Tag Archives: symbolic imagery

A Christmas story about a homeless little cat and how she found hope, trust and courage….

The subject of homelessness becomes more prevalent every day.     Whether one of the millions of stateless people roaming the earth, or people we encounter on the streets of our towns and cities – the problem looms ever greater.

I wrote and illustrated a children’s Christmas story 15 years ago entitled ‘Christeve the Cat Finds Her Home’.     Based on a true story, it focuses on the arrival of a little cat into my life on Christmas Eve 1996 when I was living in Crickhowell, Wales.   

I have been displaced a couple of times in my life, and know what it is to yearn for a home of my own.    In many ways this story is autobiographical.   It is filled with symbolism including of course the magical hummingbirds.

In the story the little cat was homeless and had been living in a tree across from my cottage.   I believed that she belonged to Mr. Pickford, one of my neighbours and so had not been concerned about her.

My neighbour, Mr. Pickford. 20-11-15 - 1 (1340)Here is the lonely little cat wishing she could live in a nice warm cottage like the one across from her tree. 20-11-15 - 1 (1330)“Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with magical hummingbirds weaving their love” this story takes place in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

The little cat looking over the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1339)During the long dark cold nights, every noise would give the little cat a fright, and sometimes she would cry.20-11-15 - 1 (1328)   One night when the winds began to roar and howl, the little cat had a visit from a wise old owl.    The wise owl told the little cat to be patient and trust.    To close her eyes and dream of magical hummingbirds.

Something inside of  her always knew that there was nothing to fear and that help was always near……..20-11-15 - 1 (1337)The little cat began to make friends with the birds and animals that lived beneath her tree.      After days of fun and play with her new friends the little cat would fall into a deep sleep and dream about finding a home of her own.

Some of the little cat’s new friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1336)One of her new friends, a red robin, told the little cat that she would never be alone because hummingbirds were always near, helping her to find a new home of her own. 20-11-15 - 1 (1325)One morning red robin and little cat woke to see that the Magical Town of Crickadoon was completely covered in snow.    everywhere the little cat looked, there was a special glow.20-11-15 - 1 (1335)Later that night when little cat was dreaming in her tree, a beautiful white hummingbird appeared.      White hummingbird told little cat that there was nothing to fear, and that after a terrible storm, all would be clear. 20-11-15 - 1 (1338)The next morning when the snow swirled and whirled and the winds roared and howled, the little cat felt so cold and alone was beginning to think that she would never find a home of her own.        20-11-15 - 1 (1334)In her dreams the little cat heard White Hummingbird say – “Don’t give into your fear, soon all will be clear. – Follow the light through the storm and there you will find your home, so cosy and warm”. 

As the little cat came closer to the only light she could see, she realised that it was shining from the cottage across from her tree.     As little cat reached the door and raised her paw she called out as loudly as could be…Meeeeeoooooowwwww, I am here, I am here…….

The door to the cottage across from her tree opened wide and there was Janet the Artist waiting inside. 20-11-15 - 1 (1333)Janet the Artist scooped up little cat with tenderness and love, and from high above the Magical Town of Crickadoon, hummingbirds of every colour were flying under the moon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1332)Janet the Artist named the little cat, Christeve the Cat because she had arrived on a very special Christmas Eve.


This is the actual cottage where Christeve the Cat and Janet the Artist lived together in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

30371_309193229185374_253873514_nChristeve the Cat settled into her new home and sitting on her favourite chair302846_309648909139806_918859733_nChristeve the Cat (on the left) with one of her friends sitting in her favourite place in the garden of her new home. til August 10 119http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk    http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts

A bientôt.

For International Women’s Day

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.   In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Large alla prima oil on canvas – self portrait – 1989 -The Turning Point. 20-11-15 - 1 (765)International Women’s Day reminds me of the courageous women who have gone before and those who through example continue to encourage and inspire today.

The symbolic imagery in this large oil on canvas (1990) speaks of all women.

The brick wall behind the chest symbolises a special place….Everyone needs a special place in their hearts – to be in, to dream about and hope for. 

Photograph of the large self portrait.symbolising  awakenings and turning points. 

The quiltsymbolic of both peace and turmoil. 

The pewter vessel  – Throughout the millennia – the vessel has symbolised the female. 

The silver egg cupA talisman symbolising the day of  my birth.

The appledefinitely not forbidden fruit for me, rather a symbol of new life.    The apple reminds me not to judge a book by its cover but rather to understand what’s at the core. 

The sculpted armMade by American artist, Janet Cleveland.   In its uplifting gesture, it says ‘Yes, I can do it…..’

Large oil on canvas – Symbolic self portrait – circa 1990.     20-11-15 - 1 (773)And I do believe that women can do just about anything that they put their minds, heart and soul to – the key is to never give up.  

For those women who feel alone and whose lives are racked with struggle….this day represents a beacon of light and hope.    It is an opportunity for women to come together.

This magical hummingbird symbolises the unseen magic in our world, – something that each and everyone of us can tap into…….20-11-15 - 1 (772)

A bientôt


Imagine if you have ideas for paintings, books, music or all sorts of other creative endeavours….but you lack the tools with which to express them.

Compound this with the notion that the luxury of creating is only for a select few – or those who do create seemingly  arrive on this planet with all the necessary skills and talents already formed!

In my last blog, Self-Discipline equals Freedom,  I described how I found the freedom to fully express myself by establishing new and positive habits into my life.    These routines and habits brought with them a daily structure which I still adhere to.    When I live within that structure I feel fulfilled and content…when I don’t, I feel a sense of frustration.

definitions of frustration:

anger, resentment, disappointment, discouragement, depression, discontent, lack of self esteem/confidence

Large symbolic oil on board – mural for public building in USA – circa 1991

One of many large murals I painted after my turning point in 1987.       It expressed my new found freedom of working within daily rhythms…..and at the same time contributed to paying the bills.


I believe that prisons and rehabilitation centres are filled with people who were never given the gift of self discipline or the necessary tools with which to explore their creativity.         With a myriad of ideas running around in the mind, but unable to express them in a tangible manner, a deep level of frustration and resentment builds……

Is it any wonder that some of the most popular TV shows are of a creative nature…cooking, gardening, baking, etc.     These shows help people to focus.   They become involved with the process and often in observing are given the desire to have a go themselves.

Three 18ft hanging mobiles – installation for public building, USA.  –  Using a jigsaw, I cut the shapes for the mobiles from 6″ thick house insulation.    They were then painted white and installed into this 40ft high atrium. 


In my ideal world, men, women and children would spend a period at the beginning of each and every day doing something creative.        This might be one of the solutions for peace and harmony the world:)

Speaking of which.      It was in the mural I have shown in this post that I first began to incorporate hummingbirds as symbolic imagery and so I leave you with  some of their colour and magic.


A Bientôt







Processing information beyond the Intellectual – Interconnections

I have a relatively small bolt hole in London where I paint and live.    Consequently I have had to be creative in organising the space.  It’s more studio than living which suits me very well.

Along with my watercolour painting, I work on large canvases and have paintings stacked against walls, etc.      However, the light is good, and it meets all my needs until Marmite Heaven is revealed.

This image shows my new watercolour brush on the work table in the foreground and a large oil on canvas (still a work in progress) against the wall.P1160490

This is the story behind the series….and how it has developed since 1982, when I first spent time on Isle-au-Haut – an island in the Penobscot Bay – Maine.   I am hoping to return there next year.

In hindsight, I can see that until this point – my work was all about acquiring technical know-how and very little about the intangible – or thinking beyond the intellectual.     

It was while water-colour painting and sketching the incredible rock formations on Boom Beach, Isle-au-Haut,  that I had the sudden and intense insight that all of life is interconnected….I began to see and understand the ‘whole’ rather than life in fragmentation and can now see that this was when I began to process information beyond the intellectual…..

This large oil on canvas was painted in 1982 after my insight on Isle-au-haut.    Here I have integrated the human form with the rock formations…….It’s about the poignant moment when people turn their backs on one another. 

Although this painting might appear to be unrelated to the large canvases I am now working on…..in fact they are totally interconnected.            

til August 10 432

Since 1982, I have worked on many corporate/private commissions, exhibitions and so on, but throughout the journey, it is this series that holds my real interest.

When painting, regardless of size or subject matter….the fact is that when we change one tiny fraction of a painting – we change the whole….and this is true for life.

I believe that until we as a human species fully understand this concept….we will continue to self destruct.      

More about the paintings I am working now….

When I sit and observe nature….I see a symphony of colour/shape/shade/light – and natural rhythms.     There are no beginnings or endings – everything is interconnected. 

Using symbolic imagery – my goal, as this series develops, is to establish an intangible energy and rhythm in the paintings – celebrating the interconnections rather than the separations…

A Bientôt