Thursday, 11 September 2014

My New Book : The Cover and Last Chapters

The last photography session of my new book 

My blog has fallen quiet yet again as I  have been immersed in work. So much is happening that finding time to add to my blog has seemed almost impossible but here I am and almost in tears. Why you might ask. Well, I am currently sat in front of my computer screen with only two contact sheets left on my desk beside my computer. This could be cause for celebration for most authors of art books but for me?  I feel really emotional and my eyes could easily leak  or over flow at any moment.
I will try to explain.

Contact sheets are what come back to me from a photography session where my book demonstrations are photographed. It is up to me to choose the sequence of photographs that show what I am trying to convey in a step by step.  Often you dismiss many shots, only selecting two to six for each page. This takes a lot of time and careful thought as a teaching author,  if you want the book to read well.

"Atmospheric Watercolours"
Internationally popular leading into the idea for my new book which will be launched next year

When I finished writing " Atmospheric Watercolours" the suggestion of this new book was born. At first it was simply an idea, but this thought "seed" grew until I found myself  facing signing yet another contract to write my third book on watercolour.  My publishers had given great thought to  this next publication because "Atmospheric Watercolours" had become so popular and it seemed only logical for me to write again. So, in all honesty, the buyers of my last book actually made the decision for my next publication rather than me. And to every one I owe a huge thank you.

And so, the idea for " Jean Haines World of Watercolours" became more than just an idea. It was first a discussion at a meeting, which was followed by a contract and then there was no going back. I was committed. After that it sprang to life. What is it going to be about ? Well it includes everything Every subject for sure and many favourite technqiues but growing from my last book. So readers of "Atmospheric Watercolours" will have a head start, to non readers of my last book, when following its demonstrations.

But I have changed as an artist in my approach. My excitement has reached a new level which I never thought possible. Since writing "Atmospheric Watercolours" my enjoyment in painting is even greater. I have pushed myself to find new ways of working, researched new colours to enjoy and disocovered fabulous new subjects to stretch my techniques on. Writing this new book has been a fantastic journey. 

At first I wrote the opening chapters loving each new page that sprang to life with images and text. It was thrilling but I knew or expected how I would be feeling at this point in my new books' life.  But then something happens which maybe is normal for authors. I don't know but  all of a sudden this new book started taking over my whole life. I dreamt about each new addition. As time passed writing became so exciting that I couldn't wait to wake each morning to complete what I was seeing in my mind. I have loved imagining readers turning each page and thinking " Wow, I can't wait to try painting  that"! And there is a lot to choose from to paint in it.

 Just a small pile of paintings that will be a part of my new book. Some may be small images in corners of a page. Others full size. As an author, you need an incredible amount of work to make an art book interesting to read. It cannot, obviously, be just text!

 So where am I now in writing my new book and how far to completion? 

 Well this week I saw the cover of my new book for the first time. I had an idea of what it could be and how it would work in print but I hadn't seen the finished cover until Tuesday.  It looks  great!  My heart skipped a beat when I looked at it for the first time as this is such an important decision to make for an author. Lets' face it, many people buy art books for their cover so I was really concerned that mine had to be just right and my publishers love it.

  This week I gave an interview for a Surrey magazine and yesterday gave the interviewer a sneak preview of paintings fom my new book. Their astonished and thrilled reaction  was so wonderful that I cannot put into words how that made me feel. Happy does not cover it!

But here I  am this morning feeling very emotional because I am writing the very last section of my new book. With one chapter left to write and then a closing page, I am facing the end of writing this beautiful publication that has become a part of my soul. I don't want to write the last word. I don't want to send all the images to the publishers next week for photography as this will mean a goodbye to the creative process on my part.

There will be a trip to the head office to approve the lay out of my book following my already forwarded submission. There will be vital colour matching to ensure the print is true to the colour of my original paintings. This will all take time but finally the book will then be sent back to me for the final say before it goes to print. Then the celebration launch will follow next year.

I have to face it.

 I'm working on the very last pages today. And I don't want to be. Because this has been the very best journey of my life in writing so far. Understandably I don't want it to end, ever.

 I will have to start imagining the readers who may enjoy what I have created and shared.

So I will try to  lose this emotional feeling but right now, it isn't easy!


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Wren in Watercolour

 "Little Wren"
Original Watercolour

 It is funny how my days quite often do not go as planned. My day was well planned. I had visions of completing one of the final chapters in my new book. I raced to my studio this morning and realised one of the images for the next chapter , that I am about to  complete, was missing. Horror struck as the opening paragraph evolves around it. This meant I needed to go through my files to look for the missing part of the " story" in my exciting  section on portraits. Unintentionally I ended up clearing my filing cabinets on the desperate search to find it, which meant I also found many items that brought back fabulous memories from my years travelling all over the world. But of course it meant I was also not writing!

And so, I then finally settled to begin typing but the bird song outside my window distracted me. The tree outside was covered in little birds all singing beautifully in the afternoon sunshine. I love birds! On my morning walks I am frequently delighted to see a tiny wren in the hedgerow. They have always been my favourite little birds but I have never painted one and always wanted to. Strangely enough, on Twitter  a friend who posts fantastic nature photographs shared an image recently that looked just like the little bird I see every day. I call mine " Jenny" after my Grandfather's always calling them " Jenny Wrens". They are so quick, but so beautiful and so tiny.  And seemingly very round!

I started with the whole outline of my round subject and then placed the eye which to me is an important part of this little bird.  I kept the colours muted to remind me of the woodland where I walk.

 Wren outline and  first detail added to bring the wash to life.

 A few  extra touches really added a little more interest.  Tiny feather details on the body, markings on the tail and wings. And a little shadow at the base of the twig. And before I knew it my painting was complete.

 Building up my painting by adding detail 

There are times when I am enjoying a painting so much that I don't want it to be finished.  This is when I add my signature to tell myself not to work anymore on a piece.

 Signature added, painting complete!

Now I must get back to working on my new book!


"The Artist Magazine" : Art Feature and Watercolour Competition

 Daniel Smith Watercolours 

"Red Hot" Watercolour  Competition 
October Issue 2014

Five prizes of Daniel Smith Watercolours  and a Palette like mine!

I have loved hearing and reading comments about the vibrancy and colour strength of my latest watercolours. The results are effected mainly by the use of  Daniel Smith Watercolours.  I still use a variety of products but for impact I often opt for my favourite shades from the Daniel Smith Watercolour range. 

Not so long ago I wrote a feature for The Artist Magazine called " Dancing Around my Palette" which included a competition where yellow shades were involved. The competition submissions werewonderfully varied and so fantastic that I am thrilled to announce that there is a follow up competition in the October 2014 issue of the Artist Magazine which is already out and available now.

This time, I am still dancing around my palette looking for tempting colours to thrill me and I have settled on the red section. So magazine readers are invited to submit paintings in watercolour that show off how fabulous red shades can be. This doesn't mean you have to paint only red subjects. It is how the colour is used to come alive that is important to me. How exciting can you make your reds look in your results?

To knock me over and make me think "wow"  please enter the competition. Details can be found via this link.

 "Paint something that reminds you of summer, but the five winning paintings have to show RED HOT colour somewhere in the composition.
For her latest painting challenge, Jean Haines will be looking for drama, great colour combinations and good brushwork. See Jean's latest article in the October 2014 issue of The Artist for inspiration. Paintings from this feature will be exhibited at the Wey Gallery, Godalming Surrey in Jean Haines exciting  solo exhibition "Colour Fusions" from September 27th, 2014

How hot and bold dare you be?


Geranium, Daniel Smith Watercolours, (40x30cm) by Jean Haines"

 Grab your copy of The Artist Magazine today!


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pink Hydrangea in Watercolour

 One of the hydrangea paintings from my session in the garden this afternoon.

There is absolutely nothing like painting from life. Especially when the sun is shining and it isn't too hot. Today was a perfect painting day and I made the most of it by racing outside and choosing my favourite flowers to create in watercolour.  I have a table "set up" for days like these. The table and chair are so light they are easy to move around and I can sit in comfort to work.

I have painted many blue or white hydrangea in the past but not really spent much time working on pink varieties. I had three pieces of  paper and set to work. First I  placed glowing washes over the papers to  hint at the colours I could see. At this stage although I was aiming for a painting that resembled these flowers, I let colour flow and merge without seriously thinking about where the detail would be added later.

While each first wash dried I then worked on the next stages of each individual piece. Apart from ducks splashing in the water behind me the afternoon was so peacefully quiet and time flew by. Apart from being interrupted by the tame swan who visits our garden daily I had a fantastically productive time.

 Hydrangea painting amongst the real hydrangea plants in my garden.

Artist Tip : I try so hard to encourage artists on my workshops not to paint from photographs alone as you miss so many gorgeous colour combinations from life and natural light effects when you do. Also, another tip, please don't paint from other peoples photographs if you can help it. This leads to creating "pretty pictures" rather than telling the story of what you, as the creative artist have seen. Which in turn makes your work more personal to you and of course, unique.

While I worked on these hydrangea I could see stunning yellow rudbeckia in the distance. maybe, just maybe I will find time to paint them tomorrow!

 Two of the paintings, as works in progress from my painting session in the garden this afternoon

When I finally packed up my art materials and brought everything back into my studio I felt on the greatest of highs as the time  working in watercolour was, as always so very relaxing.

The  image below is a close up of one of the detailedd sections. Almost complete in this area and full of  lovely colourful fusions. I am and always will be a watercolour addict. 
And I am so happy that I am!

Close up section of the detail on one of my hydrangea paintings


Artists Tip:  In England at the moment some of our Summer flowers are at their very best for painting. Don't miss the opportunity to capture each one in watercolour before they disappear until next year! Get painting and quickly!


Art Interruptions

You know those moments when you are thoroughly engrossed in your art and then you are annoying interrupted? It happens to us all. You find that "magical zone" where only you and your painting exists and then the phone rings or there is a knock at the door.

This afternoon the sun was shining and, as I know Summer is on its way out, I decided to make the most of  the light and paint outside. I much prefer painting from life as I find my results are so much more alive when I do.

So I set up my table by a flower bed and worked on a beautiful series of hydrangea paintings. I have three pieces on the go so, that at stages on each, I can let one dry  before adding further layers of colour or more detail. I was so engrossed working that after a while the world, as always, disappeared and it was just me an my watercolours. Or so I thought. I will admit as my husband was working in the garden nearby I wasn't too alarmed when I felt a tap on my arm. I had expected him to stop for a cup of tea at some point. But when I looked up I came face to face with " Sidney" , the tame swan who visits us daily. Sid had decided it was time for me to feed him and  had wandered up the garden path to let me know he wanted food. 

He is getting far too cheeky!

 Sidney the swan interrupting my painting session, in my garden this afternoon.

 Looking bashful but he isn't really!

Sidney is like a puppy who follows me everywhere so I led him back to the waters edge and fed him. And then back to painting!

Sidney walking back to the water, following me happily knowing he will be fed.

It is lucky I love wildlife, because here really is where we all  live in harmony and enjoy each others company. As life should be!

Happy painting to you, and I hope all your painting interruptions are as pleasant!


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kookaburra in Watercolour

 Subject: Kookaburra
Technique: Working from a Starting Point

When I paint there is often a magical moment when the subject I am working on begins to come to life. At first it is just me and a blank white piece of paper.  I know in my head what I want to happen on the paper but often my brushstrokes seem to create a magic that completely takes over.  This is when I observe and listen to what I am being told by. Colour placement seems to work so well at times that the following flow of pigment is in charge of what is happening , rather than me. That sounds odd I know. 

I am looking forward to my trip to Australia later this year. My mind is already thinking of the gorgeous wildlife I will see there. Especially the amazing birds. I fell in love with a kookaburra on my last visit which also seemed to appear in real life by magic. I was telling Karen, an artist who had attended my workshop that my dream would be to see a Kookaburra. No sooner had I spoken the words than Karen told me to look up and there on a branch nearby was a fabulous, fluffy youngster. Looking at us and posing. 
If you are reading this Karen, I can't wait to see you again.

But for now, back to  my piece of white paper. I started painting using my starting point technique. I chose to start with  a simple eye. On this small section I really took my time to get it just right. I wanted an almost cheeky expression of a bird that didn't mind having its photograph taken. From the painted eye I worked  next on the colouring around it, towards the back of the head.

Next I thought of Australian skies and whilst a beautiful golden hue might have looked pretty I opted for a turquoise. I aimed to give my Kookaburra a fluffy  hair style on top!  By the way, a great tip  for anyone not used to working without a preliminary sketch, you can use water to find out if your next painting area will work or not. You can see how I have  placed water where I will paint the wing in the image below.

 Adding the background at the top of the head by working negatively away from my subject.
Next the wing is to be added.

The beak of the Kookaburra seems huge! So different from the many birds I usually paint in UK. So I have spent a lot of time measuring to make sure I have got this part of my Kookaburra acccurate. Then I completed my study of a beautiful Australian bird.

"Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be"

Isn't it funny how painting something can bring back unexpected memories? I was in the Girl Guides as a youngster and we often sang a song that meant little to me at the time. I knew a kookaburra was a bird but had no idea what it looked like. But from the song I knew it sat in an " old gum tree". Little did I know I would be visiting Australia to see the real thing or enjoy painting it as an adult.

And now I have that  song on the brain so I had best paint something else quickly to remove it!


Artist Tip: Always  take your time when working from a starting point  if you are using  my technique to paint. If this section isn't right the rest of the painting might not work so you may be unhappy with the finished result. Take your time and don't race to complete a painting!


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Full Speed Ahead

( Copyright: Jean Haines )
Work in Progress on my Easel 
From my upcoming Show at the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey

I am now getting very excited about my new solo exhibition,  " Colour Fusions" at the Wey Gallery, Godalming, Surrey. It is wonderful working with a gallery such as this one because between us we know what  my clientelle enjoy to see in my shows. I sold out of watercolour cycling scenes some time back and have not released any new horse racing scenes for a while. Now I have gorgeously exciting paintings which will be unveiled during my fourth one woman show at the Wey Gallery.

My husband recently bought us  bicycles and  the fitness bug has hit us. I am desperately finding time for my cycling and trying to fit it into my already full  routine. Bailey, my bearded collie, loves  trying to knock me off my bike so I have to keep him away from me once I am on it. He stays at home which he doesn't really approve of. 

I love watching cyclists on the country lanes here. The way they move fascinates me so of course they are going to be another subject I am passionate about painting.  In fact I couldn't wait to walk into my studio this morning to get to work as I have new paintings on the go of just that, cycling scenes.  Actually I can't call what I do "work" because I love it so much.

If you would like to see my new paintings, please keep en eye out on my blog for full details of the show.  I will be at the gallery  for the opening on Saturday 27th September, 2014 to give a short talk about my work. Everyone is welcome.

On another note, and this probably will make my blog readers laugh. I am thrilled my husband is keeping so fit and has a new hobby, but I am hoping he never takes up wearing colourful lycra. I'm not sure if my artistic eye could take that sight.  As gorgeous as he is.