Viva la Difference. I have just visited two very different regions of France. For the first half of the trip I stayed in an ancient hill village situated in the Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon region. (I will write about this in my next blog) For the second part of my trip I stayed in Ploeumeur – very close to Lorient in the Brittany Region.
In 1995 (two years after I returned to the UK/Europe from the United States) I had an exhibition in Brittany. At that time I fell in love with the people and the wonderful traditions of the region.
My subject in the exhibition poster is a young girl named Solen. I remember painting her when she visited Crickhowell, Wales– which brings forth another important connection. Wales and Brittany are both of Celtic heritage. Both places share a love of the arts, music and enjoy very strong traditions.
Note that in 1995, I was still signing my paintings Janet Reed. Shortly after this, I began to use my maiden name Weight Reed. During this visit I stayed with my dear friend Elisabeth (Babeth), her lovely partner Erve and their beautiful little dog Nouchka:) I first met Elisabeth when she visited Crickhowell, Wales in 1993 – the year I arrived there….and we have been good friends since. Today she lives a minute’s walk from beautiful beaches…..and is very happy.
With multi talented Elisabeth on a windy beach in Brittany. Elisabeth paints, makes music and is a wonderful cook. And with Helene (Elisabeth’s sister-in-law) who I have also known for many years….such special friends It was through the 1995 exhibition that I realised how much I enjoyed painting people in a rapid watercolour style. I recognised that I captured through the portraits a moment in time…..and most importantly, I was able to connect with the people I met in a very special way.
I first painted Vincent, one of Elisabeth’s children, when he was seven years old – today he is in his mid thirties. This little portrait shows a moment in time – a moment in Vicent’s life. And beautiful Maelle – Elisabeth’s daughter – seventeen years old when I painted this and now a mother of two children and living in Vancouver. And dear Nicholas – who I saw on this visit (now in his mid thirties) and today resembling one of Cezanne’s self portraits. As I spoke with Nicholas I could still see the little boy in him.I have so many lovely stories about the people I have painted in many different countries. Often we don’t speak a common language, but painting like music becomes a Universal language – crossing all barriers.
A quick watercolour of Elisabeth as we enjoyed conversation….2018Another of her partner Erve – musician and all round good man. 2018Erve who is part of a Breton male choir ‘Les Gabiers d’Artimon’ – playing the Binjou – a bagpipe type instrumentErve leading a group on an exercise programme in the sea very close to where he and Elisabeth live. They do this no matter what the weather…One of the many beautiful beaches that go on for miles and miles….The Little Port of Doelan in Finistaire- where the French version of Doc Martin is filmed…..What a surprise that was ! Along with Nicole, a lovely friend of Elisabeth, we enjoyed a superb lunch and afterwards a walk along the cliffs. In visiting this region I am reminded that England and France were once geographically joined.…which is why parts of SW England (Cornwall and Devon) resemble so much of Brittany. Other than the fact that Brittany has better summers, the weather is also also similar.
And then there are the crepes – in every flavour imaginable….and they are delicious, as is all French food………During my forty five year career I have experienced moments when I wondered how could I continue….how could I go on? This trip has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have lived the life I have – to have met so many wonderful people. To live the life of an artist.
I must finish this post with darling little Nuouchka, who has definitely found a place in my heart. And of course a magical hummingbird – or Colibri Magique.….they were with me all the way. Wishing one and all a beautiful day and weekend ahead.