I recently came across Janet Weight Reed’s beautiful work and immediately warmed to her philosophy of how creativity lies at the heart of what it means to be human, to be fully alive and to flourish. I have only known Janet for a short time but she has already proved to be a huge source of kindness and encouragement.
Here are some words by Janet, which sum up this awesome philosophy:
It is my belief that the creative process in all its forms is the key to physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
I love to learn from my fellow writers but also find it hugely inspiring to sit at the feet of artists who work in different fields and to understand how they tell stories through forms other than the written word.
Janet is know for her love of colour and for capturing the essence of her subject. In a brushstroke, she does what I try to do through story. She is currently working on a series which she started in 1982, called Interconnections. She runs the most amazing workshops which bring together this philosophy of creativity and wellbeing. The next one will take place in Portugal in April 2016 and the one after that in South Dakota in September 2016. Find out more about her workshops here.
Janet lives in London and works in studios around the world.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Determined. Driven. Courageous.
How would you describe the nature of your art?
Early inspiration was fuelled by an aunt’s tiny sketch book – my uncle’s paintings and the colourful pavement artists in front of the National Gallery in London. Known for my love of colour, I seek to get beneath the vaneer of my subject, whether animate or inanimate.
What do you love most about your work?
What do you find hardest?
Being pigeonholed by galleries.
What kind of child were you?
I was often called ‘odd’ – probably because I lived in a world of imagination. I loved the natural world.
Where do you work?
My base and studio is in Hampton, SW London…however, I travel and work in many different countries.
Which artistic project have you most enjoyed?
I have worked on numerous projects – however, I think the ‘Interconnections’ series is the one I have enjoyed the most.
You are a great believer, as I am, in the importance of creativity to human life and human flourishing. Could you tell us a bit more about this philosophy?
It has been my personal experience that when we feed our senses through the creative process in its many forms, miraculous changes occur, leading to a sense of physical, emotional and spiritual well being and fulfilment.
In an ideal world, every child and adult would begin their day with some form of creative expression.
What relationship do you see between art and storytelling?
As I read, I visualise images that go with the text, and when I paint, I am always thinking of the story behind the painting.…the relationship is huge.
Do you think there is a place for illustrations in adult fiction?
Yes…particularly in the realm of colour.
What are you reading at the moment?
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor. (I didn’t pay Janet to say that, I promise!).
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Sir Peter Ustenov, Geogia O’Keefe, Michael Paylin, Shirley McClain, Grayson Perry, Hilary Clinton
What is your earliest memory?
After the war when I was three years old, I escaped from the garden and found my way to a cobbler’s shop where I had seen a miniature carousel in the window. In a post war, seemingly very grey world, the little carousel was full of vibrant colour.
Who is your favourite fictional character of all time?
What is your favourite word?
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
What song or piece of music would you choose as the theme tune to your life?
John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’
We have another thing in common: our love of animals. Tell us a bit more about this – and, as a side question, if you were an animal, what kind of animal do you think you’d be?
(a) I have had a deep affinity with animals since early childhood and have used animals and birds as symbolic imagery in my paintings for many years.
(b) A tiger, (often revealed in the form of a domestic m0ggy:)
What three tips would you give an inspiring artist?
- Never give up.
- Stay open to everything
- Don’t compare yourself to others.