Tag Archives: magical hummingbirds

It’s time to travel…..

I am off to the School in Olhao Portugal early next week  http://www.artinthealgarve.com Then France for the month of May and after that a wedding in Georgia USA mid June.

I leave you with some sketches and photographs from Portugal….

watercolour/gouache sketch from the Saturday market Olhao Portugal 43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_oClare sketching on the Island of Armona – a fifteen minute boat ride from the School. 18403517_10155206867690396_5892022252939504336_nquick watercolour sketch – Culatro island 20-11-15 - 1 (63)A simple and lovely lunch of grilled fish on the Island of Armona. L1080100watercolour – steps in Olhao Portugal 20-11-15 - 1 (936)The 150 year old olive tree in the School courtyard Olhao Portugal  10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oOne of the many characterful faces of Olhao Portugal.     Olhao is a working fishing town. watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (199)Dancing and music during the Saturday market – Olhao Portugal 12916733_10153992590920396_3025259967763687254_oRapid watercolour of sun setting in Portugal P1160789Jazz at Cantaloupe Jazz Cafe, Olhao Portugal.    Excellent for sketching .20180923_185441A sun drenched wall with trees – Olhao Portugal 20190128_112330I leave you with colourful magical hummingbirds….   watercolour/gouache20190108_134301A bientot

 

 

 

 

 

An Accident of Birth – short story about Sid the Boxer

I always carry a sketchbook and watercolours with me so that I can make quick sketches of the fascinating people I come across.

This short story is about one of those meetings.    The day I met Sid The Boxer.

Sid the Boxer.    watercolour  20190304_141151I first visited Barnes, SW London in August of 2005.

I was preparing to leave Wales where I had been living and working for thirteen years  to move to London, primarily for work, and to be closer to my failing elderly Mother.     It had  been suggested that I rent rooms in a house in Barnes in SW London.

This particular visit was to take a look at the area before making the move in October 2005.

On what was a lovely summer’s morning, I packed my watercolours and something to eat and went off to explore.

I found a promising place in a little park next to the river Thames between Barnes and Mortlake and set myself up on a bench.     During the next hour or so I enjoyed the sense of peace and tranquility that comes when I am painting and communing with nature.

Across the little park from where I was sitting were a group of people on another bench.    Other than this group and myself, there seemed to be no-one else around.       Eventually the group got up and began to walk towards the river and then towards me.     My first thought was that I hoped they wouldn’t want to chat with me and disturb my solitude.

As the group steered towards the river (thank goodness) one of its members broke away and came directly towards me.       He was a big man with dark glasses, drinking a large can of beer and generally looking rather disheveled.      He said ‘Hey love – you wanna paint my portrait’?     I looked at him and said ‘Actually yes – I would love to on the condition that I paint one for you and one for me‘.      I motioned for him to sit at  the end of the bench.

Clearly very surprised at my response….he actually became quite nervous.     ‘Did I mind if he drank his beer‘?   ‘Should he take his dark glasses off’?     I told him to make himself comfortable and then as I painted him he began to tell me about his life.

His name was Sid the Boxer – be was born into a gypsy travelling family and had spent most of his life in reform schools and prison.     That he had only recently been released from Wandsworth Prison for attempted murder.   Banned from every pub in Barnes and surrounding areas, he basically spent most of his time wandering around with his friends during the day time, until they could return to their hostel.

As dangerous as this might sound, I knew instinctively, intuitively that there was nothing to be afraid of.       I learned that Sid had a daughter who he hadn’t seen for over thirty-five years.   Sid had been a very good boxer and he went on to tell me this talent had kept him alive and given him respect when in prison.   It had been his protection.

As we came to the end of our time together, he asked if I had gone to a special school to learn to be an artist.    I told him that I had gone to the Medway College of Arts in Rochester Kent, and he exclaimed with great delight.   ‘That’s where I went to Borstal’ – (a boys reform school for the uninitiated)”!

We shook hands and Sid the Boxer left with his sketch and I kept mine.     As I thought about our meeting, I recognised what an accident of birth our start in life is.   In the random nature of things, Sid had been dealt a tricky hand, however he used his best attribute, that of being a boxer to survive.

Wherever Sid the Boxer and his sketch is, I send him this magical hummingbird, and hope that he is able to drink from some of the sweet nectar of life – if not in this life, maybe the next……..

20190117_095823The moral to this story, is to never leave home without a sketchbook…..You never know what interesting person you might meet……

A Bientôt.

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intangible healing of creativity

“The creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”   Janet weight reed

My hummingbird imagery symbolises the unseen and intangible in our world.    Just because we can’t see or touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there or is having a profound effect on our lives.

20190218_111017The Aboriginals, Native Americans and many other indigenous peoples around the globe have a deep understanding of our spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to the land.       They believe all of life as it is today, human, animal, bird and fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships.       They understand fully the importance of land management care towards our health and overall wellbeing. 20190219_073051It seems that many people today,  young and old from all sectors of society,  are experiencing physical and emotional illnesses and distress.         Given our fast pace of life and that so much of the world’s population is now plugged into technology of one kind or another, is it any wonder  that our collective senses are being deadened?

 

 Technology has changed the whole world dynamic. 

 

In this fast watercolour sketch from Portugal last October, everything within the image is interconnected.    There are no starts and stops…no beginning and no ending, rather a continual flow.

20180930_125738Feeding our senses by spending time in the natural world, is healing.   However, like all good medicine, it needs to be enjoyed on a consistent  basis.

Many have forgotten the simple pleasure of sitting beneath a tree and how restorative it is.    14435032_10154437102300396_4492475642371147944_oI have been listening to a radio programme about the power of the placebo…and how it has been shown time and time again to cause a sense of wellbeing even though the recipient is fully aware that they are taking a sugar pill.     This has everything to do with mind, body connection.

27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_o     This photograph was taken on a hot day last October on my friend’s farm in Portugal.   I had just finished teaching a course and needed time to relax, focus and meditate.     Once I began to sketch and most importantly open my senses to all that surrounded me, within minutes I felt calm and refreshed. DSC_6669When we immerse ourselves into the creative flow, our minds are taken into what I call deep time.     A place that is totally different from our clock watching, rushing to the next appointment type of time.       An intangible sense of calmness and wellbeing ensues.   We return to what we were designed for – being part of nature and engaging our senses.

Portugese children on Armona Island playing with shells….20-11-15 - 1 (913)    Trying to exist in this brave new world and finding a space for creativity, in all its many forms….might sound impossible.

I have raised a family and worked all my life and like most people have lived through some very stressful times.      I have learned that if I simply stop….and give myself some soul food each day, I am immediately calmed and feel a sense of well being.    Soul food time enriches and supports everything else we need and have to do in life.

It costs nothing.   It doesn’t mean major life changes.     It simply means addressing the part of ourselves that is in desperate need for daily food. 46361144_10156801851710396_7419123831345774592_oOne hugely important factor so often overlooked is that of populations growth.

I was born in London in 1946, right after World War 2.     At that time the world population was approximately two and a half million.    Today the world population is seven and half million and rapidly rising. 20-11-15 - 1 (135)This tells me that more than ever before we need daily soul food and to renew our connection with the natural world. 

If we don’t give ourselves this precious time, we are doomed to be like hamsters running around a wheel…..feeling utterly frustrated and exhausted, and at the same time achieving very little. 

I made this quick sketch when visiting my son and his partner on their farm in Pennsylvania last spring.     Their neighbours are Amish.      We have much to learn from such people. 20190125_123816From Buddhist Offerings….

‘We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual constant transformation and flux.      There is always the possibility of radical change.    Every moment – not just poetically or figuratively, but literally – every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all life’ 

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A bientôt

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk –   The Apple Exercise. 

I have just re-read Virginia Woolf’s  – A Room of One’s Own.     It has been at least forty years since I last read it.   Back then it didn’t resonate with me in the way it does today.  .

 

Magical hummingbirds for Mary Oliver

The American poet and writer Mary Oliver (1935-2019)  died last week.    However her soul and spirit will live on in her beautiful and evocative words.

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She asks her reader    

‘Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…..’  

20190115_094047She reminds us that material stuff clutters our lives.

“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things……”

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We are reminded of the importance of giving time, power and energy to that which we love and feel passionately about.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”20190115_092149

“You do not have to be good.   You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.   You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…….”20190120_145359

In this poem she speaks of her intense love for Mother Nature and the smallest of birds flying among the scarlet flowers……..and that she cannot wait to be the hummingbird……26733700_567669383565711_6812376656265793633_n

Thank you Mary Oliver for showing us how to drink from the sweet nectar of life….like the magical hummingbirds.

20190117_095809A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Approaching Christmas with childlike, wide eyed wonder……..

Yesterday I was on the bus returning home from Kingston upon Thames.     Most people were carrying large shopping bags and looking pretty exhausted and fed up…..and then quite spontaneously three little children began to sing Christmas carols….and everyone smiled and began to talk to one another.   Everyone’s mood changed…………

watercolour/gouache29872646_10156236175455396_8857424718959096304_oIt”s so easy to get caught up in all the adult stuff.       I remember very well when my own children were young and being responsible for putting on Christmas celebrations with all the trimmings.     Quite often, the real meaning and essence of the celebration was lost,

It would seem that for the most part we humans insist on making life complicated and in doing so forget the pure joy of simple pleasures.

Millie visiting my studio and being caught up in all the colour and magic. P1110644Capucine – a little girl I painted in France this year.    Her eyes were filled with wonder and curiosity  20-11-15 - 1 (1449)

Look at the amazement and curiosity in the eyes of these little Amish boys who had come across a field camera his week in Pennsylvania.      They had no idea what it was or what the flashing light indicated….but were clearly amazed and filled with wonder.    (My son sent me this picture from a friend’s farm). 1397175_10200103094498419_1961274517_oAs adults we don’t have to give up our childlike ways – in fact I believe that a fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child.    The child-like wonder that still lives within us is what keeps us filled with the promise of the unexpected, the spontaneous.

dancing hummingbirds – symbolising the unseen magic in our world……watercolour10841985_10152900246405396_684849903434205677_oIt would seem that it is the simple elements of life that give us all great pleasure.     Singing, dancing, giving to those in need, being part of a community and laughter….and of course a simple smile can change the day for so many people.  

Christmas decorations at Hampton Court Palace. trees hcp I hope that everyone enjoys a Christmas with elements of spontaneity and joy and of course some really good food:)

I will spend the holidays with friends and then my daughter Christie arrives from the USA on the 27th December and will be here with me to celebrate the new years.    What a gift.

May magical hummingbirds surround us all.    26758187_10155992367365396_6811764365978108756_o

A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

 

 

Gratitude – a time of Thanksgiving

‘Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.    Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.’   Denis Watley. 

watercolour45487165_10156777268340396_893438499913465856_oI think it took me until I was forty to begin to understand the meaning of gratitude.   Until that point, I had wondered through life, sort of hanging on, and trying my best to put one step in front of the other, often under challenging circumstances, and then boom, an epiphany – something occurred which opened my eyes to what gratitude is all about.

I began to see and feel everything in ways that I had not experienced before.    Fear and anxiety had been the underlying emotion ruling my life since early childhood….and so when it was removed all of a sudden I was free.   I began to see and really experience the world around me rather than to observe it from a distance.

bluebell woods Crickhowell Wales – watercolour44740914_10156746580470396_1767998054465536000_oOf course this didn’t mean that life would be easy from that point on.    As a working artist for the past forty-five years, I am fully aware of the feast or famine syndrome and what it’s like to live on a knife edge.       However, with this new way of being life’s challenges have become much easier to live with and to move through and more importantly I am able to learn from them….

The simple pleasure of a cat sleeping…..watercolour 45683106_10156784344175396_6268958295583621120_o

Perhaps it takes losing the ‘stuff’ of life to fully understand that as long as our needs are met and we keep things simple, and most importantly that we find purpose in our daily lives….all the other things that we strive for are in the most part irrelevant.

long tailed hummingbird – watercolour20181121_083646-2

I saw my first hummingbird in 1967 in the mountains of North Carolina…but it wasn’t until after my epiphany that I really saw hummingbirds.    Not only did I see them, but I sensed their vital place within Mother Nature’s rich tapestry.   It was at this point that the hummingbird became something deeper, symbolising the unseen energy and interconnectedness of our world. 

Normal Rockwell’s wonderful classic illustration showing a family enjoying Thanksgiving. Freedom from Want - Norman Rockwell - 1943I lived and worked in the States from 1966 til 1993 when I returned to Europe, consequently I enjoyed many Thanksgiving celebrations.    However,  I do wonder if I had real understanding of what it was all about.    Sadly I think the running around  and worrying about if every detail was correct obliterated the true meaning of the day.    We live and learn…..

And so I wish my friends and family n the United States a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.

Remember not to sweat the small stuff…..it doesn’t matter and ‘this too shall pass………’:)

magical hummingbird – watercolour20181120_112602

September – new beginnings and a time of renewal.

‘Let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that’.  From ‘Buddhist Offerings’ 

watercolour/gouache – Rays of sunlight as I walked through the woods1917262_186338425395_7900997_n

Moving from August into September has always meant new beginnings for me.        Along with the onset of cooler weather and visible changes in nature….there is also a perceptible change in mood.      Children go back to school and many return to work. The world around us becomes busier.    I am speaking from an English point of view.     For my friends living in the southern hemisphere….there are also new beginnings – for them Spring is arriving.

Those who follow this blog will be aware that I usually go to Portugal in April.    This year, I am also returning on 18th September for a workshop at the school in Olhao http://www.artinthealgarve.com      The School is one of my all time favourite venues – a wonderful places to explore the creative process.

Olhão Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (936)After working with a group for the first week, fellow artist and good friend Bonnie Halsey Dutton http://www.bonniehalseydutton.com  arrives from South Dakota to give a course.     As always we take these opportunities to spend some time together.     I will also see another artist friend, Vickie Snaddon, who has a house not far from Olhao. It is Vickie who runs the beautiful lodge in Belize http://www.pookehilllodge.com     Needless to say, I am really looking forward to it.

Given that Olhao is part of the Ria Formosa National Park...beautiful wildlife abounds – watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (226)watercolour

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Nesting storks on one of the local churches.    ImageI With its courtyards, communal areas and excellent studio space, plus shops, cafes, markets, Lagoon  all within a few minutes walk from the school – plus of course the wonderful Margarida and Joanna who take care of all our needs….what more could an anyone wish for.

The Pool House courtyard….I love all the levels, shapes and shadow play. P1150740The studio. P1150901The 150 year old Olive Tree that meanders from one of the courtyards up through the three levels of the school.   You can see the blue of the roof top pool through the tree. P1150724watercolour20180703_105444

Another exciting development this year is that I have been invited to exhibit five watercolours at the Chongqing Museum of Art, China.   This is part of a French/Chinese annual cultural exchange.    I was invited by French artist Claude Lesur  who organised an exhibition I had in France eleven years ago.   The opening in Chongqing will be on 17th November and next spring the exhibition will come to Paris.    I will write more about this after I return from Portugal.

The Art Gallery in Chongqing where the exhibition will be held. 

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20180702_121621This has been one of the best years I can remember.   I have visited places, friends and family I love and along the way enjoyed wonderful conversations and much laughter.   I am so grateful for this moment in time and that I have been able to focus on what is truly of value in my life.

The magical hummingbirds have been with me all the way……

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A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk