Tag Archives: symbolic self portrait

The story behind the painting…..

The story behind the painting…

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It is a story about transformation and turning points….

As I write this, I am experiencing another period of transformation and given that the painting arrived with me in London on Monday, having been housed with friends in Wales for the past eleven years, it seems the perfect time to tell the story…..with the help of magical hummingbirds, of course:)

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The portrait was painted in my large carriage house studio in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  The year was 1987.

Prescott Alley Studio, West Chester, Pennsylavnia. 

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From as early as I can remember, up until the time of painting this portrait, I suffered from acute anxiety….a crippling anxiety, made worse by the fact that I did everything I could to hide it.   For the most part, aided and abetted by tranquillisers!

In 1987, my son was 21 years old and my daughter fourteen…and to all intents and purposes our world appeared to be very rosy.    In hindsight, I can see that my husband and I did the very best we could given the tools we had.

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In 1986, I received treatment for my love of tranquillisers during which time I met someone who said the right words at the right moment.

The words were ‘Stop fighting it……!’

I will never be able to explain what happened, but at that moment my life changed….and although I have lived through some difficult times since, I have never experienced the horror of the crippling anxiety again!

The self portrait is a response to that moment of transformation…

It was the beginning of living my life authentically, and it was also the beginning of my understanding that I am not on this journey alone.

In this symbolic still life self portrait painted in the same studio, I included a photograph of the painting. 

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And so as I move gratefully through this new period of transformation, I am ready for a burst of creative energy…..I am ready for the next part:)

A Bientôt

The Big Picture

It’s all too easy to see one or two images of an artist’s work and make judgements.     If an artist has been working for many years, it is better to see the big picture.   In other words examples of work from different periods in their career,  so that we can understand more fully where they are coming from.

I was reminded of this on Wednesday when friends came to see the two large canvases I am currently working on.   Although I have known them for eight years, they hadn’t seen any of my oil paintings, and were particularly interested in a ‘Symbolic Self Portrait’ – large oil on canvas – painted in 1989, because it is so different from anything they had seen previously. 

Everything in this painting, symbolises my life.   The photograph is of a large self portrait oil painting, currently housed in Wales. 

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My friends, are used to seeing me work in a spontaneous, free manner, and indeed that is how my work has evolved….however, by the mid eighties, I knew that I needed to re-hone my technical skills….I needed to bring consistency back into my painting and life, and to do that, I set myself the task of painting a series of large oils.

During this period, I had a large studio and so was able to work on several large paintings at the same time….which is my favourite way to work. 

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Each painting started with a formal underpainting.       Given the complexity of the subject matter, this was necessary so that I could  establish a solid composition before adding colour. 

Each painting became a ‘Biographical still life portrait’ of people near and dear to me at the time. 

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There were about 30 paintings in the series.     I am glad to say that they all sold, except for my Symbolic Self Portrait, which travels with me wherever I go, as a reminder of this period in my life.    

It reminds me that no matter how difficult things might be, that I can work my way through it…

This detail from a very large oil on canvas, represents my dear friend Sue Hineman.    Although Sue is no longer with us, I do have a watercolour portrait of her which always stays with me. 

 

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Although my natural instinct is to paint in a spontaneous manner, this four year exercise was probably one of the best things I could have done.   

Like a solid underpainting, this series proved to be a new beginning and foundation block.     My observational skills were honed, and an understanding of my tools and technical ability expanded. 

During the middle of my career, working with art consultants, I completed many corporate murals, which was a great way to bring money in and at the same time give me the freedom to explore my own work.     During this period, technical know how was key….my tools had to be an extension of my body….which is why I consider these ‘quilt’ paintings to have been an important foundation block. 

This very large oil on canvas, represents two friends, Dick McClure and Jean Frohling.

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As an artist’s life grows and evolves, so does their work.  

 When I returned to the Uk in 1993, and made my home in Crickhowell, Wales (the Magical Town of Crickadoon🙂 I had to focus on smaller works….namely because I was living in smaller spaces.    

However, during that period, I did complete two large panels for St. Edmund’s Church, Wales along with several large mural projects including one in what was then the new Cardiff Bay.      For these, I rented space from a good friend who had a small industrial park close by to the town. 

It never ceases to amaze me how our needs are always met when we are following the right path. 

This painting represents my dear friend Sammy who gave me the wicker chair, and Nicholas who gave me the quilt. 

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There are many more of these quilt paintings scattered about.      

Every now and then it is good to be reminded of where I have come from.     It helps me to understand more of what I am doing today. Each period, brings with it new experiences, insights, and understandings, and the good news is that this never stops……

As Picasso once said – ‘An artist’s best painting is their last painting’  – I like that. 

Wishing everyone a  beautiful weekend. 

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt