Thursday, 20 July 2017

Leaping Into a New Journey With Colour

Abstract colour flow experiment
Butterfly wings appearing in an exciting new approach to painting with watercolour

I think it happens to all artists after a long period of painting in a similar way. 
We want more.
 More excitement, something out of reach in technique . 
Something new. 

Although I like to think I am always experimenting, I do feel that right now I am taking a massive leap in my approach to working in watercolour. I am moving in a fabulous new direction. Or perhaps my "friendship" with my favourite medium is guiding me towards reaching an unknown destination.

I had started making small changes with colour application and watercolour techniques on my workshops. These new ideas not only had artists on my classes fascinated but I too, left each course eager to take my colour work ideas further. But only when I had the luxury of time in my studio. I knew I needed thinking space, quality free time and peace to evolve the initial ideas in my head into something more fruitful. I have that luxury at the moment. This year I took a break from teaching to write my new book. In fact I have two contracts to write two new books , not just the one I am currently compiling. There are different products and ideas appearing in each new publication.

But while writing and thinking carefully about what I would like to see in an art bookas a reader, a thought has been niggling me on what I use and why. How I apply colour is an area I have been changing drastically. Yes, my water use is vitally important as well. But the ratio of pigment and water combination is an area that I have been playing with rather a lot recently. Leading to some amazing outcomes. I know as artists we must understand we will never " know it all". There is always something to learn, just as there is in life.

This morning I took my Daniel Smith watercolours and tried something completely new. I am not ready to share this painting method yet because if it doesn't work consistently or isn't easy to follow when I demonstrate there will be no point in teaching it. But my new way of painting truly is the most exciting way of creating that I have come across in a very long time.

The above first wash is created with pure watercolour and water. The dynamic colour effect is due to the water application. And I can't wait to work on this piece further when it is dry. I know now what the subject will be but this painting will be created keeping the atmosphere and abstract effect. 

I have been photographing butterflies non stop lately so it isn't a surprise that I can see one already appearing in this abstract. The wings of one are almost there. Although this wasn't the goal or original intention. The wash was just an experiment in colour work.

The nicest part of this particular colour project was that my friends Katherine and John, from Daniel Smith visited my home yesterday. And studio. I showed them my new work and colour experiments I have been recently covering and loved their enthusiasm and excitement at my results. When you are connected with people who are as highly passionate about colour as you are it is so lovely to discuss and debate the endless possibilities that shape how we all paint and enjoy creating.

This work and new art journey is magical, energising and soul lifting. Can I wait to get started painting each day now?. 

You bet I can't!

Brushes, colour, here I come.


Artists Tip for the Day?

Don't accept there is only one way of doing things. There are known paths in art that have been travelled before. And there are destinations you never knew existed. 
Be an adventurer when you paint. 
An explorer into the unknown!


Monday, 17 July 2017

On Angels Wings : Butterfly in Watercolour

"On Angels Wings"
Butterfly in watercolour

I am participating in the Butterfly Count at the moment here in UK which means taking time out to count the butterflies I see in a specific amount of time. The number of butterflies I am seeing range from twenty to well over forty, depending on the weather and where I am  daily. In my own garden I see more than when I am anywhere else it seems and I am now learning about the varieties, some of which I have taken for granted for years without sadly knowing their name. I thought I knew what a "Comma" butterfly was until recently. I had gotten it confused with another kind but now I do know what they are and I am painting them. 

The above painting is of a "Comma" butterfly which was sat on a tall purple verbena plant outside my studio door. Very handy for photographing and for getting quick colour swatches to work from!

I have given so many demonstrations over the years and my butterfly paintings have always been extremely popular as subjects. But now I am taking time to sit still and study butterflies for longer period of times perhaps it is only natural that my art of them should improve.

I am having a ball so I have a feeling more butterfly paintings will follow.

How glorious summer is when you can paint outside with the sun on your shoulder and enjoy life!

Artist sTip of the day?

Get out and learn from nature. Admire it. Study it. And paint what you see!



Saturday, 15 July 2017

"Hare Less" Hare in Watercolour

"Hare Less"
Hare in watercolour 
Copyright Strictly Jean Haines

I am back to what I love painting most of all. Wildlife and ,of course, this means hare. These wonderful creatures have brought me so much luck in my art career. So much luck in fact that when my husband asked me to paint a gift for a friend I knew exactly what the subject would be. Something that brings luck. John rarely asks me to paint anything for friends but on this occasion the friend has been so wonderful to us that the gift choice seemed right and we know they love my art as they have a small collection purchased from galleries and exhibitions.

The fact this painting will not be in a show may disappoint the galleries who represent me as they have been asking for more of my hare paintings recently. But more will follow. This one will bring me luck too I feel.

For now this special piece will be given to someone who I know will love it.

I see wildlife regularly and always watch fascinated. But I fear  without protection this natural sight of wild animals, that I grew up surrounded by, may be a thing future generations see less and less of. As their natural habitat is removed for more hosuing for humans and the awful wildlife crime that destroys it so inhumanely. 

For now I will take in the beauty of this hare, less in a painting is more in my eyes. But more hare to see would be magical.

Happy painting


Friday, 14 July 2017

Summer wouldnt be Summer without ? Roses in Watercolour

 As Soft as a Summers Day
Roses in watercolour.

Who doesn't love Summer? And for me the sunshine season wouldn't be complete without a new painting of roses. Although I actually have several beautiful ones on the go at the moment. In our cottage garden the rose blooms are stunning this year. So I am spoilt for choice as to what to paint next. What a terrific situation to be in.

I picked the heads of three pink roses yesterday. Flowers that had become battered by recent rain fall. They had broken in awkward places on the stem so were too short to put in a vase. But rather than discard the very short stemmed blossoms I floated the rose heads in a crystal bowl and admired their formation and beauty that way. 

I started this piece by painting a very soft pink wash on paper and allowed it to dry before adding the petal detail.

As I painted, I listened to birdsong, glanced up and saw butterflies passing now and then and felt sunshine on my shoulders.

The mood of this piece is "Peaceful". 

I love it and can't wait to continue or start a new painting.

Early stages of my roses in watercolour. 
My peaceful mood is shining through in this.  And perhaps my gentle artists soul.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

"Grumpy Babes" Young Swallows

"Grumpy Babes"
Young Swallows waiting to be fed.

It happens every year.  And I look forward to it. My husband John has mixed feelings about it but admits he loves it too. The arrival of the swallows who nest in our car port. We know it is Summer the minute we see the first one checking out their nesting site which they have used ever since our car port was built a few years ago.  They build their nests and then the initial magic happens as we wait to hear and see the first of the tiny chicks bobbing their heads just above the nest, to look around for the first time.

Then their is the truly magical event of the fledglings leaving their nest for the first time.  I love seeing thsi so much. The tiny things edge their way along the car port beams and sit waiting for their parents to feed them. The parents do this on the wing and it is an incredible sight. Better still, you know the parents are coming as the little baby birds cheep continually until the feeding swoop is complete. I love this cheerful sound of excitement. 

Translated cheeps probably mean

"Mums Coming "  
"Food, food !" 
"Me, me me!!"

These greedy little fluff balls are endless in their need for food.  
But then the sad day that I dread arrives and I think it is today. I have raced to the carport this morning, as I have done daily for a while this year, to check to see how the babes are doing but my car port is silent. The nest is empty and the parents are nowhere in sight. I think they have left. And my heart sank dreadfully as I had started painting the cute rows of little fluff balls on the wooden beams. Apart from that I simply adored seeing them each day.

But I am so happy that all the chicks survived. I have chased away predators daily including groups of magpie intent on eating the baby birds. Every day has seen me racing around with my arms flapping like windmills to keep these little ones safe. And they are now. They made it and they have left " home" for another year.

What a privilege to witness nature and what joy to have a watercolour subject that is so appealing.

The photo below is one of a series of photographs I took over the last few weeks.

Young swallows bravely leaving their nest in our car port this week.

They say there is a positive out of every negative. The positive of the baby birds leaving their nests is that we can now use our car port again. We had patiently moved our cars to save them from getting messy from the nests directly above them.. So its' back to clean cars for us now but how I miss our feathered " family"


Artists tip for the day?

Paint what you can when you see it because you never know if it will be there tomorrow! 


Friday, 30 June 2017

Follow Your Heart : Duck Family in Watercolour

"Love A Duck"

This year I have watched so many duck families visit our cottage garden. The tiny ducklings have to overcome so much to survive as they often dwindle from an original large brood of up to thirteen babes to one. The chicks are taken by magpies, crows, heron, jays and even pike so the water they swim in has certain dangers for them too. But I take delight in watching the proud Mums with their young parading them across our lawn, watching as they feed and as often as not, one duckling will be the trouble maker never staying with the group out of harms' reach.

I was determined at some point to paint a duck family but as the year has passed, to date, I haven't had time. But now majority of the ducklings are almost fully grown so my subjects look very different these days. Apart from one last surprise visit. Maybe this particular Mum had a late start with hatching her young. But I was delighted to see yet another family visit and waddle past my studio regularly recently.

And here they are in watercolour.

But why the title of my blog post " Follow Your Heart"?

Yesterday I started painting this family scene. I was in my wonderful peaceful world , completely wrapped up in what was happening on my paper in front of my eyes. Only the eye of the mother duck was evident in the early stage of my painting but even without the detail you could tell my first wash was going to be a duck family. I was thrilled with the life and energy this piece already magically held.

And then my husband walked into my studio.

" I love that" he said and I was pleased.

"Its' going to look fantastic once the detail is added"  he commented before leaving.

His words rang in my mind and all I could think of now was "adding detail". I was there, back in a place I didn't want to be. Seeing every feather on the Mother duck and every outline of each tiny duckling. I had to go for a wander around my garden and put my mind back where it had been before I continued to paint. So that I would be capturing the story with as little information as possible, but enough to tell the tale.

There is nothing wrong with adding every detail to a painting. In fact this piece would have been gorgeous had I done so. But I wanted to follow my heart, my own instincts and create a painting that was "me". A Jean Haines interpretation of the happy family moment I had witnessed. I meet so many people on my courses who are trying so hard to be someone else when they paint when their own talent and style is so fabulous and only needing a tiny bit of nurturing. Its' very hard to have the confidence to actually "like" what you paint but you need it to survive as an artist, like the little ducklings faced with so many obstacles.  So if you hear criticism of your work or feel nervous about how you paint, take heart. You may be doing something that is new or different. But you should be painting to make yourself feel happy, not others around you. 
But of course if you make others happy around you thats' good too! 
Just be careful what knocks you allow to put you down or off course in style!

I feel in my heart I have added more detail than I initially intended to but this is just what I am seeing on my lawn. The little ducklings are actually nestled in grass so their feet are hidden. Mum is proudly circling them until she too settles in the sun. A lovely memory.

This could have had so many titles.

A Ducks Tail
Going Quackers

But I remembered a saying that I used to hear as a child so " Love a Duck" it is! 

And it will now be in my solo exhibition as already there is interest in this painting but I am going to enjoy it for now. Here in my studio!

And my husband has just seen it finished and he loves it too.


The Frame Gallery hosting my solo exhibition "A Brush With a Woman" which opens on 1st September is local to where I live in Hampshire, UK so I will be at the Preview Event and there the following Saturday morning.

Please contact me if you would like an invitation to the preview.

Its' going to be such a wonderful occasion!


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Once in Love With Daisy

West Highland White Terrier coming to life on my easel
Without pencil lines to guide me I depend on placing chunks of colour in the right places to make an animal come to life. Daisy is obliging quite sweetly!

Oh boy!
This  is the week that was! In that it was meant to be the week we filmed for my new book. But as the filming was to take place outside and torrential rain was forecast the filming has now been postponed until next Monday. Having worked so hard in my garden getting it perfect for the shoot I was, to say the least, disappointed. The rain has flattened the wild flowers and woodland section where I intended starting the shoot. But hey ho, life goes on and there are far worse things to be upset about.

As it happens the rain was actually on my side as I spent the day starting the catalogue for my next solo exhibition. My next "Brush With a Woman" Solo Exhibition highlighting a gorgeous new collection of original watercolours  opens in September at the wonderful "The Frame Gallery" in Odiham, Hampshire.

Yesterday I sent the first images of some of my work from the show to the owner Jan and to her promotional team. Immediately I received fantastic and excited responses of " Oh I love this one"  and "Oh my word, this is my favourite" , followed by "No this is, no this one now is"! Jan loves my new work which hasn't been shown yet. My favourite comment from Jan, that this is my strongest body of work to date with the gallery in a show, and I am thrilled as I have been putting my favourite paintings by especially for this exhibition.

There will be something for everyone. Wildlife, florals, architecture and a few surprises.

Please, if you would like an invite to the Preview Evening which will be held at the gallery do let me know via email. Contact me on

Save the date. September 1st, 2017!

Oh and Daisy? Daisy is the little West Highland White Terrier owned by  such a fabulous friend, Pauline. And maybe she will be in the show but at the moment this sweet little pup is devouring my Opera Rose which seems to suit her very well. An Opera Rose Sweetheart. Maybe that should be the title of this piece!

Please wish me luck with the weather for filming next week!