Friday 30 June 2017

Follow Your Heart : Duck Family in Watercolour

"Love A Duck"

This year I have watched so many duck families visit our cottage garden. The tiny ducklings have to overcome so much to survive as they often dwindle from an original large brood of up to thirteen babes to one. The chicks are taken by magpies, crows, heron, jays and even pike so the water they swim in has certain dangers for them too. But I take delight in watching the proud Mums with their young parading them across our lawn, watching as they feed and as often as not, one duckling will be the trouble maker never staying with the group out of harms' reach.

I was determined at some point to paint a duck family but as the year has passed, to date, I haven't had time. But now majority of the ducklings are almost fully grown so my subjects look very different these days. Apart from one last surprise visit. Maybe this particular Mum had a late start with hatching her young. But I was delighted to see yet another family visit and waddle past my studio regularly recently.

And here they are in watercolour.

But why the title of my blog post " Follow Your Heart"?

Yesterday I started painting this family scene. I was in my wonderful peaceful world , completely wrapped up in what was happening on my paper in front of my eyes. Only the eye of the mother duck was evident in the early stage of my painting but even without the detail you could tell my first wash was going to be a duck family. I was thrilled with the life and energy this piece already magically held.

And then my husband walked into my studio.

" I love that" he said and I was pleased.

"Its' going to look fantastic once the detail is added"  he commented before leaving.

His words rang in my mind and all I could think of now was "adding detail". I was there, back in a place I didn't want to be. Seeing every feather on the Mother duck and every outline of each tiny duckling. I had to go for a wander around my garden and put my mind back where it had been before I continued to paint. So that I would be capturing the story with as little information as possible, but enough to tell the tale.

There is nothing wrong with adding every detail to a painting. In fact this piece would have been gorgeous had I done so. But I wanted to follow my heart, my own instincts and create a painting that was "me". A Jean Haines interpretation of the happy family moment I had witnessed. I meet so many people on my courses who are trying so hard to be someone else when they paint when their own talent and style is so fabulous and only needing a tiny bit of nurturing. Its' very hard to have the confidence to actually "like" what you paint but you need it to survive as an artist, like the little ducklings faced with so many obstacles.  So if you hear criticism of your work or feel nervous about how you paint, take heart. You may be doing something that is new or different. But you should be painting to make yourself feel happy, not others around you. 
But of course if you make others happy around you thats' good too! 
Just be careful what knocks you allow to put you down or off course in style!

I feel in my heart I have added more detail than I initially intended to but this is just what I am seeing on my lawn. The little ducklings are actually nestled in grass so their feet are hidden. Mum is proudly circling them until she too settles in the sun. A lovely memory.

This could have had so many titles.

A Ducks Tail
Going Quackers

But I remembered a saying that I used to hear as a child so " Love a Duck" it is! 

And it will now be in my solo exhibition as already there is interest in this painting but I am going to enjoy it for now. Here in my studio!

And my husband has just seen it finished and he loves it too.


The Frame Gallery hosting my solo exhibition "A Brush With a Woman" which opens on 1st September is local to where I live in Hampshire, UK so I will be at the Preview Event and there the following Saturday morning.

Please contact me if you would like an invitation to the preview.

Its' going to be such a wonderful occasion!


Wednesday 28 June 2017

Once in Love With Daisy

West Highland White Terrier coming to life on my easel
Without pencil lines to guide me I depend on placing chunks of colour in the right places to make an animal come to life. Daisy is obliging quite sweetly!

Oh boy!
This  is the week that was! In that it was meant to be the week we filmed for my new book. But as the filming was to take place outside and torrential rain was forecast the filming has now been postponed until next Monday. Having worked so hard in my garden getting it perfect for the shoot I was, to say the least, disappointed. The rain has flattened the wild flowers and woodland section where I intended starting the shoot. But hey ho, life goes on and there are far worse things to be upset about.

As it happens the rain was actually on my side as I spent the day starting the catalogue for my next solo exhibition. My next "Brush With a Woman" Solo Exhibition highlighting a gorgeous new collection of original watercolours  opens in September at the wonderful "The Frame Gallery" in Odiham, Hampshire.

Yesterday I sent the first images of some of my work from the show to the owner Jan and to her promotional team. Immediately I received fantastic and excited responses of " Oh I love this one"  and "Oh my word, this is my favourite" , followed by "No this is, no this one now is"! Jan loves my new work which hasn't been shown yet. My favourite comment from Jan, that this is my strongest body of work to date with the gallery in a show, and I am thrilled as I have been putting my favourite paintings by especially for this exhibition.

There will be something for everyone. Wildlife, florals, architecture and a few surprises.

Please, if you would like an invite to the Preview Evening which will be held at the gallery do let me know via email. Contact me on

Save the date. September 1st, 2017!

Oh and Daisy? Daisy is the little West Highland White Terrier owned by  such a fabulous friend, Pauline. And maybe she will be in the show but at the moment this sweet little pup is devouring my Opera Rose which seems to suit her very well. An Opera Rose Sweetheart. Maybe that should be the title of this piece!

Please wish me luck with the weather for filming next week! 


Tuesday 20 June 2017

Heat Wave

 "Summer Haze"
Inspired by the wild flowers in our cottage woodland garden.

I am trying to work on my new book but a heatwave has hit UK. As much as I adore writing, concentration isn't coming very easily to me right now. I still get the urge to go "freckle collecting" when the sun shines even though I know it is supposed to be bad for me. But it feels so good to have sunshine on my shoulders especially when I live in England and these very hot temperatures are so few and far between.

But I did work on my book today and the section I have been putting together is almost complete and it looks beautiful. To be honest. I am learning so much from writing this new publication. I am having to think about why I paint in the way that I do in order to share techniques and tips that work for me. Also, trying to write in a way that readers can gain successful results rather than just look at pretty pictures means each word written has to be brilliantly explanatory and inspirational. I am a tough task master when it comes to writing each new book I take on as a project. And I am being very hard on myself with this one because it is gorgeous and I want everyone who reads it to feel they simply have to paint after reading each section.

But at the end of today I felt I deserved a treat. So I went and sat quietly in the woodland section of our cottage garden with the intention of painting the white ox eye daisies growing wild there. This section of our garden has been deliberately left to grow wild for the wildlife to enjoy. Before I even picked up my brushes a pair of dancing copper butterflies drifted past and before I knew it I was sat silently watching butterflies and not painting. But this silent time drew me into a beautiful mood of silence where only bird song interrupted the connection between me and my brushstrokes.

Soon the hazy daisies came to life on my paper and I felt peaceful, happy and relaxed.

As always I cannot wait to paint tomorrow.

I am inspired with new energy to pour into the next pages of my new book.

My artists tip for today?

Stop what you are doing, find something beautiful and paint it in silence. Just for a few minutes clear your mind and escape into the world of watercolour. It is after all the most magical of worlds. And we are so privileged to be able to escape into it from time to time.

 Woodland section of our cottage garden. A grass pathway leads you through beautiful wild flowers and natural grasses.


Tuesday 13 June 2017

The Dreaded Words

"Delphinium Rhapsody"
Delphinium painted in my cottage garden this afternoon

An exhausting day. I have tidied my studio. And every single time I do this I have an incredible urge to paint and mess it up again which actually isn't a good idea, or is it.

Why is my blog post called " The Dreaded Words" you may ask.  Well when I had the first meeting with my publisher for my next new book they told me that they would come to me this time with the photography crew, to film the step by steps. In my studio. Wow, I thought at the time. That's fantastic. No packing my car and worrying about leaving anything important behind. No unpacking and packing again at the photography studio. No having to stay in hotels overnight while the filming was taking place. And how easy this would be with everything I need at hand, here in my studio.

Then the dreaded words sunk in.

" In my studio"




I have been putting off tidying up and making room for the cameras etc. Constantly making excuses of more important things to do. Like collecting freckles in my garden if the sun is shining, as well as painting of course.

 I kept putting it off, until today when I could put it off no longer. Last night I went to bed imagining how enthusiastically I would race to my studio this morning and set about  tidying. Re arranging things and making it look wonderful.

But when I woke this morning all my good intentions of heading to my studio seemed to evaporate within minutes as my feet headed straight for the potting shed in my garden and the next thing I knew I was gardening. While I was gardening I fell in love with the above delphinium and just had to paint it straight away. All the while telling myself that afterwards I would definitely sort out my studio. But then a sale came through which meant wrapping a painting for a gallery urgently. And then a second gallery contacted me asking me if I had any Venice scenes but the one the gallery's client wanted had just sold, only minutes before.  So instead of sorting out my studio I helped the second gallery by forwarding images of paintings that may be suitable for their client instead.

Finally as evening drew near I made myself get on with the task I had been putting off all day. Now my studio looks fabulous. In fact, it looks too fabulous.

A tidy studio?

What kind of artist works in a tidy studio?

This won't do at all.

Tonight I am going to bed with the notion of waking to mess my studio back up again.

I am sure you will be eager to see whether my studio is a mess or organised in my new book.

But what the heck, I actually just want to paint delphiniums now so my studio, messy or tidy will have to wait.

Happy painting!


Wednesday 7 June 2017

Every Life Matters

"So Small"
Butterfly on wild flower in our cottage garden.

As always I am busy. I am now totally engrossed in writing my new book. I am at the middle of creating this next exciting publication and I am afraid each new chapter draws me further into the book. So much so that I find it impossible to leave it. Even to share posts here on my blog. This often happens when you really fall in love with what you are doing. It consumes you. You eat, sleep and wake thinking of what is going to happen next. It is a fantastic and energising feeling. But, I know there will be a stage in the process where I feel very unhappy. And that will be when I know I am about to write the last few chapters. A part I dread when writing any book. Because the process is like a love affair between the creation and the creator.  Or the bond between a Mother and a child. It is hard to let go when the time comes, as it has to. But that time is way off in the distance. For now I am in the ecstatic mode of wanting to write and paint every single minute of each day and I love it.

In our cottage garden there is so much in the way of wildlife to distract me from my goal of writing each day. Happily this just gives me another excuse to paint.

Today I watched a tiny delicate butterfly as it danced around the flowers in our garden. So small, so dainty and yet so beautiful.

With an election in UK this week I can't help but wonder just who is looking out for our environment in the world. So that for generations to come in the years ahead, our grandchildrens' grandchildren can feel the thrill I do when I observe the beauty of nature.

Yes, there are many important issues our world leaders need to  consider. 
I just wish one would seriously consider the planet and protect oru wildlife too.

But for now, I am back to writing and painting which is far more relaxing.

Happy painting!