Tag Archives: the apple exercise

The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note.

Happy, peaceful, healthy and creative New Year to one and all.

The  ‘Apple Exercise’ is a positive way  to begin the new year for anyone wishing to express themselves and explore their creativity.

Throughout my many years of painting and teaching, I have heard over and over the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but always seem to find that life gets in the way……..

The new year is a good time to re-think and re-look at the way we live our lives.   A good time to make new and positive habits.

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In principle this exercise is very simple and effective.   If followed three positive changes will occur:-

A new positive habit will be formed which will benefit all areas of our lives.   

Fifteen minutes of PLAY every day for one month will hone observational and technical skills.    

Participants will begin to ‘see differently’

There are three simple rules:-

Pick the same 15 minutes every day – a time that works for you. 

Set up a small table, such as a card table, which doesn’t have to be moved or shared. 

Turn off mobiles and any other potential distractions……

Here are just a few of the things you can use to explore and PLAY with.    If you don’t have artists paint, use house paint or anything else you can get your hands on. 

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If you are scared to mark a new piece of paper, then use newspaper, old magazines, wrapping  paper or inexpensive wall-paper lining.

Playing – using magazine paper, felt tip pen and some paint……20190104_112054

Allow yourself to doodle until you begin to relax.    Artists, writers, dancers, musicians all need to stretch and warm up.    PLAYING  is the best way to do this.

Remember that the apple is simply a ‘jumping off point’   – it doesn’t have to be copied perfectly.

This image helps us to remember the importance of Negative Space....the space that surrounds the subject we are painting.     By putting colour around the apple shape…the apple is revealed.

20190104_113225Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses are being deadened.

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us, with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which can lead to a sense of well-being and fulfilment.

Warning  –  Beware of the Chattering Monkeys….

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Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our minds with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

I am sure as you begin this exercise, they will be shouting out…‘you don’t have time to do this’, and you can’t draw or paint anyway…..

IGNORE THEM 

As you move forward with the apple exercise and establish a routine, you will find that the Chattering Monkeys will go away…….

Note these apples cast their natural colour into their shadows.    Each apple reflects upon the other.      All of life is interconnected….

20190104_120714When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

By the time we reach adulthood most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Colour effects our every mood and emotion.    Allow yourself to PLAY with colour….Apples can be any colour you wish them to be…..Be bold – make marks and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings. 20190104_121604When we think of an apple we might visualise the iconic Apple Max symbol, or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher.

What the Apple Exercise will demonstrate is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of ways.

Seeing the apple differently…….

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If we could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.

Instead of just looking straight ahead, look in every direction, including up and down.

Instead of always sitting in the same chair view your favourite room from many different points of view

.Look at the whole – not just the shiny red outer image….remember there are fascinating pips inside the apple.      

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The creative process is all about experimenting.    Letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during out lifetimes and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.

It is about awakening the senses.  

Stride out in confidence into this new year and enjoy the transformation that creativity and colour can bring.          watercolour/collage from one of my children’s book illustrations. 

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My book ‘The Apple Exercise’ can be found on the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk 

My next painting course will be in Portugal beginning April 18th  at http://www.artinthealgarve.com 

a bientot

 

 

 

How Creativity and a simple daily plan contribute to holistic wellbeing.

‘Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit – the realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our state of well-being’.   Greg Anderson. 

Through Mother Nature we see how all of life is interconnected. – watercolour27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_oWhat is Holistic wellbeing?  

Holistic wellbeing is characterised by the treatment of the whole person.    It is to look at the self from a whole (holistic) perspective and to understand the mind, body, spirit connection.  

To change one fraction of a painting, – changes the whole painting.     This is true for we humans….to change one small part of ourselves, (positively or negatively), changes the whole. 

watercolour20180610_130630-1In our ever more complex and stressful day to day living, finding ways to balance the different aspects of our lives can at times seem overwhelming.     It is for this reason that I believe to make changes, we first need to create a simple daily plan.  

The following are some of the things that have helped me over the years.

Movement to enhance physical wellbeing –  A daily walk – a stretching routine – dance.   (we don’t have to run a marathon).

Emotional  wellbeing  – We can do this by removing unnecessary technical stuff.    Do we really need our phones on 24/7?

Clearing the space in which we live helps to clear the mind and the body.

Keeping pen and paper close at hand to write down thoughts and feelings.   Emptying our heads before going to sleep by writing down anything that is causing distress or disruption.

Spiritual food –    The creative process in all it’s many forms can feed this need.   Painting, writing, music, gardening, cooking and colour all help to feed our senses and enhance our imagination and observational skills.       

Without establishing simple routines, our creativity can be neglected.    My little book – The Apple Exercise – is all about making space in our daily lives to explore our creativity.     In the book I suggest fifteen minute exercises.

Each person has to create their own simple daily plan, one that works for them.

When we address these simple needs we experience a sense of wellbeing.

This watercolour exercise demonstrates that as we change one small portion of a painting, or ourselves, the whole changes. 

20-11-15-1-726Allow time for a new simple daily plan to become part of who you are….change one element at a time.20-11-15-1-728It takes 28 days to form a new habit.       The key is to be persistent and consistent.        20-11-15-1-729As we make positive simple changes, stress is replaced with a calmness which supports the whole.     This is holistic well-being.    20-11-15-1-731Everything I write in this blog comes from personal experience.    I came up with a simple daily plan for myself thirty-two years ago, when I recognised that my own life had become overwhelming – out of control.       Feeling overwhelmed and fragmented affected my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

You might say that at that time, I had an epiphany, a sudden and striking realisation that I needed and wanted to change.

To make these changes, I started with a very simple daily plan.    Slowly but surely my life improved beyond recognition.

With these tried and true tools in place – I am now able to face stressful situations in a much more constructive way.

‘The key is changing our habits and, in particular, the habits of the mind’.   Buddhist Offerings. 

watercolour27164812_10156033362095396_1542881300197917602_oA Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

Away for a couple of weeks….Olhao Portugal

Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com     From one of my many sketchbooks.20-11-15 - 1 (63)Those who follow my blog will know that I take a break from all social media including my blog when I go away to paint.

Given this, I thought the following passage from my book, ‘The Apple Exercise’ would be appropriate.

‘Given the fast pace of life today and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses have been deadened. 

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment.’

11083819_10153183552095396_1247590049461091690_oI will be back here at the beginning of May…..

A Bientôt

Feeding our senses through the creative process……

‘Feeding our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms, can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment’.    From my book ‘The Apple Exercise’.

rapid watercolour sketch –  Monet’s Garden at Giverny.

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A Bientôt

Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being revealed……

‘As we go about our daily lives, just like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being revealed, the seed of an idea can pop up with more information.    It’s vital to record these ideas, because even when we think we couldn’t possibly forget a moment of inspiration…..we can’        From my book ‘The Apple Exercise’

Self portrait – circa 1989 – mixed media 

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A Bientôt

Seeing beyond the obvious.

In my book ‘The Apple Exercise’ – I talk about seeing everything in a myriad of different ways.

The images on this post were taken at the Art School in Olhao on my recent visit.     I am looking at the courtyard, steps, wall and canopy in the Pool House from different points of viewbeyond what might be considered the obvious. 

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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In fact within each frame shown here there are many different images.

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When I walked into the courtyard of the School House, I immediately loved the triangular shape of the canopy along side the softer Bougainvillea.

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Again, looking at the same subject from a different point of view – gives me new and exciting information.

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and so it goes…..

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I have begun work on some images reflecting the shapes and shadow play within the numerous alley-ways of Olhao, which I will share as they develop.      Observing one small area, is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle of shapes, lights and darks. 

Right up my alley, you might say:)

The Magical Hummingbirds bring vibrant colour to begin the week.

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A Bientôt

When the answer is revealed….

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Another tutorial and reminder of the importance of observational skills.   I

This exercise is all about observing the whole picture, –  the subject and the area surrounding it, which is referred to as the negative space.

I sometimes see people struggling with one area of a painting that they keep going back to time and time again….adding and removing paint,  when quite often all that is needed is a shadow or some colour thrown into the negative space. 

Using  yellow ochre, I have sketched out the rough form of a Calla Lily

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It’s much like life when we are trying to solve an ongoing problem.  We tend to keep going back with the same solution, which doesn’t work!

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It’s not until we look in another direction, in this case into the negative space surrounding the Cala Lily, that the answer is revealed. 

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As we approach paintings and life from a different point of view….new solutions and answers are revealed.

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For this image I used a mix of colours that happened to be on my palette….and then scraped out some colour with a knife, which gives energy and breaks up the background space.

Note that all the white you see is dry white paper. 

I used the same dark tone/value in the back ground colour as I did for the dark shadows on the lily, and just a touch of Winsor & Newton Green Gold and cadmium orange to pull the image together

I never use black when watercolour painting….it deadens the picture.    Instead, I mix Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue….or other combinations of browns and blues….which produce a beautiful rich dark.

A Colourful Magical Hummingbirds for the day.

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http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

HummingbirdHQ.com

A Bientôt

Art in the Algarve – establishing rhythms

As mentioned in my last post, David Clark has organised a cohesive structure at the Art in the Algarve school, allowing for each tutor to focus on the job at hand.    I was delighted to find that life and costume models are available, which is something to consider for further workshops, but for this my first time at the school, it was necessary for me and the group to become comfortable with one another and acquaint ourselves with our surroundings.

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I find that when a group of individuals who don’t know one another meet in a new place things can often seem overwhelming…..where to begin?

My first suggestion was that everyone pick a spot in the studio where they could lay out their supplies – easy to grab, without shuffling though bags or running back and forth to rooms. 

Given that I always emphasise the necessity of warming up before a days painting, the next stop was to gather in the two courtyards….and begin to observe the exquisite shadow play…..and at the same time, make rapid notes and sketches. 

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I always begin a watercolour workshops regardless of the different levels of skill, with the idea that we are all starting from scratch.  One of the key elements of the course, was to use sketch books for gathering information, thoughts, memories and observations, and as the week developed transfer those thoughts and ideas to larger paintings.

I also begin every day with rapid watercolour demonstrations, emphasising the importance of adding any written notes to sketches, i.e. time of day, etc. 

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Given that most people on the course were interested in honing watercolour techniques, on our first morning the apple once again became a great subject for rapid observational sketches.     By  using such simple subject matter, observational skills were honed and basic watercolour techniques practised, allowing the group to observe more clearly what was happening with the constant change of light and shade. 

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These rapid observational sketches  and our sketch books became the foundation block for everything else we did during the week. 

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The Art in the Algarve school is a feast for the eyes.    So much to see, and of course the wonderful olive tree, (symbolising peace,)  meandering up through the different levels of the building is a constant source of inspiration. 

A rapid demo in my sketch book of the olive tree….again demonstrating the importance of allowing the sketch book to be a place for thoughts, ideas….nothing has to be perfect.   It’s all about seeing and expressing thoughts as quickly as possible.  Capturing a moment. 

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On our first day we were introduced to Margarida’s superb food at lunch time…..and here she is in the kitchen. Image

 

Then in the evening after a most satisfying day’s painting, getting to know one another and exploring of the town we ate at a local Tapas bar, and oh what fun it was…..and the food again superb. 

As we walked back to the school after our meal at around 10.30 p.m. we were all amazed to observe the cleanliness of the streets. 

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My post tomorrow will focus on our visit to the weekly Ohlao market.

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

 

 

 

The freedom to fly.

A young friend came to visit yesterday, and like so many single parents who work and in this case study, life had become overwhelming.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the details and distractions which make up our daily lives.    Before we know it, the day becomes so fragmented, that we are no longer able to focus on any one thing.

Having been in the same situation when I was considerably younger, I am able to write about this with conviction.    It wasn’t until I experienced a personal transformation when I was forty that I began to learn about boundaries and positive habit making. 

If we want to fly and experience personal freedoms then we must introduce some structure into our lives.     I have learned that structure brings with it great freedom. 

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The question is….where to begin?    

Again, from personal experience I know that if I try to take on too much, it rarely works.    In short I sabotage myself.

The more aware I became of this process, I could see that this was a common thread for many.    For example, people would attend my workshops and get all fired up…..and then after returning to their ‘normal life’ –  the sense of momentum and exhilaration would leave.    What to do?

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I remember when I began to put structure into my life it wasn’t easy, because I had to start almost afresh.  New thinking, new attitudes and routines.     This also meant putting up some very clear boundaries to others who might not have been on the same path…..probably the most difficult thing of all.

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It was around this time, that I began to offer my ‘Fifteen minutes a day for one month – Apple Exercise’.    

It is important to note that the principle of this exercise works for just about anything – writing, physical exercise, etc.   

To do this effectively it is important that it is the same fifteen minutes every day and that all distractions, i.e. mobile phones are removed or turned off. 

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If multiple issues need to be changed….I would suggest only beginning with one thing.

After one month of fifteen minute a day, playful exercises are complete….a new habit will be formed, and with that new habit, will come freedom. 

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http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt

   

 

 

Taking notes

Although I love to work on large oil paintings, over the years watercolour painting has become a constant companion for me.      Easy to carry when travelling and a superb medium for warming up and taking notes. 

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I have been writing my blog for seven years.   Before e mail, I wrote letters almost every day, and I keep sketch books which are full of images and words, however it wasn’t until I decided to write a book, that I realised I needed to approach things in a different way.

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I have been mulling this over for quite some time, and then I was reminded of a workshop I gave years ago in the beautiful Hereford countryside where one of the participants felt totally overwhelmed by the vastness of the landscape……Her question was – How to start?

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I suggested that she observe a lovely old door which was part of a barn….and start there.     By the end of the weekend, she had put together about 20 sketches or vignettes within the landscape.      

These notes and gathering of information ultimately gave her a much greater understanding of the total landscape, and where she wanted to take her work.       

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For a long time I was focusing on the idea of writing an autobiography and then more recently I realised that I want total freedom of expression in my writing as in my watercolour painting, and so decided that I would write a novel.      

Initially, much like the woman in my Herefordshire workshop….the big picture seemed overwhelming, and then I began to approach things as I would my painting…..

For me the process works better if I have a hard copy, and so each day as thoughts come, I jot them down and print out.   Thus far I have compiled a stack of notes, which are beginning to make sense.  

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In short, I am learning a new habit….clearly I need to consult my Apple Exercise book:)

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt