Tuesday 31 March 2015

Summer Glow : Roses in Watercolour

"Summer Glow"

Oh how I love Daniel Smith Cadmium Yellow! Even if the sun has disappeared in my garden I can instantly bring it back with a glowing yellow addition to my latest painting of summer roses.

Yes I am leaping ahead a season but it feels so good to do so!

Sometimes we just have to listen to our hearts and let colour guide us by cheerful mood and happiness. I am excited about my upcoming trip to USA and I think its' showing in my art this week!

Bouncing, vibrant and happy! Not bad qualities to possess or feel!

Happy painting!


Threes' Company : Moonbears

Yogi, Coco and Bern

How strange the way painting a subject you feel emotional about can play on your heart strings. I was already connected emotionally to the plight of three moonbears being rescued and their awaited arrival at the sanctuary in Vietnam yesterday. Moved so much that I began a painting of Yogi, one of the rescued bears. This is howYogi, below,  first started to appear in watercolour in a very raced quick study.

 Yogi, first brushstrokes and a very quick study.
Like life, a small glimpse into the whole picture.

The odd thing is. Once I had painted a lone moonbear I couldn't stop thinking of how these poor creatures  had spent a decade already in solitary confinement. How could I leave this bear alone in a painting too? And so I quickly added two other bears to my original painting. Coco and Bern are now appearing alongside Yogi ,but as you can see, their faces need adding. ( See below)  Maybe they are shy at seeing daylight for the first time. Or maybe they are inhibited in never having had the opportunity to interact socially with other bears. All these things they will learn in their new life.

 Adding two more bears to keep Yogi company in my initial watercolour

With so much to do before my trip to USA which starts this weekend why on earth am I worried about one lone bear in a watercolour that could easily wait as a painting until I return home? Maybe I think it will bring the bears good luck to be shared together in every way possible right from the start. Or maybe its because I have indeed a very soft heart!


I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has told me they are thinking of  donating to help these bears. We all can help in some way no matter how small it is. I just can't imagine seeing any creature treated as poorly as these poor bears have been. But now, these have a new life!

Information on moonbears, their care, rehabilitation and the charity helping them can be found via this link.


Please note. Thank you to every one who wants to buy this and my other moonbear painting. I am afraid they aren't for sale yet but will be sold at a later date in aid of moonbears and Animals Asia.

Monday 30 March 2015

Moonbear Love

 Small beginnings
A moonbear in watercolour, tiny brushstrokes creating an early shape.
We may think we can't make a difference. But each small kind action can lead to beautiful outcomes.

There was great excitement today as the rescued moonbears I mentioned on my blog yesterday reached the sanctuary in Vietnam. I have followed their journey online. These bears have been confined to small cages for the extraction of  bile for Asian medicine. It is hard to understand centuries old  customs that inflict such pain on wildlife. You would imagine that in this Century the young of a country would be making changes. And they are are but it is taking time.

To know that someone had a vision to rescue moonbears from a hellish fate is such wonderful inspiration to all who love animals. Here I take a bow to Jill Robinson for all her heroic work and for founding Animals Asia . Taking a step at a time to making a difference in the world. Yesterday I shared the plight of Yogi the moonbear as he made his journey from a bear bile farm, to a place where he will live minus pain from here in. Accompanied by two other moonbears Coco and Bern who were also rescued.

This morning I raced to my computer to read the update on their rescue mission only to hear that the truck transporting these bears had broken down. The rescue team must have been exhausted yet now had to wait for a replacement truck to arrive, then move the bears from one truck to another before continuing on their journey. But the good news is the bears are now all safely at the sanctuary and begin the start of a wonderful new phase in their lives.

I had so much on today but still had to paint a moonbear. Even if it was an extremely quick study. So please forget this very quick rushed effort! But I wanted in my own way to celebrate and welcome Yogi, Coco and Bern to their new life.

 Stage 1.
A moonbear head and ear emerge in watercolour

 Stage 2
Hints of the moonbear muzzle in gold add to the first head shape

 Stage 3.
Adding the gorgeous body but with emotion because I am now feeling seriously sorry for these bears. 

I think you might feel for the moonbears that have been rescued too. Because some have lost paws or limbs. Its hard to take in.  But some will have been initially caught in cruel snares before their suffering even began on the bear bile farms. Imagine the painful existence they have led. 
My painting is inspired by one such bear. But they live happily minus one limb, and they are enjoying life to the full surprisingly after all they have been through.

Stage 4
Strengthening the detail, enjoying the moonbear  markings on the chest and hoping my real painting of a moonbear minus bars when next painted will be full of the joy of seeing these recently rescued bears  face freedom for the first time in a decade.


This is definitely NOT my best painting. It is a journey into a story. A story filled with love, determination and compassion. A story of making a difference to three bears when so many still need rescuing. But isn't that fantastic? 

Unless we take a leap of faith and make the effort nothing would ever change. We can all sit back and say " I can't make a difference" . But actually we can.

Jill did.

I want to too.

How about you?

You can find out more about the bears and their story via this link. Please take a minute to read about Yogi, Coco and Bern. It is a heart warming story.

And if you want to, you can even send them a gift!


Sunday 29 March 2015

Tugging At Heart Strings : Moonbear Rescue

 "Behind the Bars"
Finished painting of Yogi on his way to the sanctuary in Vietnam.

I couldn't rest until I finished the painting of Yogi and as I worked today I realised this watercolour carried so much emotion in it that I just had to share my feelings. I know so many people who, like me, get so upset when they read about cruelty to wildlife. We sit behind computer screens and vent our anger at stories we hear of cruelty in other countries. Whilst quite often conveniently forgetting issues that are appalling in our own. Surely we have the right to fight against killer whales being confined to small spaces in sea theme parks? We are sickened by dog eating in far off places.  How the dogs are killed is far too painful to observe , especially when gruesome images are frequently shown on line. If I shared the horrors I have seen I am sure I would lose blog readers here and now, and I won't.

But when we see something unpleasant how easy is it for us to turn away and forget about it because it doesn't effect us?

My watercolour of Yogi today really pulled at my heart strings whilst I was working. Not just because of this bears plight but because humans can be so cruel. In some countries, due to outdated cultures, people still have no idea of the cruelty they are inflicting on living things. I can see that change in these countries will take time. It cannot , no matter how much we want it, be an overnight happening.

But back to the moonbears being rescued. Here for a wonderfully refreshing change is news of three bears who are being aided to live a life they have never known. My painting started as a confused first wash. The bars initially became more important than the subject. Lines restricting the animals movement in life also acted by restricting my freedom. I lost the ability to allow colour to simply flow as it usually does for me.

 Stage 1. Being Restricted 

When I paint in watercolour I hate rules or restrictions. I need to be free in my mind to create beautiful soft flowing compositions that depict the beauty that I see around me. But here I am faced with a beautiful animal that has been treated  so cruelly and the bars represent its' prison. In reality the bars of this cage were red. But that colour reminded me of blood and I couldn't use it. Happily, however, this bear is moving to freedom. So I left the bars white to depict the light of hope. Hope around the corner as I know this wonderful bear will now be freed.

 White bars represent hope and freedom to come for this moonbear
First Stage.

Stage 2. Feeling The Freedom

I left my first wash to dry and as always the colour paled during the drying stage. The watermarks of my tears magically created fur patterns in the coat of the moonbear so they worked for me rather than against me. I looked at the  first stage and realised I only a little detail was needed to complete my painting.  I added the nostril first. Moonbears have delightful big noses. I can just imagine the joy of Yogi being able to  take in the scents of fruit and the earth of his new sanctuary. He is going to be in heaven! So painting his nose became really enjoyable thinking about the  ecstatic experience he is to face next in his so far awfully painful life.

Adding detail for the moonbear nose.
Second Stage

Stage 3. Seeing Clearly

Now I have started to relax in my painting. I am almost visualising this bear without the bars blocking its' beauty from me. I can imagine its' furry body roaming freely around the sanctuary grounds. Its' eyes will be shining. It will be able to  lay on its back and roll, facing sunshine for the first time without being hindered by a cage.

I have the  "good" feeling I need to complete a painting and so a little more detail is added to complete my piece.

Stage 4. Looking Ahead

Yogi on my easel!
Finished painting.

My observation skills came into play at this stage. I could see the little whiskers on the muzzle of Yogi and they were outside the cage. I'm happier. My mood is changing. This bear will soon be free and I feel great knowing that when I hear news soon of his release into the sanctuary there may be images of his  very first movements.  And I can't wait to paint him without bars.


When we paint using preliminary sketches we restrict our freedom. When we work minus the pencil lines we can create allowing our emotions to step in or take over which is what I did today. This painting didn't take long. It leaves a lot to the imagination. But so does this bears' journey. Maybe we don't want to know all the gory details of his lifes' history. It isn't our fault he was captive or treated badly. So we can move on with our happier lives and not worry about it or animals like Yogi.

But unfortunately, or fortunately I can't.

 I am built in a way that I care so very much. And I never want to change or stop hurting when I hear about animal cruelty. What I would love to hear is that people all over the world are becoming more aware doing something to stop it. even if it is simply by raising awareness.

I have donated to Animals Asia today. You can even buy a bear honey on their web site! I would like to think that Yogi will have his own special supply waiting for him from the many fans who, like me, are so happy that he is now going to be free.

Buying honey for moonbears via this link or befriend a bear! 

So, if you have read this far. thank you as my blog has taken a different direction today. But if you love animals as much as I do I am sure you won't mind. And after all, this is who I am.

A lover of life.

Happy painting!


Moved To Tears : Moonbear Rescue

"Behind the Bars"
Moonbear on his way to freedom

I had no intention of painting today. I know when my batteries are flat and they really are. I am exhausted from a week of meetings, filming, writing and interviews. I knew today I needed to take a complete break, walk Bailey and simply chill in preparation for my USA tour which starts next weekend. However there is a team far more exhausted than I am right now and this blog post is a tribute to them. For rescuing three moonbears and taking them to a sanctuary.

Followers of my Twitter account will know my heart is often touched by the plight of wildlife and how it suffers due to mans' personal greed or need for fun via  hunting. A pastime I will never wish to understand. I don't  "get" cruelty and there are times when I feel the four legged species has more intelligence than the two legged we know as mankind.

But having decided to take a break today I continued following the rescue of three moonbears. I have lived in Asia. I have seen medicine shops and markets with all the cruelty they entail. And I appreciate it requires strong minded compassionate individuals to take on the plight of animals  who desperately need help there. Years ago when I lived in Hong Kong I came across a person called Jill Robinson. What this wonderful woman did then impressed me but what Jill is doing now touches my heart in a way that I cannot describe. She makes me want to give up everything I do in life to put my focus on helping wildlife. And maybe that is where I am heading because I have never wanted to paint for personal gain, which is why I give so much away when teaching watercolour workshops. I  don't want to be famous. I just want others to enjoy painting as much as I do. But how about when we reach a certain level in our art careers we give back rather than not?

Have you heard of the plight of moonbears? Heard how bile is extracted for medicine? Heard how these poor animals live in confined cages for the majority of their lives unless they are rescued?

I am following the live rescue of three gorgeous moonbears who will be in their new sanctuary in the next  24 hours. Watching them on their journey is humbling and we can all witness it, thanks to the Internet and Animals Asia for the rescue and sharing their release. How joyous that will be for the moonbears living outside of a cage for the first time, being in a bear community rather than solitary confinement. Being able to play, interact. Eat and drink fresh water. Sleep free from pain.

Now having read those last few lines perhaps please look again at this study below, that I have painted of "Yogi" bear on his journey to freedom. You see, although I paint in watercolour, these are not watermarks in my work. They are real genuine marks by tears that feel while I painted because  this animal deserved far better than the cruelty  endured previously. And thanks to good hearted people he now will live a far better life than when he was " Behind the Bars"

There will be tears for joy when this bear and his friends reach the sanctuary 

Join me in celebrating the release of these three bears  via this link. They are nearly home. At last. To a life without bars. 

I never ask for donations from my friends but all donations  via the above link will really help this  wonderful organisation. 


Saturday 28 March 2015

A Crazy Week!

Before the Ball last night!

Goodness what a week. And this morning my batteries are flat. I have to admit I do feel tired!  Which is very unusual for me.

Monday:  Firstly I started the week with a fantastic flying visit from my daughter and a night out, just two girls catching up. 

Tuesday: Then I threw myself into painting on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the photography shoot of the relaunch of my first book "How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour " which was to take place on Thursday. It was a last minute decision to film this week so I needed to prepare a list of shots for each new segment and chapter that will be added to the extended version of my first book, bringing it into line with the more fully informative books that I have written since its'  first launch.

Wednesday: A slight distraction from my book preparation as I was asked for photographs and text for an interview for a Home and Garden style magazine. The information had to be sent almost immediately so I really had to work quickly on this one!

Thursday: I drove for five hours, there an back, to the filming location for six hours of non stop filming for the revamp of my new book. This was incredibly tiring, working at such a pace and by the time I came home again my batteries were flagging but ,oh boy, did I feel happy. The shots we have are terrific and this book is going to look fabulous. I am SO excited about its' relaunch!

Friday: I spent unpacking my car and working through new card designs for my Summer collection. Then in the evening we had a glamorous ladies night to go to but part of me wanted to curl up on the settee and go to sleep.  But I did get to wear " The" dress that I had been looking forward to putting on for some time! Photo above.

Saturday: Here I am in my studio sending off the chosen card designs to my printer. And choosing paintings for an upcoming exhibition which have to be framed while I am away in USA on tour. I won't have time on my return to organise the framing for the deadline.

On top of this I heard from a little girl in USA who has honoured me as an artist by selecting me for her school project, so I am arranging to meet her in person when I am in California on tour next month.

Part of me longs for the days when I just painted! Because I always seem to have something I urgently need to do and I keep saying " Yes" to even more exciting new opportunities.

I have a motto. " We only live once so go for it".

Maybe Im possibly " Going For It" a wee bit too much lately!

But I am loving it!

Happy Painting!


Roses For Doni

"Love is a Rose"
Painting from my new book "Jean Haines World of Watercolour"
( Copyright Jean Haines )

I just read an email from a wonderful artist who had been inspired on my workshop whilst I was on tour in Australia last year. Doni, I promised to post on my blog to you so here is one post! Others will follow when I have time.

I often hear from artists who have attended my workshops or demonstrations, Mainly letting me know how I have inspired or motivated them which is wonderful. Sometimes I hear of lifes' hiccups that get in the way of peaceful painting, following the excitement of a course and that can be so frustrating I know, because life has a way of throwing hurdles at us when everything is going just fine. In fact I often sit and wonder where my " life hurdles" are because its' been far too long since any were thrown my way. Well apart from breaking my ankle in Australia a while back but even that had positive outcome, in that I met many new friends when I returned to repeat the course for the artists who missed it the first time around.

Life on the whole is wonderful but when things get us down it is amazing how by simply moving our brushes or choosing cheerful colours we can lift our spirits to lead us into another more " happy zone"!

So whatever the weather, or whatever life is throwing at you please do find some "down time" just for you, to paint and enjoy just watching colour on paper!

"Love is a Rose" is from my new book " Jean Haines World of Watercolour" which will be available in June of this year.  And is already available to pre order on Amazon .com

Friday 27 March 2015

New Favourite Colour Alert!

"Spring Welcome"
Copyright Jean Haines

I am useless at keeping secrets and I have made promises that if I discover any new colours that I fall in love with I will happily share them on my blog. Well everyone. I have!

If you haven't tried Daniel Smith "Green Gold" you really are missing out. It brings vibrant life to so many paintings and is perfect for Spring foliage as in my painting of daffodils above!

Its' a new favourite for me and I am sure there will be many more!


The New " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour"

"Spring Light"
Copyright Jean Haines

Life is moving so fast for me these days that I am finding it hard to keep up with my own news yet alone share it on line. There is constantly so much happening. If I  did make time to  share everything then I wouldn't have time to paint. But this exciting news I really do need to share.

I had a meeting with my publishers some time ago to discuss an exciting new project which covers the amazing book I will be working on next. Interestingly this new project will have no connection to any of my previous books as I will be moving away from what I have written in the past. This is a healthy move for me as I will need to research my subject and genre well. And it will be highly inspirational on many levels. So at the meeting I was thrilled to be offered a new contract before "Jean Haines World of Watercolour" was even  in its' completed stage of the creative process of writing a book. Instead of sadly saying goodbye to my new book which will be launched in June this year I was already looking forward my next literary adventure. 

But I had another exciting  surprise in store.

My publisher explained that my first book " How to paint Colour and Light" has sold so well internationally that they felt it would be a good idea to take it out of the series it was initially launched in. It is standing alone in sales so my publishers suggested extending it as a completely new version then they will relaunch it in its' new format. This would mean my first book would become more in line with my two later books. " Atmospheric Watercolours" and "Jean Haines World of Watercolours". Both full of  invaluable tips on working in watercolour.

My publishers are, as always, absolutely right. My first book could easily become a larger more interesting publication.  I have agreed to this decision for several reasons. One being that I have outgrown the art in my first book as I have grown as an artist. Also, when I was first asked to write a book I had so much to share that it was all literally squashed into the pages of " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" due to the limited space of the series requirements. I had been offered  a set number of pages for the series and I tried to cover everything I wanted to say within them. It is a lovely book and it led the way into my becoming a popular author with my publisher. It was special as a book which opened doors for me to many workshops worldwide and to my gaining future contracts for my later books. It was in many ways, my key to unlocking my current life writing, teaching and sharing as I do with a passion.

I have agreed to revisit this book and add to it.

So yesterday I made my way to the photographic studio where I painted beautiful new step by steps and tips to be included in the revamped version of my first book. It is now going to be larger with new subjects, gorgeous  advise and tips and the beautiful new full paintings  that it needs.

I left at six yesterday morning, and after five hours of driving and six hours of filming came home exhausted. I still have to choose the images from the contact sheets when they arrive at my cottage. And I still need to write the descriptive text to go with them , plus make the new addition choices that still remain to be made. I drove home in a euphoric state because I know I want to own this book. It is going to be fabulous! I feel I now have so much more to offer readers, as I am more experienced as a writer and teacher.

It was magical listening to the team watching me paint yesterday as they made wonderfully positive remarks about each new painting. And as the new cover was on view a visitor to the studio fell in love with it immediately asking if it was for sale. That is always a great feeling!

This new publication won't be available for some time as I am still working on it but as soon as I have a date I will let you know. But trust me, its well worth looking forward to!

The original version will no longer be available once the last copy has been sold but at the moment there are still copies available.

How to Paint Colour And Light

How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour

My first book " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" has gone to print for the final time. This means once new copies have sold out it will no longer be available in its' orginal format.

 It has been a really popular book and as my very first leap into being an author carries an emotional connection for me. So to everyone how owns or has bought a copy, thank you so much!

To anyone who doesn't own this book, you have a limited time to buy one to ensure you have a complete Jean Haines book collection!

But more exciting news on this book in my next blog post!


Tuesday 24 March 2015

Watering The Roses!

Adding the Background
( Copyright Jean Haines )

I thought I could answer a few email questions by posting my new painting of roses at this stage. I am adding the background now and it could be a sky, further greenery in the distance or more roses. As I am in a "rose" mood it has to be roses! 

But how to add the background?

I apply water to the space behind my subject and then I simply drop colour into that space and allow it to dry with no help from me , or my brushes. If I disturb this pigment I will lose the soft freshness of colour simply being there. I have soaked the paper well in the white space at the top of my composition. While the paper is still wet, dropping in colour at random completes the painting and  connects harmony with the colour of my subjects. This trick  works beautifully.

There isn't much more to do on this piece. I will allow it to dry completely, then add a little detail to the outer top petals of my gorgeous pink blooms.

I am rather impatient too at times especially when I am having fun. As I never use a hair dryer to dry my work I am starting a new rose wash, to look forward to working on tomorrow.

Painting roses is very addictive!

Heaven Is a Rose

 "Heaven is a Rose"
On my Easel this morning

A surprise email this morning let me know that I will be filming for my new project this week on Thursday. This news created great excitement for me. I had a meeting with my publisher at my cottage last week to go over a few ideas and I mentioned I could be ready "to go" this week. So it is now all systems go as I compile a collection of paintings which will be going in a thrilling special edition. Further information will follow later this year but for now I am thrilled.

The sun shone so brightly this morning that regardless of my work load I just had to paint roses. I am a firm believer in following your heart when painting and mine is set on capturing soft pink roses in sunlight. There is a story behind these rose paintings, isn't  there always!

In our first home, when we were newly weds, I knew very little about gardening but outside the kitchen window there were highly scented pink roses which I adored. I constantly picked endless bouquets to decorate our home and to give away as gifts to friends. The more I picked the more seemed to grow in the removed flowers' places. I have found that similar in life. The more you give away the more comes back to you. I give my tips and techniques away where ever I go and I find artists from all over the world are eager to share their favourite colours or subjects with me too. And, it seems the nicer you are to people the nicer they are back to you too. Its' an endless happy circle.

Where ever we have lived, from Dubai to Hong Kong I have always tried to have roses in my garden but I had made my mind up that the day we settled down I would have pink rose growing outside my kitchen window. And we have finally settled down. And I have done just that. Each year I set up my easel and happily paint the fabulous delicate roses , for hours on end.

Today I am leaping ahead to Summer and painting my favourite subjects yet again. These are one of the most favourite and most asked for of my watercolour demonstrations. Usually I have more than one artist asking if they can buy what I have just painted because the way the roses appear as if by magic always carries such a special memory to myself and those on my workshops.

There is a breath of freshness about this piece above, as it develops. A softness that seems heaven sent. 

Maybe its title should be " Heaven Scent" because to me heaven is a rose in bloom.


Sunday 22 March 2015

Adding Detail : Wisteria 2015

Work in Progress

I was just about to write a long email in answer to a gorgeous question someone asked and then realised the information might suit followers of my blog too. I am finding artists on my workshops seem to fall into two categories. One group can't seem to create exciting washes to work from but are brilliant at painting detail. The other category paint fabulous washes but don't know how to move on from that starting point. Both are really frustrating problems to overcome.

I try to breath life into my work by painting atmospheric washes in colours that suit my subjects. I rely heavily on expressive brushwork to depict hints of the subject I am going to be painting. Thinking of the detail I will be adding in the next creative stage. The question I was asked was " How long does it take you to finish a painting?"  That really is like asking me how long a piece of string is without showing me the actual string.

The answer really does depend on the subject and the amount of complex detail in it. The wisteria above is a great example of what I mean.

The first wash of colours I selected reminded me of sitting in Italy demonstrating to artists on my workshops there. The light was gorgeous and the wisteria seemed so delicate. I have used violets and turquoise to set off the flowers with hints of Opera Pink by Daniel Smith. Once the first wash was dry I started to add tiny detail in sections. This is far from complete but I won't be racing to finish it as it is such a gorgeous painting which carries that special " feel good factor" when I work on it.

But some sections will be left to the imagination, others will not.

I love it at the moment so just a few more touches may complete this, but only time will tell.

So how long a painting takes to complete really does depend on my mood, the subject and the amount of detail I aim to add. Plus the size of my work. My largest pieces can take up to three months believe it or not. Layering, adding detail in sections and leaving each one until I am ready and know exactly where to work next.

This probably doesn't help at all as an answer but I thought it would be a fun post to share!


"When Feathers Fly " Cockerel 2015

"When Feathers Fly"

What a fantastic day. The sun shone brightly and, as I have really been painting flowers non stop this week I decided to paint one of my favourite subjects. A Rooster, who may have seen another chap trying to take his lady! Whatever the reason behind his posturing this guy was really ruffling his feathers when I caught him on camera. For a brief moment, he did look a little embarrassed to be caught in action. About to start an argument but he continued regardless of my being his audience. There was so much noise and he really did look as though he meant business. But eventually everything calmed down. It was amazing to watch. So of course I just had to paint him.

While I worked I thought about the fuss this rooster had been making. I have to confess I hate arguments. Luckily I rarely see any these days. If I do, I have the age and wisdom to quietly walk away until the dust settles. But what should I do when I open an email from an artist telling me they have been accused of copying me and in the next breath the very same artist is accusing the  artist accusing them of copying me, of copying me too. You couldn't make it up!

What did I do?

I walked my dog!

I wonder if  there is too much March Madness in the air at the moment?

I am seriously not belittling the artists involved but goodness, there are enough subjects to paint and no one owns them. And many fabulous styles too. For the record, I do not own " Loose Painting" as a style. Neither do I own cockerels as subjects or horse racing scenes or kingfishers. In fact I have been warned that a new " Kingfisher Craze" may hit the scene once my new book is released and if it does I will be thrilled. Lets' all paint the fabulous little birds!

Back to the argument though. Two wonderful artists fell out over a situation that is so very sad when this art world is big enough for all of us.  Lets ' share our passion for painting. I hope this is helpful advise but if anyone suggests you have been copying another artist instead of getting irate and wanting to knock their lights out, how about taking a long hard look at your work and try to see why they may have jumped to their conclusion. Perhaps they have a point in that your work does look similar to someone elses' and just maybe thats' a great reason to adapt your style a little, to look more unique. If you look similar to a great artist you admire how about taking the comments as a compliment.

The day someone tells me my roses in watercolour looks as beautiful as Blanch Odins' I am going to be over the moon. But I know I am a long way off from my goal of ever being that brilliant!

Please. Please be kind. Please bring out the best in everyone around you in any way that you can. Encourage others to enjoy painting and love what you do as an artist. Making this world a better place is something we can all contribute too.

My goal in life? I have learned over the years that taking time to think about a situation always works best. I want to be known as the most generous of teaching artists and if I can, the most kind. That is one hell of a goal to reach for but I am working on it.

How about following my lead!


Friday 20 March 2015

A Busy Week

Spring Border
The blue muscari are flowering in our cottage garden now so they are being added to my daffodil paintings!

How wonderful to see inspiration in the garden every day as the Spring flowers start to bloom. I planted many varieties of Narcissus and daffodil last year and now I am reaping the benefits of  my hard work. Lots of gorgeous flowers  to paint daily. And made all the better by today's glorious sunshine!

I have had a hectic week. Starting on Monday with my being on the selection panel for the Woking Art Society Annual Exhibition. On Wednesday I had a meeting with my publisher to discuss my next project which is very exciting. I am already working on it as I adored the day with them. Wednesday evening I was at a Charity event as I had donated a painting for auction which I am happy to say raised much needed funds. I am a firm believer in giving with our art as much as possible so this was a pleasure on my part.

Now I have so much to do before my trip to USA in April so please forgive my slow response to any personal emails right now. I am treating myself to painting time in my studio because once I am on tour I miss that side of my art life.

I have had a few emails regarding copying of my work. Can I please  put everyones' minds at rest. As a teaching artist who writes books on watercolour to inspire I am more than happy for any of my art from my books and DVDs to be used to learn from. I expect the paintings in my books and on my DVDs to be copied because copying is a great way of learning. Also , theres' almost no point in following a step by step in an art book if you aren't actually painting to follow the instructions. 

Having said this, it does appear one artist has showcased an exhibition where nearly every painting on show is a direct copy of my paintings and this has upset a few of my followers. And yes, I am aware of others.

So how about we look at situations like this in this light.

Anyone who passes off another artists ideas as their own can be noticed. And this happens often.
Can I just suggest one of two things.

When you exhibit to sell

1) Use your own material and exhibit work from your own ideas. This way you will be seen as an original artist and gain respect as an artist in your own right.

2) If you wish to copy,  (not just from me!) , please always add " In the Style Of " and name the artist you are copying. This way people viewing your art will give you the respect you deserve for being honest, and also for  painting with skill another artists ideas.

Passing off someone elses' original ideas as their own only reflects badly on the one who is copying. So if you do copy please think twice when sharing on line or exhibiting. You could be spotted so  it really pays to be honest!

I hope this helps!


Tuesday 17 March 2015

Adding Definition : Primroses in Watercolour

Detail added to yesterdays primrose painting

I am often amazed at how we wish our lives away. We long for Summer the minute Spring has arrived, yet we long for Spring during the Winter months. We are always looking ahead instead of savouring every minute in the here and now.

I find it is the same in my workshops when  some artists are working on a glorious painting that is going really well and they race to finish it, rather than savouring every single  gorgeous brushstroke.

I am never in a race with life or my work although I confess when each painting day comes to a close I can't wait for the next one. But that is a positive way to close each day. On a high and happily looking forward to repeating my joy in creating.

Last night I could easily have completed the above primrose painting as the flowers had no centres when I put my brushes down yesterday. But leaving this painting on my easel in its' unfinished state gave me something to look forward to. With fresh eyes this morning and new energy I am able to see what to add in the way of definition without the risk of overworking my piece.

Is it finished? I like it as it is but could work further in the background area. However adding further could lose the freshness in this Spring watercolour. When working loose there is always the risk of not having enough detail or adding far too much. As I am now at the crossroads  in decision making I will leave this lovely floral painting on my easel for now, and work on the second primrose composition I have on the go. Then compare the two.

Artist tip for the day?

1) Don't race your work. Enjoy every brush stroke rather than  hurtling towards the destination of a finished painting, which could be full of missed choices and opportunities simply because you raced the creative process.

2) Stand back and look at your work  before adding detail. Let the unfinished painting guide your next move by it telling you what it needs.

3) Place a mount around your work and study where and what colour may add life or detract from your result so far.

But most importantly.

Enjoy painting!


Monday 16 March 2015

Spring, Glorious Spring : Primroses 2015

  Primroses. Work in progress

Having seen so many wonderful paintings at the Woking Art Society whilst on the selection panel this morning I couldn't wait to race home to my studio to paint. Dotted along country lanes, beautiful creamy primroses are in full flower at the moment and its' impossible to ignore their beauty.

I knew I would be painting them the minute I could get into my studio and I was!

I am working from life but as its' raining outside, on and off, this afternoon I have had to give in and  surrender to the warmth of my studio. 

Standing Out From the Crowd

Following on from my earlier blog post about being on the exhibition selection panel. Think about submitting to an exhibition and take on board this train of thought. Lets' imagine that there are several artists that you know who are submitting a similar subject to yours. How could you make your painting stand out from the crowd?

One of the easiest ways to be unique is by simple colour combinations. For example look at the two paintings of primroses below. One painting has the more expected yellow and green colour combination with a hint of a blue sky in the upper background. This is more accurate in that I am painting what I see directly. But think about that for a minute. So is everyone else!

The expected and the subtle not quite so expected!

My other painting has a touch of Opera Rose in the background. Now I know I'm not seeing pink when I look at the primroses in my garden but I want my painting results to be unique! Simple changes, can make all the difference, no matter how small they may be.

 Think about how you can make your work stand out from the crowd and have fun doing so.

And if you are submitting to any art shows this year, please don't worry or be down hearted if you are not selected. Sometimes selection  really is all about wall space or too many paintings of the same subject being handed in.  Or maybe you do need to improve your skills but doesn't everyone? We all keep improving. Thats' what makes painting so exciting, having a goal to aim for.  Finally, enjoy painting and do your best by painting in a way that makes YOU happy. Because at the end of the day you are your best judge! Trust me!


Woking Art Society : Exhibition Selection Panel 2015

I was honoured to be invited as part of the selection panel for the Woking Art Society Annual Spring Exhibition this year. I arrived to meet the other panel members this morning  and walked into the holding room of all the exhibition paintings. All  ready for the selection process. I hadn't met the other two judges before or visited The Lightbox in Woking where the exhibition is to take place. The warm greeting I received made me feel welcome from the minute I walked through the door .

Selecting art for an exhibition is not an easy process. You know what your criteria is beforehand when selecting art for a show but often at these events the wall space limited. So even if you fell in love with every painting there is not always enough room to hang them all.

As a successful Art Society, Woking members had submitted a diverse collection of art with fantastic variety of  subject matter, evident technique skill and notable knowledge of the mediums worked in.
The initial judging was where three judges needed to agree on each painting that would definitely be in the show. Paintings of excellent standard meeting all criteria easily stood out. For me, there were stunning watercolours, excellent oils and exciting  textural work where mixed media caught my eye. Following the first round of selection the next stage was where the panel worked together and discussed their favoured choices of art. Finally when the agreed number of paintings for the allocated wall space had been selected the judging took place for the prizes. This was  interesting in that the selected painting for the Judges Choice Award, luckily all judges had instantly fallen in love with. When it came to the highly commended prizes I could easily have selected far more than the two we were asked to choose. In fact that really was a tough decision!

As the selected art was carried out of the selection room I looked at the  remaining paintings that had narrowly missed selection. This is where my heart always feels heavy. No one, no artist at any level, wants to hear that their work has not been selected for an exhibition. And there were some interesting paintings still left in the selection room. There were also one or two  paintings that weren't selected only due to minor details that could have made all the difference.

A few tips I thought could be useful to artists new to exhibiting.
Or they may act as a reminder for the more seasoned artist who may tend to forget they matter.

1) Always take time to present your art well. Choose suitable frames and don't skip on the size of the mount. One gorgeous piece I saw this morning had been hemmed in by a very narrow mount that didn't allow the wonderful work room to breath. 

2) Choose colour of mounts and frames wisely.

3) Think about your subject for an exhibition. There were some stunning landscapes this morning but right now, sitting at home I can still see some of the more unique paintings that caught my eye. Often unusual compositions and colour choices catch a judges attention.

Most importantly. Never be put off if your work is not selected for an art exhibition because quite often it really is just the lack of space that has effected the judges decision. Or. maybe your subject choice was so popular that too many paintings of the same thing were presented. 

The selection panel this morning  chose work on merit of skill, subject matter and presentation.

I can honestly say this is a show not to be missed. I don't have any room on my cottage walls but if I did there are several pieces I would love to buy.  You can visit the exhibition and find out details of when and where via this link

And there are a few paintings that didn't get selected that are still playing on my mind which just goes to show how much I liked them. I have no idea who the artists are, but red painting of the lady in walking two dogs was unique and I loved it, the red apples were scrumptious, and quite a few paintings of trees made me think of the woods I walk in daily.

To Woking Art Society, thank you for inviting me onto your selection panel.

And to Woking Art Society members, wow what a great society you have! Well done on all your incredible art.

See you at the opening!