Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pink Hydrangea in Watercolour

 One of the hydrangea paintings from my session in the garden this afternoon.

There is absolutely nothing like painting from life. Especially when the sun is shining and it isn't too hot. Today was a perfect painting day and I made the most of it by racing outside and choosing my favourite flowers to create in watercolour.  I have a table "set up" for days like these. The table and chair are so light they are easy to move around and I can sit in comfort to work.

I have painted many blue or white hydrangea in the past but not really spent much time working on pink varieties. I had three pieces of  paper and set to work. First I  placed glowing washes over the papers to  hint at the colours I could see. At this stage although I was aiming for a painting that resembled these flowers, I let colour flow and merge without seriously thinking about where the detail would be added later.

While each first wash dried I then worked on the next stages of each individual piece. Apart from ducks splashing in the water behind me the afternoon was so peacefully quiet and time flew by. Apart from being interrupted by the tame swan who visits our garden daily I had a fantastically productive time.

 Hydrangea painting amongst the real hydrangea plants in my garden.

Artist Tip : I try so hard to encourage artists on my workshops not to paint from photographs alone as you miss so many gorgeous colour combinations from life and natural light effects when you do. Also, another tip, please don't paint from other peoples photographs if you can help it. This leads to creating "pretty pictures" rather than telling the story of what you, as the creative artist have seen. Which in turn makes your work more personal to you and of course, unique.

While I worked on these hydrangea I could see stunning yellow rudbeckia in the distance. maybe, just maybe I will find time to paint them tomorrow!

 Two of the paintings, as works in progress from my painting session in the garden this afternoon

When I finally packed up my art materials and brought everything back into my studio I felt on the greatest of highs as the time  working in watercolour was, as always so very relaxing.

The  image below is a close up of one of the detailedd sections. Almost complete in this area and full of  lovely colourful fusions. I am and always will be a watercolour addict. 
And I am so happy that I am!

Close up section of the detail on one of my hydrangea paintings


Artists Tip:  In England at the moment some of our Summer flowers are at their very best for painting. Don't miss the opportunity to capture each one in watercolour before they disappear until next year! Get painting and quickly!


Art Interruptions

You know those moments when you are thoroughly engrossed in your art and then you are annoying interrupted? It happens to us all. You find that "magical zone" where only you and your painting exists and then the phone rings or there is a knock at the door.

This afternoon the sun was shining and, as I know Summer is on its way out, I decided to make the most of  the light and paint outside. I much prefer painting from life as I find my results are so much more alive when I do.

So I set up my table by a flower bed and worked on a beautiful series of hydrangea paintings. I have three pieces on the go so, that at stages on each, I can let one dry  before adding further layers of colour or more detail. I was so engrossed working that after a while the world, as always, disappeared and it was just me an my watercolours. Or so I thought. I will admit as my husband was working in the garden nearby I wasn't too alarmed when I felt a tap on my arm. I had expected him to stop for a cup of tea at some point. But when I looked up I came face to face with " Sidney" , the tame swan who visits us daily. Sid had decided it was time for me to feed him and  had wandered up the garden path to let me know he wanted food. 

He is getting far too cheeky!

 Sidney the swan interrupting my painting session, in my garden this afternoon.

 Looking bashful but he isn't really!

Sidney is like a puppy who follows me everywhere so I led him back to the waters edge and fed him. And then back to painting!

Sidney walking back to the water, following me happily knowing he will be fed.

It is lucky I love wildlife, because here really is where we all  live in harmony and enjoy each others company. As life should be!

Happy painting to you, and I hope all your painting interruptions are as pleasant!


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kookaburra in Watercolour

 Subject: Kookaburra
Technique: Working from a Starting Point

When I paint there is often a magical moment when the subject I am working on begins to come to life. At first it is just me and a blank white piece of paper.  I know in my head what I want to happen on the paper but often my brushstrokes seem to create a magic that completely takes over.  This is when I observe and listen to what I am being told by. Colour placement seems to work so well at times that the following flow of pigment is in charge of what is happening , rather than me. That sounds odd I know. 

I am looking forward to my trip to Australia later this year. My mind is already thinking of the gorgeous wildlife I will see there. Especially the amazing birds. I fell in love with a kookaburra on my last visit which also seemed to appear in real life by magic. I was telling Karen, an artist who had attended my workshop that my dream would be to see a Kookaburra. No sooner had I spoken the words than Karen told me to look up and there on a branch nearby was a fabulous, fluffy youngster. Looking at us and posing. 
If you are reading this Karen, I can't wait to see you again.

But for now, back to  my piece of white paper. I started painting using my starting point technique. I chose to start with  a simple eye. On this small section I really took my time to get it just right. I wanted an almost cheeky expression of a bird that didn't mind having its photograph taken. From the painted eye I worked  next on the colouring around it, towards the back of the head.

Next I thought of Australian skies and whilst a beautiful golden hue might have looked pretty I opted for a turquoise. I aimed to give my Kookaburra a fluffy  hair style on top!  By the way, a great tip  for anyone not used to working without a preliminary sketch, you can use water to find out if your next painting area will work or not. You can see how I have  placed water where I will paint the wing in the image below.

 Adding the background at the top of the head by working negatively away from my subject.
Next the wing is to be added.

The beak of the Kookaburra seems huge! So different from the many birds I usually paint in UK. So I have spent a lot of time measuring to make sure I have got this part of my Kookaburra acccurate. Then I completed my study of a beautiful Australian bird.

"Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be"

Isn't it funny how painting something can bring back unexpected memories? I was in the Girl Guides as a youngster and we often sang a song that meant little to me at the time. I knew a kookaburra was a bird but had no idea what it looked like. But from the song I knew it sat in an " old gum tree". Little did I know I would be visiting Australia to see the real thing or enjoy painting it as an adult.

And now I have that  song on the brain so I had best paint something else quickly to remove it!


Artist Tip: Always  take your time when working from a starting point  if you are using  my technique to paint. If this section isn't right the rest of the painting might not work so you may be unhappy with the finished result. Take your time and don't race to complete a painting!


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Full Speed Ahead

( Copyright: Jean Haines )
Work in Progress on my Easel 
From my upcoming Show at the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey

I am now getting very excited about my new solo exhibition,  " Colour Fusions" at the Wey Gallery, Godalming, Surrey. It is wonderful working with a gallery such as this one because between us we know what  my clientelle enjoy to see in my shows. I sold out of watercolour cycling scenes some time back and have not released any new horse racing scenes for a while. Now I have gorgeously exciting paintings which will be unveiled during my fourth one woman show at the Wey Gallery.

My husband recently bought us  bicycles and  the fitness bug has hit us. I am desperately finding time for my cycling and trying to fit it into my already full  routine. Bailey, my bearded collie, loves  trying to knock me off my bike so I have to keep him away from me once I am on it. He stays at home which he doesn't really approve of. 

I love watching cyclists on the country lanes here. The way they move fascinates me so of course they are going to be another subject I am passionate about painting.  In fact I couldn't wait to walk into my studio this morning to get to work as I have new paintings on the go of just that, cycling scenes.  Actually I can't call what I do "work" because I love it so much.

If you would like to see my new paintings, please keep en eye out on my blog for full details of the show.  I will be at the gallery  for the opening on Saturday 27th September, 2014 to give a short talk about my work. Everyone is welcome.

On another note, and this probably will make my blog readers laugh. I am thrilled my husband is keeping so fit and has a new hobby, but I am hoping he never takes up wearing colourful lycra. I'm not sure if my artistic eye could take that sight.  As gorgeous as he is.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Blackberry Inspiration

Blackberry paintings on My Easel

I noticed blackberries are ripe for picking while I was walking Bailey, my Bearded Collie,  this week. Many are so juicy and very tempting to eat. But for me they make fantastic subjects to paint and I fall in love with them at this time of year without fail , all over again.

In my book "Atmospheric Watercolours" I  have paintings of  blackberries on pages 166 - 169, where I describe  squeezing the juice of a berry on to a white plate to give you an idea of their true colour. I also paint with this staining  liquid at times too, It adds another dimension to my results. And its' fun. Admittedly messy, but whats' the point of being an artist if you stay clean all the time!.

"Atmospheric Watercolours"
Available on

This is a great time for looking at early autumnal berries and fruits so don't forget to bring some "treasure" home to paint if you are out on country walks. 

Inspiration surrounds us everywhere!

Colour Fusions : Solo Exhibition 2014

"Colour Fusions"
Atmospheric Horse Racing Scene on my easel
( Copyright Jean Haines )

I have a fabulous solo exhibition coming up in Godalming, Surrey at the Wey Gallery in September. I always love showing at this fabulous gallery as my work is displayed so beautifully there.

In the collection will be my new horse racing scenes and many more favourite subjects. The above painting, a work in progress, has been a sheer delight to work on. I can feel each horse coming to life as it races towards me. I feel as though I am standing directly in front of the winning line and the determination to win by each jockey means I am  in the way, needing to move as fast as I can.

I actually have to take breaks every now and then because I get a true sense of movement as each painting begins to come alive from new brushstrokes!

I do love painting these pieces for my shows. I started showing at the Wey Gallery some years ago now and each exhibition has been a wonderful success. And I always, without fail, look forward to returning each year.

 With the sold invitation painting of my show in 2012

 (Sold ) Horse Racing Collection 2012

Window display at the Wey Gallery 
Godalming, Surrey

Full details of my new exhibition will be shared on my web site shortly. For anyone wishing to attend the  Preview event could you please contact me on for an invitation.

Its' going to be a wonderful show!


Copyright Questions.

I have recieved several requests from artists asking if they can copy my gallery paintings and also asking what copyright  means.  Many teaching artists write books and  create DVDs to teach their painting techniques. I am one, and I adore sharing my passion for  working in watercolour. Every step by step and demonstration is meant to inspire others to enjoy painting as much as I do. However there is a difference in copying work to learn from, and copying another artists work with the intention of selling it as your own. So when I share my gallery paintings online I do put the words  "Copyright Jean Haines" with them. So that there can be no misunderstanding that I have shared the collection paintings for any other purpose than to show what I am exhibiting. 
I do hope this answers the questions I have been asked.  
Thank you so much for contacting me.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Watercolour Workshops 2015: UK and USA

A Blast Of Colour

Watercolour Workshops 2015

Next year is going to be a very  exciting twelve months as I have a full itinery with wonderful art events and a new book launch.  I thought it might be a good idea to catch up on my blog for anyone interested in attending my watercolour workshops.

UK  Watercolour Workshops 2015.
These are held in Hampshire in Jane Austen countryside. If anyone is coming from overseas and would like information on places to visit or stay whilst here just let me know.

I am currently working on my 2015 schedule  and details will be released to all artists who are already on my email contact list. There are new courses as well as firm favourites. Places will go very quickly so please book as soon as you recieve the information to avoid disappointment.
To be on my workshop list please email

USA 2015 Watercolour Workshop Tour
 I am thrilled to be returning to USA for the launch of my new book there. My tour includes  New York, California, West Virginia and St Louis. An update on bookings is as follows.

California :  All workshops are FULLY BOOKED
West Virginia and St Louis will not be confirming bookings until January 2015
New York :  Dates have now been released and bookings are being taken so please get in touch as a few spaces at this moment in typing are still available.

To be put in touch with the  organisers of these events please contact me on


Cailfornia : Plein Air Convention April  2015

I will be demonstrating at the Plein Air Convention in April 2015 plus signing copies of my books.  Full details are available via this link.


Patchings Art Festival : June 2015

My new book "Jean Haines World of Watercolour" will be launched at Patchings Art Festival so if you would like a signed copy I will be there in June and looking forward to celebrating its' release. Demonstrations will be on the new subjects and techniques in this fabulous new publication.
More details to be given at a later date!


Wednesday : Day Three : Getting Into My Art

 Adding Horses to one of my horse racing paintings
( Copyright Jean Haines ) 

I had the best day ever painting yesterday. All the stress from worrying about my wonderful dog Bailey, who was very ill ,has left me. I am playing lively music with sparks almost flying off my brushes as my new gallery collection comes to life,for my next solo exhibition at the Wey Gallery in Godalming, Surrey.

I have to move when I paint action scenes. And I get far better results if I play music full volume which helps to drown out the imaginary noise of the horses hooves as they race towards me. I do tend to get so involved while painting these pieces that, at times, I genuinely feel I can hear the thunder of the hooves hurtling towards me at great speed. So much so I need to take breaks now and then when working on a particularly lively painting. I am alright while painting the jockeys but as soon as the horses appear  I get the incredible sensation I am about to be knocked over by them! There comes a point when I have to leave my studio just to gain a stationary feeling once more.

How is that for getting into your art?

More to follow!


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tuesday : Day Two of the Race

A second jockey appears on my new large painting of a horse racing scene

I must admit last night I couldn't wait to return to my studio this morning, to continue working on my new horse racing scene. I have now added the second jockey.  At this stage I haven't decided how many will be in the race. Whether there will be a strong lead with just two  horses out in front and several  trying to catch up in the distance or will I make this a photo finish with an exciting dash to the finishing line?

The painting will guide me as it evolves. This is such an exciting way to create. I'm not telling the story , the pigments are and they will make this drama unfold as my brushes move across paper!

More soon!


Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday Morning : Blank Piece of White Paper Day!

Gorgeous white paper waiting to be painted on.
A new horse racing scene is about to appear!

I love Mondays. They always have that exciting feel about them, as you never know exactly what the week ahead will bring. For me the last few months have been so hectic as I have worked on my new book, held workshops, demonstrated and juggled a few interviews plus written art features.  I am also working on my USA tour 2015/16. 

But right now I am  really eagerly working on a brand new collection of watercolours for my annual exhibition at the Wey Gallery in Godalming which opens in September 2014. My show would not be complete minus my horse racing scenes which are always included in this gallery show.

Today I took a large piece of white paper and started painting with a bright red " jockey" who will be flanked by others alongside him. Will he be the winning lead? Or will he be behind another leading horse determined to win? I am not sure yet. I'm going to let the painting evolve and take me where it wishes to go. But I know one thing. My brushstrokes will be fast as the speed in this race is exceptional!

Happy Monday!


Final Photography Session for my New Book : 2014

The "A Team"
Photography Shoot for my new book 2014
Roddy, Me, Jo and Katie.

Last week flew by, almost like a blur. I left home last Tuesday evening to head for a hotel the night before the final photography shoot of my new book, which will be launched next year.  As the photography studio had moved to temporary premises I set out the next day armed with the post code and address, leaving early to make sure I arrived in good time.

To cut a very long story short, my wonderful Sat Nav gave me that dreaded message " You have reached your destination" while I was sat in the middle of nowhere facing a field of cows.  As beautiful as they were I needed to contact my publishers and let them know I would a) be late for the photography shoot b) let them know I was lost and c) also ask for new directions. Great idea but there was no mobile phone  connection!

Luckily I wasn't that far away, found the studio and  arrived to a worried looking team who had wondered where I was. I am one of  those people who usually turn up early for events so this was quite unusual!  The all important coffee turned up quickly as a rescue, I had a really exciting meeting with my publisher first then we all down to work following the planned agenda of filming fo rthe day which I had prepared earlier.

Once we started filming, it was a fabulous day. I needed to ensure the images for the final sections in my new book showed not only clearly show how  I work but also are easy to follow step by step demonstrations.  It was fabulous listening to the " Oohs and aahs" of the team behind me when certain subjects came to life via my brushstrokes. And even more thrilling watching the gorgeous photography stills on the screen after each new subject was painted.

There were lovely landscapes photographed in this session  that should be very tempting for readers to try. And if, like me, you love travelling you should be seeing inspiration at every new holiday location from here in. Once you see these demonstrations and read these chapters.

The day flew by and I eventually packed my car for the journey home. After which the dreaded author photo had to be taken. The one that goes inside the cover of my book. I always laughingly dread this part! Then we took a team photo by which point we were all happily laughing.

I am so lucky to have these experiences. And so lucky to have such a great team of people backing me.

Now all I have to do is wait for the contact sheets to arrive so I can write about the new "step by step" images for the last section of my book. Then I need to write the close. After which  all these completed paintings and text go to my publishers where my final lay out is checked by the design team . I then get to have my say on the final proof of my new book which will be a very exciting time. After all of this the book goes to print, a stage in a books journey which can take up to six months. Hence the long wait for new books to be launched.  I can't wait to see the advanced copy!

There is so much to understand about being an author. You need patience, something to write about obviously, enthusiasm and time also play a huge part in writing. The process of  writing a book was a huge learning curve and as this  will be my third publication I have grown as an author. But as always I want to include so much information and many more tips that I have discovered since writing "Atmospheric Watercolours" .

Roll on the next stage of this books life and I will be sharing an updtae on its progress as soon as I can.

Watch this space!


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Photography Shoot for New Book This Week

 Contact Sheets from Previous Photography Session for my new book

Time flies when you are having fun they say. My life is on "full speed ahead" continually!

I have been quietly working on my new book "Jean Haines World of Watercolour" and it has been such  joy to put together. I am at the terrible stage where I know it is nearly completed. I say terrible because I am loving writing this new book that I don't want this particular creative journey to ever end. I honestly have put every single tip I have been given over the years into demonstrations and step by steps. I have tried to make everything  in this publication not only easy to follow but achievable. I also want to inspire, create excitement and the glorious feeling of never wanting to finish reading it, as a book you can return to time and time again.

What happens when you write a book? 

Well in all honesty, if you love being an author,you almost become  anti -social once you get  well within the heart of what you are creating. A lot of my life has been given up where have been times when I haven't wanted to leave my studio. Many chapters have been far too interesting to leave. 

First, there is the initial idea, the birth of a creation which takes place between me and my wonderful publisher. We both knew where I was heading when I completed writing "Atmospheric Watercolours". The feedback from it was so  wonderful worldwide and  very kind personal messages from readers incredibly led me to this new opportunity. To write another book.  So to everyone who contacted me about my last book, this new one is because of you taking that time. Thank you! 

 Thank you to everyone who let me know by kind book reviews or personal messages how much you enjoyed my last book. "Atmospheric Watercolours".

It was decided that my new publication would be not only be about how I paint but why, inviting readers into my learning and creative process so that they can  enjoy exploring watercolour as much as I do.

While "Atmopsheric Watercolours" has been a success I wanted my next book to be even better, full of more ideas, ways to use favourite techniques  to grow as an artist. What I hadn't expected from writing it is how my own approach would grow. I thought I was already a watercolour addict but writing this new publication is turning on  massive buttons of inspiration that once switched on are impossible to switch off! I can't stop seeing things to paint or way to paint them in even more thrilling ways. Maybe one day I should write a book on how to turn off all these "inspiration buttons" but for now I don't think so. I want them turned on continually!

So here I am, today, preparing for the last photography shoot of this gorgeous new book which will be launched next year. Once completed it will be proof read and then I will have the task of approving the final design lay out. So far I have the chapters laid out with images and text  for each page but once the book is put together some may need to be moved. After this final process the book will go for printing which takes some months before the launch date.

And I will wait for it to come back to me in a finsihed state, and at that point my heart skips a beat!

This is one  incredible art journey and I am loving every single step of the way. If you are reading my blog, thank you so much for sharing my journey with me.

Back to packing!
 Art equipment and my book so far.

Paintings and text from my new book to be compiled into the finished article.

The work involved in creating an art book  requires  many hours but its so worth it!


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Monterey, CA APRIL 13-17, 2015

Jean Haines
PleinAir magazine is pleased to announce that United Kingdom artist Jean Haines will headline the 4th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo, to be held April 13-17, 2015.

Haines is considered the finest watercolor artist in the UK and one of the best in the world. She is among the most sought-after instructors for those studying watercolor; her workshops are always sold out with waiting lists.

Golden Pond by Jean Haines

"This is a rare appearance, and we are very fortunate to be able to feature Jean Haines at the Plein Air Convention," PleinAir magazine Publisher B. Eric Rhoads said. "Jean is heavily booked and rarely does an appearance such as this. Watercolor painting has become an important part of the convention, and we are honored to have Jean headline our watercolor program this year. Chances are our watercolor stage will sell out once word of her appearance gets out." 

Grand National Sensation by Jean Haines

Haines will do a live watercolor demonstration during the convention and will be available throughout the week to work with watercolor artists during the convention's outdoor painting sessions. The Plein Air Convention offers a stage devoted to watercolor painting and a full agenda of watercolor painters, to be announced. 

Magical Catch by Jean Haines

Jean Haines is a watercolorist whose experience and inspiration derive from all over the globe. She began her art career as a little girl in Wales, drawing with oversized crayons given to her by her grandmother. As an adult, living in such places as Dubai and Hong Kong has profoundly influenced Jean's art, exposing her to everything from different lights to the varied ways in which art is influenced by culture. Today, Jean is well known around the world as a top watercolorist, and is a member of the Society of Women Artists.

About the Plein Air Convention

The Plein Air Convention takes place April 13-17, 2015 in Monterey, California. It includes three stages with big-screen HD video, featuring watercolor, oil, and pastel, and a fourth stage for additional demonstrations. The convention attracts more than 700 artists from all over the world, who come to see the world's top artists teaching their painting techniques live and for outdoor painting each day of the convention. It attracts plein air (outdoor) painters as well as painters who do landscape, figurative, portrait, still life and other forms of painting.

To register, PHONE 561.655.8778 or go to

Plein Air Convention USA April 2015

 Dancing Koi

I am delighted to share the very exciting  news that I will be giving a demonstration at the Plein Air Convention in Monterey, California in April 2015. My workshops in Sonoma filled so quickly so for anyone who missed the opportunity to meet me there I will be in California in April next year and look forward to signing books and meeting everyone at this fantastic event!

Full details can be found via this link

"Jean Haines Joins Plein Air Convention Faculty"

"Six Legendary Painters Now Headlining Plein Air Convention 2015

Carolyn Anderson and Jean Haines have joined T. Allen Lawson, Len Chmiel, George Carlson and Quang Ho, to grow our number to six legendary painters who will headline the 2015 Plein Air Convention, next April 13-17 in Monterey. As we've said before, each of these award-winning painters has a reputation as a "painter's painter," and they are among the most collectable artists in America. Anderson's work in oils is recognized throughout North American and Haines, a watercolorist, has lived and painted all over the world. She now resides in Great Britain. Lawson, Chmiel, and Carlson will appear in individual sessions, plus there will be a special onstage art discussion among the three. We will give updated and specific information soon, regarding the activities that Ho, Anderson and Haines will undertake at PACE. Access to these painters is very rare, and signing them for the Plein Air Convention is a momentous occasion that promises to make next April in Monterey a magical moment of historical significance, and something not to be missed.

Additional speakers and features will be announced throughout the coming months."

Friday, 8 August 2014

Sunshine on my Shoulders

Sunflower collection. 
Demonstrations and ideas for new paintings

Its' really funny how painting a subject can bring back happy memories. Last week I demonstrated how I would approach painting sunflowers and before we knew it my workshops were taken over by glowing yellow paintings as sunflower compositions  burst into life during the session. It was a wonderful workshop because each one was completely unique with the individual personality of the artist creating. It was a very special session as sunshine certainly filled the room with both colour, enthusiasm and energy.

 In  Monets' Garden, France.

Whenever I paint sunflowers I always imagine I am in France as I loved living there, walking  along country lanes of sunflower fields which was magical. I also often think of the song " Sunshine on my Shoulders " by John Denver who I used to love listening to, and will admit I still do. His voice was so pure and calming. I used to play the guitar and often sang his beautiful songs. So much so that my wonderful husband surprised me with front row seats to see John Denver when he was in an open concert in Hong Kong. I couldn't believe it and was so excited. The venue would be amazing and we would be there, sat  so close watching and listening.  

The day before the concert a friend we hadn't seen for years was visiting Hong Kong and asked to meet up which we did. Over dinner that night we mentioned we were going to see John Denver the next day. Our friend was eager to come too although his younger wife had never heard of the singer, so not so enthusiastic. My  husband managed to get two more tickets for them but they were at the back of the auditorium. On the concert night we walked to our dream  seats in the front leaving our friend and his new wife at the back of the hall. We were right in the centre of the front row. Perfect! But we looked at each other and knew we couldn't do it. So my husband walked to the back of the hall and asked two very amazed ladies, sat by ou rfriends, if they would like to swap seats. They jumped at the opportunity to come to the front and we took their places at the back. I couldn't see very well but I heard every favourite song and it was such a magical night still. Looking back this is just one moment in time where my husband has thrown me by his kindness.

And so when I paint sunflowers I smile and think of that night.

The sun is shining and there will be sunshine on my shoulders while I paint outside today.

Smiling of course!

 Sunflower centre radiating into sunshine petals
Patterns for petals around teh centre have been created by the use of clingfilm.

Daniel Smith Hamsa Yellow Medium is gorgeous for these paintings and Saunders Waterford paper is a brilliant surface for my floral work


Thank you so much to everyone who has asked how my dog,Bailey, is.  He is recovering well and ate three small meals yesterday. We aren't out of the woods yet but he is  really doing well, going for short walks and enjoying cuddles!

Bailey eating eagerly yesterday!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Coming To Life

Loved pet dog, coming to life  during a workshop demonstration
Work in progress.

Hi again. I finally have time to come onto my blog and leave an update. The good news is that Bailey, my Bearded Collie, is now home from the Royal Veterinary College in London and whilst last week was a nightmare he is doing very well and has started eating too. We took him to our local vets this morning and they confirmed that they hadn't expected him to survive. It is still a complete mystery what caused the infection that nearly killed him but he is  getting over it and  I am so relieved. I do understand losing pets to old age, a sad time we all have to face  as a dog owner, but for Bailey to go through this ordeal was alarming and it wasn't time to say goodbye yet to our dog, we knew that.

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me such kind messages. Its' going to take me forever to reply but each one has been a much needed hug. I actually felt a lot more " fragile" than I was letting on but I think many of my friends already knew that . I'm not ready to lose my four legged shadow yet and he obviously isn't ready to leave me!

So lets' get back to painting on my blog now!

Yesterday I had time to unpack the files from last weeks workshops. I put photos away , dismissing any I didn't feel were of value for future courses because next year  I am moving into a new "realm". Then I looked through my last weeks' demonstrations. I must have had sparks flying off my brushes! I still cannot get over how fantastic the groups of people were on each session last week. I loved the time of day when you could hear a pin drop in the silence of  fabulous  enthusiasm  whilst everyone was painting following my mornings demonstrations or "one on one" time in the afternoon.

Sometimes its' easier to sit quietly with an artist and show how I would approach the subject they have chosen as it doesn't necessarily follow on from my demonstration. Sometimes just one small tip can make all the difference to the watching artist " getting it" in how I paint without a sketch. I loved the little dog above and happily showed how I would work from a starting point. In this case the eye, and move away from it to build up the painting gradually. Each section has its' own importance and I loved  working towards the gorgeous ear that I felt I would stroke gently if the dog were mine. Fur under the mouth was interesting in that it added to the dogs facial expression, one of hope for a treat perhaps!

I love facing a completely white sheet of watercolour paper and watching a subject come to life on it. Theres' a point where all of a sudden , someone watching the demonstration sees what you as the artist are aiming for and it is magical. I certainly felt the connecttion when this little dog apeared from first the eye, the ear and then finally the soft smudge of a nose.

How much more should I work on this piece? Well the nose does need stronger definition. I may blur colour away from the defined side of the face to hint at the second eye being there but the painting is working very well almost as it is. We can see the character of the pet now, so much more added could lose the freshness and sense of  intrigue.

I will update my blog more regularly as I am now in my studio working on  my next solo exhibition and I am on the last stages of writing my next book so there is so much to look forward to. 
And so much to do! I had best get back to work!


Sunday, 3 August 2014

When Lightning Strikes

  Hit By Lightening
This is a different blog post. Its' actually hard to know where to start in catching up on my blog as it has been unusually quiet this week. I should probably start by explaining that the week before last our cottage was hit by lightning. It was a little like something out of a horror movie as I was outside at the time and by the back door about to come in. No damage was done and we are all fine but it meant we had no phone line or internet connection for over a week. Here I have to add,  had I been able to get online I possibly wouldn't have been able to type anyway. I have been on an emotional roller coaster with highs from glorious workshops to lows with my beloved Bailey. I always try to keep my posts cheerful and positive so its' not easy to share when my life hits " a dip". Which to be fair it rarely does.

 Airedale coming to life in as a work in progress
Workshop Demonstration 2014

My workshops started on Tuesday of last week and I had been really looking forward to them. The  days were planned well in advance and I was eager to meet all the attending artists. On Monday evening my husband and I packed  the cars ready to take all my equipment etc. to the teaching venue. And then sat down to enjoy a quiet night before the week ahead. But our lives took an unexpected turn when our Bearded Collie became desperately ill very quickly without any warning whatsoever. One minute he had been resting in the garden. The next he had difficulty breathing and seemed to be in agony. We had to unpack my husbands packed car very quickly and race Bailey to a vets that was open that night. At midnight we returned home, heartbroken to have left Bailey in their care. 

This was where decisions needed to be made. I had artists flying to my workshops and people travelling from all over UK that morning. Most had looked forward to my courses for such a long time having booked well in advance. While I was happy to offer a refund I knew their disappointment would be huge. I couldn't sleep on Monday evening but made the call to teach on Tuesday. We agreed my husband would ring me if there was any news on Bailey.

I have an incredible PA , Christine who was my rock this week. The venue was set up and I decided not to tell anyone in the class about Bailey. The only way I could keep it together was to pretend  everything was alright and I did. Here I have to explain that I am so lucky to always have such fantastic people on my workshops. I often laugh about this because without fail on each session I can look around a room to see enthusiastic, happy people who I would instantly choose as friends yet alone artists on my classes. On Tuesday, as always I was surrounded by fabulous people  and the day passed without anyone being any the wiser that my heart was breaking. And it was a great day, wow what painting energy in the room!

I took a phone call from my husband during the lunch break and he filled me in on the now critical situation. Bailey really was now in a very bad condition.  From the overnight vet care, my husband had driven him to our own brilliant vet who couldn't diagnose but made the wise call for our dog to be treated at the Royal Veterinary College in London where he was raced that day.  Here he was to undergo tests and would be on very strong pain killers, in intensive care. No one knew what was wrong with my dog, only that he was critically ill.

At the end of my teaching day I left  as soon as possible while Christine explained to the class what was happening. Everyone was so wonderfully kind and stunned that I hadn't said anything during the day. But I didnt want to spoil the workshop they had looked forward to for so long. I couldn't.

My husband and I waited on pins for the vets telephone call that night and it didn't seem like good news. They had taken many tests but could not find what was causing the problem and Bailey temperature was now very high. He was lethargic, still in pain and not responding in any way. We thought we were going to lose him.  But there was nothing we could do. All dog owners will know the agony of fearing the worst and hoping for some tiny  glimpse of hope at this stage.

I made the call to teach the next day and then go to the Veterinary hospital straight after class. I honestly don't know how I held myself together for the second day of teaching or avoided letting anyone see how upset I was. But I walked into the workshop the next morning and threw myself into " teaching mode". Yet again I was faced with a room full of wonderful people from all over UK and the terrific artist who had flown from Ireland for the week. I looked around the room and knew I had made the right call. I could leave immediately if things took a turn for the worse and again, most of the people in the room were unaware of my secret heartache. And it was an incredible workshop.

After class I did race straight to the  veterinary hospital, my husband drove. Once we had listened to the vet telling us the frightening news that they still didn't know what was wrong with Bailey we were allowed to see him. He looked terrible, there was no life or energy in our pet. No real signs that he was fighting to be here but he was heavily sedated. I lay on the floor alongside him and gently stroked his fur. I like to think he knew I was there. I cried into his fur as I couldn't hold back the tears any longer. While holding his sweet head in my hands I talked to him in the way I usually do. He looked so poorly that we both thought this was to be the goodbye to our beloved pet. Whatever the problem was it was serious. The next 24 hours would be critical and we knew it.

We drove home quietly, arriving very late and exhausted. But there was nothing we could do.

I don't know how looking back. But again I made the call to teach the next day so as not to let anyone down. On Thursday morning it was much harder getting my act together. But I love teaching and I knew if I could just get to the venue and start the day I would be fine and miraculously I was. I walked into the room, put on a smile and threw myself into demonstrating and what a terrific group were in the room yet again. The atmosphere was  amazing and I was thrilled at the close to know everone had enjoyed the day. But as the time came for me to head to London to see Bailey I could feel my heart sinking. My "rock" Christine helped the artists leave after the class and  everyone was wonderfully understanding having heard what was going on behind the teaching scenes.

When we arrived at the hospital Bailey was still so lethargic. Test results hadn't indicated what was wrong but he did seem a little brighter. He wagged his tail once which to me was a huge sign he knew we were there and was trying to recover. We left, deciding not to  visit on Friday night. Traffic would be a nightmare and we were both by now completely exhausted.  Instead we made our way there very early on Saturday morning. Its' almost a two hour drive to get to the hospital  and  of course the same to return but every journey to us is worth it. Tired or not.

Yesterday morning we left our home with brave faces, deciding to listen to the vets but to be realistic in our expectations.  On arrival we waited in the reception area only to be shocked to see Bailey on a lead, weakly walking towards us. He is getting better slowly but he isn't out of the woods yet. We still don't know what is wrong so we haven't a clue as to what we are fighting. Poisoning has been ruled out and it could be a mysterious illness that never strikes again, or not. We have to be patient. Bailey hasn't eaten since last Sunday so if he doesn't eat by today he will have a small operation to insert a feeding tube into his neck to at least give him strength. I woke early to cook white fish, sausages and any other favourites I could think of to take today. Which ever tempts him will be worth the effort. I think hes going to be coming home, sitting in my studio and watching me paint. At least that is my wish as I miss my " shadow".


I have said so many times that painting can transport you to another place, another zone or planet that you escape to. This week that is exactly what my painting has done, given me an escape to somewhere happier and I needed it. But more than that my passion for teaching and helping other artists is what really helped me through. I do adore meeting people, I am absolutely in love with working in watercolour and teaching days fly by whilst I am working.

I loved the "lightbulb" moments this week when artists realised they could work in a loose style. I loved the obvious feelings of achievement when things went right for individuals in my sessions and I was thrilled when "bridges" that had been blocked for some, were crossed and unblocked in the class. I know that when many artists left this week they were inspired, leaving to paint non stop when they returned home.

We had fun, we experimented, looked at new colours and oh boy, I'd like to say "shone" in a way only watercolourists can! Painting wise it was a wonderful week.

You name it, I painted it! I'm still not sure how a demonstration of Vladimir Putin came about on one of my workshops this week but I am still laughing about it. I especially loved showing how to paint the colourfuly dressed figure from Tibet? There were sunflowers galore on one course and what a floral arrangement they made at the end of the day! A stunning collection of glowing paintings, each totally unique. And having had animals come from the farm on my animals session I loved the many paintings that were achieved on that course. I lost count of the dog demonstratuons I gave but we had spaniels, a labardaor, a shih ztu and a gorgeous airdale, shown in the image above. 

My only workshop negative? 
I was so envious of everyone having such a great time each day that I wanted to be on the class NOT teaching it!

Thank You
To everyone who came on my workshops this week, thank you so much for being so fabulous. Thank you for the wonderful work you created Thank you for your enthusiasm and  fantastic excitement which was a sheer pleasure to see. But now please do those exercises, washes and personal "homework" if it was set!

UK Workshops 2015 
Its' the time of year where I plan next years schedule of UK workshops. There has been so much growth in popularity for my courses and I am taking time out to consider what is needed most from a course. I have some wonderful ideas to make sure that everyone attending gains in ways that suits them best so there are going to be some incredible new courses next year and just a few favourites will be repeated. I think  many of my workshop artists this year have already guessed its going to be a very special year ahead for my courses so please book early when dates are available as places are limited. And please be on my workshop email list in time before next years dates are released!

 Email for information.