Tag Archives: magical hummingbirds

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 towards our health and overall wellbeing. 

Crickhowell Wales – watercolour-  the continual flow of Mother Nature. 52905723_10157042659595396_8724979844233822208_oIt 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?

 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.

When 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 for many 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 and nurturing.

Brecon Beacons Wales 46361144_10156801851710396_7419123831345774592_o

From 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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Since I first wrote this post we have all experienced a radical change.  

The Coronavirus Pandemic has given us all, individually and collectively, time to re think our lives….and hopefully learn what is important and what isn’t.

Janet 🙂

 

‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ on BBC4 TV prompted me to post this…..

In light of the new BBC4 TV show entitled ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  which I viewed last night, I am re-posting a blog on the subject.

In early December, I was invited by my good friend and fellow artist, Maria Do Rosario Tavares (Miza to me) to give a painting demonstration for a group she is working with in Chester.    The subject, ‘life painting’  – one of my favourites.      It was only a two hour session, but a very good one.    The group and the model were lovely.

To warm  up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model.   I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work. 20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I began each day with a two hour life session in my studio.       I hope to have that opportunity again one of these days.

Twenty minute – full sheet watercolour and felt tip pen study – 

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I love short poses – preferably five to 20 minutes max.     This enables me to capture the energy, movement and gesture of my subject….

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to  life drawing.      Observation, observation, observation……

Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper).  the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition.  20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation block frees an artist to explore their work with more confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly hone observation skills. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models we also worked with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again honing observational skills.

This man modelled for me in Paris….a beautiful dancer.   I often do quick portraits of my subjects in a life painting session. 

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It’s exciting to see that ‘life drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that people who attend sessions regularly recognise that along with honing observation skills it is a wonderful form of meditation.

In this instance one of my favourite models arrived with her new born baby….It was a magical session.     In the warmth of the quiet studio both mother and baby completely relaxed…..20-11-15 - 1 (780)Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother.      Quite a few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we painted the hands and feet of models.   Excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Beginning in 1982 I began a series of works integrating the human form with the rock formations of Isle au Haut, Maine where I spent much time painting.     Thirty eight years later I am still working on this series.           

‘The moment people turn their backs on one another’. 6ft x 4ft oil on canvas. (1982)Painting of human figures in shades of brownFor those who would like to try life drawing – I suggest tuning into ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  BBC 4 TV—–a good way to get started. 

Happy painting

Janet.

 

 

 

 

Rapid watercolour of chicken……Something playful for the weekend.

Something PLAYFUL for the weekend…..

The word ‘mud’ comes up quite a lot when talking about watercolour painting.    This rapid watercolour sketch of a chicken is all about avoiding mud…..

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For those who are nervous of using good paper…allow yourself to play on newspaper, inexpensive wall paper lining, or anything else that might be at hand and I always suggest working on at least two pieces at once….four is better:)

Just begin – You will note that all the whites in this image are  dry white paper.     

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If you are using a photograph – remember it is simply your ‘jumping off point’  

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View the colours and shapes of your subject – as if it were a jigsaw puzzle and remember there are no lines around Mother Nature…    Everything is fluid…which is why watercolour is the perfect medium.

20-11-15-1-486One very important technique I have used in this little demo is to take a clean wet brush – using it to tease paint out which is already on the paper.      This gives an element of control and helps to keep the dry white paper areas.

Remember there are no mistakes in this fluid painting….allow the watercolour to perform its magic – and most importantly allow yourself to Play. 

 

 

A Bientôt.

 

 

 

Painting over old sketches. Time to PLAY and WARM UP….

I am often asked the question – When is a painting finished?   

This quote from Jidda Krishnamurti is my jumping off point for thoughts on this subject.

‘There is no end to education.   It is not that you read a book,  pass an examination and finish education.    The whole of life,  from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.’

The piano – rapid watercolour/gouacheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach painting we work on (including preliminary sketches and warm up exercises) is connected to all the work we have produced in the past and any work we will produce in the future…….Everything is interconnected.

Unlike many jobs where there is a clear beginning, middle and finish – a painting can take minutes, hours or years to complete…….and even when the painting is not being worked on – the seed of it’s idea is still sprouting information, even if at a subliminal level.

I painted a ground over an old watercolour to make this image…A great way to recycle old paintings that haven’t worked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomething to consider is that striving for perfection can sometimes cripple the creative process.

As artists we seek to attain technical prowess, however it’s important to remember that warming up,  playfulness and risk taking are all part of the exploration and creative processOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlways try to work on more than one image at a time.     This can prevent overworking the painting and producing mud, particularly when working with watercolour!

When the question is asked – ‘where do I go next with this painting?’  It is time to stop.   Move onto the next painting and  invariably at a later date the answer will be revealed to your initial question.     Paintings communicate with us if we allow enough space and time…….            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  When working on canvases….it is customary to turn paintings to the wall – sometimes for long periods.     This helps an artist to see the painting in a fresh light at a later date.    Any work produced in the interim feeds the artist with new information, which is often relevant to the original piece.          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARegardless of the end goal…rapid sketches in any medium, along with honing observational skills help an artist to focus the mind.

Many years ago, I gave a workshop in Wales where a group of us walked the Brecon/ Monmouthshire Canal for one day.      Every fifteen minutes we stopped and sketched for fifteen minutes.….Initially, this was daunting to some of the participants….however, by the end of the day…people were producing quick sketches, filled with information.

The point of this story is that sketches had to be finished within fifteen minutes – which again was an excellent way of focusing the mind and also removing the desire to achieve the ‘perfect’ sketch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we focus on the journey and not the destination – we are freed from restraints which might otherwise interfere with the creative flow.   The joy and learning will be  found in the doing, and answers will be revealed in their own good time.

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‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ on BBC4 TV prompted me to post this…..

In light of the new BBC4 TV show entitled ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  which I viewed last night, I am re-posting a blog on the subject.

In early December, I was invited by my good friend and fellow artist, Maria Do Rosario Tavares (Miza to me) to give a painting demonstration for a group she is working with in Chester.    The subject, ‘life painting’  – one of my favourites.      It was only a two hour session, but a very good one.    The group and the model were lovely.

To warm  up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model.   I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work. 20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I began each day with a two hour life session in my studio.       I hope to have that opportunity again one of these days.

Twenty minute – full sheet watercolour and felt tip pen study – 

p1140272

I love short poses – preferably five to 20 minutes max.     This enables me to capture the energy, movement and gesture of my subject….

five minute watercolour study – male dancerp1160967I was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to  life drawing.      Observation, observation, observation……

Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper).  the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition.  20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation block frees an artist to explore their work with more confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly hone observation skills. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models we also worked with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again honing observational skills.

This man modelled for me in Paris….a beautiful dancer.   I often do quick portraits of my subjects in a life painting session. 

p1160917

It’s exciting to see that ‘life drawing’ is back in vogue.    I  believe that people who attend sessions regularly recognise that along with honing observation skills it is a wonderful form of meditation.

In this instance one of my favourite models arrived with her new born baby….It was a magical session.     In the warmth of the quiet studio both mother and baby completely relaxed…..20-11-15 - 1 (780)Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother.      Quite a few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we painted the hands and feet of models.   Excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Beginning in 1982 I began a series of works integrating the human form with the rock formations of Isle au Haut, Maine where I spent much time painting.     Thirty eight years later I am still working on this series.           

‘The moment people turn their backs on one another’. 6ft x 4ft oil on canvas. (1982)Painting of human figures in shades of brownFor those who would like to try life drawing – I suggest tuning into ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’  BBC 4 TV—–a good way to get started. 

Happy painting

Janet.

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family in the States….

Which brings me to this very amusing picture that my daughter Christie sent via WhatsApp last night.    When this was taken around 1980 WhatsApp and all the rest of the social media stuff was pure science fiction.

I always got up at about 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving so that I could feed the animals..and then get the turkey into the oven for a long slow cook.   Bear in mind that cooking is not my best attribute, however I did this for years and remember oh so well all the routines and traditions  that surrounded it.   My husband Bill must have taken this picture…..again long before digital cameras. Happy memories:)

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This photograph was taken around the same time….although here I am doing something I feel more comfortable with……

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Its hard to believe that we are now entering the festive season.    The past year seems to have melted away.

My daughter Christie will be joining me here on the 16th of December for ten days….for which I am very grateful and then next May I will spend two weeks on the farm with my son Jarrod and his partner Kendle.   Happy days indeed.

The beginning of the festive seasons means it’s time for some Christeve the Cat in the Magical Town of Crickadoon images.

Here Christeve the Cat looks down from her favourite tree at the little cottage that looks so cozy and warm…..wishing she had a home of her own…..

Note that the magical hummingbirds surround her……………

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Those of us with food in the cupboard and a roof over our heads do indeed have much to be thankful for.    It’s vital that we remember all those who are not so fortunate…..

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How social media has changed my life

It’s important to note that when I was born at the end of WW2 the concept of social media…would have been pure science fiction.      This means that I had the good fortune to live for most of my life without it – which in turn means that I am equipped to live in both worlds – the real and the virtual……

The very real world of David’s courtyard in Olhao Portugal – watercolour20191024_114626I dipped my toes into the virtual world about 18 years ago when living in Wales.    At that time,  the WDA (Welsh Development Agency) decreed that every town, village and hamlet would have something called a tele-cottage…..This is where I learned the basic first steps of how to use a computer.

Olhao Portugal – close to the School – watercolour20191018_092639Without a real plan, I signed up for FB very early on (thirteen years ago) and began writing a blog about the same time…..It didn’t take long for me to recognise the potential of this medium….especially for visual creatives.

I had always been a letter writer, keeping up with friends over the years using snail mail….but all of a sudden I was able to communicate at a whole new level.

Four watercolour studies of shadow play on the courtyard olive tree at the school in Olhao Portugal.  http://www.artinthealgarve.com20191102_113140Through social media I was able to share my images.      It gave a platform for my magical hummingbirds, in ways that I could only have imagined before.

It didn’t take too long before my name became synonymous with the magical hummingbird along with the symbolic meaning these little birds hold for me. – i.e. the ‘unseen energy’ in our world.

watercolour. 20191103_111815Other elements of my work took on different forms after the advent of social media.

I have given workshops of one kind or another for forty years….but now through cyber space I was reaching people from around the world,  people who were interested in my teaching either in life or on line……

Which brings me to my next stage……Web cam. videos. 

Courtyard steps in Olhao Portugal. – watercolour74235539_10157674169065396_4511698166164226048_oDuring my workshop in Olhao Portugal last month, Dora Keogh, suggested that I make some web cam videos….

About six years ago I made a few youtube ‘taster’ videos.     To do anything more I knew I would need someone who understands web cam technology.    Immediately  Richard, the man who has fixed my computer for several years came to mind.    All things being equal it looks like we will begin this process very soon………….

From one of my sketchbooks in Olhao Portugal last month…..this is what I call note taking.    20191028_105016Watercolour taken from sketchbook notes – of one of my favourite Olhao trees. 20191104_100843

Another watercolour from the little courtyard at David’s house in Olhao Portugal 20191104_091721There is so much more to write on this subject which I will share in future posts.

The key is to treat social media as you would treat dealings in the real world and most importantly to always follow through and do what you say you are going to do.

watercolour/gouache20191103_104549    A bientot

Janet

 

“What is courage without risk…..?

“What is courage without risk….It wouldn’t really be courage, would it?  Jocelyn Murray.20191014_085042Simply going about our daily lives can often take great courage….however, every now and then someone we meet reminds us what the word really means      This was the case during my recent workshop in Portugal.

When I first met Angela at the School in Olhao Portugal, it was clear that she had some mobility issues.     The School had arranged a motor scooter  (quickly dubbed Angela’s chariot:) so that she could get around the streets of Olhao.     Having never ridden one before she quickly got the hang of it. IMG-20191009-WA0014I learned that along with mobility issues, Angela had recently recovered from cancer.   I also learned that she had not travelled for over fifteen years.         As she didn’t know me or anyone else in the group….Angela’s signing up for the course was an act of courage and trust.20191017_104531Although Angela has enjoyed sketching and art for sometime, coming to the School in Olhao was to be a first – a totally new experience.20191015_130719When everything is in place in our lives….health, money, etc. exhibiting courage can be easier.    We have more confidence when these vital elements are in place.        What ‘separates the men from the boys’, is when those vital ingredients aren’t in place, particularly with regards to health.     Then exhibiting courage can be more difficult.20190110_143030  

My course in Portugal is all about loosening up and letting go of pre-conceived ideas and the Chattering Monkeys that tend to fill our minds with all the reasons why we CANNOT do something!

Through loosening up and doing things differently, We learn that I CANNOT can be replaced with I CAN……

Taking this principle into all areas of our lives can change everything.     When Angela decided to replace I CAN’T with I CAN – when she signed up for the course…a whole new world opened up for her.20190108_134301This quote is from Angela when talking about loosening up.

“Even if I’m feeling scared I can still go for it.    When doing that, joy and laughter take over pretty quickly”.     

Something for us all to remember……

Magical hummingbirds are appropriate for this post as they demonstrate and exhibit great courage in all areas of their lives…..

A magical. hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life…..20-11-15 - 1 (358)Wishing one and all a peaceful and creative day.

A bientot

Janet.

 

 

 

 

I have been re-booted…..

I am pleased to report that I feel better than I have done in a long while    Not only are my energy levels back to normal but it feels like my mind and body have been (as one of my friends put it) re-booted……..

“Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.”   watercolour20190920_094645-2I am now very excited about the upcoming course at the school in Portugal (http://www.artinthealgarve.com) on the 2nd of October where we will be focusing on observation and imagination……and using the medium of watercolour to loosen up – `and free ourselves from fear based restraints.

Two minute watercolour sketch…..20190920_122614-2Like most people throughout my life I have experienced some important turning points.     Usually  events that I could never have imagined….and often events that turn out to be blessings in disguise.       When these events occur, I have found that it’s important to embrace them no matter how uncomfortable they might be.        My recent blip has turned out to be such an event.

“Beautiful is what we see.    More beautiful is what we understand.   Most beautiful is what we do not comprehend”.   Mira Bartock20190920_083902 “When you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.    The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realise it.     The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.”   Henry Miller. 20190915_125625We tend to ignore the fact that there is a vast tapestry of energy that exists beyond our five senses…..that there is an unseen order of things.    For me the hummingbird symbolises this.

Hummingbirds are courageous little creatures……migrating huge distances and always drinking from the sweet nectar of life…..We can learn so much from them. 

Watercolour. 20190923_081333

And so  a week from Wednesday I am off to one of  my favourite places – the School in Olhao.   (http://www.artinthealgarve.com)    I will write a blog about the week after I return around the middle of October.

A quick sketch from the Saturday market in Olhao Portugal – watercolour/gouache43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_o

A sun drenched wall in Olhao  – watercolour/gouache from sketch book20190128_112330And finally the beautiful olive tree in the courtyard at the School in Olhao.    10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oHave a lovely day and week ahead.

A Bientot

Janet