Tag Archives: the apple exercise

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

 

 

 

Tutorial 10: – Seeing Differently

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an apple?

It could be the iconic Apple Mac symbol…or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher:)

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

Upside down and inside out…..

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If we were able to time travel back to our earliest formative years, from 1 to 3, when our 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. 

If we are able to see the apple in many different ways, we will begin to see everything else differently. 

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A collage of apple exercise sketches. 

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This week along with a couple of watercolour demonstrations and more information about brushes and paper,   I will talk about the imagination, and how we can encourage it to blossom. 

Think left and think right and think low and think high.   Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.’   Dr. Seuss. 

A Bientôt

 

 

The Flying goose.

I leave you this weekend with a flying goose.

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From the book, ‘The Apple Exercise’

‘Given 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 sense 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 even more. 

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

 

Next week, more tutorials and information about watercolour brushes and paper. 

Wishing everyone a beautiful and creative weekend.

A Bientôt 

 

Tutorial 9 – The tree

I am using all the same techniques I have demonstrated in the previous tutorials to paint this tree. Image

Frame 1.  

Having loaded my brush with a juicy mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, I suggest the shadow side of the tree….and then with a clean, wet brush pull out the paint. 

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Frame 2. 

Using a rigger brush and  the same mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian blue I begin to suggest branches. 

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Frame 3. 

I now begin to add foliage…and at the same time move the colour to the bottom of the image.

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Frame 4.

For the finished tree, I add more darks and lights to the foliage and then scrape out with my knife.   Note that at all times, I am moving colour around the image.

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Frame 5.

This is another example of a tree trunk, using all the same techniques as above.

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Remember that fifteen minutes a day of regular practise is better than 5 hour binges once a month.

My book, The Apple Exercise, which talks about all these techniques is available through my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

Happy painting.

A Bientôt

 

Tutorial 5. Warm up landscape.

In this short video, I am using the same techniques used in the Calla Lily tutorial.

This is a warm up exercise that I have used for many years. You end up with a little landscape painting, which again can be modified in many different ways, by changing the horizon line, adding some mountains, etc. The key is that it’s all about warming up and playing. By the way any colours can be used.

Before e mail, when I would send lots of snail mail around the world, I would paint these little landscapes on the envelopes. A great way to warm up, and the receivers always enjoyed.

For the sky area I am using – Winsor & Newton Cotman series, Turquoise and Dioxazine Violet.

Between the sky and land, Winsor & Newton Gold Green, and a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the foreground.

I use a knife or credit card to scrape out grasses in the foreground.

It’s important to note that I don’t use black in my watercolours. Rather I mix Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks. I would suggest that you play with swatches of this combination.

Note that I bring colour from the top of the painting into the foreground….because the sky naturally reflects upon the land. Everything reflects and everything is interconnected. This also helps to balance and bring harmony to the image.

This little story points out how our minds are conditioned by what we are taught, rather than what we actually see or experience.

When giving a workshop in Wales one beautiful sunny January morning, one of the participants painted a landscape he had seen on the way to the workshop. He explained that the fields in the landscape was actually blue, and then went onto say that as there are no blue fields in winter, he painted them brown……..

The fact was, the man had seen blue fields. He had seen the reflection of the clear blue sky onto the white frost covering the fields. Rather than believe what he actually observed, he instinctively chose to go with what he had been taught.

When we first enter the 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.

Happy warming up and playing.

All these exercises can be found in my book The Apple Exercise. The book is available through the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt