Wednesday 26 July 2017

Finland Workshops 2017

 Just a note to explain that I leave tomorrow for my fully booked workshops in Finland so my blog may fall quiet until I return. It really has been an incredible few weeks with guests arriving here from Daniel Smith in USA and also last weekend I was at a wonderful event with my publishers where I was honoured with such glowing compliments about my books, very humbling and really so heart warming.

I have so much to share but as days pass so little time to share recently. From new paintings. terrifically exciting ideas on new ways to work in watercolour, new colours and products and oh so much more. But I will try to catch up when I come back.

So all I can say for now is

"Watch this space!" 

But even more importantly can I thank everyone, for following my blog, for encouraging me on my art journey and for liking my art. I am a watercolour addict. I will never change but I love that I am offered so much support and love from so many people worldwide. 
Thank you!


The Joy of a Cottage Garden : Hollyhocks in Watercolour

 Hollyhocks in watercolour
Painting in my garden in soft afternoon summer light.

Yesterday was one of those glorious days where you just know you simply have to paint outside. The sun shone in the late afternoon as clouds cleared from what had started out to be a grey day. In our cottage garden is the tallest of hollyhocks in a stunning dark colour. I have eagerly awaited the first blooms to appear on this stunning plant , but a stream of guests meant that my painting time dwindled rapidly.

But I had that luxury of being able to sit outside in sunshine yesterday and aimed to capture the silky petals of this almost black flower. I love hollyhocks. The best I have ever seen, or at least the most memorable have been in Monet's garden in Giverney, France. Painting this flower in my own garden took me back in time to that fabulous visit and memory where I was so inspired by my hero, an artist who has greatly influenced my own personal approach to creating.

 The photo below shows the soft afternoon sunlight. Isn't it beautiful? Now imagine this with birdsong and butterflies hovering around me as I worked.

 Hollyhocks in my garden and my painting of them.

 Below you can see the flowers I am creating in watercolour. In some lights they appear to be almost black in colour.

Hollyhock close up.

I think in life we often have to grab moments of beauty, sunshine and calm when we can.

And yesterday was one of those moments.

Happy painting.


Thursday 20 July 2017

Leaping Into a New Journey With Colour

Abstract colour flow experiment
Butterfly wings appearing in an exciting new approach to painting with watercolour

I think it happens to all artists after a long period of painting in a similar way. 
We want more.
 More excitement, something out of reach in technique . 
Something new. 

Although I like to think I am always experimenting, I do feel that right now I am taking a massive leap in my approach to working in watercolour. I am moving in a fabulous new direction. Or perhaps my "friendship" with my favourite medium is guiding me towards reaching an unknown destination.

I had started making small changes with colour application and watercolour techniques on my workshops. These new ideas not only had artists on my classes fascinated but I too, left each course eager to take my colour work ideas further. But only when I had the luxury of time in my studio. I knew I needed thinking space, quality free time and peace to evolve the initial ideas in my head into something more fruitful. I have that luxury at the moment. This year I took a break from teaching to write my new book. In fact I have two contracts to write two new books , not just the one I am currently compiling. There are different products and ideas appearing in each new publication.

But while writing and thinking carefully about what I would like to see in an art bookas a reader, a thought has been niggling me on what I use and why. How I apply colour is an area I have been changing drastically. Yes, my water use is vitally important as well. But the ratio of pigment and water combination is an area that I have been playing with rather a lot recently. Leading to some amazing outcomes. I know as artists we must understand we will never " know it all". There is always something to learn, just as there is in life.

This morning I took my Daniel Smith watercolours and tried something completely new. I am not ready to share this painting method yet because if it doesn't work consistently or isn't easy to follow when I demonstrate there will be no point in teaching it. But my new way of painting truly is the most exciting way of creating that I have come across in a very long time.

The above first wash is created with pure watercolour and water. The dynamic colour effect is due to the water application. And I can't wait to work on this piece further when it is dry. I know now what the subject will be but this painting will be created keeping the atmosphere and abstract effect. 

I have been photographing butterflies non stop lately so it isn't a surprise that I can see one already appearing in this abstract. The wings of one are almost there. Although this wasn't the goal or original intention. The wash was just an experiment in colour work.

The nicest part of this particular colour project was that my friends Katherine and John, from Daniel Smith visited my home yesterday. And studio. I showed them my new work and colour experiments I have been recently covering and loved their enthusiasm and excitement at my results. When you are connected with people who are as highly passionate about colour as you are it is so lovely to discuss and debate the endless possibilities that shape how we all paint and enjoy creating.

This work and new art journey is magical, energising and soul lifting. Can I wait to get started painting each day now?. 

You bet I can't!

Brushes, colour, here I come.


Artists Tip for the Day?

Don't accept there is only one way of doing things. There are known paths in art that have been travelled before. And there are destinations you never knew existed. 
Be an adventurer when you paint. 
An explorer into the unknown!


Monday 17 July 2017

On Angels Wings : Butterfly in Watercolour

"On Angels Wings"
Butterfly in watercolour

I am participating in the Butterfly Count at the moment here in UK which means taking time out to count the butterflies I see in a specific amount of time. The number of butterflies I am seeing range from twenty to well over forty, depending on the weather and where I am  daily. In my own garden I see more than when I am anywhere else it seems and I am now learning about the varieties, some of which I have taken for granted for years without sadly knowing their name. I thought I knew what a "Comma" butterfly was until recently. I had gotten it confused with another kind but now I do know what they are and I am painting them. 

The above painting is of a "Comma" butterfly which was sat on a tall purple verbena plant outside my studio door. Very handy for photographing and for getting quick colour swatches to work from!

I have given so many demonstrations over the years and my butterfly paintings have always been extremely popular as subjects. But now I am taking time to sit still and study butterflies for longer period of times perhaps it is only natural that my art of them should improve.

I am having a ball so I have a feeling more butterfly paintings will follow.

How glorious summer is when you can paint outside with the sun on your shoulder and enjoy life!

Artist sTip of the day?

Get out and learn from nature. Admire it. Study it. And paint what you see!



Saturday 15 July 2017

"Hare Less" Hare in Watercolour

"Hare Less"
Hare in watercolour 
Copyright Strictly Jean Haines

I am back to what I love painting most of all. Wildlife and ,of course, this means hare. These wonderful creatures have brought me so much luck in my art career. So much luck in fact that when my husband asked me to paint a gift for a friend I knew exactly what the subject would be. Something that brings luck. John rarely asks me to paint anything for friends but on this occasion the friend has been so wonderful to us that the gift choice seemed right and we know they love my art as they have a small collection purchased from galleries and exhibitions.

The fact this painting will not be in a show may disappoint the galleries who represent me as they have been asking for more of my hare paintings recently. But more will follow. This one will bring me luck too I feel.

For now this special piece will be given to someone who I know will love it.

I see wildlife regularly and always watch fascinated. But I fear  without protection this natural sight of wild animals, that I grew up surrounded by, may be a thing future generations see less and less of. As their natural habitat is removed for more hosuing for humans and the awful wildlife crime that destroys it so inhumanely. 

For now I will take in the beauty of this hare, less in a painting is more in my eyes. But more hare to see would be magical.

Happy painting


Friday 14 July 2017

Summer wouldnt be Summer without ? Roses in Watercolour

 As Soft as a Summers Day
Roses in watercolour.

Who doesn't love Summer? And for me the sunshine season wouldn't be complete without a new painting of roses. Although I actually have several beautiful ones on the go at the moment. In our cottage garden the rose blooms are stunning this year. So I am spoilt for choice as to what to paint next. What a terrific situation to be in.

I picked the heads of three pink roses yesterday. Flowers that had become battered by recent rain fall. They had broken in awkward places on the stem so were too short to put in a vase. But rather than discard the very short stemmed blossoms I floated the rose heads in a crystal bowl and admired their formation and beauty that way. 

I started this piece by painting a very soft pink wash on paper and allowed it to dry before adding the petal detail.

As I painted, I listened to birdsong, glanced up and saw butterflies passing now and then and felt sunshine on my shoulders.

The mood of this piece is "Peaceful". 

I love it and can't wait to continue or start a new painting.

Early stages of my roses in watercolour. 
My peaceful mood is shining through in this.  And perhaps my gentle artists soul.


Thursday 13 July 2017

"Grumpy Babes" Young Swallows

"Grumpy Babes"
Young Swallows waiting to be fed.

It happens every year.  And I look forward to it. My husband John has mixed feelings about it but admits he loves it too. The arrival of the swallows who nest in our car port. We know it is Summer the minute we see the first one checking out their nesting site which they have used ever since our car port was built a few years ago.  They build their nests and then the initial magic happens as we wait to hear and see the first of the tiny chicks bobbing their heads just above the nest, to look around for the first time.

Then their is the truly magical event of the fledglings leaving their nest for the first time.  I love seeing thsi so much. The tiny things edge their way along the car port beams and sit waiting for their parents to feed them. The parents do this on the wing and it is an incredible sight. Better still, you know the parents are coming as the little baby birds cheep continually until the feeding swoop is complete. I love this cheerful sound of excitement. 

Translated cheeps probably mean

"Mums Coming "  
"Food, food !" 
"Me, me me!!"

These greedy little fluff balls are endless in their need for food.  
But then the sad day that I dread arrives and I think it is today. I have raced to the carport this morning, as I have done daily for a while this year, to check to see how the babes are doing but my car port is silent. The nest is empty and the parents are nowhere in sight. I think they have left. And my heart sank dreadfully as I had started painting the cute rows of little fluff balls on the wooden beams. Apart from that I simply adored seeing them each day.

But I am so happy that all the chicks survived. I have chased away predators daily including groups of magpie intent on eating the baby birds. Every day has seen me racing around with my arms flapping like windmills to keep these little ones safe. And they are now. They made it and they have left " home" for another year.

What a privilege to witness nature and what joy to have a watercolour subject that is so appealing.

The photo below is one of a series of photographs I took over the last few weeks.

Young swallows bravely leaving their nest in our car port this week.

They say there is a positive out of every negative. The positive of the baby birds leaving their nests is that we can now use our car port again. We had patiently moved our cars to save them from getting messy from the nests directly above them.. So its' back to clean cars for us now but how I miss our feathered " family"


Artists tip for the day?

Paint what you can when you see it because you never know if it will be there tomorrow!