• Time to move on.......

    After writing a blog on BCUK for the past five years, I have moved to a new server. New address: www.jcrhumming.wordpress.com
    I will keep this blog for 'archive' purposes, but from now on all blogs will be posted at the new address.

    I have made some wonderful friends during the past five years, and plan to keep in touch.

    Meanwhile, last time I was here, I showed the progress of the 5' x 4' oil on canvas I have been working on.....this is where I left off


    and this is how it looks today....although still more work to be done.


    I have also put together a little book entitled 'Magical Hummingbirds' which is available through my website http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

    Hummers Book FRONT COVER JPEG

    It's been a very busy and productive year thus far, and looks to continue that way. I fly to Boston on the 26th September for a long weekend with my daughter. On the 30th, I will fly to Atlanta, where I will paint watercolour portraits, and then attend the wedding on October 5th of a young woman who I have known since her birth. Happy days:)

    Many thanks to all my friends at BCUK.

    A Bientôt

  • Work in Progress - Interconnectedness.

    'When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe' John Muir.

    Since my last blog, three weeks ago, life has been very full, and so I have only been able to work on the large painting for a couple of days, however, there has been some progress.

    This is where I left off.....


    Still very much a work in progress, this is how it looks today.


    This is an oil on canvas, measuring 5 x 4' (152 x 121 cm)

    For the first time I am using Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Soluble oil colour. I have been extremely pleased. The paints behave pretty much in the same manner as normal oil paints, with approximately the same drying time. The great benefit for me, particularly as I am painting in my flat, is that there are NO FUMES.

    I have used the following four watercolour images as reference for the painting, thus far. The first three frames are from the beautiful Amalfi Coast, and the peacock speaks for itself.





    When I work in watercolour, I paint in a very spontaneous manner....endeavouring to capture the essence of my subject as quickly as possible.

    With a large oil painting....it takes time to develop. From the offset, I have had a clear idea about the rhythm of the painting and the overall effect I want to achieve. Namely, a sense of interconnected harmony and energy. However, to arrive at that point, there are many stages in between.....and getting the composition right is key.

    You will note, that I have added a figure in the foreground. This will actually be a stone relief.....mimicking the stone of the cherub in the fountain.
    As is the case, with my 'rock and nude' series, which can be viewed on my blog at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk, this image symbolises the interconnectedness of human kind with the natural world. As the painting develops, the stone relief will be integrated into flora and fauna.

    In this frame, you can see where I started to sketch in the stone relief....


    In an ideal world, I would be working on at least two large canvases at once. I always say when teaching, that when you arrive at the point in a painting where you don't know what to do next.....do nothing. Move onto another painting...and by the time you return to the original work, the answer is always there.

    In this instance, I am using my watercolour work as the buffer between oil painting sessions. This allows the natural creative process to work. As ideas come to the forefront of my mind, I write them down ready for the next session.


    Of course, there will be hummingbirds in this painting.....I will use them to connect all the elements and hopefully to bring harmony and balance to the image.....but I am not there yet.


    During the coming weeks, I will be continuing work on my 'hummingbird book' with a view for it being ready for print by September.

    I find that when I am working on multiple ideas....one feeds the other. Everything is interconnected.

    I will write my next blog on Wednesday September 11th, and so I wish everyone a very happy summer full of creativity, love, peace and of course, hummingbirds.


    A Bientôt

  • Dream Land

    Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. James Dean.

    This is the third post showing the progress of the 152 x 122 cm (5'x4') painting I am currently working on. I am using, Winsor & Newton, Artisan water soluble oil paints for the first time, and can report that they feel like a regular oil paint, only without the fumes. Given that I am painting this canvas where I live, the no fume element, has been vital

    This is very much a work in progress...and has a long way to go, however, this is where I left off last week. (See July 10th blog)


    This is the painting, as of yesterday (July 16th)


    Once again, you will note that there have been several changes.

    I want this image to have a 'painterly' quality, and so as the canvas develops, the energy of the brush strokes will become more evident.

    These frames show the brushwork in two details from the painting.



    The goal of an artist is to marry technical prowess with the intangible.

    Like a carpenter who has worked diligently at his trade for many years, the goal of an artist is for his/her tools to become an extension of the body. However, being a brilliant technician is just one step in the process.

    This painting is very much about my inner feelings, which means in order for it to be successful, it must tap into the intangible.

    When I began this painting, I had an image in my mind's eye of the overall feeling of the finished work. To achieve this, it's vital that the painting conveys a sense of connectedness, harmony, rhythm and energy.

    One of the changes I made this time around, was to remove the woman's head, and replace it with a lovely little stone cherub which I came across when painting on the Amalfi Coast last October.

    Rapid watercolours of cherub painted last October.



    A photograph I took of the cherub which sat in a little fountain. This was a perfect place for me to paint and contemplate. Other than the obvious beauty of the place, the fountain gave me water for my paints, and a stone wall in the shade where I could sit and work. Bliss.


    One of the important elements of painting is the thinking that goes into the work. My spontaneous watercolours, suggest that not to be the case, but I can assure you that no matter what the medium, every brush stroke and mark is placed with thought.

    Along with this painting and some special events that are coming up, I am also organising illustrations for a little book about hummingbirds which means that my next blog with be on Wednesday 7th August.

    Keep cool and may the hummingbirds be with you:)


    A Bientôt

  • A World of Pure Imagination......

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus.

    My last blog showed the beginning stages of the new painting I am working on. It is a (5' x 4' - 152 x 122 cm) oil on canvas. I also talked about using for the first time, Winsor & Newton, Artisan water soluble oil paints. Two weeks on and I am glad to report that the paints are working very well, and most importantly are fume free!

    This is where I left off two weeks ago.


    This is the painting as of yesterday.


    As I said in my last blog, beginning a new oil painting is somewhat like embarking on a new relationship or journey. Although the initial feeling and overall rhythm of the painting will remain throughout, there will be many changes and surprises along the way.

    At this point, I am still involved with the composition, which is the foundation block and the most vital ingredient to any painting.

    When I started work, I knew that I wanted to incorporate landscape taken from my watercolours painted on the magnificent Amalfi Coast, Italy. In the initial composition I focused on this watercolour.....


    As the composition began to develop, I realised that this image worked better, and so I have now integrated aspects of both images into the painting.


    Those following my blog will know that I am known for my spontaneous watercolours, however, over the past forty years I have also worked on countless large oil paintings, and although an entirely different medium and way of working, I enjoy it very much.

    As you will see from this painting, using oils I am able to delete and completely change a composition, which is not the case with watercolour.

    In watercolour painting, there are very few techniques, however they are quite difficult to master. With oil painting there are countless techniques, which take time and effort to learn, and are generally speaking much less challenging.

    This frame shows the painting at one of its many stages.....Note that the moon is still huge, and I have added callow lillies and a bird of paradise flower.


    I then deleted the flowers and changed the moon and position of the peacock to the right of the canvas. I did this to bring a sense of space to the painting.


    Ultimately, I will be using flora and fauna imagery, and of course, hummingbirds, however I am by no means there yet!

    One of my watercolour/gouache reference images, incorporating flowers and hummingbirds.


    At this stage in my life, it is lovely to focus on a world of pure imagination. A world where Mother Nature is revered and all creatures great and small have a deep and innate understanding of their interconnectedness.

    I plan to show the progress of this painting on my blog until completion.

    A bientot.

  • Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth....

    'Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.' Budda.
    Last week, I began work on a large canvas. (5ft x 4 ft - 152 x 122 cm) After the canvas was delivered to my flat, I applied a cadmium orange ground.


    For me a blank canvas is very exciting, as it represents the beginning of a new relationship and journey. This painting will incorporate some of the symbolic imagery that I have used throughout the past forty years. The painting will tell the story of my own creative life and at the same time pay homage to the all powerful, Mother Nature.

    Having lived and worked in studios over the years, I am only too aware of how toxic the fumes from oil paints can be, and so I decided to try out 'Winsor & Newton's Artisan water mixable oil colour', and so far so good! Not only is the paint applying very well, but there are almost no fumes and the clean up after a days work is very easy. I may well be working on the painting for the next two months, and so these elements are key.

    The ideas for this painting have been swilling around in my mind for a long time, and as I will be 68 on my next birthday, I decided this is the time to begin. I also think the recent super moon had a play in my starting now.

    When ideas are in the sub conscious or incubating, images and thoughts keep flashing up.....and this is where my rapid watercolour painting is very useful. It allows me to put down thoughts as they arise, ideas that can be used for reference.

    These are three rapid idea sketches, which I will use as reference.




    The thing about working in oils, is that you can change a painting over and over again.....add, delete, re work, etc., and so even after I have established the overall composition and rhythm of this painting, changes are likely to be made.

    This shows the painting after the first days work.....


    Second day.


    Third day.


    A little about the symbolic reference.

    When I first began to exhibit in the early seventies....I was known as a 'wildlife painter', and produced many large canvases and watercolours of tigers. Tigers symbolise Beauty, Strength, boldness and invincibility, and so it was vital that they be represented in this painting.


    I began painting peacocks about thirty years ago, when my dear friend Sammy, kept them in his magical gardens. The peacock image symbolises, nobility, guidance, protection and everlasting life.


    Anyone following my blog or FB posts, will know about my love for hummingbirds. By the time this painting is complete, there will be many hummingbirds present.

    Hummingbirds symbolise lightness of being, independence, joy and resiliency.


    I do believe that the recent new moon spurred me on to paint this image. The moon symbolises, cycles, psychic energy, renewal, mystery, emotion and illumination.

    I am also indicating mountains, and will be using an image I painted on the beautiful Amalfi Coast for reference. Mountains symbolise permanence and spiritual enlightenment.

    As work evolves on the painting I will show on this blog until the image is finished.

    As I wont be here next Wednesday and have a very busy week ahead....my next blog will be on Wednesday 10th July.

    A Bientôt

  • My visit to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.

    Before my trip last week, I had only visited Yorkshire twice before. Once right after I moved back from the states in 1994, when I helped a friend set up an exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and then last August when another friend drove me to Salts Mill, where David Hockney exhibits his work.

    Last week, I took the train to York from the newly renovated Kings Cross Station, London.


    I love the sculptural element of the roof.


    It's non stop from London to York and takes one hour and fifty minutes.....and voila, you are in a different world!

    My host, who doesn't drive, had asked a good friend to meet me at the station. From the moment Karen and I met, it was an instant connection which lead to easy conversation all the way to our final destination, Leyburn, in the Yorkshire Dales. On our way there we picked up Maddy, Karen's dog.....a real love:)

    A quick watercolour I painted of Maddy.


    I last saw Sue, just before she made the move to Yorkshire about one year ago. After living in the same area in Kent for thirty years, her decision to re-locate took much courage, however as soon as I saw her and the beautiful area she now lives in, I knew she had made a very positive decision.

    This is one of the views from the front of Sue's house. However, I was amazed to find that the front and back of the property has two different addresses! Anyway, the front of the house has a lovely garden which is right on The Shawl....where this photograph was taken.


    The Shawl has one of the finest view points in the Yorkshire Dales. Sue's house has the best of all worlds...beautiful views, and then just a two minute walk into the bustling market town of Leyburn, which has the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker....and much more.

    I was instantly reminded of The Magical Town of Crickadoon (Crickhowel, Wales) where I had lived for twelve years.




    The legend of The Shawl tells the story of the tragic Mary Queen of Scots, who was incarcerated in Bolton Castle for two years. When fleeing from the castle for the safely of Leyburn, she dropped her shawl near the market place in the town.......

    Views from The Shawl.



    Yes, the cows were lying down, which usually means rain....however, other than a light drizzle....we had relatively good weather.


    Less than a two hour train journey from London and then an hour and a half in the car, Leyburn and the surrounding countryside is a different world. Being in Leyburn felt a little like England thirty or forty years ago.....slow place, individual shops, restaurants and galleries, and shop keepers who have plenty of time to talk.

    Along with several festivals that draw many locals and tourists, the town's population swells from 2000 to many more during the holiday season.

    This dog sitting in front of one of the shops, shows the gentle pace of the town.


    As a great fan of Wallace and Gromit, I couldn't complete this blog without mentioning that Wensleydale is within sight of Leyburn:)

    Wallace and Gromit's favourite cheese.....


    Then back to the beautiful York Station, courtesy Karen, to take the train home.


    A Bientôt

  • London photographs

    The following photographs were taken from a friend's flat on the 18th floor of the Panoramic building which sits at the north end of Vauxhall Bridge. I took these on Tuesday when the weather was picture perfect.

    The big building on the left hand side of Vauxhall bridge is the MI5 headquarters.


    Looking down Millbank towards Westminster, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.


    The London Eye was originally to be a temporary structure, but it is now an important part of the landscape.


    In this image you can see the dome of Tate Britain....and I always love the way the Thames winds and curves.


    The London skyline is very different from twenty or thirty years ago and certainly to when I was born in London in 1946.


    Battersea Power Station, which is slated to be developed into expensive flats, shops etc....but who knows?


    Here you can see the Shard which is now open to the public....Apparently the view from the top is quite spectacular.


    After a trip to Yorkshire next week to visit Sue Medley who is a very talented website designer, I then plan to have a more relaxed July/August in preparation for what already looks like a very busy autumn.

    I do hope everyone on this side of the Pond is enjoying this glorious weather.

    My next blog will be on Thursday 20th June.

    A Bientôt

  • Mural painting

    The mid eighties were a big turning point for me in many ways, and it was also the beginning of my mural painting period, which lasted for fifteen years.

    At that time, mural painting was very much in vogue, and corporations were spending large amounts of money to have them installed into their corporate headquarters.
    They commissioned murals through art agents/consultants. In 1986, I was fortunate to meet a very good art agent/consultant in the States, who specialised in corporate art. This lead to a long lasting working relationship.

    It is important to stress, that most of these murals were decorative, and were painted according to the likes of whoever was commissioning. For me, they represented a way to make large chunks of money, which then gave me the freedom to paint what I wanted to paint. They were also an excellent way to hone my tools.

    These two images of a large canvas commissioned by the Philadelphia Heart Institute in 1988 are a good example of a decorative mural which was painted in my studio and then put onto a large roller to be transported to the site for installation.

    mural 8

    mural 7

    This large oil painting, along with a mural, and several other paintings, was commissioned by the Andrew Weir Shipping Company for an hotel in the Cardiff Bay development. Each job involved research, and in this case I had to learn out about the Tea Clippers that frequented Cardiff at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    mural 9

    Every now and then I received a commission where I was able to paint what I wanted to paint......and this was the case with two large panels for a thousand year old church in Wales.
    This image, shows the underpainting of one of the panels. Monotone under paintings gave me a sense of the composition and rhythm of a painting before adding colour.

    I was given the following passage from Song of Solomon, (2:10-12) as inspiration for the panels.

    'Arise my love and come to me for the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land.'

    I used symbolic imagery to represent the verse and painted the panels with the children of the area in mind. All the animals in the panels, are animals I knew and loved.

    church panel underpainting

    Here you see the two panels after installation. It is important to note, than when producing large installations of any kind, the architectural elements of the given space have to be harmoniously incorporated into the picture.....Once again, it is understanding that everything is interconnected.


    This image shows a very large mural, commissioned for an architects building in the States. In this case the architect gave me carte blanch, and so once again I had to research the area. Everything in this painting has symbolic meaning, and it was probably the first time I used hummingbirds in a large painting.

    massara mural w c

    This image shows a much younger me working on the mural.

    til August 10 265

    Along with the mural, I also designed and built these three eighteen foot hanging mobiles which complimented the painting, and also filled the forty foot high space.

    mobiles massara 2

    At one point I also designed room dividing screens....

    mural 3

    This large oil on panel was commissioned for a private dining room.....

    mural 11

    In this mural, I incorporated a copper fountain and vine. Integrating the two dimensional painting along with three dimensional sculpture was something I loved to do.

    mural 1

    I wish I had better photographic reference of these jobs....and the many more that I completed between the mid eighties and 2000....however, it was pre digital cameras, and I wasn't quote so adept those days in taking photographs.

    Again, it's important to stress that most of the work I did, for hotels, banks, hospitals, etc. were of a decorative nature....however, in hindsight, I can see very clearly that they served their purpose very well. They provided me with an excellent income, which in turn gave me freedom to create and also honed my tools.

    I have been requested to write this blog for Axlepin Publshing, which I am very proud to be involved with.

    A Bientôt

  • Artreach Missions - Be one of the many colours of change.

    'Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.' Albert Einstein.


    Through the interconnectedness of the world wide web, artists who have traditionally been somewhat isolated from main stream society, are now connecting with one another and the world at large. It was through the internet that I first learned about Artreach Missions. Based in the Philippines, Artreach Missions is run by its founder, artist and missionary, Koni Pascual.


    Koni Pascual is a woman after my own heart. A fine artist, she is full of passion and enthusiasm. Since 2001, when she started Artreach Missions, she and her family have worked tirelessly to help children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend art classes. Through the power of painting, music and dance Artreach has raised the aspirations, confidence and communication skills of thousands of children.


    Koni's vision for the future of Artreach Mission, is to encourage other communities around the world to spearhead their own Artreach programme and at the same time link up with one another. Through the internet, this is now possible.


    One of the many reasons I have become interested in Artreach Missions is because some years ago, prior to global access to the world wide web, I was involved with a programme which used the power of art to support children's awareness of their environment. I have seen and experienced first hand how art can open a child's eyes and encourage their curiosity and enthusiasm. I am also aware that through the arts, children learn to focus.


    Learning to Focus. Along with the positive benefits of our technological world, there is also the negative. There is always the Yin and the Yang. Something I am observing more and more is that many people are finding it difficult in our fast paced world, to focus. I know that through the arts, focus is introduced in a natural way. Observe any group watching someone paint, dance or listening to music.....and they are focused.


    And it's not just children.....Note how focused this group of adults are at a portrait demonstration I was giving in Paris.


    As Artreach Missions demonstrates, the best way to reach children and offer them possibilities for a lifetime of positive change is through the power of painting, music and all creative endeavours.

    Maybe someone reading this blog, can be one of the many colours of change, and spearhead an Artreach programme in their community.


    May the magical hummingbirds be with Artreach Missions and all the children who need beauty and creativity into their lives.


    A Bientôt

  • The Landmark Forum

    'Tall trees get the most wind', an expression I learned many years ago from a Dutch friend. Meaning that if you stand out and live your life in a way that doesn't fit in with society's concept of how things should be, expect to receive extreme reactions....both positive and negative.


    This past weekend, I attended a three day Landmark Forum in London, and although I have been aware of this organisation for many years, I had no idea what to expect. The leader of the Forum was a very eloquent, amusing Australian man, David Ure. From the first morning David made it clear that The Landmark Forum is such an entity. People either hate it and label it a 'cult', or love it and feel that it is has had the most positive effect in their lives.


    Perhaps because my own life's journey hasn't necessarily fitted into the societal norm, I chose to take the middle ground and in doing so came away from the experience enriched on many levels. I also experienced a personal breakthrough which I never thought possible.


    Before I talk about my personal experience, let me say how this weekend came about. My daughter, Christie has been involved with Landmark for seventeen years. The company she works for basis its success on the principles of the Landmark programme and pays for all its key employees to attend Landmark. Although I have always been supportive of Christie's involvement, I never felt it was for me.

    Then this past January a very good friend from Wales visited under the auspice that she was attending a business meeting in London. During our catching up conversations, she told me that she was actually in London to attend something called The Landmark Forum. Although my friend from Wales and I are quite close, she was totally unaware of Christie's involvement, and so this was a surprise for both of us. My friend's visit and consequent Landmark experience was to be the trigger for me to sign up.


    Last Friday morning I arrived at 9 am sharp at the designated venue, along with about one hundred and fifty other people made up of many nationalities and creeds. Each day began at 9 am - and went through to almost 10 p.m. We had two half hour breaks and then a ninety minute break for an evening meal, and yes, you are able to go to the loo (toilet) in between breaks if needed:) After returning from breaks participants are encouraged to sit with new people, and so the room was never, what I call static.

    For the first day, I simply listened to David and the many people who shared their life experiences and what it was they wanted to change. There was much laughter, more than I have experienced in quite a while, and some very poignant, reflective moments. I learned a great deal.

    One of the key elements is to examine our personal interpretation of ongoing stories and dramas in our life and how we always have to be right about whatever the story is. The key is in recognising how these stories have prevented us from being all that we can be today. This clicked for me.


    My story has to do with the relationship I have had with my Mother, and without going into all the details, I can say that I have attributed any bad judgements and decisions on my part to this story, which in turn has made me resentful towards her.

    What I now realise is that I never really listened to my Mother. I only heard my interpretation of what she was saying......and that interpretation became a boring, monotonous story which took up precious space in my head.

    After this weekend, that story has been put to bed. I now understand that my Mother loves me and gave me a great deal in life, and I also understand that I love her. I am so glad that I have recognised all of this while she is still alive so that I can tell her myself.

    As this series of photographs I chose for this blog, taken in Kinsale, County Cork last August show....things are not always as they seem.


    I would recommend this programme for anyone wishing to enhance their levels of communication with family, children, friends and people within their community.

    Clearly the hummingbirds have been weaving their unseen magic for me during this past weekend:)


    A Bientôt


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