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A very special trip to France. Viva la Difference………

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)   20-11-15 - 1 (1315)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1642)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1584)And with Helene (Elisabeth’s sister-in-law) who I have also known for many years….such special friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1582)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1566)And beautiful Maelle – Elisabeth’s daughter – seventeen years old when I painted this and now a mother of two children and living in Vancouver. 20-11-15 - 1 (1568)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.20-11-15 - 1 (1567)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….201820-11-15 - 1 (1572)Another of her partner Erve – musician and all round good man.  201820-11-15 - 1 (1571)Erve who is part of a Breton male choir ‘Les Gabiers d’Artimon’ –   playing the Binjou – a bagpipe type instrument20-11-15 - 1 (1588)Erve 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…20-11-15 - 1 (1517)One of the many beautiful beaches that go on for miles and miles….20-11-15 - 1 (1541)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1621)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………20-11-15 - 1 (1525)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. 20-11-15 - 1 (1561)And of course a magical hummingbird – or Colibri Magique.….they were with me all the way. 20-11-15 - 1 (766)Wishing one and all a beautiful day and weekend ahead.

A Bientot

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Watercolour demo – using the Cala Lily

“Human subtlety sill never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”     Leonardo da Vinci. 

20-11-15 - 1 (478)Watercolour is a beautiful medium.        There are a few basic techniques to learn – each one taking time and patience to master.      Allowing oneself to play with the medium will help build confidence and ability.

In this instance I have sketched out two cala lilies – using yellow ochre.    I am working on a Saunders and Waterford Hot Pressed – heavy paper.  (more about papers at end of blog)

20-11-15 - 1 (607)Having sketched the basic image I add ‘juicy paint’ into the negative space.    I am using a mix of Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with Winsor & Newton Winsor Violet and a little Winsor & Newton Cadmium Orange. 

When we add paint to the negative space – we automatically reveal the subject…..So often we struggle with a particular element of a painting, when all we need to do is observe the negative space. 20-11-15 - 1 (787)Using very small amounts of pigment I begin to add colour to the flower.    For this I use Winsor & Newton Green Gold and a touch of Windsor & Newton Cadmium yellow. For the dark green in stem and shadow I mix some Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna with a tiny amount of prussian blue and Gold Green. 

All whites are dry white paper. 

20-11-15 - 1 (799)I begin to build depth inside the lily using small amounts of pigment – making sure to leave dry white paper for highlights. 20-11-15 - 1 (805)As I build up the colour I am mindful of bringing the background colours into the Lilies.    Everything is connected….nothing is isolated.     By moving colour around a painting we bring a sense of harmony and rhythm.

It is important to note, that when we change one fraction of a painting – (no matter what the size) we change the whole.     This is true for everything in life. 20-11-15 - 1 (806)The finished watercolour is an observational exercise revealing the subtlety of nature….. and at the same time honing watercolour technique.       I hope that there is an element of energy and movement.  20-11-15 - 1 (478)The most important thing is to PLAY  and warm up.    This can be done on any paper including newspaper…..The key is to release any fears or anxiety about messing up a good piece of paper.  Ultimately this is a freeing up mechanism.

When purchasing watercolour paper – it is measured by weight and surface quality….Cold Pressed for rougher surface.  NOT (meaning not hot pressed) is smoother and Hot Pressed is very smooth.    My analogy is that using cold pressed is like roller skating and hot pressed like ice skating – NOT is somewhere in the middle.

When we purchase a piece of lb140 weight paper – this simply means that the ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs lb140 – and of course the same applies for all weights.    It’s a good idea to purchase a sample pack of papers….and again PLAY. 

I hope everyone enjoys a creative weekend….no matter what your medium….and that the magical hummingbirds are with you.

watercolour/gouache11194395_10153252694930396_8127371946973631924_oNew hummingbird products including some pretty nifty wrist watches in my Zazzle shop.

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

A Bientôt

 

The spontaneity of watercolour painting

On Monday evening I gave a demonstration which was all about the spontaneity of watercolour painting at The Hurlingham Club, London.

I laid out four large sheets of watercolour paper – two of which I had prepared with a cadmium orange ground.

The demonstration was completed within twenty minutes…..

I used flowers as my jumping off point….allowing the brush to dance across the paper.

When working off the ground, I added some gouache to the mix…..

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A magical hummingbird for the weekend…..

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Colourful landscape exercise

This colourful landscape is inspired from when I lived in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales where the light is so dramatic.

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The following landscape exercise is excellent for warming up and uses the same techniques.

Working on white paper, I add lots of water to the top half of the paper and then add juicy red and orange watercolour paint into the wet area….allowing it to bleed.      Feel free to use any colour combination you like.

Note that the bottom part of the paper is still dry.

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In this frame, I use a clean wet brush to  gently pull down some of the paint from the horizon line, making sure to leave some dry white areas between the foreground and the horizon.

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I now add some of the same intense dark shown on the horizon line to the bottom of the image to give the image a sense of balance.   I have also indicated the boundaries of fields…leaving dry white areas.

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Given that the sky reflects directly onto the land, I brought the same colours from the sky into the foreground.   Note that there are still dry white areas showing…..

Also I have allowed the paint to settle and do its own thing which is one of the exciting elements of watercolour painting.    

Using a knife I scraped out some paint in the foreground.

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Floating free of time like the Magical Hummingbird

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When the answer is revealed….

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Another tutorial and reminder of the importance of observational skills.   I

This exercise is all about observing the whole picture, –  the subject and the area surrounding it, which is referred to as the negative space.

I sometimes see people struggling with one area of a painting that they keep going back to time and time again….adding and removing paint,  when quite often all that is needed is a shadow or some colour thrown into the negative space. 

Using  yellow ochre, I have sketched out the rough form of a Calla Lily

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It’s much like life when we are trying to solve an ongoing problem.  We tend to keep going back with the same solution, which doesn’t work!

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It’s not until we look in another direction, in this case into the negative space surrounding the Cala Lily, that the answer is revealed. 

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As we approach paintings and life from a different point of view….new solutions and answers are revealed.

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For this image I used a mix of colours that happened to be on my palette….and then scraped out some colour with a knife, which gives energy and breaks up the background space.

Note that all the white you see is dry white paper. 

I used the same dark tone/value in the back ground colour as I did for the dark shadows on the lily, and just a touch of Winsor & Newton Green Gold and cadmium orange to pull the image together

I never use black when watercolour painting….it deadens the picture.    Instead, I mix Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue….or other combinations of browns and blues….which produce a beautiful rich dark.

A Colourful Magical Hummingbirds for the day.

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http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

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A Bientôt