Wednesday 30 November 2016

I can!

Blue Tit 
Study in Watercolour

Yesterdays blog post gave me the perfect excuse to sit and study blue tits today and I did. I observed how bright their tiny eyes are. I noticed what a stunning blue is on the top of their heads in morning sunlight. I loved their fluffy, yellow chest plumage which in some lights looks quite greenish. The white on the face isn't always snow white. Mostly it seems shadowed. Their beaks are really small! And when they do fluff up their feathers they look very different to when the don't. Size wise.

Last night before I closed my studio for the day I painted the above study of a Blue Tit. I felt calm and I knew these were the last brushstrokes of the day. Just like the last chocolates in a box, these are to be savoured not raced.

I took my time painting a beautiful small beady eye first. I carefully thought about the colour of the back of the head. I created part of the breast feathers but then stopped. I could already see the little fellow very clearly minus their wings, legs or a background. I loved creating this little bird. Now I can create a new painting taking the information from this study into my new work.

Oh how I love sitting watching the wildlife from my studio window, and as I type my model is posing outside again.

Its' time to paint!

Artists Tips of the Day?

Think about your brushstrokes as you would your favourite chocolates. Savour each one and take your time enjoying them. 
 Thats' it! 
Take your time.
Learn and enjoy!


Tuesday 29 November 2016

I Can't !

Blue Tit in Willow Tree

I am still on bird feeding duties while my husband is recovering from surgery.  There is one bird feeder that I haven't been able to fill though and this morning my husband noticed it was empty. It is the one that holds the tiny black Niger seed for the chaffinches. I haven't filled it for a reason. It is  high on a branch, hidden in one of the willow trees in our garden. The Blue Tits usually line up on its' branches as they take it in turns to feed from the usual bird feeder nearby.

"I can't reach"

I told my husband why I hadn't filled thsi feeder and he smiled.  Over the years whenever I have said I can't do something he has encouraged me to try.  He mockingly says" I can't do it" to me, in a way that drives me nuts. But the strange thing is by him making me do things I have achieved so much.

For example. Years ago I hated driving long distances and my husband would always act as driver if we had to go anywhere. But then came an offer of my first book and I had a meeting with my publishers to attend. " Can you drive me there " I pleaded at the time. " No" was the response. He explained "This will be the first of many meetings so you either drive or don't write a book." Five books later I now drive anywhere and with confidence.

" I can't do it"

How many times have I heard that line in my workshops.

I constantly hear....

"You make it look so easy"
" I haven't been painting long, I can't do it"
"I would love to paint but I know I can't" 
"I'd like to paint portraits but I can't"
"I can't paint in a loose style" 
I can't paint flowers"

The list is endless.

But "I can't" is all that is stopping many of us. Those words.

"I can't"

I believe we can.

If we try and if we really want to.

And so while my husband was out walking I went and stood and looked at the Niger feeder in the tree in our garden. It was empty.  By the side of it sat a small blue tit , I imagined his expression  telling me " You can't". in fact to me it was clearly written on his tiny face. I went and found the Niger seed . With determination I stood on tip toe and reached for the feeder. After a while I got it down, filled it and put it back in the tree for the birds to enjoy.

I walked back into our cottage and smiled. I did it. It wasn't a case of " I can't" after all. It was a case of my not even trying. 

And then I thought " I have never painted a blue tit before" And it occurred to me that "I can't" !

I need to paint another as I am not happy with the above painting. But I tried.  And if I try harder I know I can paint one!

So now over to you. 

What are you saying " I can't" over?


Monday 28 November 2016

Small Changes: Spot The Difference

Spot The Difference? 

I have decided to use the above painting as a Christmas card design. But the minute I shared the painting on my blog I realised something could be improved.

The painting I originally posted is below.

The tiny changes I have made improve the painting to me and now I am happy to put my brushes down.

Can you see the small changes to the above and below painting?


I wasn't happy with the legs and feet so just added small brush strokes to strengthen and correct them.

Now my robin isn't legless and looks as though he can balance better

Sometimes it is the tiniest of changes that can make all the difference to a painting!


Christmas Robin in Watercolour 2016

 Christmas Robin in Watercolour

How funny that my series of bird paintings this Christmas are leading me to so many almost forgotten memories. Like the painting above that I have just completed. I have been working on a few experiments recently using many different techniques that are new to me. In fact many I am simply making up. I teach workshops all over the world now and on each course I often state that not everything in art, or working in watercolour as a medium, has been discovered. So I am playing with many ideas right now and loving the results whether they work or not. In fact the ideas that don't work often lead me to better experiments and outcomes. We do learn far more from our mistakes than from things that go right and thats' the same in all walks of life. But back to my robin painting!

As I am the main bird feeder while my husband is recovering from surgery I am having to fill several bird feeders with all manner of goodies for the variety of birds that visit our garden. But we also have a special little visitor daily, in the form of a very tame robin. No ordinary bird food for this little fellow. Oh no. My husband buys special bags of meal worms for this tiny chap and he even has his own table and feeding station, which we can see from our living room window. Believe me, if I am late feeding this little bird he lets me know! And so does my husband by asking me if I have fed his robin yet. Two males against one female? I don't stand a chance!

But I have been enjoying watching our robin and after painting the sweet wren yesterday I couldn't resist painting our robin today in a similar background setting. As both of these birds seem to love the same hedge and wall with ivy covering it. 

While I was painting the foliage in my new composition my mind slipped back to a time when I was teaching watercolour workshops in Dubai. I was painting a beautiful composition of orchids one day while sat in a group of professional artists. I busily painted the negative spaces in my watercolour to form the background and leaves. One artist stopped to watch me paint, and then another from the group watched as my dark colour additions made my white orchid leap into life. " I wish I could do that" said one artist whom I greatly admired. I stopped painting and looked up, saying " You must be joking, you are a far better artist than I am". In turn she laughed and told me I had no idea how talented I am. I remember her telling me this years ago and my sitting there thinking she was being polite. I was flattered but of course didn't believe that this was anything but a truly  sweet compliment.

But now, years later, I am saying exactly the same thing to artists on my own workshops when I teach. This year I would love to have been given a new shade of colour for every time I have said it. I am constantly meeting people who haven't a clue how brilliantly talented they are. And many newer artists actually hold themselves back by not believing in their own ability. Yes.  I meet many new painters who are going to be far better artists than I am and I meet many who already are far more talented.

But isn't that the joy in painting? 

The journey not the destination?

I watched this little robin this morning and he watched me in return.  I thought about how small he is. I am small too, very small in this huge art world. But I like to think the robin and I both sing beautifully from our hearts. He sings the most gorgeous bird song. I sing via colour from my brushstrokes. To anyone, like the robin, who will listen!

My robin painting.

I painted the wash first for this new composition and in all honesty, this wash was just a wash. Not intended for any subject when I created it but it looked perfect to add a little robin in the lower corner and so I did. I made the leaves work by painting around the negative spaces.  Leaves are falling daily so only holly and ivy leaves are showing in this particular area of my garden. And twigs which are looking bare. I added these too and I also added the black berries of the ivy which  gave more interest to my scene.

This week I have painted many berries. Rose hips, mistletoe, holly and now ivy berries.

What next I wonder!

Below is the uncropped version of my painting but you can see more detail in the cropped version above.

"A Christmas Robin"


Artists Tip for the Day?

Believe in yourself.

1) Don't hold yourself back from painting by having a lack of confidence.

2) Remember that everyone was a beginner once.

3) If you have been painting the same thing in a similar way for a long time, try something new.

4) Most importantly, enjoy creating. Otherwise it becomes a chore and there are enough things we have to do in life, without making painting one of them! 


Sunday 27 November 2016

Learning From Experience : Christmas Wren 2016

"A Christmas Wren" 

I am still learning from every single experience in my life. While my husband is recovering from surgery it has been my daily task to fill the many bird feeders around our garden. I was aware how often my wonderfully caring husband fed the wildlife and feathered visitors to our garden. But until now I hadn't realised how time consuming this task is. I must add. This is one task I thoroughly enjoy because each time I fill a feeder I get the joy of watching the birds flock to eat greedily.

Among the daily feathered visitors to our  cottage garden is a tiny brown wren. This little bird isn't as colourful admittedly as the other feathered guests we entertain. But it is so sweet. It hovers nearby, shyly, sitting on a post that has a mixture of hedgerow growing over it including holly, ivy and other pretty shaped foliage.  The little bird seems to wait patiently until all the other birds have had their fill and then it coyly hops around eating whatever is left.

I love this little bird. 

And as I had yet another green mixed wash ready to work leaves on, I placed this sweet little bird in the new composition. And I will confess, I got carried away painting the foliage because now as well as holly berries there are also mistletoe berries sneaking into this almost Christmas scene.

This composition works as a crop also. As seen in the cropped version of my painting below. Here the composition works very well.

 Cropped version of " A Christmas Wren "

I enjoyed creating this piece and have left it on my easel to enjoy seeing when I walk into my studio tomorrow morning. I always like to end each day on a happy thought. This is a very happy thought, that I may see this little bird outside my window again tomorrow.

"A Christmas Wren" coming to life on my easel


Artist tip of the day?

Find joy in doing a daily chore that could otherwise be boring!
There is always a positive if you look for one, with me it was seeing this little wren.
What treasure will you find to paint in your next daily " chore"? 

 Happy Painting!


Friday 25 November 2016

Not Black Friday ! "Red Instead "

 Rose hips painted in watercolour on a scrap of paper

It is wonderful how we change. We learn each day. We cannot be the same person or artist as we were the day before. Because every single thing that happens in our life changes us. Sometimes in a very subtle way, sometimes more obviously. I have changed as a person so much over the years but I know I am still learning how to be a better human being. I am practising this skill but I have much to perfect in it!

With my painting though I feel I am getting somewhere. The excitement of finding new treasure each day is still very much with me. As it was as a child. I lived with my Grandparents then and country walks was a regular way of life. We didn't drive anywhere. We walked. At that time in my life picking up the most beautiful golden leaf in autumn, or seeing the brightest of berries was always a thrilling adventure. How different to todays' youngsters who can sit endlessly in front of a computer screen for entertainment. As a child I had to go out and it was considered safe to do so. 
Times change!

Today is apparently Black Friday and there are sales everywhere to entice people to buy and save money. My own "Black Friday" is going to be "Red Instead" and I am going to paint and see how I have changed with a view to next years Black Friday, when I will be seeing how I have grown as a person and as an artist. We can all be better than we are in whatever we choose to do. That is my personal goal.

Today, as my treasure, I picked up three rose hip berries that were together on one stem. As seen in the above painting. They were fairly bruised, although one berry was almost perfect.   I painted them on a scrap of paper that already had colour on it from a previous wash. I chose vibrant red shades and aimed to make my berries look as solid with pigment on paper as they did in reality. But whilst I painted them I was tempted to look back at how I had painted these same subjects before. Here are a few of my past favourite rose hip paintings. And my thoughts on them.

1)  Rose hip demonstration from one of my UK workshops.
 With this painting I was encouraging an artist on my workshop to paint from life. I chose this simple subject to show them how to look, observe and paint what you see. The artist told me I had " blown them away"with my technique and study, and this is still one of my favourite teaching memories to this day. And little study painting.

2) Rose hip painting inspired by  a local hedgerow

 I saw these berries on a walk with my dog. I loved the light behind them so captured it in watercolour. It became the inspiration for one of the chapters in my first book on painting in watercolour. Stopping to enjoy looking at these berries gave me so much joy at the time but also a fabulous reward in teaching material.

 3) Rose hip painting again inspired by a walk

The above painting is also one of my favourites. An early berry painting of mine but I still love the colours in it. I hadn't discovered Daniel Smith watercolours when I painted this piece so I wonder what would happen if I tried it again with my new favourite colours!

Its' fun to revisit old work to see how you have grown as an artist. I know we can learn from our past mistakes to avoid them in the future. But we can also learn what we loved most about our past work and this walk down memory lane has inspired me to paint some large, new country scenes. Which means I will have to go out for a walk to see the real thing, study colour, leaf and berry formations and gain some new ideas!

Until I return

Happy Painting!


Tuesday 22 November 2016

Winter Berries 2016

"Winter Berries"

I am still very much wearing a nurse "hat" at the moment. While my husband is recovering from surgery I have had little free time to paint. It is amazing how well we work as a couple but at the moment everything in our home depends on me, so painting is a luxury I look forward to as and when free time allows.

Right now part of my husbands rehabiliation is walking and I am using this time to find new inspiration which has come in the form of winter berries hidden amongst the foliage on our country rambles. But I have painted holly and ivy berries so many times before and I was reluctant to paint them in the same way.

This afternoon I tried a new idea and it worked beautifully. You might be surprised at how I prepared the paper for this new approach to working in watercolour but as I am now heading into a new year, full of new workshops and a new literary project I'm going to keep my new technique a little secret , just for now because it is fabulous and so much fun. Naughty of me to mention it I know but if art was only about one way of creating, even I would get bored of painting!

You can see the beauty of flow in this section of the above winter berry painting, with gorgeous icy effects forming.

 Ice effects from preparing the paper surface prior to painting

 After creating the above composition I couldn't resist painting another simple berry scene. While I was in the mood. When there is so much going on in life and you can't concentrate on really serious detail or complicated pieces it is always best to paint something from your heart, something simple and usingc olours that make you feel relaxed and wonderful.

I loved painting these pieces today and now I have some great ideas for new work when I am next in my studio.

 "Winter Berries Too"

Artist tip for today?


Go for a walk.

Look for treasure

Bring one simple thing home and paint it in a way that is different to how you usually paint

And most importantly?

Have fun!



Wednesday 16 November 2016

Golden Fall

 "Golden Fall"

Its' amazing how one painting or idea can quickly lead to many more. Having just painted a quick autumn study of the view from my studio window, as seen in my previous blog post,  I was reluctant to put my brushes down.  In fact today was one of those rare days when as much as I wanted to paint my energy level was low that racing to my studio wasn't really my priority. But once here, in my studio, surrounded by my favourite colours and the autumn foliage facing me as I looked outside it was easy to escape via colour into my happy, peaceful zone.

The real sky here looks almost white this afternoon. Empty of colour , and so I worked on white paper. Leaving this empty space as my backdrop. I looked at all the colours I can see on the trees outside and placed dots of colour to match across the upper part of my new painting. I then splattered these same colours, on top of my initial colour application with my toothbrush, to hint at separate small leaves in the distance.

I added tree trunks next and allowed all the colours to flow downwards for reflections in the water below. Of course it is easy for me to paint this scene as I am working from life. This is the view from my studio window. Where my inspiration is coming from. Leaves are falling and floating by on the waters' surface. Hence the stronger small dots of colour in the foreground of my work. To represent these falling leaves.

It is so relaxing sitting, studying colour , imagining how you would paint what you see and the many different ways in which you can. As I have so much on at the moment and little free time, to sit and paint simple landscapes without worrying about the results is just wonderful.

As I painted the above scene I couldn't help but think about all the incredible trees I saw as we drove around Lake Tahoe while I was teaching there recently. My jaw dropped at the breathtaking beauty before me on many occasions on my visit there. And so, inspired by Lake Tahoe is the below painting. From my imagination, simply created for me to unwind this afternoon.


Artists Tip
 On days when you feel you can't or don't want to paint, grab a few scraps of paper and just allow colour to flow across them. Soon you , like me, won't be able to put your brushes down and you'll keep painting with your work getting better and better each time you pick up your brushes.


Never give up!

Happy painting!


Life Isn't Easy

"Autumn Waters"
View from my studio window 
Very quick study!

My life is very different at the moment. Usually I spend my days by racing to my studio each morning but that isn't possible now, for a while at least. My husband is recovering from knee surgery so for a little while longer my role is carer rather than artist. Even so I look longingly out of my cottage window each day at the autumnal foliage outside, which in afternoon sunlight is stunning.

I managed to take my brushes for a few minutes this afternoon and literally just place the colours I can see outside of my studio window on paper.

I started this very quick study by placing dots of Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Orange along the upper section of my paper.  Encouraging them to merge with water application. I added darks for the tree trunks next, allowing them to hide behind the foliage in places above the horizon line and below in the reflections. From where I am standing I can see green at the edge of the water and then the golden leaves of the trees above are reflected upon it below.

Perhaps when I have more time I can try this scene again with more thought as to what I wish to achieve. But my goal today was simply to paint and know that I had. To fulfil a yearning inside my soul. I am never truly comfortable unless I have moved my brushes each day. Now I can rest because I know that I have.

But while my husband is recovering I am learning so much. I have been thinking about the many people who are full time carers. Whose time is given solely to looking after someone else. People of all ages. How compassionate and selfless they are. Putting their own lives on hold and in some cases permanently.

I think this time of nursing is doing me good. I needed to understand even more that time is a luxury that not everyone possesses. When we have the freedom to do exactly what we want, and when we want to do it, we shouldn't take it for granted.

Time is a gift.

And we should appreciate it far more than we do.

Maybe my next painting will be titled "Time".

We will see. 

But I am appreciating my time to paint so much more.


Sunday 13 November 2016

NEW * Florida Watercolour Workshop : March 2017

Exciting News!

New "Jean Haines" two day workshop!
 Monday & Tuesday, March 6 & 7, 2017; 9 am – 4 pm

I have a new watercolour workshop in Florida that has just opened for bookings! 

 The workshop will be taking place in Bonita Springs. Full details on how to book can be found via this link.

Please book early to avoid diosappointment as all my USA workshops next year are fully booked at present. This is the last place with availablity.


Jean Haines - "Watercolor Workshop with Jean Haines"
● Center for Visual Arts
● Monday & Tuesday, March 6 & 7, 2017; 9 am – 4 pm
● $325 Members/$375 Non-members
● Medium: Watercolor
● Level: All with Experience
Jean Haines has been credited for her extremely motivational teaching methods, as well as her enthusiasm and passion for watercolours. Following the launch of Jeans’ new book “Jean Haines World of Watercolour“, this workshop will be a reinforcement of her very original techniques. This exciting two-day workshop looks at how to work in a loose style – minus the use of a preliminary sketch – and painting a variety of subjects, in ways that seem to magically bring them to life. From the first decision of choosing what to paint – to selecting from a wide range of techniques – along with dramatic colour combinations – Jean will help the artist to discover their own unique results. This workshop aims at bringing the best out of you as an artist, and will leave you feeling inspired.


Poppy Positivity

 Poppy Positivity

After such a long break from my studio it is so fantastic to be back creating, experimenting and expressing myself in colour. I have absolutely adored teaching my workshops this year both in UK and USA but I am now so desperate to paint just for me !

I have had some wonderful new ideas for creating that I haven't had time to put into practise but today I walked happily into my studio armed with some rather unusual "equipment" to play with. And I have had so much fun. Tomorrow I will be racing here after I have helped my husband with his physio. 

I can't wait!

I do find after a long break from serious painting it is always wonderful to simply play with colour and technique rather than aim for more serious outcomes. Today, inspired by Remembrance Sunday and the poppies everyone is wearing in remembrance of those who have fallen, I am painting in flowing reds. Hurling dark centres for random poppies in each o fmy compositions and allowing colour to create on its' own, rather than by my hand.

I love the freedom in the above and below paintings of poppies. Both creations aimed for the bin but both looking far too cheerful to quite make it.

And oh boy, are my workshops going to be fun next year but more about those in another blog post. I have so much to share and so little time to share at the moment!

Back soon!

Poppies created with everything but the kitchen sink!


Remembrance Sunday 2016 : Flowing Red

"Flowing Red"
Remembrance Sunday 2016

When I was a little girl I listened while my grandfather talked about "the war to end all wars". He believed that the bloody battles that saw so many lives lost were in a good cause. He and his comrades fought for freedom. They fought so that generations to come might live in peace.

If I wrote a letter to my Grandfather in heaven I wonder how I could describe the world today. There seems to be far more hatred recently in this last year than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Most recently from people falling out over the USA elections. And whilst I understand how awful it must be to see your candidate lose what frightens me most is the need to be right.

Surely until we all can show compassion and understanding to our fellow man, of whatever race, gender or religion they happen to be we will never find peace on this earth.

For me Remembrance Sunday is about remembering those who gave their lives and those who are serving still. So that others may live without fear and in peace.

I would like to make my grandfather proud. I have no idea how he faced battle astride a horse as he did. What courage. And what fears my grandmothers' generation faced, seeing their loved ones leave home knowing they may never return. What hardships they had to overcome.

"Flowing Red" represents the bloodshed and tears of times gone by. It carries wishes for years ahead minus more needless bloodshed.

"The war to end all wars"

What hope those words held.

Fight not with words. But instead, as artists' lets wear armour of kindness today and make our ancestors proud.

Dear Grandad, I am wearing my poppy with pride in your honour. 
And painting thinking of you.



Please note: Artists on my recent workshops will notice I haven't used a palette for this painting. I will share more on technique in future blog posts.

Where is Jean? With John!

I have had so many wonderful email messages enquiring as to where I am. 

Well after a fantastic tour of USA I am now back in UK, but my wonderful husband John has had to go into hospital for a total knee replacement which meant last week I was caring for my soul mate. It is no secret that I absolutely adore my husband. So, quite rightly when John needs me, he comes first. Everything else was put on hold while I spent time at the hospital at first, and then later I needed to be with John when he came home last week. 

I am delighted to share the news that just one week from surgery John is doing amazingly well, is back on his feet and while he isn't quite 100% yet health wise, he is getting there.

I am now back online and able to share on my blog so please watch this space for lots of news!