Janet Weight Reed: Featured Artist
While scrolling through my twitter feed, I kept running into these delightful splashes of color. These images would flit between my tweets in the same way hummingbirds hover for an instant then zip off for some unknown adventure.
I explored further and found that these watercolors were the creation of Janet Weight Reed who was gracious enough to allow an interview for my “Featured Artist” column.
What were your first memories of wanting to be an artist?
My first memory of knowing that I wanted to be an artist was when I was about three years old. At that time my grandmother showed me a sketchbook belonging to my Aunt….which I can visualize to this day. Born in London at the end of WW2, my first impressions of London were of a war battered, drab and grey city. Even at such a tender age, my Aunt’s colorful sketch book inspired me to want to be an artist and to love and appreciate color.
The other resounding memory and inspiration from that time were the pavement artists in front of the National Museum in London. Their world seemed to be filled with color and light….a world I wanted to be part of.
That you can still visualize something you saw at the age of three is amazing. Color caught your attention then and seems to be important in all your work since….your watercolors as well as your illustrations for children’s books.
Regardless of subject matter, observation is key to my life and work. Nature plays a huge part in my life and is a constant source of inspiration. I look for the drama in a subject, and tend to see the world as if I was looking into a kaleidoscope of shapes, color, lights and darks.
What type of education or discipline helped you hone your skills?
When I was sixteen I won a scholarship to The Medway College of Arts in Kent…(now part of the University of the Creative Arts) However, I believe it is the years of consistent dedication and desire to ‘marry technical prowess with the intangible’ that makes the artist. I have enjoyed quite a few wonderful mentors in my life and career. There have been times when I thought I couldn’t continue for one reason or another, and it always seemed that one of my mentors were there to catch me, and encourage me to keep moving forward.
Your website and blog is filled with a variety of work, but it appears you have been enchanted by the hummingbird?
I saw my first hummingbird in the mountains of North Carolina in 1968 – Since then I have used hummingbirds as symbolic imagery in large oil paintings and of course watercolors. The hummingbird symbolizes, for me, the ‘unseen magic’ in the world.
I love how you seem to use the viewer’s perspective to fill in the movement….having us catching glimpses as we would out in nature.
My goal was to capture a gentle, soft, moment in time with this watercolor ‘Hummingbirds with Flowers.’
In this watercolor I hope to convey the flight of the hummingbird and again the essence of a moment in time.
This watercolor/gouache image is more vigorous, attempting to capture the movement and total integration into the natural world of this amazing little creature.
You said you had many mentors along the way. What are suggestions you have to others who want to make their living (or their life) as an artist.
Don’t compare yourself to others, only to yourself. Be as creative in the way you make a living, as you are in your artwork. i.e. During my own career, I have exhibited widely, given workshops, talks, and during the middle of my career, between 1987 and 1993 – Painted large commissioned murals for corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. I believe that using social media offers all sorts of opportunities, but again, this can only happen if it is used consistently and persistently.
I really like that phrase “consistently and persistently.”
Unless someone is independently wealthy, and I am not……be realistic and accept that life as an artist will most likely be filled with the ‘feast or famine’ syndrome. Don’t be too precious…..meaning, sometimes we all have to do work that we don’t necessarily want to do…..however, I see it all as part of an artist’s journey and is often an opportunity to hone one’s technical skills.
Wise counsel, indeed. Thank you, Janet, for being willing to take the time for the interview. I hope my readers will take some extra time and go through your website and blog. I found the exploration inspiring.