"In Love With Fred"
Early stage of an original watercolour by Jean Haines.
It happens sometimes. Many artists will recognise the heavenly feeling of that magical moment when you just know a painting is right. From the very beginning it holds that special something and you are drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
To me a successful painting is often where the artist has completely fallen in love with their subject long before they even pick up a brush. If the enthusiasm and excitement is there at this point magic will surely follow.
I know Fred and I love Fred. As a subject he is purrfectly delightful and his character is quite amusing although he may think he has a somewhat regal air. There is no doubt about it. Whichever way you look at him, for a cat Fred is rather special!
I have some gorgeous Winsor and Newton 300lbs Rough Surface watercolour paper. It was begging to be painted on. The surface felt wonderful as the texture was purrfect for painting fur. I started painting Fred by laying a soft wash of fresh clean pigment to depict the coloured sections of his fur. With my thumb I gently "stroked" the fur of the outline into the background. I often do this when I am working with animals to gain a sense of their being.
I have fallen back to Chinese Mentors influence. She came from Shanghai and time I spent under her guidance in China has stood me in good stead for brushwork control. Patience for using each mark to tell a story. And the value of really thinking before you paint.
While working I stopped and looked at the cat appearing from the wash in front of my eyes and that wonderful rush of excitement hit me. You know instinctively when something magical is about to happen. This was one of those moments. I am amazed at how many artists race to finish a painting when every single brushstroke is so enjoyable to witness in its own right. I take time to love every wash, every colour addition, every brush mark or water effect and I use them all to enhance the beauty in each painting I create.
With my technique anything can happen at any moment. Every action counts towards the final destination.
With no preliminary sketch to guide me I have to find and place every single feature accurately but in a way that creates and illusion of movement.
To me this piece is the beginning of a wonderful journey and I am in no hurry for it to end. I know where I would like to go with the final result but I so want to enjoy getting there.