Tag Archives: West Chester Pennsylvania

Bonnie Halsey-Dutton Tutor at Art in the Algarve…www.artinthealgarve.com

e-bhd-photoI can’t believe that it’s almost that time of the year again when courses start up at the School in Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com     

I am looking forward to my time there in April, but this post is about another artist and dear friend of mine, Bonnie Halsey Dutton...who will be tutoring a course at the School from May 31st til June 7th.

Although Bonnie hails from Spearfish, South Dakota, I first met her in West Chester Pennsylvania about 28 years ago.      Having just moved to the area she first saw me at an art opening and came up and introduced herself, and the rest is history……

Bonnie’s artwork honours stories and explores mankind’s connection to the past.   Living in S. Dakota impacts her imagery, as her art explores the cultural symbols, stories and ancient artefacts from that region. 

Coming in with the Surf –  Oil on canvas. 


A professional artist and art educator, Bonnie has had over twenty years of experience in the field of art education.

Her workshop at the School in Olhao will focus on ‘exploration of place’, as well as ‘low stakes, creative risk taking.’

Using water based mediums, the workshop is designed to benefit beginning painters as well as artists wishing to explore their individual painting style.   

Lost and Found – oil one canvas


By studying art in an inspirational creative environment, like the School in Olhao, participant’s work and thinking is enriched….http://www.artinthealgarve.com

The 150 year old olive tree that emanates from one of the internal courtyards meandering its way up through the different levels of the school.


The studio 


The school offers excellent areas for group activities as well as plenty of quiet private spaces.


Looking down into the courtyard swimming pool…there is another pool on the roof


Minutes from the School, the colourful and vibrant market – 


A most convivial place to enjoy the wonderful freshly cooked food from the School’s kitchen,  and of course much conversation. 


Bonnie is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor.     She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, –  another reason why she is an excellent person to enjoy and explore this fascinating area with.

You can learn more about Bonnie at http://www.bonnie halsey-dutton.com and at http://www.artinthealgarve.com

I thought I would finish this post on a humorous note with this photograph of Bonnie and me taken in Deadwood, South Dakota – 1995.    We held up a stage coach that day and did quite well:)


A Bientôt..



Late summer thistles

This large oil on canvas was painted in 1976, part of a series, depicting the late summer wild flowers that bloomed in the fields surrounding our home just outside of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Something about the majesty of the purple thistle has always attracted and intrigued me.


‘If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden’  Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden – (One of my favourite books)

Have a lovely weekend.

A Bientôt

Megan – sitting quietly in the studio.

It must have been about 1989 when I was working on a large portrait commission of an interesting woman.        She had dramatic red hair, set against white skin. – a lovely subject. 

I was painting the portrait in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio which was quite cavernous and allowed me to have several easels going at the same time.       The woman would come for sittings once a week.

Her fourteen year old daughter, Megan would accompany her…and sit quietly drawing in the studio….and barely said a word.

Upon completion of the Mother’s portrait, using the remaining paint on my palette, I made this rapid oil on canvas sketch of Megan.   It probably took about twenty minutes…


I have no idea where Megan is today or what she is doing, but once again her portrait is a reminder to me of that special moment.   Today she would be in her mid to late thirties….

As always, the hummingbirds were weaving their magic.


A Bientôt

Photographs from the ’80s and ’90s

As I look through some of the photographs from the ’80s and ’90s.  I realise what an incredibly busy period it was and how swiftly time moves on.  

I begin this post with a symbolic self portrait (large oil on canvas), painted 1989 in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.   The brick wall behind the chest is the studio.   The photograph is of a large self portrait (oil on canvas).    The sculpted arm was made by artist Janet Cleveland.   The pewter vessel symbolises the female, and the quilt, a subject which featured in many of my biographical still life paintings from that time, symbolises peace and turmoil.    Apples feature quite frequently in my paintings.  

I almost forgot the silver egg cup in the centre of the painting.    I was born on the 100th anniversary of the News Chronicle a famous English newspaper of the time.    All babies born that day were given silver inscribed egg cups to commemorate the date.    It symbolises for me my birth and I have carried it through my life like a talisman. 


At the beginning of 1980 my son Jarrod was fourteen and Christie was six.  This photograph was taken in the studio behind our house in Westtown.       As a family we were busy individually and collectively and that was to continue throughout the ’80s and ’90s.

About one year after this photograph was taken we moved three miles into the town of West Chester to a house which sits virtually on the West Chester University campus.      

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Shortly after moving into West Chester, I purchased half of an old carriage house on Prescott Alley which had no heating or running water, just electricity.   It had very high ceilings and a great atmosphere and I knew it would be a good studio space.     

The next photograph was taken after heat and water had been installed.    I was able to have several large easels going at one time…which is how I like to work.     After my divorce in 1987, I used one half to live in and the other for work, and at the same time managed to get water and heat into the building.   I always say that this was the year I grew up!  

During this period I began to work on corporate mural commissions, for hospitals, banks, hotels, etc.    Mural painting was a good way to make money and to keep my tools honed.     Working with art consultant, Bonnie Paul in the States and others in the UK the fifteen years when I took mural commissions taught me a great deal.    

The large painting in the foreground of my studio was inspired by a visit to Isle-au-Maine in the Penobscot Bay, Maine in 1984…where I saw and understood for the first time, the interconnections of life.      I saw the human form in the rock formations on the Island and after making many paintings, I returned to my studio where I integrated the human form with the rocks.  

The large oil paintings I am currently working on continue to be about – interconnections.  

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Around this time, I received a call from my Mother in England who was clearly very upset.    My Father, who had walked home from his weekly bridge game, had collapsed with a major heart attack and died.    He was only 62, and such a wonderful human being.    

The death of my Father affected me much more than I realised at the time.    He was one of the most kind, gentle people I have ever known – and wonderfully eccentric at times:)    I think of him every day.    

This photograph was taken just two weeks before my Father died when my parents ware at a wedding.    I am so grateful to have it.


Two of my beloved West Chester studio cats….Tushy and Sasha….They would always sit on my still life set ups. and they loved to cuddle up next to the life models……

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Two images from around 1985.   The photograph on the left shows me, my husband and artist friend Mary Ellen Bilisnansky at a costume evening at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.     The other shows me in the studio with one of the big canvases behind me, inspired by the rock formations on Isle au Haut, Maine. 

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We always had a thing about costumes and dressing up….each year we would get together with this close group of friends to have our Easter hap parade.   This would have been taken around 1983…Sadly, two of the group have since died…..but my oh my we did have fun.     Looking at these photographs is such a reminder of the importance of making the best of every single moment of each day….

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I had known since my divorce in 1987 that when Christie entered college, and Jarrod was 27, I would return to the UK/Europe.   Meanwhile, during the seven years between my divorce and returning home, I completed large mural projects, my own paintings and gave workshops….At one point i was working from three different studios. 

In 1993, I moved to Crickhowell, a beautiful part of Wales and for the first six months stayed with my cousin Lyn and her family.     It was a very special time for me. 

This picture of me and my two cousins, Lyn and Michael was taken at the heads of the Valley –  overlooking the Usk Valley.  Crickhowell sits in the Brecon Beacons National Park….a very beautiful part of Wales.        

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For the twelve years that I lived in Crickhowell or as I call it The Magical Town of Crickadoon, life continued to be busy.   In 1995, I had solo exhibitions in Cardiff and France….as well as mural commissions at the new Cardiff Bay  and St. Edmund’s Church.     I continued to commute back and forth to the States where I gave workshops on the east and west coasts, the midwest and in some southern states.    During these trips I was able to be with my children and visit friends….and they of course came to visit me in Wales. 

This photograph taken with my dear friend Jane Lukas, who I referred to as my surrogate Mother….This was taken at her home on a lake in S. Carolina.     After giving a one week workshop at the Quinlan Arts Centre, Georgia….I would spend several days with Jane and Jack and be thoroughly spoiled…usually before moving onto the next East Cost stop. 

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For a while there I had an identity issue.     When I first moved back to Wales, all the locals referred to me as an American artist, even though I was English!    Then when I travelled  I was referred to as a Welsh artist…..

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After returning to the UK, I met up with my relative, the artist Carel Weight.     In the States I had painted under the name Janet C, Reed (my married name) and so when I returned I asked Carel about picking up my maiden name Weight again….he thought it was a very good idea, and so that’s what happened.    Since then I have used my full name Janet Weight Reed. 

After Carel’s death there was a lovely party to celebrate his life at the Royal Academy and this was the programme – Carel’s painting of Turner drifting up to heaven…..

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I could show so many more pictures of when people visited me from the States  along with photographs of Wales, France, Spain and goodness knows where else, but let it suffice to say that life was full.    During the twelve years I lived in Wales I walked every day in and around the beautiful hills surrounding The Magical Town of Crickadoon.

This is my wonderful cat Christeve….It was Christeve who turned up at my cottage door on a stormy Chrismas Eve in 1997 and consequently inspired the book, Christeve the Cat finds her new home…..along with a trans Atlantic project which began in 1999.   


My friend Jim Poffley, who I have known since 1970, with his children Sam and lizzy on their way back to the States from Australia….They are sitting on the cottage wall…where Christeve and I lived together…   

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And here is Christeve’s garden….she is sitting on the roof of shed with a friend….

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I lived in The Magical Town of Crickadoon from 1993 til 2005 when I moved to London.   Next Friday, life from 2005 til now. 

One of the Magical Hummingbirds that helped Christeve the Cat to find her new home……

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend – here in the UK, it is yet another bank holiday weekend:)




A Bientôt

The Arrival of Sasha

This is a good time of the year to talk and think about people and animals who are homeless.    

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads, heating, and food in the cupboards often take so much for granted.   

The stories i have told in the last week about Phoebe the Jack Russell and Christeve the Cat finding loving homes, are metaphors for all those in our world who are searching for a place of their own. 

Today’s story is about Sasha finding a loving home, and how often things happen when least expected. 

Watercolour of Sasha.



In 1989 I painted several murals at the Pennsylvania Animal Hospital in Philadelphia.    It was a huge veterinary clinic, catering for small and large animals.       I worked there for about one month.

Just before the work was completed a lady suggested that I come and look at a little kitten that had been brought in that day.    As she put it….the kitten looked like she had fallen into a paint pot:)      

At the time I was living and working in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio and already had two beautiful cats in residence.     My initial reaction was that it wouldn’t work to bring home a young kitten…….that was until I saw her………………………..

As I approached the cage the little kitten, who did indeed look like she had fallen into a paint pot….put her paw through the cage and touched me…..the rest was history:)

I remember the moment I took her into the studio….my Tom Cat, whose name was Tushy and this new, tiny kitten immediately bonded!   It was quite remarkable.     

Now named Sasha, the following four photographs show how close she and Tushy the Tom cat became.    He was so patient with her. 



By the way, every time I set up a still life in the studio…the cats would consider it their new place to hang out…





As we partake in the season’s festivities, its important to remember all of the refugees and  people around the world who have so little at this time.     By showing gratitude for what we have, is to acknowledge those with so much less. 

A Bientôt