Saturday, 12 October 2019

Mushroom Ink : Inktober 2019

Mushroom Cat
Created with Mushroom Ink


I first discovered the value of painting with mushroom ink some time ago when we first moved into our cottage. I found  mushrooms in our woodland garden that resembled judges wigs. When I read up about them I was thrilled to learn that this fungi was used by monks years ago for calligraphy and after reading up on the subject I decided I would try painting with the same ink. The above painting of a cat is created using mushroom ink from inkcap mushrooms.

I have now learnt how to prepare the ink from the mushrooms and how to avoid any fading of my finished work. I have also discovered mushroom ink really does create the most gorgeous effects just like purchased inks. They are fascinating. You can lift the ink colour, make fabulous watermarks with it and have fun experimenting to gain all manner of effects with this soft and interesting fluid mushroom ink.

Rather than appear as black on paper even though the liquid certainly looks black, a brownish shade is usually gained at places in my results/

To avoid fading I now apply two coats of mushroom ink building up my painting very gradually.  I often  allow the first layer of mushroom ink to dry and then add detail on top, so the softness of my muted background shade acts as a base for my stronger more prominent detailed brushwork which is added finally to complete my composition.

This natural ink is so much fun to experiment with and what better month to try this idea than Inktober?

There are many natural dyes to try, this is just one.My blackberry paintings always involve the juice of staining, real blackberries for example. So here is a challenge, How about finding something from nature that you can paint with?

I double dare you and perhaps you could share your favourite dyes with me.

Happy Inktober!


Inktober 2019

Mushroom Ink Portrait

Hello and thank you for so many lovely messages especially by email telling me how happy friends are to see me back on my blog. And I am back! So here is a really fun post, in fact it is a fun guy (fungi ) portrait ! 

Its the time of year when foraging really does pay dividends for an artist as there is so much inspiration to see daily that tempts our brushes. But at this time of year there is also far more to benefit our studios in the form of natural dyes and inks. In the woodland section of our garden there are many ink cap mushrooms. Known as judges wigs because of how the white tops curl up as they evolve over a short period of time. If gathered and left to disintegrate in a container they form gorgeous ink that is a delight to work with.  I paint with these mushrooms every year but now know they need to be applied in various ways to ensure the colour stays fast rather than fading which it can unlike manufactured products. As it is Inktober I thought it would be fun to share my afternoons play session results from working with the mushroom ink.

In the image below you can see my container with the disintegrated mushrooms. A black ink liquid has formed but when used it surprisingly often has a brownish rather than black appearance on paper.  To begin here I simply created a blob of colour with the ink on a scrap of paper to see how strong the colour of the mushroom ink would be. I added water and ( being me ) instantly saw the hint of a face. A few brushstrokes later with water and touches of more ink led to my portrait of Shakespeare appearing. I am saying it is Shakespeare now but initially this was just a blob of ink. I have to be totally honest! Shakespeare apperaed by happy accident. 

"To be or not to be" a portrait, that WAS the question!

 Mushroom ink. Here I did add a little water as the  ink had dried over night. Tip: if you are experimenting with home made inks formed with plants or herbs try avoiding adding too much water as you can then heavily dilute the ink to a very soft and possibly fading shade.

Years ago this particular mushroom ink was used by monks for calligraphy. So I am following in ancient footsteps not really trying something new. If you are out for a walk and see these beautiful mushrooms try picking some to paint with. But remember, DO wash your hands carefully after gathering them and be warned. Some have a rather strong odour about them which absorbs into watercolour paper and the smell can sadly last!


Artists tip for the day

How about experimenting creating your own inks and dyeing colours? After a while of experimenting it certainly makes us appreciate the fantastic manufacturers of all our favourite watercolour shades which we can simply buy without all the mess!

Thank you especially Daniel Smith! 


Monday, 7 October 2019

Hello? Is there anybody there?

"Taking the Lead"
Latest horse racing painting in watercolour
Copyright Jean Haines

I feel as though I am walking into a room without a clue as to whether anyone will be in it or not.
Its' been so long since I wrote on my blog and I'm wondering if anyone is still here to read my posts! I am so sorry. 
I had an email from a blog reader recently asking where I was. I am here, just not finding time to write here lately. Not for any other reason than that I am really hectic with my offline life.

I could blame our two new puppies for taking up a lot of my time because they do. My daily routine now consists of daily long walks to tire them plus a training schedule. You will be pleased to hear that I am now almost fully trained to their way of thinking. Although seriously they are beautiful boys, great fun to be with and they are at this young age, quite naturally, time consuming.

But back to my art. I am working on a project that hopefully will be released next year and if possible announced before Christmas. It involves filming and that is the main reason I am quiet. I hope you will love the news when I can finally share the secret in a big reveal!

I have been in an exhibition in London too plus I demonstrated at an authors day at the Mall Galleries again in London ,via my publisher. Thank you to everyone who came to see me because it was such a great day. And a bargain. Visitors could see a number of artists working for a very low entrance fee although it seemed everyone who came to see me stayed with me for the whole day and I managed to practically pull off a workshop experience almost, with three different presentations throughout the event. I may return next year so do watch this space!

But I am back now, settled in my studio and painting, loving that feeling of seeing colour flow across paper.

Its' autumn and the autumn colours are as always thrilling me.

I hope to share more regularly now.

Dorothy, a special hello to you and thank you for your email about my being missing from my blog which shook me back into typing here!

Huge hugs to everyone and happy painting!


Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Phlox in Watercolour : Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour

 Two paintings of Phlox in Watercolour on my easel
One complete, another as a work in progress 

This time last year my book " Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" was launched and I loved being at Patchings Art Festival to sign books and demonstrate my techniques. It was fantastic.

This year I am sitting in my garden again painting florals and loving each plant as it comes into flower. In my flower book there is a chapter on how to paint white subjects and complex shapes. The phlox flowers were perfect for this demonstration as they met both challenges as a subject.

I worked the background around negative edges first using colours that to me helped make the white spaces sing.

I then began to paint around the edges of several of the focal point blooms and left some half finished for viewers imagination, of my finished piece, to complete.

Finally I always add fine detail.

The paintings on my easel as seen above show the finished phlox painting from my book. The other painting is a new work in progress and I am experimenting with it. I have used various products on this piece which I hope to share in a future demonstration. In fact I will be sharing far more very soon I am happy to say but for now as they say " Watch this space"  Exciting news is coming!

Below you can see a photograph of the white phlox flowers that are blooming in my garden this year.

The seasons teach us so much. We need to enjoy each one before it is over. And all that each gives to us.

Phlox flowering in my garden


Artists Tip

Maybe you have painted a subject a year ago and you were really pleased with the result. I painted phlox a year ago and felt this way.

Try taking a familiar subject that you know you can paint and attempt to create a new composition with either similar shades or new ones but try to improve on the art you created the year before. 

Take the good parts of your previous painting and carry them into your new work and try to dismiss any elements that you didn't like in your previous work.

Become your own teacher.

It really works! 
Having said that aim to see the good points of your paintings.

Try not to be overly critical! 

( Lets' face it. We are all far too good at that already!) 


Patchings Demonstrations Cancelled 2019

Sweet pea in watercolour 

Sadly I have had to cancel my demonstrations at Patchings Art Festival 2019 and I will not be attending this week. It is such a shame as I had so much that was new to share but I have been advised not to travel too far from home at the moment. I had a small health blip a few weeks ago and although everything seems to have settled again I just couldn't take the risk of letting everyone down at the last minute.

Ironically, since I cancelled the event my health seems to be rocketing into the far better zone which is really infuriating! 

Patchings always has been a huge favourite part of my year in UK as I meet so many wonderful people there. I will however be demonstrating in London next month at the Mall Galleries which is near to my home and I will definitely be talking about my new Daniel Smith sets and how to use them along with sharing a new techniques that I am falling in love with.

Everyone has been so fantastically understanding about my cancelling this year and Chas from Patchings has extended a huge warm invitation for me to be there next year .

To everyone going to Patchings, have a wonderful time, think of me and see you next year , hopefully!


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Paint Yourself Positive : Waterlilies in Watercolour

"Quiet Reflection"
Waterlilies in Watercolour

I feel I should start this blog post by thanking everyone who follows me and who reads my posts. There was a time I could over load my blog with up to three posts a day, this slowed down over time to several posts a week. Then I started travelling and when I was on tour time often went by with very long periods between posts. At the beginning of this year I was really poorly and my spirits took a nose dive. I hardly shared on my blog at all during that time. But luckily I had written my latest book. " Paint Yourself Positive". 

I have taken time to read and absorb the chapters. Smiling at the positivity on each page and actually I have been kicking myself into action. What I needed to do to heal correctly was paint as well as heed the specialists advise. Not surprisingly it has worked but my painting has changed. I seem to have grown again. Leapt over another hurdle and my technique has improved.

I have even MORE excitement about colour . You may ask " Is this possible from Jean Haines?". The answer is a resounding YES!.

I sat quietly by my lily pond yesterday and painted the above watercolour of water lilies. I listened to birdsong as I worked. My puppies slept mostly by my feet although at times they naughtily crept into sections of the pond that they can easily access. I did tell them " No" but its' so hard to keep a straight face when a puppy with duckweed all over its muzzle stares intently at you trying to work out what the command is. I laughed non stop.

I think my laughter flowed into my painting as it has a happy feel to it.

This is a large piece. The smaller waterlily painting seen in my book " Paint Yourself Positive is a favourite of mine. There is something about waterlilies. Something magical. They always makes me think of Monet garden. It was a long time dream of mine to visit his garden in Giverny France and when I did I was so happy, and emotional.

Having dreams come true is very special. But they cannot unless you make some. Have you added to your wish list lately? If not, why not?

If you have never had a wish list now is the time to start. Have small wishes that are achievable and a few that may be out of reach. As one dream comes true add a new one. Just keep wishing.


I want more free time to share my news on my blog as I have so much!

Happy painting


Artists Tip

Try looking at a painting you did a year ago and paint a new version of it. See if you have grown as an artist or do you like how you painted before?

Compare the "you" from today and last year and see if you can positively chnage the "you" of tormorrow!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New ** Jean Haines Daniel Smith Shimmer Set

Jean Haines Daniel Smith Sets

As promised here is a link with more information on my new Daniel Smith Shimmer Set!