Monday, 24 April 2017

Young Kingfisher in Watercolour

 "Young Kingfisher"
Work in progress

I am afraid I have taken all day to protect the wildlife by our cottage. Phone calls, emails. All day I have been in touch with one wildlife and waterway soctiey after the other trying to find out who could help protect the nesting moorhens on the stretch of canal near where we live.

I was genuinely horrified last week to watch canal repairs taking place disregarding my notification to the authorities of nest making taking place. I had watched moorhens carrying nesting materials back and forth to make their nests over the last few weeks. So to stand by and see their natural nesting vegetation destroyed was heartbreaking. But at the end of today I had good news in that I was told by the authorities no further repair work will be carried out untill the moorhens have nested and activity has lessened here. Thank heavens.

And so I happily started painting again. A young kingfisher that sits on a branch in our garden is  really calling to my brushes. He seems to be there in early morning sunlight and disappears as the day gets colder. Who can blame him. I feel like hibernating too at the moment because it has turned so chilly here in UK.

This morning this sweet, colourful,  little bird seemed to be leaning forward with his feathers slightly ruffled, as if they were listening to the gorgeous dawn chorus of all the other birds singing.

I love this angle of the tiny head.

Hence the painting which is on my easel waiting to be completed but it looks ss lovely I may just start another one. I particularly love the light on the feet of this little bird in my painting.

Have a great week ahead and perhaps the moral of my moorhen nesting story is

"Never give up!"

The moorhens never gave up and kept rebuilding their nests regardless of the workmen. And I didn't give up on them either by my trying to protect them.



"Young Kingfisher"

Friday, 21 April 2017

Disappearing Moorhens

Disappearing Moorhens
Work in progress

I have been unable to paint today.  I have been too upset. My heart sank as I watched vegetation removed from the canal by our cottage because I know this is where the moorhens nest each year. It has been a nightmare of a week. I love nature and I adore living here being able to see the young each year on the canal banks. Over time I have learnt that the birds have a very tough time protecting their young from predators such as magpie and heron who seem intent on killing all the young birds as fast as they are hatched. But this is the first year living here that I have witnessed humans create a problem for these nesting birds.

My husband and I watched in dismay recently as a barge delivered repair materials and left piles of items to be used later along the canal bank. Even this delivery was painful to watch as the barge disturbed the vegetation along the bank which houses the moorhens nests each year in Spring. But worse was to follow. I have been enjoying watching one particular moorhen swim back and forth daily adding the best bit of  reeds etc they could find to their nest, building it carefully to lay her eggs. But sadly this spot was exactly where the barge came. I really felt for the bird after all their hard work. But I was surprised and very impressed to see them start all over again building a second nest to replace the first. I contacted the local authorities to let them know that a nest and breeding was taking place exactly where the canal was to be repaired.

I don't know what I expected to be honest. A delay in the work? Time allowed for the birds to hatch their eggs and move on with their young? That was obviously too much to expect because yesterday  a work party arrived and a group of men started repairing the canal bank. I talked to one of the men and pointed out where I had seen nests being built. He looked at the spot and said he could see no evidence of nests. From his viewpoint above I am sure he couldn't. The moorhens make their nests hidden amongst the reeds to protect their young.

And today the whole bank on the usual breeding site has had vegetation removed. I haven't seen a single moorhen all day. But this evening the moorhens are back swimming the length of the cleared canal bank as if they are looking for their home.

I am heartbroken. I know there are far more important  issues in the world than a few moorhens breeding and I am telling myself off for being so stupidly upset about this. But when we first moved into our cottage there was only one pair of moorhens. Now the numbers have grown. But I know, this year there will be no young despite my informing authorities of nests in this area.

How very sad.

And how very thoughtless of the local council to approve this repair work at this time of year.

One very sad artist here hence the appalling painting above but it represent my feelings

"Disappearing moorhens!"

Moorhen chick from last year

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Monday, 17 April 2017

Getting It Wrong



 "Sabrina"

 On my workshops I am often asked " How often do you put work in the bin? " 
( Trash can to my American friends! )

I think there is a myth that every professional artist only paints a masterpiece every single time they pick up their brushes. And many do. But there are also many artists who enjoy experimenting with technique, or who are not completely satisfied with their results so they bin a painting to start a new one. But no painting time is wasted. By painting repeatedly we are instilling good painting ways into our creative sessions. The mistakes we make improve our work. Without paintings that are going wrong we are simply standing still in time, and possibly not getting anywhere in our personal art journey. That is, of course, unless we have reached the level we originally aimed to be as artists. At which point it is wonderful to enjoy it. But not everyone is that lucky or happy with reaching their destination.

I enjoy the journey in learning continually and growing each time I pick up my brush but i do make mistakes which I still learn from.

The funniest mistake I made recently was not with painting. Swans visit our cottage garden daily and almost live here. I can't help it, I name all the wildlife that inhabits our garden. We have Hector the heron, Russell crow and many other daily visitors. But a new young swan arrived this Spring and I eventually gave him the name Sebastian. He accompanied Sydney, our regular swan visitor,  but Sydney didn't seem very happy at first with the extra guest here and he often showed his disapproval.

Or so I thought.

This week the display of aggression by Sydney turned into an act of courtship and I quickly realised that Sebastian needed a new name. Hence the title " Sabrina" for the swan watercolour study above.

As I spring cleaned my art studio today I watched as these two swans glided by, on the water outside. They looked so regal and Sabrina seemed to be smiling. In fact I  am sure she winked at me. But that could just be my artists' imagination. Either way, she made a delightful distraction from hanging paintings in my studio and generally cleaning up. Tomorrow I can walk into my painting space and enjoy painting and get back to working on my book.

And my painting of Sabrina, painted in between clearing up, will greet me and smile at me.

What a lovely way to start my day!



Pleased to see you!

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Artists Tips

1) Don't stress over paintings that don't work out. Learn from them.
2) Paint and more importantly, enjoy painting.  
3) Prepare your painting space for the next day and look forward to using it.
Finally
4) Think about what subject you would like to paint most of all and how, the night before you wake to paint!

Happy painting

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Bluebell Madness

Bluebell works on my easel this morning

There is no doubt about it. Spring Fever has hit me badly. I am gardening, spring cleaning and painting, working on a new collection and experimenting for my new book.

There is also no doubt that as an artist I have changed. My style is evolving as happens from time to time. My colours have gradually become more vibrant but a new boldness is also touching some of my recent compositions. I seem to drift between soft muted shades to the more dramatic contemporary way of working and I love the differences. As they effect my results on a variety of old favourite subjects.

Like bluebells.

From the light touch of yesterday, deep atmospheric woodland scenes are now emerging on my easel full of colour and excitement.

Where this artistic "woodland" path will lead me I have no idea but ,oh boy, my next book is going to be rich in information and ideas to get everyone racing for their brushes in the way that it has me racing to paint each day just from writing it.

Spring Fever?

"Jean Haines Fever " maybe!

I love it!

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Woodland Walk : Bluebell Woods

"Woodland Walk"
Bluebell woods in watercolour

I know I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, near bluebell woods that are so calming to walk through at the end of the day. And I am aware that some of my friends are going through so much right now as life, at times, has a way of being so unfair. 

To my friends who need this, a calming poem and woodland walk.


Walk with me and take my hand
I'll listen and try to understand
Whatever ails you, let it go
Take in natures' beauty
While you breath out , really slow

Listen to bird song , so soft and sweet
Enjoying the woodland path beneath your feet
Your worries you can leave, for now, far behind
 As the peace of this haven
Brings you peace of mind


Its'  hard to feel stressed when  surrounded by calm
At one with nature,  where nothing can harm
Just fresh air and blue skies
No clouds to be seen
Simple colours around you. Healing blue and green

Rest your soul , rest your body
With nature be one
As you take in last rays of the afternoon sun


Peace 
Joy
And love at Easter

To all


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Happy Easter : Bluebell Inspiration 2017


 Bluebell Study in Watercolour

I have been working really hard in my cottage garden. Each day I have woken early , raced into the garden and attacked my days' new project with enthusiasm and energy. I set myself challenges to meet for each gardening session. Taking one flower bed at a time, removing weeds, deadheading, sowing seeds, dividing plants and taking cuttings. It has been heaven. At the end of each gardening session I am absolutely exhausted, aching all over from digging, pushing a heavily laden wheelbarrow from one end of the garden to the other and from walking continuously from one part of our large garden to the next.

I love designing the flower borders and I enjoy imagining what colours would work where and how. But at the end of each gardening day I am eager to paint , no matter how tired I may be feeling.

This afternoon I took my paints to the woodland section of our garden and sat quietly to work out which colours I could use to paint bluebells. I always joke each year that they are not blue flowers at all as they look more violet to me than a real blue.

This year Daniel Smith brought out a new watercolour shade called " Lavender" and it has worked amazingly well for these beautiful flowers. I have added other colours to bring this little piece to life but it is so soft.

As I painted the sun shone on my shoulders, birds were singing sweetly and the blackbirds flew in and out of our potting shed, where their nest is, to feed their noisy young who chirped eagerly for their evening meal. Every now and then a canal barge passed by on the water and I would stop painting to just soak in the calming atmosphere.

Our cottage is so pretty and the garden, as hard work as it is, gives me endless inspiration.

I understand that nothing in life worth having comes without very hard work to attain it. Hours and energy put in to the garden give me hours of gorgeous inspiration of beautiful things to paint. My gardening improves my art and I am continually learning from nature.


 Happy Easter to all who celebrate this time of year. New life, new energy, renewed love and passion for all that is good in life. And hope for the future, always.



"Bluebell Light"


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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Never Give Up

"Violets Too"
Copyright Jean Haines

I loved painting the violet gift I was given yesterday. So much so that I started my day by painting another version of the same piece. My wonderful friend Christine had shown me two varieties of violets in her garden. The darker, more domesticated variety which is larger than the pale wild little violets that grow on the countryside verges around here.

These smaller violets are a more delicate hue and quite complex to paint with their tiny petals.

Today I looked again at what I had painted yesterday and attempted the same painting with the pale little wild violets as my subject. I loved what happened as soon as this little study appeared on paper. With very little effort my subject was there. Minus pencil lines. Minus all the little details. This is a vase of violets. It is far more delicate than yesterdays' painting and I love it. I don't think you can get the real feel of this piece on line but off screen it is gorgeous.

It made me think about all my workshops this year and some things I kept repeating when teaching my classes.

1) Don't always try too hard. 
2) Over thinking can kill a painting.
3) Never give up! 

In my relaxed state this morning a natural painting occurred of a simple little flower and a new memory was created of a fabulous painting day.

Whatever you are working on, enjoy it, relax and let the colours flow to tell the story simply and beautifully.

Happy painting!

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Scented Violets: Spring 2017

"Sweet Violets"

This afternoon I visited Christine who used to handle my UK workshop bookings. In her garden she has a wonderful path that is covered with wild  violets and she kindly gave me a small posy which I  hastily painted on my return to my studio. The posy is now on my easel, as seen above,  as these delicate flowers don't last very long in a vase.

As I painted them I smiled because Christine once came to vist me some time back ,with a tiny glass jar full of violets from her garden which I also painted. After a while  I gave Christine her little glass jar back but by this time I had fallen in love with it. It wasn't special. It was just like a little jam pot but incredibly small and sweet. Perfect for holding small flowers like violets.

Christine later, knowing me well,  gave me a gift one Christmas which was a box full of things I loved but wrapped amongst these treasures was one better than any other. It was my own little glass jar to put violets in. I loved the kind gesture.

I now have my own violets  starting to bloom in my own cottage garden. Not as many as in Christines' garden yet but in time there will be more, as they self seed and plant themselves everywhere. Each time I see this little flower I always think of Christine now.

I enjoyed playing with colours this afternoon to create this quick little study. Seen above. And I loved the happy memories it brought back to me.

Isn't it funny how one little thing can lead you to thinking of so many others?

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Spring Posy

Spring Posy
Work in Progress

The weather has been amazingly warm and so I have been torn between my two passions. Painting and gardening.  I see them both as totally combined activities, each helping the other work. For example,today I carried pruned branches of shrubs to the compost heap at the foot of our garden. I had been cutting back ivy that has taken over our wishing well. What once was a little bit of ivy adorning the wiahing well roof,  now is an overgrown plant that has almost hidden the well entirely. I gave the ivy a very heavy pruning this afternoon and the wishing well is now looking beautiful again. Planted with geraniums, white pansy and a mix of colourful petunia which will look stunning in summer.

On the way to the compost heap to throw pruned shrub branches away I laid several blown down daffodils on top.  These flowers I was intending to take into the cottage for a floral arrangement later on. But laying on top of the ivy, the flowers looked so pretty that on my way back to our home I headed into my studio instead and painted the posy in my hands. This made such a pretty composition, and to think everything was originally headed to be thrown away.

From rubbish can sometimes come beauty, as in this case.

And of the rest of the week I will look twice at what I throw away!

Have a great week ahead!

Jean

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Final Lap : Wey Gallery Collection 2017

 "The Final Lap"
Close up from larger painting
Please note : Copyright strictly Jean Haines

A collection of my new work is being delivered to the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey, U.K this week including the action piece " The Final Lap"  seen in full below. The movement and energy in this horse racing scene seems far more dramatic off screen, as happens sometimes.

I have exhibited with the Wey Gallery for several years and my horse racing scenes have become very popular and collectible over time.  I love this gallery. Every time I visit I see new work by new artists and very unique art on display, beautifully presented.Owned and run by a very professional team who are so wonderful to work with.

I am drawn to the energy, movement and competitive spirit in these pieces which makes them a challenge and an exciting subject for my art. They also test my use of strong bold colour which I find Daniel Smith watercolours perfect for.  I cannot use pale insignificant shades for a moment in time as strong and dramatic as this.

In this piece you can just make out one jockey in particular aiming to take over the lead, but the winning horse is at the moment still heading for that finish line as if it is winning.

A combination of determination, skill and knowledge.

Just like painting.


"The Final Lap"
Please note : Copyright strictly Jean Haines.


Details on this and my other work at the Wey Gallery can be found via this link.


 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Primroses 2018

 "As Soft as a Whisper"
Work in progress
Primroses from my cottage garden

Spring is here. My garden is full of spring flowers and where ever I look there is incredible inspiration.

I am handling so much at the moment. Future tours, exhibitions and writing my new book. Life is full, rewarding and rich with the joy from  having so much to do.

Today I set up my garden painting table by a cluster of primroses that are in full sunshine. Their petals are so pale. Delicate and soft. They seem to tumble down  in such a beautiful way. A natural floral arrangement and a perfect composition.

Below is the beginning section where I am making a few  individual flowers work, before adding the rest.

I am loving being in my cottage and  finally having time for just me to paint for my own personal enjoyment. 

Life is grand!


 Primrose detail

Artists Tip for the day?
Go out!

1) Get away from your computer and make an effort to see something beautiful. Something that will make you want to paint.

2) Do it and don't ever regret wasting a minute where you could have created something wonderful.

3) These primroses will be gone from my garden soon. I need to make the best of them being here.  Think about what you have, near you,  to paint as a subject that too may disappear if you don't paint it while you can!


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Thursday, 6 April 2017

In Love With Spring

Primrose painting as a work in progress.

The problem with writing a new book is that I have some really fascinating completed paintings which I am absolutely bursting to share on my blog. But if I do, readers of my new book won't have any surprises. So I am keeping work from this new exciting publication hidden from view completely at the moment. Now, having confessed on many occasions that I am useless at keeping secrets you may understand how hard this is for me. I complete a painting and immediately want to share it on my blog.
I can't which is so frustrating!

But the good news is my new book is beginning to come to life and look fantastic. It is making me really examine how I usually paint, and it is making me think and see very clearly how I can improve my work. So much so that this weeks' paintings are singing, full of life , light and energy. I am thrilled.

The feeling each morning of racing to create is exhilarating. I am loving it. So for the time being I am turning into a recluse hiding in my studio and working very hard, writing and thinking of new ways to create, making sure each new chapter is easy to follow, is inspirational and gets readers racing for their brushes too. As  they read my next book. A very nice problem is , my new book is having this effect on me too. I can't stop painting. I am sleeping dreaming about painting and I am waking eager to see if my ideas work!

This is such a terrific life, being able to live with the eyes of an artist, the enthusiasm of an inquisitive child, and the zest  for adventure often found only in the very brave.

My sense of excitement right now should be leaping off my post as I am really so very, very happy.

Back to painting for me but I will share news of my workshops soon!

The primroses , seen above were painted in my cottage garden this afternoon. I grabbed a scrap pf paper and sat down to play with colour to unwind after a full day.   I am really pleased with the result so far. I just need to complete it!

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Magnolia 2018

Magnolia 
Study in Watercolour 2018

The sun is shining and I have been inundated with work today. From workshop administration to organising art work for several exhibitions. But all the time I have been looking at the glorious magnolia in my cottage garden as it beckoned me to paint it. All week I have longed to take five minutes out just to play with colour and try to capture this beautiful, flowering tree in watercolour.

The temptation got the better of me at about four o' clock this afternoon and I could resist it no longer. Armed with my new Daniel Smith Watercolours I set up an area where I could see the buds and blooms. I immediately moved my brush to see what happened. I listened to birdsong as  I worked. It was heaven.

I honestly believe if your heart is screaming at you to do something you should listen, and I did.

I am delighted with the colour combinations of my first study seen above and my second smaller study seen below.

Magnolia Study 2.
Detail to be added.

Now I will settle to the remaining administration but how good it felt to paint, alone, in my garden relaxing at the end of a hectic day.


Artists Tip of the Day?

Always follow your heart!

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Spring Fever 2017

"Spring Fever"
The lightest of touches bringing flowers to life in watercolour
Work in Progress


"Where are you?"

"Your blog has gone quiet "

"What are you working on?"

"When are you teaching next? "


So many questions are in my email inbox. And I do need to reply to them all. Where am I? Well I am working in my studio and having a fantastic time painting. My most recent work carries the enthusiasm I brought home with me from energising New Orleans ( I haven't been the same since my workshops there which is why I am going back ) and the brilliant warm sunshine and enthusiasm I was welcomed by in Florida. Places on my workshops there are filling up fast for 2018. In fact one location in Florida has already sold out for February next year. I will write  a blog post on my workshop sin 2017/2018 soon with full details on who to contact for places including one fantastic new location in Hawaii! Yes, Hawaii! So very exciting. You heard it here first and this location will open for bookings shortly.

My blog has gone quiet because I want to paint. I know from my recent trip and workshops that my enthusiasm has hit an all time high but it isn't just that. I have had light bulb moment after light bulb moment. In the past, because I was teaching so much, I never had my own personal time to grow as an artist and use this fantastic energy in my work which is leading me to fabulous new approaches with my style. I suppose at this stage on my blog post I should warn anyone who has already booked a workshop with me for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 to be ready for some highly addictive new colour combinations and ideas! I am on a roll as they say.

I am also receiving so many invitations to teach in gorgeous venues.  Mainly USA at the moment but if anyone in Ireland or Scotland fancies hosting a Jean Haines event could you let me know please? I am fully booked in 2018 but I am looking ahead to 2019. 

What am I working on? A new book and wow it looks amazing! My publishers came to my home last week for the first meeting here . I showed them the paintings and the theme throughout the whole book and I am thrilled because they loved it. Like  me, they can't wait to see it launched next year but it will take a lot of time to complete which is why I will be quiet from time to time. I really want to do justice to the artists who inspired me in my art journey so this book is important to my heart and soul. And its the reason I will not be at Patchings Art Festival this year. I want to work consistenlty without losing the writing flow, or positive creative energy.

My next courses will be in Norway in summer of this year. Now that's a surprise isn't it but details will be confirmed this week. I am letting the " cat out of the bag" by mentioning it!

And if time allows, yes there might be a surprise workshop in UK too, details of this will be on my blog later. I am missing teaching here and our cottage garden looks so lovely that bringing everyone back after class is something my husband and I both love. It adds to our year so watch this space!

I am useless at keeping secrets!

Back to work for me. My tour locations need my bio, course descriptions and images before they can advertise my  workshops on their web sites yet so many bookings have flooded in that these events will be sold out before they are promoted it seems. I have to admit, I am now finding it really hard to keep up with myself. I need two of me lately!

Happy painting!

Jean