Tuesday 30 September 2014

Red Hot Watercolour Competition : Daniel Smith Watercolour Prizes

"Feathers Flying"
New Rooster. 
Work in Progress

Goodness, time really is flying. I honestly don't think I know the meaning of the word " Bored"! I am constantly working on new exciting projects and looking forward to fabulous art events.

Last weekend was the opening of my solo show at the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey. Thank you to everyone who came on the day and also a huge thank you for the very interesting questions raised at the end of my talk.  There is something very special about meeting people at exhibitions and I enjoyed every minute.  The exhibition runs until the 11th October and further information can be found via this link.

This week I have a small selection of paintings  being collected by a gallery for a show opening in Cheltenham next month. I will be sharing more details about this in another post shortly.

For now, I am making the most of the gorgeous sunshine here and painting in vibrant colours. The above rooster is on my easel and appears to have feathers flying! The colour of the head is a very bold red achieved by a layering, build up of Daniel Smith Watercolours. Which reminds me to mention that I have been so impressed by the entries to my watercolour challenge in  "The Artist" magazine this month. I wrote a feature on using red shades and the submissions so far are stunning and so varied.

All I have asked for is the use of vibrant red , in a way that makes the colour looks impressively "hot". Prizes for my latest competition are Daniel Smith Watercolours and a watercolour palette like mine. If you would like to enter please  see this link for details.

The competition is open to artists of all levels and I will be judging , to choose five lucky winners.
So how about having fun painting with  red shades and aiming to win some great new ones at the same time!


Wednesday 24 September 2014

Hard To Reach

Blackberries on a Bramble Branch

Why is it that the sweetest berries are always out of reach? I can guarantee that when I am walking through countryside alone I always, without fail, see the very best berries either high up on top of a hedgerow or far from my arms' length. This evening I saw a branch that had grown way above a bramble bush with juicy, ripe blackberries just begging to be picked. Of course, I couldn't reach them. To make matters worse, leaves had fallen so the length of the bramble was fully exposed making the fruit look even more tempting!

I stood and looked at the composition and then came home to my studio to paint what I had seen. Reluctantly, leaving the fruit where it was.  I used a small study I had already started which meant all I had to do was add the detail which was the annoying  out of reach branch.

While I worked, this little painting gave me much food for thought.  Many things in life are not easy and I tend to think this is somtimes a good thing. For example, going to a supermarket and simply buying a punnet of blackberries wouldn't have given me the same sense of satisfaction as finding them myself. It is exactly the same when learning new painting techniques. Anything that is easy to achive doesn't appeal to me so much these days. I look for art challenges daily. If I can't find any I make  some up!

I just don't believe that picking up a brush and doing what I know I can do is enough. I want to continually learn, grow and improve my skill as a watercolourist.

So in a way, I am placing a very high branch of "treasure" just out of my reach and I will continually strive to reach it. And when I do, there will always be another branch to aim for!

Artists Tip of the Day: Don't settle for what you can reach, aim even higher ad set yourself exciting new goals continually!


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Jean Haines World Of Watercolour : New Book 2015

Paintings and Contact Sheets from my new book which will be launched next year.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me messages following my blog post on completing the last chapter of my new book. I was so  surprised and taken aback by the kindness of everyone who had not only read my blog post but obviously understood how emotional I felt at the time knowing I had written the last words of the last chapter, which were forwarded to my publisher.

Last week became even more emotional as I have now also sent all of my paintings from my new book to my publisher to be professionally photographed to go with the  written text.

I write my books as if I was in a room full of artists and imagine I am either demonstrating or explaining why I make the decisions on my colour choices or techniques. I also imagine sitting in  the room and listening to myself. I ask myself what I would like to learn most from a book on watercolour and how each new chapter could help my own growth as an artist. I am quite tough on myself in that unless each page is fascinating it isn't worthy of being printed! And I have loved writing this new book so very much that I am genuinely sad this part of the books' journey is over. The creative side of putting it together and compiling all the information  that I wished to share.

So having read and re-read each new page of my next publication I then went through each painting, no matter how small and checked if it had instructional or inspirational value. The emotional time came when I knew there would be no room for any more illustrations and my book was 100% complete.

As I was really busy last week I arranged for a courier to collect all the art work from my studio and deliver it to my publishers head office. Here it will be  photographed then placed with the text lay out for printing to be organised.  I will now be waiting eagerly for  the first proof to arrive. This will not be in a book form. It will simply be loose paper in the sequence of the chapters so I can see how it will look before the final printing procedure gets under way.

This will be my very last chance to make any changes.

It is a time of anticipation and dare I say, nerves!

In my mind I think I know what my new book will look like but from my computer screen to the holding real thing is a massive leap!

I will keep updating my blog with news of this process as so many  readers have let me know they are enjoying this side of my book, watching it come from the birth of an idea to the finished article. 

And I will confess, it is wonderful to know I am not alone while waiting!


Autumn Treasure

 Blackberry Painting Inspiration from my book "Atmospheric Watercolours" 

Autumn 2014

Apparently it is now officially Autumn although the hedgerows where I live seem to have thought it already has been for a few weeks now. Blackberries have almost all been picked and the shells of hazelnuts are scattered on the ground from over enthusiastic squirrels feasting on, or hoarding, them.

Hazelnut appearing in a simple wash.

For me, it is a time to reflect on the gorgeously warm Summer days that are drawing to a close and the time to welcome a glorious colour change in my palette. I am going to be leaping towards even more vibrant golds and stunning bright contrasts to make them sing more stunningly.

As I walk my dog Bailey, I will be observing all the  berries on display whilst enjoying the sculptural shapes as leaves fall revealing stems or branches minus their foliage adornment. This is a great time to wander along country lanes searching for  natures hidden treasure as well as the more  noticeable.

Artist Tip: Don't miss out! Get fit by walking, enrich your artists eye by observing and take quiet time to record the beauty that we often miss by always being in a rush!

 "Autumn Glory"
From " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour "


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!