Tag Archives: magical town of crickadoon

Here’s To Strong Women…..and Magical hummingbirds……

Here’s to strong women.   May we know them.   May we be them.  May we raise them.

My Grandmother – Agatha Bowyer Griffiths – 1885-1972

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It’s been quite a tumultuous time within my own personal sphere.    Having buried my Mother last December, – my dear Aunt Peggy moved on to be with the magical hummingbirds this month.     Her funeral last Thursday was a celebration of her remarkable life.       I have also lost two other friends……………all of which has caused much reflection.

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Our time on this precious planet is fleeting. – we must never forget this.

Having waded through all the bureaucracy which occurs at these times, I know that ‘this too shall pass……’ – and the magical hummingbirds will continue to drink from the sweet nectar of life  🙂

My Daughter – Christie Griffiths Reed  born 1975 –  Taking part in a Triathlon – Massachusetts, USA

1936994_160987251067_1030955_nI posted these two photographs of my wonderful Grandmother and her Great Granddaughter, my daughter, because they show so clearly that within a relatively short period of time…..how our world has changed.     How the lives of women have changed…..

My Grandmother, born before the two Great Wars….served in WW1 as a VAD nurse, – it is also during that war she met my grandfather,     Between the wars, she had four children, and was involved with the women’s suffrage movement in the UK.

Her daughters, my Mother and Aunt – served during WW11 both in the VAD as nurses.      One son was an army man and the other on the Russian Convoys.

I was most fortunate to have her in my life until 1972.     I was able to spend much meaningful time with her, for which I will be forever grateful.        I gave Christie her middle name after my Grandmother.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life……………………..20-11-15 - 1 (1094)When I went through my Aunt’s papers, I was delighted to find that her passport only expired last year – which means that she renewed it when she was 86.     She also volunteered helping ‘old people’ when she was in her eighties and early nineties.     What an inspiration.

It is the influence of these women, including my daughter,  that has given me courage to move forward when times haven’t always been easy – and I know that they will be there for me until I move onto the next adventure……..

I read this somewhere, and believe it to be true.    The beauty of collaboration between older and younger generations is that we combine strength with wisdom.    20-11-15 - 1 (1129)

During the last couple of months, I have made sure to paint every day and have filled two big sketch books…..There is nothing more therapeutic 🙂

It will take a while before I get into a flow.      I plan to catch up with comments etc. over the next two weeks and then I go to The Magical Town of Crickadoon for some R & R and of course painting.

And so my friends, I will now move forward with a sense of purpose and joy.

A Bientôt

 

A very special visitor…..Boo Boo Chevalier

Boo Boo Chevalier….(yes that is his name)  with one of my large oil paintings as a backdrop.     A good friend and Boo Boo came to visit recently. 20-11-15-1-357I have loved many cats and dogs, however during the past 11 years since London has been my base, I have learned to enjoy other people’s animals.

I continue to look forward to living and working in Marmite Heaven where cats, dogs, chickens and all manner of other creatures will abound.

Because I believe in visualisation – here is a large oil on canvas – work in progress (5ft x 4ft) – of a mythical Marmite Heaven, based on many of the places where I have stayed in France.

Note that Chriseve the Cat is observing the village and a cockerel is sketched in…….hummingbirds to come……20-11-15-1-763Which brings me to  Christeve the Cat of the Magical Town of Crickadoon.…having a conversation with a tiger – overlooked by a magical hummingbird….

In my world  of imagination anything is possible……watercolour illustration for children’s book703902_309194122518618_437499646_oAnd Tarrantino whose company I recently enjoyed in Wales….watercolour/gouache from sketch book. 20-11-15 - 1 (406)  Just as the creative process is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing, so I believe is the natural world which  – definitely includes the likes of Boo Boo Chevalier. 🙂

And of course the Hummingbirds that symbolise for me the unseen magic of our world. 20-11-15-1-453

A bientôt

 

 

 

Portrait painting workshop……

Tomorrow I am giving a Portrait painting workshop.    My goals are to help the group to be playful, remove the fear that often arises when the words ‘portrait painting’ come up and to focus on capturing the essence of their subject.

I will begin the day with a watercolour demonstration using one of the participants as my model…and then encourage the group to make quick studies of one another.   As this will be part of the warming up process, newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining can be used….

Simplifying the subject as demonstrated in this quick study, helps the artist to begin to see what’s in front of them.      I often say that we can live with someone for thirty years but it’s not until you draw or paint a subject that you actually see them.

felt tip pen and a watercolour wash.20-11-15-1-750I highly recommend carrying a sketch book….This offers perfect opportunities to observe people and make quick studies.

During a lecture at an Adlarian Summer School, I made this quick sketch of Vincent.   I used a pen during the lecture and then applied wash afterwards.

pen and wash. 20-11-15-1-747In this study of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Wales – I wanted to capture the stern quality of her expression.

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen study   20-11-15-1-754Silvern was one of the actors I painted last year when in Nantes France.      I have to say that working with the group as they rehearsed for a production was one of the year’s highlights.    As actors they were naturally very expressive and wonderful to capture.

Note in this watercolour all the whites are dry white paper.

When giving a portrait workshop, I often see people struggling with one aspect of a face, i.e. the nose.    More and more paint is added, causing confusion to the painter and the portrait –   Often all that is needed is a shadow next to the nose – and voila.

watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (371)This young woman was enjoying some spring sunshine….note all white areas are dry white paper.    By adding the dark background, the profile is revealed.    I have used the same tone in the background as in the shadow areas of the face….Remember everything is interconnected.

watercolour19853_341904480395_7803458_nIn this alla prima  (painted in one session) oil sketch of my son when he was 26 years old (he’s now 50), note that the strong shadow on his neck reveals his chin…..The top lip is in shadow revealing the bottom lip….The dark in his hair frames and reveals the face. til-august-10-187I painted this oil sketch of Megan about 32 years ago when I was working on  a large portrait of her Mother in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.    After a sitting, Megan asked if I would paint her, and so I used the paint left on my palette capturing her in about twenty minutes.

rapid alla prima oil on canvas sketch P1150316A rapid sketch of Eli.    I love drawing/painting children.   The proportions are completely different.      It’s a case of ‘less is more’.

from one of my travelling sketch books.  – pen20-11-15-1-752I painted this spontaneous watercolour portrait of Margarida as a demonstration in Portugal last year.    At the time, Margarida was pregnant (I get to meet the new baby in April. 🙂       I used an elephant sized  sheet of paper.      I didn’t worry about the outcome but simply enjoyed the moment…which is something I highly recommend that others do.

Large, spontaneous watercolour of Margarida. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)And then there is the self portrait.

When models are scarce we always have ourselves.  I have painted several self portraits over the years, and find them to be illuminating – always learning something new about  myself.        This alla prima oil sketch was painted on January 3rd 2000 when I was living in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.    I loved that hat, and somewhere along the way have lost it…..ah well, I still have it in the painting.

alla prima oil on canvas. – self portrait. P1140993Happy painting.

A Bientôt

1st September – beginning of my new year………

1st September always signifies for me the beginning of a new year.     After a period of reflection during the slower summer period, September is when I start to get excited about my new work goals for the coming months.

I am pleased to report that the magical hummingbirds (tiny flying jewels)  are definitely in place this year….symbolising for me the unseen magic in our world.

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Speaking of which, I have just had a very special time with my friends who live high up on a hill outside of The Magical Town of Crickadoon in Wales, overlooking the beautiful Usk Valley, where the Brecon Beacons meet the Black Mountains.

Watercolour painting – overlooking the Usk Valley

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Along with sketching, relaxing, eating superb food – and enjoying good conversation – I had time to reflect.

Early morning watercolour/gouache in my sketchbook….

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I left London, filled with it’s fast pace and noise on a very hot summer’s morning….and arrived in Wales to find cooler temperatures, sweet tasting air, and the sounds of Mother Nature……

The sounds of sheep in one of the fields beneath where I was staying…

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The ever changing landscape….is a joy and excellent for honing observational skills.       I remember when I first came to this area 23 years ago, I was mesmerised by the colours and constant changes in light.

The clarity of early morning light….   

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The atmospheric quality of misty evenings and mornings……

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And the beautiful sunsets…..

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To top it all the resident cat, Tarantino, who is now 18 years old, completes the picture.     He is so very sweet…..

watercolour/gouache sketch of Tarantino

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sketch of Tarantino sleeping….watercolour/gouache

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Although I need routines and rituals – (they give me the freedom to create)………more and more I am able to go with the flow of life.     I find that in doing so, I am can follow life’s clues more easily.        I tend not to miss those  little gems of information – and moments of deep intuition.       

My friends and I talked about time and the fast pace of 21st century life.    Sally then said something  which I found to be quite profound.     “We do things because we can”….We get in cars and drive long distances simply because we can.   We are able to keep in constant contact with one another through new technology…simply because we can….. 

Of course,  just because we can, doesn’t mean that we necessarily have to do it!:)     Which means that discernment is ever more key to sane living.

Watercolour from my May visit to Wales. 

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I realise more and more that no matter how much we mere mortals try, we can’t control the timing of things….We can make plans, but in doing so we have no idea what other plans are being made around and beyond us.      None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………’

Always reminding me to stay in the present moment like the magical hummingbird.

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A Bientôt

Taking a break

Brecon Beacons National Park – wales.  – watercolour/gouache 

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I can hardly believe that it is the 11th August which means I have now begun my ninth year of blogging!      Thank goodness I listened to my intuition because through this medium I have learned a great deal,  met some wonderful people…and all in all feel richer for the experience.

Table Top – overlooking Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales.  watercolour

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I usually take a break from my schedule at this time of the year.    Time for some R & R and also time to prepare for autumn – one of my favourite seasons.

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I will be back here at the beginning of September, hopefully with all sorts of new images and news….

Capturing the ever changing light over the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, Wales.   Watercolour/gouache. 

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Of course the hummingbirds will still continue to spread their magic.   – watercolour

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A bientôt

 

My travelling portrait project…….

I painted watercolour portraits for many years as preliminary sketches for large oil paintings, however, it wasn’t until I returned to the UK/Europe in 1993 that I began to record people as I travelled.

It all started when I had an exhibition of portraits at the Centre Auguste Brizeux in France in 1995.   I had been asked to give a watercolour demonstration in the gallery each day and decided to paint portraits of the local people.      It was because of the response I received during this period that I realised this was something I needed to do much more of.

Cousin Lyn – watercolour  

I stayed with my cousin Lyn and her family for the first six months after moving to Crickhowell, Wales.     All the family became my models…..

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I soon realised that this method of communication was like a mediation.      Although each session only lasted for a half an hour at most, and sometimes just a couple of minutes, during the process, a complete focus and connection was made with my subject.

Through these portraits, people opened up to me…..

Tom Comitta – American Poet – watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen

I have known Tom since he was born and yet it wasn’t until I painted this quick portrait that I really felt that I knew him….I was able to get beneath the surface…and experience his essence.

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Lady in Akyaka, Turkey – watercolour

We had no common language, and yet during our time together there was a deep sense of communication.     Surrounded by natural beauty and bird song, we observed one another as if suspended in time.

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Quintin – Brittany France – 1995

I spent an afternoon with this little boy in a beautiful garden in Brittany.     His parents had been recently divorced.     To  begin with he was very quiet….said nothing, and then as I made several quick sketches, he relaxed.        By the time he had to leave, we had connected at a level that is beyond words.    That was the only time I ever saw him.   To this day I wonder where his life has taken him.   He would be about 26 years old now.       I have kept this painting.

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Christopher Seagrave-Dailey – American boy visiting Wales 

Christopher arrived in Crickhowell, Wales, in 1996.    He was travelling around Europe and it had been suggested that he come visit me.       He was glorious and so when he agreed to model for my weekly painting group everyone was delighted.    He brought extra magic into the Magical Town of Crickadoon.

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Ken – The Welshman. 

I met Ken immediately after moving to Wales.    As I took Bumble, my cousin’s dog for her morning walk, I would meet up with Ken and his lovely sheep dog..(who also features in the church panels as shown in my last blog)     Ken told me much about the history of the area.     I painted this portrait of him about three years after moving to Wales.    It was part of a series of portraits featuring the older people of the community.    As I painted them I encouraged them to talk about their life experiences.       I have these stories on tape….

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Throughout the years I have painted so many of these spontaneous watercolour portraits – I have honestly lost count….but every time I see one…sometimes many years after it was painted – I always remember the moment so clearly.

There are quite a few people who I painted when they were children who are now adults with their own children….This final portrait of Catherine in the States is an example of this.

Catherine the day before her wedding – Georgia, USA 2013

I had painted Catherine along with her brother and sisters many times when they were very young and and a few times in between, but this was the day before she was to be married….and I painted her again…what a special moment.       Catherine now has her own baby, who I hope to paint one of these days.

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As I begin the process of writing the book about my life’s journey, it is clear to me that many of my paintings, especially the portraits, will help enormously in focusing my mind.      Behind each painting there is a story – sometimes a book….

A Bientôt

A summer idyll

It must have been about eleven years ago, just before I left Wales to move to London.    I was giving a painting workshop at the Glanusk Estate, which is about two miles from Crickhowell (The Magical Town of Crickadoon).   Situated in the beautiful Usk Valley with the River Usk running through, it was the perfect setting for a summer idyll.    

It was one of those golden days…when everything comes together to form a moment of magic.

I was set up next to the River Usk where children were frolicking between the rocks and trees.    They could have been little water nymphs.

I knew that I had to try and capture that moment and to do so meant working almost instinctively….and of course rapidly.

Rapid watercolour – capturing the essence of a moment in time. 

glen Usk Estate

I hope everyone enjoys a moment of magic this summer.

A Bientôt