Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tugging At Heart Strings : Moonbear Rescue

 "Behind the Bars"
Finished painting of Yogi on his way to the sanctuary in Vietnam.

I couldn't rest until I finished the painting of Yogi and as I worked today I realised this watercolour carried so much emotion in it that I just had to share my feelings. I know so many people who, like me, get so upset when they read about cruelty to wildlife. We sit behind computer screens and vent our anger at stories we hear of cruelty in other countries. Whilst quite often conveniently forgetting issues that are appalling in our own. Surely we have the right to fight against killer whales being confined to small spaces in sea theme parks? We are sickened by dog eating in far off places.  How the dogs are killed is far too painful to observe , especially when gruesome images are frequently shown on line. If I shared the horrors I have seen I am sure I would lose blog readers here and now, and I won't.

But when we see something unpleasant how easy is it for us to turn away and forget about it because it doesn't effect us?

My watercolour of Yogi today really pulled at my heart strings whilst I was working. Not just because of this bears plight but because humans can be so cruel. In some countries, due to outdated cultures, people still have no idea of the cruelty they are inflicting on living things. I can see that change in these countries will take time. It cannot , no matter how much we want it, be an overnight happening.

But back to the moonbears being rescued. Here for a wonderfully refreshing change is news of three bears who are being aided to live a life they have never known. My painting started as a confused first wash. The bars initially became more important than the subject. Lines restricting the animals movement in life also acted by restricting my freedom. I lost the ability to allow colour to simply flow as it usually does for me.

 Stage 1. Being Restricted 

When I paint in watercolour I hate rules or restrictions. I need to be free in my mind to create beautiful soft flowing compositions that depict the beauty that I see around me. But here I am faced with a beautiful animal that has been treated  so cruelly and the bars represent its' prison. In reality the bars of this cage were red. But that colour reminded me of blood and I couldn't use it. Happily, however, this bear is moving to freedom. So I left the bars white to depict the light of hope. Hope around the corner as I know this wonderful bear will now be freed.

 White bars represent hope and freedom to come for this moonbear
First Stage.

Stage 2. Feeling The Freedom

I left my first wash to dry and as always the colour paled during the drying stage. The watermarks of my tears magically created fur patterns in the coat of the moonbear so they worked for me rather than against me. I looked at the  first stage and realised I only a little detail was needed to complete my painting.  I added the nostril first. Moonbears have delightful big noses. I can just imagine the joy of Yogi being able to  take in the scents of fruit and the earth of his new sanctuary. He is going to be in heaven! So painting his nose became really enjoyable thinking about the  ecstatic experience he is to face next in his so far awfully painful life.

Adding detail for the moonbear nose.
Second Stage

Stage 3. Seeing Clearly

Now I have started to relax in my painting. I am almost visualising this bear without the bars blocking its' beauty from me. I can imagine its' furry body roaming freely around the sanctuary grounds. Its' eyes will be shining. It will be able to  lay on its back and roll, facing sunshine for the first time without being hindered by a cage.

I have the  "good" feeling I need to complete a painting and so a little more detail is added to complete my piece.

Stage 4. Looking Ahead

Yogi on my easel!
Finished painting.

My observation skills came into play at this stage. I could see the little whiskers on the muzzle of Yogi and they were outside the cage. I'm happier. My mood is changing. This bear will soon be free and I feel great knowing that when I hear news soon of his release into the sanctuary there may be images of his  very first movements.  And I can't wait to paint him without bars.


When we paint using preliminary sketches we restrict our freedom. When we work minus the pencil lines we can create allowing our emotions to step in or take over which is what I did today. This painting didn't take long. It leaves a lot to the imagination. But so does this bears' journey. Maybe we don't want to know all the gory details of his lifes' history. It isn't our fault he was captive or treated badly. So we can move on with our happier lives and not worry about it or animals like Yogi.

But unfortunately, or fortunately I can't.

 I am built in a way that I care so very much. And I never want to change or stop hurting when I hear about animal cruelty. What I would love to hear is that people all over the world are becoming more aware doing something to stop it. even if it is simply by raising awareness.

I have donated to Animals Asia today. You can even buy a bear honey on their web site! I would like to think that Yogi will have his own special supply waiting for him from the many fans who, like me, are so happy that he is now going to be free.

Buying honey for moonbears via this link or befriend a bear! 

So, if you have read this far. thank you as my blog has taken a different direction today. But if you love animals as much as I do I am sure you won't mind. And after all, this is who I am.

A lover of life.

Happy painting!


Moved To Tears : Moonbear Rescue

"Behind the Bars"
Moonbear on his way to freedom

I had no intention of painting today. I know when my batteries are flat and they really are. I am exhausted from a week of meetings, filming, writing and interviews. I knew today I needed to take a complete break, walk Bailey and simply chill in preparation for my USA tour which starts next weekend. However there is a team far more exhausted than I am right now and this blog post is a tribute to them. For rescuing three moonbears and taking them to a sanctuary.

Followers of my Twitter account will know my heart is often touched by the plight of wildlife and how it suffers due to mans' personal greed or need for fun via  hunting. A pastime I will never wish to understand. I don't  "get" cruelty and there are times when I feel the four legged species has more intelligence than the two legged we know as mankind.

But having decided to take a break today I continued following the rescue of three moonbears. I have lived in Asia. I have seen medicine shops and markets with all the cruelty they entail. And I appreciate it requires strong minded compassionate individuals to take on the plight of animals  who desperately need help there. Years ago when I lived in Hong Kong I came across a person called Jill Robinson. What this wonderful woman did then impressed me but what Jill is doing now touches my heart in a way that I cannot describe. She makes me want to give up everything I do in life to put my focus on helping wildlife. And maybe that is where I am heading because I have never wanted to paint for personal gain, which is why I give so much away when teaching watercolour workshops. I  don't want to be famous. I just want others to enjoy painting as much as I do. But how about when we reach a certain level in our art careers we give back rather than not?

Have you heard of the plight of moonbears? Heard how bile is extracted for medicine? Heard how these poor animals live in confined cages for the majority of their lives unless they are rescued?

I am following the live rescue of three gorgeous moonbears who will be in their new sanctuary in the next  24 hours. Watching them on their journey is humbling and we can all witness it, thanks to the Internet and Animals Asia for the rescue and sharing their release. How joyous that will be for the moonbears living outside of a cage for the first time, being in a bear community rather than solitary confinement. Being able to play, interact. Eat and drink fresh water. Sleep free from pain.

Now having read those last few lines perhaps please look again at this study below, that I have painted of "Yogi" bear on his journey to freedom. You see, although I paint in watercolour, these are not watermarks in my work. They are real genuine marks by tears that feel while I painted because  this animal deserved far better than the cruelty  endured previously. And thanks to good hearted people he now will live a far better life than when he was " Behind the Bars"

There will be tears for joy when this bear and his friends reach the sanctuary 

Join me in celebrating the release of these three bears  via this link. They are nearly home. At last. To a life without bars. 

I never ask for donations from my friends but all donations  via the above link will really help this  wonderful organisation. 


Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Crazy Week!

Before the Ball last night!

Goodness what a week. And this morning my batteries are flat. I have to admit I do feel tired!  Which is very unusual for me.

Monday:  Firstly I started the week with a fantastic flying visit from my daughter and a night out, just two girls catching up. 

Tuesday: Then I threw myself into painting on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the photography shoot of the relaunch of my first book "How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour " which was to take place on Thursday. It was a last minute decision to film this week so I needed to prepare a list of shots for each new segment and chapter that will be added to the extended version of my first book, bringing it into line with the more fully informative books that I have written since its'  first launch.

Wednesday: A slight distraction from my book preparation as I was asked for photographs and text for an interview for a Home and Garden style magazine. The information had to be sent almost immediately so I really had to work quickly on this one!

Thursday: I drove for five hours, there an back, to the filming location for six hours of non stop filming for the revamp of my new book. This was incredibly tiring, working at such a pace and by the time I came home again my batteries were flagging but ,oh boy, did I feel happy. The shots we have are terrific and this book is going to look fabulous. I am SO excited about its' relaunch!

Friday: I spent unpacking my car and working through new card designs for my Summer collection. Then in the evening we had a glamorous ladies night to go to but part of me wanted to curl up on the settee and go to sleep.  But I did get to wear " The" dress that I had been looking forward to putting on for some time! Photo above.

Saturday: Here I am in my studio sending off the chosen card designs to my printer. And choosing paintings for an upcoming exhibition which have to be framed while I am away in USA on tour. I won't have time on my return to organise the framing for the deadline.

On top of this I heard from a little girl in USA who has honoured me as an artist by selecting me for her school project, so I am arranging to meet her in person when I am in California on tour next month.

Part of me longs for the days when I just painted! Because I always seem to have something I urgently need to do and I keep saying " Yes" to even more exciting new opportunities.

I have a motto. " We only live once so go for it".

Maybe Im possibly " Going For It" a wee bit too much lately!

But I am loving it!

Happy Painting!


Roses For Doni

"Love is a Rose"
Painting from my new book "Jean Haines World of Watercolour"
( Copyright Jean Haines )

I just read an email from a wonderful artist who had been inspired on my workshop whilst I was on tour in Australia last year. Doni, I promised to post on my blog to you so here is one post! Others will follow when I have time.

I often hear from artists who have attended my workshops or demonstrations, Mainly letting me know how I have inspired or motivated them which is wonderful. Sometimes I hear of lifes' hiccups that get in the way of peaceful painting, following the excitement of a course and that can be so frustrating I know, because life has a way of throwing hurdles at us when everything is going just fine. In fact I often sit and wonder where my " life hurdles" are because its' been far too long since any were thrown my way. Well apart from breaking my ankle in Australia a while back but even that had positive outcome, in that I met many new friends when I returned to repeat the course for the artists who missed it the first time around.

Life on the whole is wonderful but when things get us down it is amazing how by simply moving our brushes or choosing cheerful colours we can lift our spirits to lead us into another more " happy zone"!

So whatever the weather, or whatever life is throwing at you please do find some "down time" just for you, to paint and enjoy just watching colour on paper!

"Love is a Rose" is from my new book " Jean Haines World of Watercolour" which will be available in June of this year.  And is already available to pre order on Amazon .com

Friday, 27 March 2015

New Favourite Colour Alert!

"Spring Welcome"
Copyright Jean Haines

I am useless at keeping secrets and I have made promises that if I discover any new colours that I fall in love with I will happily share them on my blog. Well everyone. I have!

If you haven't tried Daniel Smith "Green Gold" you really are missing out. It brings vibrant life to so many paintings and is perfect for Spring foliage as in my painting of daffodils above!

Its' a new favourite for me and I am sure there will be many more!


The New " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour"

"Spring Light"
Copyright Jean Haines

Life is moving so fast for me these days that I am finding it hard to keep up with my own news yet alone share it on line. There is constantly so much happening. If I  did make time to  share everything then I wouldn't have time to paint. But this exciting news I really do need to share.

I had a meeting with my publishers some time ago to discuss an exciting new project which covers the amazing book I will be working on next. Interestingly this new project will have no connection to any of my previous books as I will be moving away from what I have written in the past. This is a healthy move for me as I will need to research my subject and genre well. And it will be highly inspirational on many levels. So at the meeting I was thrilled to be offered a new contract before "Jean Haines World of Watercolour" was even  in its' completed stage of the creative process of writing a book. Instead of sadly saying goodbye to my new book which will be launched in June this year I was already looking forward my next literary adventure. 

But I had another exciting  surprise in store.

My publisher explained that my first book " How to paint Colour and Light" has sold so well internationally that they felt it would be a good idea to take it out of the series it was initially launched in. It is standing alone in sales so my publishers suggested extending it as a completely new version then they will relaunch it in its' new format. This would mean my first book would become more in line with my two later books. " Atmospheric Watercolours" and "Jean Haines World of Watercolours". Both full of  invaluable tips on working in watercolour.

My publishers are, as always, absolutely right. My first book could easily become a larger more interesting publication.  I have agreed to this decision for several reasons. One being that I have outgrown the art in my first book as I have grown as an artist. Also, when I was first asked to write a book I had so much to share that it was all literally squashed into the pages of " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" due to the limited space of the series requirements. I had been offered  a set number of pages for the series and I tried to cover everything I wanted to say within them. It is a lovely book and it led the way into my becoming a popular author with my publisher. It was special as a book which opened doors for me to many workshops worldwide and to my gaining future contracts for my later books. It was in many ways, my key to unlocking my current life writing, teaching and sharing as I do with a passion.

I have agreed to revisit this book and add to it.

So yesterday I made my way to the photographic studio where I painted beautiful new step by steps and tips to be included in the revamped version of my first book. It is now going to be larger with new subjects, gorgeous  advise and tips and the beautiful new full paintings  that it needs.

I left at six yesterday morning, and after five hours of driving and six hours of filming came home exhausted. I still have to choose the images from the contact sheets when they arrive at my cottage. And I still need to write the descriptive text to go with them , plus make the new addition choices that still remain to be made. I drove home in a euphoric state because I know I want to own this book. It is going to be fabulous! I feel I now have so much more to offer readers, as I am more experienced as a writer and teacher.

It was magical listening to the team watching me paint yesterday as they made wonderfully positive remarks about each new painting. And as the new cover was on view a visitor to the studio fell in love with it immediately asking if it was for sale. That is always a great feeling!

This new publication won't be available for some time as I am still working on it but as soon as I have a date I will let you know. But trust me, its well worth looking forward to!

The original version will no longer be available once the last copy has been sold but at the moment there are still copies available.

How to Paint Colour And Light

How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour

My first book " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" has gone to print for the final time. This means once new copies have sold out it will no longer be available in its' orginal format.

 It has been a really popular book and as my very first leap into being an author carries an emotional connection for me. So to everyone how owns or has bought a copy, thank you so much!

To anyone who doesn't own this book, you have a limited time to buy one to ensure you have a complete Jean Haines book collection!

But more exciting news on this book in my next blog post!