Wednesday 31 August 2016

Hawthorn Berries in Watercolour : 2016

 Hawthorn berry demonstration from today's workshop in UK

I am teaching workshops all week in UK and each evening taking my lovely dog Bailey for a walk to unwind. On one walk, I came across a stunning sight of a tree laden with hawthorn berries in sunlight and as I had my camera with me took a few photographs. I also carried a sprig home which I took in to today's workshop.

I used the sprig of berries to create a colourful first wash, as seen below. In my mind I wanted sunshine so my background was changed to yellow rather than the blue of the sky that I had seen on the evening of my walk. I allowed the yellow to filter though my wash just as sunshine would through the branches of the real tree.

  Hawthorn berry first wash demonstration

If this first wash is full of life and energy I can add detail to complete the painting. As seen in the image at the top of this blog post. On my workshops I emphasise that washes are the best way to grow as an artist . Practise of these washes takes time but is so worthwhile.

  Hawthorn berry first wash demonstration. 
Close up of a section

Below is the photo I took and used as inspiration for my class today

Hawthorn berries
My own photograph 


Thats' all for now as I just wanted to share my teaching day with you.

Please go out as often as possible to find inspiration from nature. 
There really is no better art teacher!

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Butterfly in Watercolour 2016

 "On Angels Wings"
Butterfly in Watercolour

Yesterday was one of those days when the weather was perfect. I couldn't resist taking a walk in the early evening sunshine and decided to take my camera with me in case I saw any wildlife or flowers worth painting, and how lucky I was. 

There is a field near our cottage that at the moment is full of ragwort. I know this plant can be seen as a nuisance to some but it does attract so much wildlife. As I wandered through the field I felt a soft touch on my bare arm and was delighted to see it was a white butterfly that had brushed my skin. I followed it with my camera so that I could take photographs as it settled on many of the bright yellow ragwort flowers. I knew I would want to paint it straight away but time was passing and when I did finally return home it was already getting late. But I couldn't get the image of that butterfly out of my mind. I often believe if an image is so strong in your mind it is best to capture it immediately and so I did.

I took an oblong piece of paper that was already covered in green shades and began to paint around the negative shape of the wings of my "treasured sight". Next I added yellow to the top of the existing green section to make the ragwort come alive. By the time I added Cobalt Turquoise behind the butterfly wings and a few extra yellow flowers in the distance the subject was already there.

I love the saying that if you are touched by a butterfly you have been graced by an angel. Hence the title of this painting.

You can see the photograph I took that inspired this painting below. I do believe painting from your own resource photos of things that you have personally seen makes you a far better artist. In this case the inspiration was very high!

The butterfly I saw on my walk. 
My own photograph, captured in beautiful early evening light


Artists Tips

1) Paint from your own photographs.
2) Go Out! Go somewhere you where will see subjects that appeal to you. Study what they look like in real life.
3) Paint something when the mood takes you. That special moment of enthusiasm is worth capturing while its' fresh and very much alive.


Monday 29 August 2016

Countless Blessings : Rolling With an Idea

"Countless Blessings"
Butterflies in flight

There is so much I want to say in this blog post. It all started with a simple butterfly demonstration this week on one of my workshops in UK. I kept the demonstration simple so that the artist who was new to my sessions could easily follow my brushwork. But then I returned to my studio and added two butterflies to a simple sky wash, a new butterfly painting which made three this week. I worked on a sky painting from my workshops which I had painted as a one on one demonstration. I shared that simple painting on my blog yesterday. It is my previous blog post.

From there I had another wash from last week that I felt could make a great foundation for an autumn scene. But by now I had started thinking of all the wonderful butterflies I have seen in my life and a beautiful memory flooded back. I had moved to Hong Kong years ago. Shortly after our arrival there we rescued two dogs. Actually we went to the rescue centre to rescue one dog but he had a sibling pup in his cage and as she wasn't very pretty we rescued her too. I had made the mistake of asking what would happen to her and was told she would be put to sleep as she wasn't a pretty dog. The centre felt no one would want her. Years later my beautiful rescue turned into a really pretty animal and everyone loved her. Love and patience can achieve so much.  In art and in life. But back to my memory of butterflies.

I began each day in Hong Kong walking in a remote country park with my very much loved rescue dogs. Named Buddy and Holly. I would walk for an hour into the park and one hour out of the park on my return home. Often ignoring the beaten tracks and going on my own routes. On one such adventure I came across a huge tree with many golden , rust coloured leaves at its' base. Their colour in sunshine was glorious. Not exciting as such but interesting against the greens every where in sight at that time. I touched the leaves with my foot, as a child would, to enjoy the sensation of freedom. My dogs were close by watching my every move. I had expected the leaves to rise and fall. But they didn't. They rose high into the sky , twisting and turning as they reached higher and higher above my head. They weren't leaves. They were butterflies. Not pretty by any means. Not colourful but in flight they were gorgeous. I watched entranced as I had never seen anything like it before.

One butterfly landed on the huge nose of my massive rescue male dog and he stood still, going cross -eyed looking at what had landed right on the very tip of his nose. The gentle giant didn't move as if he knew this was a very special occurrence. I laughed! Eventually the butterflies drifted away. Possibly to a new spot where they could rest undisturbed.

I can't help thinking how lucky I was to see that sight. If I hadn't rescued these two dogs I may not have been walking so often or into areas of the park that I hadn't seen before. Our act of kindness in rescuing these two dogs gave us many years of love, laughter and an unconditional bond which I will never forget. 

And so I found myself yesterday looking at this piece of paper with golden colours on it, and from my imagination I painted my memory. I find in workshops far too often artists will bring in an image or real flower and they will paint exactly what they see. When in fact its' when you lose that visual image that your inner creative artist can take flight. Maybe we don't trust our inner artist enough. We try to control it. We try to master our techniques and restrict our creative spirit by doing what we think we should to be good artist, rather than simply allowing ourselves to express our feelings just from out thoughts, memories and life experiences.

I actually love this painting. It is like nothing I have ever painted before and yet it speaks volumes to me. I count my blessings every single day. Perhaps we all should. Taking nothing including our sight for granted.

Have a great day

Artist Tips

1) Don't always paint from photographs.
2) Express your inner feelings and moods in simple colourful washes.
3) Be you. Everyone can be inspired by other artists but how do you know you aren't better than whose work you are enjoying?
4) Let your inner artist out!


Sunday 28 August 2016

On Angels Wings

"On Angels Wings"
Butterflies in Watercolour
 This painting is dedicated to Lynne. 

I always aim to make my workshop and watercolour courses as full of information as possible with the goal of inspiring every person who attends. But often the end result of each course is that I too am 100% inspired. I should be taking a break in between the two weeks courses I have running in UK at the moment but I can't. There is a positive inner energy inside me that has been untapped and it has to be freed. And so today I am painting.
During the courses this week I had many artists asking me specific questions on how I would approach painting certain subjects that they are experiencing difficulty with. This week sea and sky topics arose quite a few times. I gave my now very popular " one on one" demonstrations for one particular artist. Lynne, who has been coming to my courses since I first started teaching them. In fact Lynne was at my very first book signing at the Mall Galleries in London. Lynne hadn't seen me for a while and returned to a course this year for an injection of my enthusiasm. In her own right she is an excellent artist with so much talent. Lynne asked me to show her how I would approach painting a sea scene but the resource photograph, her own, that she was showing me had a fabulous sky. I demonstrated two sky approaches first, in watercolour, then showed how I would paint the sea. When the close of day arrived I loved one particular sky demonstration that I had painted on a thin long piece of paper.

I showed it to the class. I told the group of artists present that it was a special piece of paper and that it would be turned into a painting. I am keeping my promise by sharing what it has become. This morning when I looked at this gorgeous blue piece I knew exactly what it would be. And so two butterflies dancing have now appeared. There is a saying that if a butterfly lands on you, you have been touched by an angel. Hence my title " On Angels Wings" for this small painting.

The strange thing is. I see so many artists who over complicate painting. They worry about their results. They spend hours labouring over subject or creation they simply are not enjoying. Which is such a shame.

For me, each new day is an exciting challenge to paint something new and maybe something so simple that its' beauty lies in that. Its' simplicity.

Life doesn't have to be complicated.

Art doesn't have to be complicated.

And I think this piece demonstrates why so perfectly.


Artists Tip:

 "Paint Yourself Calm" is a wonderful book for wash exercises that can be turned into beautiful simple paintings like this.

Read it and

1) Practise washes every day
2) Simplify!
3) Try something new in subject or colour techniques as often as possible
4) Stop long before you think you have finished your painting.

I'm currently working form my latest book and loving the relaxed feeling I'm achieving when creating which is flowing into my art.

Peacock in Watercolour 2016

"Peacock Study in Watercolour"
Demonstration from this weeks UK workshops

Its' amazing how many artists come to my workshops wishing to loosen up in technique and yet are reluctant to put down their pencil. I do understand. If you are used to using a preliminary sketch before painting coming on one of my courses can be daunting.  I never use a pencil to make marks on my watercolour paper before I create. For one reason, I find the actual lead of the pencil can effect my colours no matter how lightly I use the pencil and this can damage my fresh results. But I also find pencil marks definitely restrict my creativity. Once in place my brain won't allow me to place colour where I want it to be. I find I have to add colour exactly where the pencil marks are telling me to and this limits my journey in exploration of a subject. I learn about each new subject by placing colour shapes where I see them, from by observing the real thing. Or from a resource photograph if needed in a workshop.

This weeks workshops saw a fabulous group of artists each day arriving to set up eagerly to paint. One of the returning artists is now a person I regard as a friend rather than someone who turns up at my courses. They have the most wonderful personality and they always without fail bring with them not only resource photos that they use but they are so generous in spirit that if anyone in the room is lost at any time on what to paint, or if they prefer what she has,  she will offer to share her images which is really kind. This happened this week with an image of a peacock.

( Thank you Penny! )

After my morning demonstrations I wandered around offering "one on one" tuition and help to each artist in the room.  As I approached one table at the back of the room I noticed a preliminary pencil sketch of a peacock on their easel. It was lovely. beautifully drawn.  The artist explained to me that as much as they wanted to they couldn't paint without initial pencil lines to guide them. There is absolutely no problem with this at all. Its a beautiful style that suits many well known and famous artists. It just isn't the way I work. As the artist wanted to paint without sketching I brought them to my own painting area and gave the above "one on one" demonstration as tution to help them overcome their personal obstacle of their having to use pre sketching techniques.

I advised they just painted the head of the subject at first. In this case it was a peacock. I showed how simple painting without skettch can be. Starting with the eye at first but taking time to get this starting point right. I loved how the artist explained to me how surprised they were at the length of time and care I took over this one starting point. They had imagined all " loose" work was painted quite quickly. Actually it isn't. For example. If the eye isn't right at the start of my bird or animal paintings there is no point in my working further. So at the starting stages of a subject painting like this I seriously take my time. I think carefully on where to place the starting marks on my paper.  I imagine where the surrounding body or head will go too. I do take my time and I enjoy thinking about how the painting will grow.

I explained that if you are an artist who likes using a pencil, think of your rigger brush as your painting tool to replace it. Make fine watercolour lines to begin. Or even paint with water alone to see if the shape or placement you are making is correct before adding colour to the water marks first made.

Paint little sections of subjects rather than a whole animal or bird until you train your eye and hand to paint what you see minus a preliminary sketch. In time you won't need that pencil and you will learn to observe colour and shape really well.

But until you try you will never get to a point where letting go of your penicl will happen.
Practise make sperfect.

So practise. And don't be afraid to let that pencil go!


Artists Tips

1) Paint small sections of a subject to train your eye and hand, to improve your painting skills
2) Paint new subjects so that you have to think about what goes where when creating.
3) Lose the pencil. You will only learn to work without it by not having it around!
4) If you want to paint in a new style, practise and practise some more. Regular practise does make you a much better artist!
5) Don't be hard on yourself ! If something goes wrong learn from each mistake and grow from it.


Happy painting!

Saturday 27 August 2016

Hello! Parrot in Watercolour 2016

Parrot in Watercolour

What a week I have had.  I have been offline teaching my UK Summer watercolour workshops and it has been fantastic. This was not a time for anyone on my workshops to be scared of using vibrant colour.

I started the week with a two day course called "Watercolour Heaven" which was more of an art retreat including an evening in my cottage to relax after the first days session. This was followed by an evening meal in a nearby inn. The group of artists on this course and the following two days were wonderful. I am so lucky as the atmosphere in my workshops is always full of enthusiasm and eagerness to absorb new information and techniques.

I am changing as an artist. I seem to have hit a magical time where I am leaping from one new discovery to the next which adds to the excitement on each new workshop as I always have so much that is new to share. This week the focus was on using colours that are new to you rather than sticking to those you know where you can often fall into the trap of repeating the same painting over and over again. Even if you choose a different subject but still paint it in the same colours, after a while you can become very bored. Rather like a parrot learning to talk. After listening to it for a while saying exactly the same thing in exactly the same way does wear a little thin for entertainment value!

Change is good for the soul, especially for the artist who wants to grow in style, technique and skill.

I have had such a great time teaching this week. And I have a full week ahead to look forward to, as I have another group of workshops taking place here in UK next week too.

Everyone attending my workshops is eagerly asking when my 2017 courses will take place. As yet I havent quite decided whether I want to take a year off from teaching so that I can focus on my own art or not. But there will be an announcement on my blog in September or October of this year with full information on what is happening. I haven't had time to even look at my UK  schedule for 2017 as my life has been so hectic recently. But after the opening of my September solo exhibitin in Oxford I hope to rectify that!

For now, "Hello" is a parrot painting that I started as a wash in my last workshop to show how I approach painting subjects minus using a preliminary sketch, being guided by the colour that I see. My courses are all about colour. And there is no better time to celebrate it!

Whatever you are doing whether its' painting or not, enjoy the colour in everything around you and allow that to flow into your art.

Have fun and happy painting!


Artists Tips:

1) Treat yourself to a new watercolour shade once a month.
2) Take time searching for new exciting shades that will be appealing to work with, these will make you want to paint even more.
3) Avoid the trap of painting the same thing with the same colours. This can lead to feeling bored while you are creating, rather than alive and enthusiastic about painting


Monday 22 August 2016

A Challenge : Landscape Washes 2016

"Autumn Haze"
Watercolour wash landscape

When I am teaching my workshops I know followers of my blog posts miss me. My blog falls quiet while I am offline. And I recieve many email messages asking where  I am and when I will be back online, which is lovely as it is nice to be missed.

But I thought it might be fun to set a challenge for followers of my blog and readers of my books while I am away from my computer.

How about painting a few daily wash exercises from  my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm".

Paint three each day just for fun with no subjects intended by them.

But then paint a few landscape washes this week. Paint seasonal ones. Try a cool winter landscape with cool blues and violets. Next paint a glowing autumn landscape with trees of gold. Summer could be the fabulous sunflower fields under bright blue skies and vibrant greens would be perfect of course for Spring.
Use your imagination with techniques like using salt patterns as seen in my Autumn landscape above.

Have fun. And by Friday of this week see how many landscapes you painted that worked well.

Use these tips.

1) Choose colour that is perfect for each season
2) Use salt or clingfilm for texture effects
3) Keep it simple! 
4) Try to avoid too much detail that detracts from the beauty of your wash.
 5) Stop when you see something beautiful

Most importantly.


Let me know how you get on. 
 I'd love to see your best landscapes so you can link to your work in a reply to this blog post.

Happy painting and good luck!


Watching Ewe

"Watching Ewe"
Sheep in watercolour

Its' my turn to watch. 

For the next two weeks I have my annual summer watercolour workshops, held in UK near where I live. Artists travel from all over the world to attend these courses and I look forward to them immensely. I take teaching these courses very seriously and put so much effort into them to ensure each attending artist not only has a wonderful time but  also they leave feeling refreshed and inspired.

It is quite a responsibility to have a room full of people knowing you want each one to gain from the experienec of being with you.  They have not only paid for the workshop but they have planned and given up their valuable time to be in your art sessions. This year alone I have had people fly from USA, Canada, Thailand, India, Singapore, Australia and Europe to be with me. Some even fly to be here for just one day.

This means so much to me but I cannot allow one person to leave feeling they had wasted their energy or time in coming. And so I make each course very different. I aim to put new artists with me at ease as soon as they arrive. I make sure returning artists take away somethingnew  in technique they can grow from. Workshops to me are all about our own personal journeys, when we take time to add to what we know or learn a completely new style or way of painting. On courses we all want something different, as our needs and level of skill vary so much.

I am ready for this week. In fact I am bouncing all over the place at the thought of sharing wonderful colour combinations and new ways of painting that I have discovered recently. When I teach, I give from my heart all that I know so that others who paint may enjoy creating as much as I do. And hopefully reach destinations they wish to reach in their journey with art.

I demonstrate throughout the day, for the group as a whole and with individuals in the session on a one on one time basis. Time flies on each of the courses and we often realise it is time to pack up when each day seems to have only just started.

But during these magically heady days I also watch. I will see a room full of people who have reached that special zone where it is just them with their paper. The room goes quiet at times like these and I sometimes feel a little emotional when it happens. And envious as I too would like to be sat in the room painting. But I can't because I am teaching. And my teaching is not about me. It is about everyone else. This is the artists time and whilst I am holding each workshop I belong to everyone in the room. This is their time, not mine, to shine.

And so its' my turn to watch. 

After hopefully getting everyone at that point where they can fly in style.

I start teaching tomorrow and have two weesk of courses. My blog will fall quiet but I will try to pop online now and then.

For now

Happy painting!



Saturday 20 August 2016

Overtired And Overworked!

"Badger with Blackberries"

Not only has my art life been busy this week but my social life has been too. I have been out rather a lot as so much is going on, including an annual dinner that my husband and I went to last night.  We came home very late.  Resulting in my waking feeling a little overtired, rather than rested, today. 

On days' like this when my energy level has dropped I know I would be far better off sticking to painting experimental washes. But, being me, that is often not always enough. As I looked at one of my previously painted experimental washes I saw a badger waiting to be encouraged to appear in one of them.

This painting started beautifully. The badger was there very quickly. He was  softly coming to life and in a very charming way. But as I was tired I crossed a line of no return. I added far too much dark to my wildlife friend and soon he overwhelmed the soft background.  

He now needed rescuing! 

I added a countryside background to overcome the now really strong colour on his markings.Soon blackberries were above his head and little hints of branches. These made "him" look far happier as a subject. I then liked the longer use of paper for my composition. I added curved brushstrokes lower down to form an interesting design in the lay out of my painting.
Like me feeling tired, I feel this painting has been overworked so I will leave it to rest. And I probably shouldn't admit this but this is one painting that I feel has definitely got away from me so I will be painting on the other side of this paper in the morning. 

I think its'  a good idea  to show my paintings that I am not happy with. We all have good days and bad days when painting. And some paintings do get away from us in that we over work them or make bad decisions. This is certainly not one of my best paintings but I have learnt so much from it that I will try this again.

If you have read my last blog post on simplicity I think that's what is needed with my next attempt at this subject.

And who knows what tomorrow will bring!


Artists Tips:

1) Try to avoid painting when you are over tired. It can lead to bad decisions!
2) Stop long before you think your painting is finished.
3) Enjoy a painting that goes wrong for all the tips you have learnt about what not to do.
4) Keep things simple!


The Beauty of Simplicity

Bulrushes in the mist

It is rather funny how we can easily over complicate life. We often see problems where there are none. If we have nothing to worry about we can sometimes still find something to concern us and when painting it is easy to imagine all kinds of things that can go go wrong long before we even pick up a brush. That is "if" you are a worrier!

I have had such a crazily busy week. I have painted every single day and I am preparing for a show by measuring and wrapping my collection for my solo show in Oxford next month. I need to forward the exhibition catalogue to the gallery by the end of August. I am really tied up with many art related non painting activities right now.

But this morning I walked Bailey and stopped to admire some bulrushes. They were so beautiful in the hazy morning light. I noticed how some were past their best. The reeds and the grasses surrounding them had already turned a dull brown and yet they were gorgeous in my mind. I was determined to paint them in a simple way to show their beauty, as I imagined it to be in my artists mind. So that viewers of my finished painting would feel they too had seen something that was stunning in its' simplicity.

I started painting by dampening my paper first to ensure when pigment hit it I would achieve soft fuzzy shapes of colour. For the bulrushes. I opted for monochrome shades but if you look closely there are tiny touches of deep turquoise because without it this would be a dull painting. I have followed the direction of the plants with my brushstrokes and allowed some stems to fuse into the atmospheric background.

This was a very quick painting to create and yet I love it. I often find I can paint something in minutes and it works as wonderfully as a painting I have taken weeks over to complete. Maybe there is a lesson in that point. We don't always have to labour over a painting for a long time for it to be a masterpiece.

Sometimes simplicity is the most beautiful way of painting. 

Keep it simple is a really good motto to stick to at times!



Friday 19 August 2016

Blackberry Way

Blackberries in hedgerows
On my easel this morning

I have two  gorgeous blackberry paintings on my easel. Side by side. Both almost finished. The new direction I am moving in is so exciting. If you look at the painting on the left in the image above it is darker and more atmospheric but I do love the clean fresh look of the lighter golden painting too.

I have two sides as an artist and inside me, one is trying to dominate the other. 

Which side will win?

For now I am happy to allow them to fight it out but its' so much fun sharing my personal art journey here. I have no idea where I am heading, that is not quite true I know where I want to head but I am going to let colour alone lead me. 

I will have to try not to allow the artist within me who likes what they are doing to prevent the other artist within me who still wants to come out to escape!

Have a brilliant day


Breaking Free 2016

 "Breaking Free"

I woke  early this morning. It was impossible to sleep. All I could see in my mind was colour. Mainly turquoise but that is because of all the humming birds I have been painting recently. I see humming birds in flight and their movement in my imagination effects my brushwork. It has become faster, more energetic and so very much more alive. Whats' more I am using colour very differently. Artists who have attended my workshops where I have demonstrated how I paint grapes on grapevines will understand my love of using neat pigment and making it transform into wonderful colour combinations.

Well here I am going a step further with that idea and it really is thrilling. This technique will only work if you are not afraid of  using strong bold colour combinations. But if you have been reading my book Paint Yourself Calm your build up of knowledge and experience will help guide you to this point of not being afraid or timid when painting. Just paint for the sheer joy in what you do and it can lead you to fantastic results like this.

When I apply the colour for my abstract work it is really with a very heavy application of product and I deliberately do not dilute it. It looks very dark when wet which can be quite frightening if you aren't used to working this way. And you often only get one shot at the wash as a full painting result because as it can become far too dark to work on top of further, to be used as a background.

The image below shows my wash whilst still wet. It is very dark.

 "Breaking Free" When wet.

The close ups of sections in this new abstract are really gorgeous but on screen I am not sure you will get the gorgeous full impact but here are two segments.

 Upper sections. Toothbrush splattering breaks up block areas of colour to add intrigue and interest.

"Rolling" over the foreground with any fabric at hand adds interesting texture effects.

I am on a roll. Someone told me I was on fire. I feel that way. Energised and so raring to go every day. I wake feeling happy, eager to work in colour. I go to sleep dreaming of what might happen tomorrow. And in the middle of all this activity I take time to sit and relax with my husband enjoying the day that is passing or has passed.

Life is good. It is really great today but tomorrow will be even more exciting.

How about you? 
How is your tomorrow going to be?  
More exciting ? 
Like me you have the chance to make it so.

A few tips. 

1) Try something new regularly whether it is colour or a new technique.
2) Try applying your pigment with something other than a brush! You should see my fingers right now!
3) Don't be afraid of colour

In fact, don't be afraid. So what ifyou make a mess? You just start again on another piece of paper but do explore! You won't know what you are capable of unless you try every possibility in art.

Happy painting


Thursday 18 August 2016

New Direction : Something Wonderful

"Misty Morning"
 Start of a new atmospheric country scene painting 

I knew it. I knew something was about to happen in my painting style. I have felt a change coming for a while but until now had no idea what it was. I can't explain it, but something in my artistic soul has been very restless recently. And you may have noticed my blog posts have been prolific as I have been painting something, whatever it was, out of my system. But each time I picked up my brushes I knew there was more. Something I wasn't quite " getting" . But now I do feel something is happening in my latest work. This feeling is leading me into a completely new area of my art life.

I love teaching. I always have and I love sharing my passion for working in watercolour. But all the time I have been writing, travelling on tour, or teaching workshops in UK my own creative time has been restricted and limited. Please don't get me wrong. I wouldn't give up what I do for the world. But I do miss the exploration, the pushing of myself to cross new boundaries to find something that I am searching for, always. I miss my solitude. Time spent alone in my studio. Searching for something better and more exciting. Well I know I now am on the right track, because this afternoon something magical happened.

I had been playing with painting hummingbirds. And theses paintings on my easel are lovely but they aren't what my soul is screaming for me to do. So, I went back to the countryside scenes I had been painting as washes all week, but this time I took vey bold colour and a few bits and pieces I had lying around in my studio to gain better texture effects in them and I am really very excited now.

I am working large for this journey as this is not a time to be timid. Here is a photo of my new large painting, so far on my easel.

Atmospheric country scene of autumn fruits in hedgerow
First stage

I have gone in very strong with colour using Quinachirdone Magenta mainly. Cadmium Yellow gave me the burst of warmth I was looking for. I want this scene to look as though you are walking through an early morning fog. Seeing hedgerow through the mist. I am there in my mind feeling the fog swirl around me. Its' a cold  Autumn morning with the first chill hitting the air.  I am alone. Just me, taking in the fresh air. Enjoying the beauty of nature. I want to take the viewer of my art there with me. But they will be alone also ,not with me. They too will be soaking in the atmosphere as if they were experiencing this early morning wonder.

The berries are appearing in the mist as seen in the image below. Just there, visible but almost out of sight

Blackebrries in the mist
Close up from my painting.

I am using all orts of things in all manner of ways to create texture. Rags, lace. You name it I am using it. I love it. I have a way of painting that I call " webbing". It creates really exciting patterns in my work.

Strong colour and texture in a section of my new painting so far.

I know I am crossing a bridge with my art. And its' exciting. I could stay where I am or take that next step. I'm moving forward with that incredible buzz that you feel when you are about to do something totally new.

This is exactly why I love being an artist. There are so many roads yet that I haven't travelled with my art and this could be the most fascinating yet. Maybe those hummingbirds brought me luck after all. They say humming birds carry a meaning.

 Perhaps I should listen to folklore!


Colourful Dreams

Humming Bird in Flight
Doodle in a wash!

Yesterday I had a wonderful visit at my cottage, from my friend Australian artist Georgia Mansur. While I was showing Georgia my studio I showed her one of my favourite blue shades,demonstrating by throwing colour on paper. Literally.

I walked into my studio  this morning and could see yet another humming bird appearing in the scrap of now blue paper, that was really fit only for the bin. I added the eye and beak of a humming bird to it and then a small body. Now when I look at this piece I can see the eye of a second humming bird lower down. Can you? This dot of colour is begging to be turned into a second humming bird. I have shared this painting at this stage, as it is so that you can see how I find my inspiration. I am guided purely by colour and shapes in a wash which lead me to painting whatever subjects the colour dictates which will fit in the background wash. 

But right now my subjects always seem to be humming birds. I even dreamt about them last night. I could clearly see many humming birds in my dream and they were so colourful. Their wings were moving so fast and they seemed to soar higher and higher getting smaller as they flew towards beautiful light. In my dream I looked at my wrist as I felt something touching it lightly. One of the birds had softly flown onto my wrist, and where it had briefly landed now was a silver bracelet which had humming birds on it. I can't tell you how disappointed I was to wake this morning and realise that bracelet was in my dream only. I loved it!

But I walked Bailey my dog and then walked into my studio. Within seconds this blue hummingbird had appeared on the paper I had meant to throw away. I may just explore it further. And paint even more humming birds.

Whatever you are doing, have a great day. And if you dream, maybe you too should paint what you have seen. That is as long as its'  a nice dream!

Happy painting


Humming Birds In Motion

The humming bird painting I am working on.

The trouble with humming birds is that they are addictive to paint. I can't stop. I am seeing them in every single new wash that I create each day. Not only that but they seem to keep mulitplying!
I didn't paint yesterday but when I did return to my studio this morning I could see a third humming bird appearing in the initial composition of my two birds in flight as a work in progress.  And now I can see the fourth possible bird hovering above all of the existing humming birds in this painting and this one is slightly in front.

I have finished the two main birds in flight and have changed the angle of their heads slightly. The first bird is looking at you the viewer. the second bird is looking straight ahead. I'm working from my imagination at the moment so I have no idea where this piece is going. All I know is that I like it so very much. I am in love with my new subjects and they are taking me to dizzying heights of pleasure as I create in new vibrant colour combinations.

The two completed birds so far can be seen in the below image.

Take two !

Next I will gradually bring the third humming bird to life properly and then decide if the hint of a fourth bird will add to or distract from my colourful new painting.

This is so much fun and who knew I would love painting humming birds so much! Which is exactly why those daily warm up washes from my latest book " Paint Yourself Calm" are so worthwhile. They lead you to new ideas. I feel energised as if I have been on holiday. This is painting at its' best in a happy, calm and magical mood that effects every single part of your being. Loving life!


Tuesday 16 August 2016

On My Easel : Hummingbirds

"Taking Flight"
Two hummingbirds coming to life in watercolour 
(Strictly copyright: Jean Haines )

I loved painting the hummingbirdrecently so much that I dreamt of painting another large composition with more than one bird in it. Today I created a soft first wash to act as my background and began to mak emy dream come true by painting two hummingbirds in it. I am not sure yet if I will add more birds to this painting or leave just these two. I also have to decide what will be in the background as flowers, but this area could just be blurred as my focal point is going to be these two main birds.

I cannot describe the heavenly way I feel when I am painting these colourful little birds. I think they could be my new subject addiction! 

I like to leave something half finished on my easel each night so that when I walk into my painting room each day I am greeted by something magical that makes me want to eagerly start painting. This is perfect for that!

Roll on tomorrow.


Artist Tips:

1) Always leave your painting area ready for your next painting session.
2) Leave the paper you will be working on ready even if its' three pieces of paper you are going to put your daily warm up washes on.
3) Leave a tube of colour out that you haven't used for ages and think about picking it up the next day.
4) Give yourself a mental image when you finish painting of what you want to be painting the next day.

These tips make it more tempting for you to get painting minus any excuses! 


Rudbeckia in Watercolour

 "Sunshine on My Shoulders"

Today the sun shone really brightly and it was impossible to stay inside. I set up my painting equipment in my garden and  worked on a few gallery pieces with the sun shining on my shoulders. I felt so relaxed. When I am painting in sunshine my thoughts always turn to using Cadmium Yellow which is such a strong colour in its' own right. I call it the " bossy" pigment as it will stay put, not move easily or it can push other more translucent pigments out of the way. It can sometimes over power a painting.

But Cadmium pigments have terrific value in that they can brighten up the dullest of paintings instantly. They can be used to paint on top of paler shades when more drama is needed. They can add zing and life to dull work.  Cadmium Yellow was the perfect choice today as I was working on a rather dull first wash, selected from my previously painted scraps of paper.

I had a cropped off long piece of paper that had been torn from the edge of a larger painting. This scrap found its' way to my bin. As the heat became too much for me to  concentrate on my serious work I rescued the long scrap of paper which had dull colours on it and I happily put the Cadmium Yellow pigment to work.

In front of where I was sitting todau was a huge clump of Rudbeckia flowers. I decided to paint a quick abstract of them for fun.  I painted three brown centres to start with then added the strong yellow petals surrounding them. As the heat of the day dried my first colour applications I could  easily build up more yellow and depth on each individual petal until the flowers leaped to life.

The first wash was just a pale version of the completed painting.

 Rudbeckia painted in strong sunlight in my garden this afternoon.

I never throw any paper away until I have painted on both sides of it. Even then I will paint on top of any coloured pieces just to explore and learn about how pigments interact or cover different shades and textures.

You may wonder how I knew how to paint the flower shapes? 

I used the shadows of the real flowers to paint from. If you have read my book " Paint Yourself  Calm" there is a lovely description on how to do this in it in one of the chapters.

Petal shadows at the edge of the painting let me know if extra flowers painted here would work. 
I could paint the shadows in violet so that in the painting they are shadows also! 

A good tip to remember for next time.


Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages letting me know how much you are enjoying my blog! Its' lovely to know its being read and found to be inspirational!


Happy painting!