting go’ 🙂

watercolour sketch on Saorge roof. 

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Next week, I am off to Chester and Liverpool.    My friend the artist Miza Tavares has invited me to demonstrate at a workshop she is giving.    We will be painting the human form…one of my favourite subjects.    I will write about this in my next blog.

Today I finish with magical hummingbirds…

This image is on the front of my new calendar…which is available through http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+giftsp1170342

 

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spontaneous watercolour/gouache painting plus assorted palettes.

“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”    Janet Weight Reed – The Apple Exercise

This image is about being spontaneous – not being governed by an imagined outcome.  a case of going with the flow.…...watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-510

I began with a mix of burnt sienna and prussian blue to make the darks, along with glorious Winsor & Newton Green Gold – a wonderfully transparent pigment.

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Working very fast and using an old image as a  ‘jumping off point’ I begin to build up the whole composition.

All white areas are dry white paper…..

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Continuing to work rapidly, I start to build up the image..using a mix of transparent watercolour and opaque designer gouache.      I use a knife to scrape out areas…to give a sense of energy.

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I am not concerned about the end result…rather am enjoying the process of letting go and applying juicy paint to the paper…

As is the case with all of life...it’s all about the journey and not the destination……..

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Building layers of paint, I have allowed some of the transparent watercolours to show through.   At the same time I add gouache to add opaque areas to the image.    All whites are dry white paper. 

I was going to add a hummingbird – maybe later…..

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I have been asked what palettes I use for my watercolours…..this image shows a selection.

I am a creature of habit…and have had some of these palettes for over thirty years..namely the round palette and the tiny sketching palette.

The smaller palette in bottom left corner with fold over lid is perfect for travelling – and the large palette on right with lid is also goof for long haul trips.      When I run out of colour in my tiny palette, I simply refill it with tube paint.

I don’t clean off all the paint between painting sessions.     I run the palette under the tap using a brush to remove the messy areas.      This leaves blobs of pure colour which are still perfectly usable!     If it dries completely, you simply re-activate with water.

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A magical hummingbird for the week ahead….

If you visit http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts  you will see that the magical hummingbirds have been very busy:)

 

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A bientôt

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.   Joseph Campbell.  (1938-1987)

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The following watercolour sequence is about – spontaneity and letting go. 

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An American mythologist, writer and lecturer, Joseph Campbell’s works cover the elemental aspects of the human experience. 

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I have enjoyed his books, particularly ‘The Hero’s Journey’

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When I need a dose of courage….I read Joseph Campbell. 

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A Bientôt

The Painted Table

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In 1987, when I was just 37 years old, I underwent a huge change in my life.    The change was physical, emotional and spiritual.   At the time most people who knew me thought I had gone mad……but in fact, I had gone sane. 

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I was to learn that when we experience a major transformation, life doesn’t change overnight.

Rather, transformation heralds the beginning of a long journey of many mini awakenings….lots of light bulbs flashing on, illuminating areas which prior to the change had been at best muddled and confused.

I learned that transformation doesn’t mean that we will never make mistakes again…..far from it.

I learned that when I make mistakes, I am able to see them in a different light, to understand their source and have the courage to confront whatever it is head on and work through it.

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One of the first lessons I had to learn back in 1987 was the lesson of letting go.    

Letting go of so much of the stuff in life that had burdened and held me back.     Stuff that I had become overly attached to…..Stuff that owned me, rather than me owning it!

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Like everything, this is an ongoing process…..it’s not something I suddenly got, and then never had to deal with it again….

Many times over since 1987, I have found myself becoming attached to the animate and inanimate stuff of life, only realising what a hold it had on me when I was able to let it go…..

The Painted Table was such an object.

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When I moved to London eight years ago from The Magical Town of Crickadoon in Wales, I brought the table with me…..and began to use it as a painting table in my small London flat.

About two years ago, it  became apparent that it didn’t work anymore….it was heavy and wasn’t practical in my new space…..but I had become attached to it, especially given that it was covered with paint markings. 

Then I bit the bullet and gave it to the man who is caretaker of the flats I live in……he needed a table.

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With the giving of the table to someone who needed it, I felt an instant sense of lightness and release…..

I replaced the Painted Table, which will always live in my heart, with a very practical, larger, light weight, fold up table and it works beautifully – and also doubles as a superb dining table when friends visit:)

htttp://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

Workshop Demonstration (2)

My second demonstration once again tapped into the importance of negative space, and observation.     

The difference here is that the painting of the petals was less spontaneous and more considered.

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Using a photograph of magnolia petals as my jumping off point, I made a loose sketch of the petals, and then immediately wet the area in the negative space surrounding the petals, and applied juicy paint with a loaded larger brush.

I then allow the paint to bleed out to the edges of the paper.    This is an exercise in letting go of control….

For the petals I leave dry, white paper.      In a much more controlled manner, I then apply tiny amounts of pigment to each petal, being careful not to allow areas to bleed into one another.    The total opposite from what was going on in the background.

Given that I was painting this as a demo, there were time constraints, however, I might work on this painting over the next few days, developing more of the petal area.     Note the importance of leaving dry white paper for the highlightsand also note how the white paper shines through the transparent pigment.

The most important technique used in the petal area, is the use of a wet brush with no paint to pull out the small amounts of pigment applied to each petal.     This is also why it’s very important to have a minimum of four pots of water at all times….so that there is always clean water available.

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I enjoy the mix of loose, spontaneous painting with a more considerers detailed area. 

Again it’s important to remember that everything is interconnected, and so by bringing some of the same colour used in the background into the foreground we achieve a sense of natural harmony.

Because I was demonstrating and emphasising the importance of playing and experimenting, I then dropped some of the Winsor & Newton, Desiginer Gouache, Permanent White into the background….suggesting more petals, without any detail.

Note the two different areas of white….one using designer gouache, permanent white, and the other area on the petals, where the white is all dry white paper. 

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There are still a few places available for my workshop in April on the beautiful Algarve, Portugal.      Situated in an historic area of the Algarve, the venue affords excellent opportunities for outside and indoor painting.      With charming inner courtyards and a superb studio area, it is well equipped. 

More information is available at http://www.artinthealgarve.com   or you can e mail camilla@artinthealgarve.com

A Bientôt

Art on a plate

I am a great fan of the annual competition of MasterChef the Professionals shown on BBC 2 TV.    Tonight we will find out who the winner is, although I must say that all three chefs in the final are positively amazing.    I have a favourite, but they all deserve to win. 

This week, they cooked for Massimo Bottura, the chef/patron of Osteria Francescana, a three start Michelin restaurant based in Modena, Italy. 

Massimo Bottura is a chef who thinks like an artist.    He asked of the three young finalists that they let go of pure technique, and allow themselves to feel deeply about the foods they were using.    

All the elements worked in harmony and balance, both visually and taste wise. 

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I was reminded of the following quote from the obituary of the great impresario, Yahudi Menuhin.   

‘It is said that Menuhin was liberated from the mundane limitations of pure technique.   His interpretation of Beethoven and especially Elgar has an incomparable and almost spiritual grace.    At such times, Menuhin was without peers in his ability to see, hear and play beyond the notes.    He was able to let go.’

Massimo Bottura asked the three young chefs to marry their technical know how with the intangible.   He asked them to pull from within and allow their creative juices to flow…..and they did. 

It was wonderful to see the joy and surprise expressed by these young chefs as they were given permission to go deeper than their normal experience.     It was an example of the creative process at its best. 

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Tonight, after the final gruelling leg of the competition, the winner will be announced.

A Bientôt