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A special visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon on my 10th Blog and FB anniversaries – they are connected.

My visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon….(AKA Crickhowell Wales) turned out to be particularly special.      It also happened to coincide with my 10th anniversary of blogging and involvement with social media.        I write about both these events together as they are connected…..

The view from my bedroom window on the first morning.       My first impression – a river of mist floating across the Usk Valley.       Magical, and even more so to observe the mist lifting, slowly revealing the beauty beneath.

20-11-15 - 1 (190)watercolour/gouache sketch – The Usk Valley where the Black Mountains meet the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (493)This visit was the first time since I left Crickhowell, twelve years ago, that I was able to completely relax and allow myself the joy of visiting old haunts and connecting with dear friends.

 

 

The 16th century bridge spanning the River Usk.      I have walked over this bridge so many times….and like the surrounding hills and landscape the colours and atmosphere constantly change.

80503814The market Town of Crickhowell has a population of approx 3,000.      It still has the butcher, baker and candlestick maker and much much more.     A manageable and vibrant community.

High Street Crickhowell 

Crickhowell-148295When I lived there in my little cottage on Mill Street I was able to walk everywhere, including to twelve (or was it thirteen) pubs? – all of which served good food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.      That is still the case.

This little watercolour sketch looking over the town up towards Brecon was painted shortly after I arrived in Crickhowell (1994) from the Castle Motte.   131500_307466586024705_32046251_oSo why you might ask did I leave.       In 1999 I began working on a project for children which used the power of art and colour to teach about environment, homelessness and many other social issues.      Had it been successful, it would have solved long term financial issues.    After what looked like a very promising beginning, in 2003 it was clear that the project was not going to work.    A very sad moment for me.

However – ‘None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..’

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This precipitated a move to London, my base for the past twelve years.       France was to be my next permanent move….but once again circumstances and personal responsibilities caused my plans to be changed.

 

From my sketch book on this trip…The light over the Brecon Beacons changes by the second. 20-11-15 - 1 (479)All of which brings me to ten years of blogging and social media…………

Ten years ago in the midst of this change, I had heard about blogs, but didn’t have a clue of what they were.    I knew nothing about social media, until my daughter suggested that I join something called Facebook.    My response  – Why not?

As it happens, my decision to get involved was a life saver.     Given that this period has been somewhat fragmented, blogging and social media have allowed me to continue working, and at the same time meet many new and interesting people.    I would recommend anyone who is going through a time of change and upheaval to use consistent blogging as a way to bring a sense of stability into life.

I also believe that had social media been in play when I began my project in 1999, things might have worked out differently.   No regrets – simply an observation.

Having a base in London has also been very good for my work and again I have met wonderful people….

Watercolour from sketch book. 20-11-15 - 1 (320)

However, I am now free of personal responsibilities and can move forward unencumbered, which is why my trip to Crickhowell this time around was so special.

I have no idea what the future will bring….I am one of those people that tries to live in the moment and take each day as it comes…..however, we do have to make plans, and it is my hope that I will now spend longer periods of time in places liked Crickhowell, Saorge France, Portugal etc.

As I continue to work and travel, I plan to do much more plein air work and of course record the people who I encounter along the way.

Ella sketching. – pen and wash

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I wish one and all a beautiful beginning of Autumn.

Magical hummingbird symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world.      

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A Biento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not thinking too much and letting go of self doubt……

“Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our heads with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something.    Igore them”   Janet Weight Reed -The Apple Exercise. 

rapid warm up exercises.  

I used the the same brush on all four sections.    The left two sections are on white paper, the right two are painted on a colour ground.

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Adding cadmium orange to all four sections – (the same colour used for the ground) connects the images.

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Prior to giving a workshop last week for SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Arts Society, I read some wise words from fellow blogger and writer  David Rogers…whose book  ‘Fighting to Win’ – Samurai Techniques For Your Work and Life,  talks about moving through the things that prevent us from being all that we can be.

I used the following two points from David’s book as the base line for the workshop.

1) Don’t think too much.          2) Let go of self doubt.

Rapid watercolour demonstration – Light on trees – one of the views from my window – Saorge. 

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I always encourage a group to warm up and play at the beginning of a session….This is the foundation block for a day’s work and as vital to the artist as stretching is to the athlete and dancer.      In doing this we practise not thinking too much……and letting go of self doubt. 

Using photographs from my recent visit to  Saorge as  ‘jumping off points’- we begin to explore the rhythm and shapes of the landscape and Village.

Rapid watercolour of Saorge – on white paper.  

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When we let go of self doubt and stop thinking too much, – when we allow our sixth sense and intuition to prevail, self imposed expectations disappear, freeing us up to explore the creative process.

Medieval village of Saorge – rapid watercolour  on white paper

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In the following demonstration, I worked from a colour ground – which means any whites are added using Winsor & Newton Permanent White designer gouache.         ( When grounding paper its important to let the paint dry for a minimum of twenty-four hours before adding more paint.)

I am often asked what is the difference between watercolour and designer gouache?

Watercolour is transparent.     Designer gouache is opaque.       I often mix the two elements.    I began to do this about fifteen years ago when playing in my studio in Wales….

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen are used to explore the alleyways of Saorge.

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As we warm up..we are reminded that everything reflects upon everything else – all of life is interconnected.       By moving colour around a painting we bring harmony to the image.

By observing the harmonious flow of nature we learn so much.    Observation, observation, observation….one can never get enough of it.

In this rapid sketch – I am looking down onto  trees and roof tops.   Note the roof tiles are a natural purple colour which integrates into the surrounding landscape where the roof slate comes from. 

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A little humour to finish this post.

As I was watercolour painting on the deck of the house where I was staying in Saorge…one of the sketches blew onto another roof below….and for all I know it is still there.    An example of ‘letting go’ 🙂

watercolour sketch on Saorge roof. 

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Next week, I am off to Chester and Liverpool.    My friend the artist Miza Tavares has invited me to demonstrate at a workshop she is giving.    We will be painting the human form…one of my favourite subjects.    I will write about this in my next blog.

Today I finish with magical hummingbirds…

This image is on the front of my new calendar…which is available through http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+giftsp1170342

 

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room With a View…….

Sometimes we visit a new place and feel as if we have known it all our lives….That’s what happened to me when I first visited Crickhowell, Wales in 1993, (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon), and once again this experience occurred when I visited Saorge, a commune located in the Alpes-Maritimes Department of south eastern France.

A sketch from the view to the right of my bedroom window……watercolour/gouache sketch20-11-15-1-558

20-11-15-1-656As I mentioned in my last post – ‘Following Life’s Clues’  – good friends from Wales have been renting a house in Saorge for the past year and suggested that I visit.    They felt that Saorge encompassed many elements of Marmite Heaven..……my place in the sun:)

The view from my window looking to the left…… Oh the glorious light….. 

20-11-15-1-667After being met at Nice airport by my friend Gareth, we drove up into the mountains along the Italian/French border into what is the magnificent landscape of the Roya Valley.   Being mindful that this was a very short trip, I had to gulp in the dramatic scenery.

As we approached Saorge – one of the ‘Perched Villages’ – it was clear to see how this place has survived the centuries.    Perfectly place to fend off enemies and also part of the ancient Salt Route – which fuelled one of the great economies of Europe.

The view looking down the Roya Valley from my room.   ( Note the train coming through the Valley.)     The roar of the Roya River beneath  is constantly present.     This is a place where all the senses are nourished.

20-11-15-1-580We arrived around  4 p.m. and immediately took a walk through the Village where no cars are allowed.   Parking is available at both ends of the Village.

One of the fascinating elements of Saorge is that on the one side of the Village the views are vast and majestic and then on the other side of the houses – you enter the medieval cobbled lanes which lend a sense of intimacy and protection.

The lane outside of the house where I was staying. 

20-11-15-1-542In the Marmite Heaven of my dreams, I will be removed from the madness of our 21st century world.    I will write every day and  paint a series of portraits recording the people living within the community.    Saorge certainly has a lot of wonderful characters to draw upon.

After a delicious Italian meal at Restaurant Lou Pountin just a minutes stroll away, Gareth and I were joined by his friend Simon.    As we sat on our high perch on the second floor of the house, listening to the Roya River way beneath us and looking out onto a seemingly vast open expanse, I observed how ‘detached’ I felt from everything,  and I was.       Wonderful

One of the views of the approach to Saorge.saorge

I will be writing more about my first visit to Saorge in the next couple of weeks, along with impressions of  the very lovely and interesting people I met, plus cats and dogs……       Also I will be making mention of Monastere de Soarge  which looks over the Village and Roya Valley.    Along with its fascinating history and intrinsic beauty, it is here writers and other creatives gather.

One of the many ancient arches, nooks and crannies in Saorge….watercolour/gouache

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Meanwhile, let it suffice to say that the magical hummingbirds were definitely with me….and just how much they were with me will be revealed in my next blog focusing on our visit to Notre Dame des Fontaines where we met beautiful Miriam, a direct connection to the world of hummingbirds, or in French – Colibris.…..

Soaring above all the madness like the magical hummingbird…..

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A bientôt