Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Eyes Have it!

Young Owls in Watercolour
Work in Progress

As Simple as 1.2.3!

 Owl Eyes
Stage 1

Ever since I started working in watercolour I have been mesmerised with painting eyes. Not just eyes as such but I want to bring them to life too. I have experimented with many different ways to paint eyes over the years and on my workshops they are now one of the most popular subjects of my demonstrations.

Having painted an owl this week I couldn't resist painting owlets. Fluffy baby owls. A friend of mine  has wonderfully invited me to watch the young owls in her barn every year and I have yet to be around when they are peeking their heads out. But I have seen so many photographs from them and this is what I am working from today.

I started painting the baby owls by creating a pair of eyes as seen in the image above. I kept the highlight of the eyes by leaving white paper. I then began to form the beak.

As I had space on my paper I decided to add a second owl next to the first. Simply by repeating the eyes but I angled the head as this is how young owls are! Curious and really sweet too.

Two sets of eyes watching me as I work now!
Stage 2

As soon as the eyes were in place I began to add the fluffy back of the heads.

Young owls coming to life in watercolour
Stage 3

And at this stage I will leave this painting so that I have something beautiful on my easel to return to tomorrow!
Fun isn't it?


Beatrix Potter: Inspiration

 "Simply Purrfect"

I love the news that Beatrix Potter has a newly discovered book being published this year. This was an author whose books were full of delicious illustrations and as I child I think these were my very first influence on my wanting to paint. I loved each animal character so much. There was a way they came to life when you read about their antics and so I felt inspired to paint a cat yesterday.

 I feel I should call this painting something more appropriate to act as a tribute to one of my favourite authors. But for  now its simply purrfect because Beatrix Potters work was!

 The Difference a Dot Makes !

If you look at the two images in this blog post you may at first not see any difference. But there is and it is tiny.

In the above image I have added a white highlight in the cats eye which gives a subtle illusion of life in the little pet pawtrait.  I have also added fine brushwork detail to the nose, whiskers and under the mouth to complete the painting.

Sometimes the tiniest of touches completes a painting making the artist feel happy when the viewer of the art at these two stages really doesn't notice. As they may like both versions of the same painting.

Heres' Tiddles! Minus final detail.

A link to the news feature regarding the book coming out this year.

And more about my favourite author and rabbit!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Narcissi 2016

 Spring Dance
Work in progress

How lovely. As I walked into our local small florist this morning I noticed my favourite spring flowers to paint were on sale. I hastily selected a bunch and treated myself to these heavenly scented flowers.

Back in my studio I grabbed a piece of white paper and studied my "treasure" !

I started by painting blue outlines to a few of the flowers . Adding green for stems and yellow mixed with orange for the tiny flower centres. My heart relaxed as if I was visiting an old friend because I paint these every year.

I love the atmosphere in this first stage. Its' delightfully moving.

 First stage capturing the energy and life of the flowers

 The stems in reality are more of a blue than green but I'm adding a touch of yellow to them to bring instant sunshine to my painting. Which is much needed as it is pouring down with rain here and very cold outside!

I am so happy to be painting Spring flowers again! 

Light and cheerful!


The Owl Returns!

Beak added to the owl I started painting yesterday

It was wonderful entering my studio this morning to see this owl in watercolour on my easel waiting as a painting to be completed. I am really glad I left it last night. I could easily see where the beak detail should be placed this morning and I have also hinted at the back of the head that was also missing yesterday. I have now added the opposite wing too bringing more of the birds body into view.

Waiting until you can see something with fresh eyes is always a good idea. Painting is like life. Sometimes a problem can seem absolutely enormous but after a good nights sleep it often doesn't seem quite so bad! With an easy solution in sight.

But this is where I will leave this painting today too. 

Because my brain is now screaming " Add the other eye" but actually with the angle of the head the second eye isn't that obvious in my resource image and I like the sense of mystery without it. I may add just a shadow here to hint at the other eye. Or not!

Decisions, decisions!
The owl as it was before I added further detail. 
Really soft and lovely as it is but it did need a beak adding!

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Joy Of Stopping Early!

Owl coming to life on my easel

I love Mondays. I always have. I see them as a gorgeous white sheet of fresh watercolour paper waiting to be painted. And I can leave the past behind and move forward making each new day as exciting as I choose it to be. Today I really did have to knuckle down and reply to outstanding email messages regarding future workshop invitations and art events. Plus I have a fabulous exhibition to look forward to where I will need a new collection of watercolours on show and as my last was so successful I want to make each new painting in this next solo really magical.

I have had a lot of requests for specific subjects via galleries. And I don't have many wildlife paintings available at the moment due to sales which saw my recent work disappear. So here I am starting 2016 enjoying painting quietly in my studio and working on favourite subjects.

To close my studio days I always like to leave a half finished " something" on my easel which makes me eager to race to my studio the next day to complete it. It is so hard stopping at times but this is great practise for my artists soul because this way of working has taught me how to stop long before a painting is finished and it also prevents me from overworking a composition. By the next day I often see how little needs to be added. This owl study certainly needs hints of a beak detail because without it I can definitely say the painting isn't finished. But that may be all this needs.

I will see in the morning!


Thursday, 21 January 2016

A Positive Attitude

Roses on my Easel
Work in Progress

At the end of every painting session in my studio I always leave a work in progress on my easel that I know I can look forward to completing when I return. This means I leave in a happy state of mind, lighthearted and  with more than enough enthusiastim to pick up my brushes the next day.

I know "life" can often get in the way of our having peaceful and happy creative time. By making myself stop at the end of the day on a high , I find myself looking forward to painting again each time I put my brushes down.  Especially when a painting looks great during the creative process as stopping at this point consistently keeps me on a "painting high".

I'm hearing a lot of artists recently tell me they don't feel like painting, or they have lost their muse.

 I find working in this way stopping on a high when painting really helps me. So I thought I would share my " happy" routine.

Even if your paintings haven't worked out there is nothing to stop you just putting some favourite colours on a scrap of paper to close your painting session in order to lift your mood.

It works for me.

Try it!

Pretty roses in watercolour. A joy to paint and even more joyous to look forward to completing as a finished painting. 


Ready For Spring 2016

"Spring Medley"
Copyright Jean Haines
Spring Flowers in Watercolour

We have had daffodils flowering in our garden since early December last year. In fact many spring flowers have impatiently bloomed here during the winter months including primroses and cowslips. There is so much talk about climate change as the seasons roll into one another.
For me , I see each new year as a wonderful, huge, white piece of paper that is waiting to be painted. Just like those spring flowers far too eager to wait for better weather to arrive I too am eager for the year ahead. I have taken time out to enjoy being with my family over Christmas and I also needed some quiet time to recharge my own batteries after all the hard work I had put into my workshops, writing and exhibitions in 2015. Before I leapt into action in 2016 I wanted some time to reflect on what I want to achieve over the next twelve months. I actually thought I did know but I have been reading incredibly touching emails from artists who have either read my books on watercolour or attended my watercolour workshops. Each kind and inspirational comment has made me want to give more at a time when I felt I should sit back to paint on my own.

As much as I adore teaching I have to confess, as any teaching artist knows, it takes valuable time away from our own personal art journey which I have been putting on hold for some time. For example, it is now three years since I submitted to any Art Society Annual Show due to lack of time. Beautiful paintings I have created have been in my solo gallery shows, which to me is important as they represent me throughout the whole year. And wonderfully so with collectors now buying my art from all over the world.

And so I juggle my time between painting, exhibiting, writing and teaching. I made a personal decision to work this year on workshops but next year I will take more free time for myself to pursue experimenting and to enjoy studio time. Without travelling or teaching so much. But if this year is anything to go by I know I will change my mind by 2017!

My 2016 UK watercolour workshops are fully booked but the good news is the wait lists are currently still open in case of cancellations so if you aren't on my UK workshop list please contact me urgently. My 2016 USA workshops are also fully booked but a new course has opened in Lake Tahoe and this is the only location that still has places thanks to the wonderful organiser who tempted me to add an extra session due to their popularity.

But right now I am going to paint up a storm and share on my blog, hopefully inspiring  and sharing smiles because it is so good to smile!

Roll on Spring and roll on all those gorgeous new subjects to paint too!

Happy painting



Wednesday, 20 January 2016

NEW : Lake Tahoe Watercolour Workshops 2016

"Fields of Gold"
Simple watercolour from my new book "Paint Yourself Calm "

I am thrilled to announce that there will be new workshops added to my USA tour this year and there are places currently still available.  The new location is Lake Tahoe.  And you can book now by contacting me on

Watercolour Workshops
October 2016 

Courses Available
 24/25th October Monday /Tuesday  FULLY BOOKED
27/28th October Thursday / Friday

Due to the high demand for places a new date has been added to this tour location so if you contact me ASAP there should still be spaces!
 29/30th  October Saturday/Sunday

Vintage Roses

"Vintage Roses"
Work in progress

My joy in painting has always been in accepting the fact that there isn't always only one way to do things. In fact this is a life lesson because I always take time to consider if I have options available when approaching a task no matter what it is. I consider if there is a better way to achieve a better result.  And so it is with my paintings of roses in watercolour.
I have been experimenting on scraps of paper recently. I like how I currently paint roses in watercolour which is a style that has evolved over the years. But I often think of my Shangainese mentor who taught me to "see" what I want to paint long before I put brush to paper or the antique silk I used to work on at that time.

When painting roses, in my mind I can see the form of the flower and I can even visualise touching each soft petal. And from playing with experiments when painting flowers I have now discovered a gorgeous new way to create petals from puddles of water and pigment dropped into each one. The above image shows the upper rose created in this way whilst the lower rose shape is waiting to have the petals added. I hope this technique works because it would make painting roses so simple for everyone who wants to follow working on them in a loose style. So I hope to share more about this idea on my blog soon.

For now I will keep experimenting and having fun. Keeping the inner child in me very much alive when creating.  I want to know more, learn more and have more to share!



Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Portland, Oregon Watercolour Workshops 2016

Portland , Oregon
Watercolour Workshops
March 2016
( Fully Booked )

I'm delighted to be holding watercolour workshops in Portland, Oregon for the first time this year

For full details please see this link.

Whilst the workshops are full the wait list may be open in case of cancellations.

Seattle 2016 : Daniel Smith : Watercolour Workshops and Free Demonstration

 Daniel Smith Art Store
Seattle March 2016
Jean Haines Watercolour Workshops ( Sold Out )
Free Demonstration Friday March 18th at 4.00 p.m.

I am delighted to be returning to Seattle to hold more exciting watercolour workshops! And give a free demonstration in store which everyone is welcome to attend.

Workshop places are sold out but you can contact the store to be put on a wait list in case of cancellations.

If you would like to come to the information packed demonstration please contact the store to confirm your place. I love giving these presentations and try to cram a weeks' course into each.
Everyone welcome!

For full details please see this link


Vancouver Workshops 2016

Vancouver 2016

I'm thrilled to be holding my first workshops in Vancouver this year in March 2016.

These courses are fully booked but a wait list is still open in case of any cancellations.

Full information can be found via this link.

2016 Inspiration

 Scene from my studio, inspired by nature

  The Start of  a New Year 

It has taken me some time to get back into my routine this year.  Our Christmas was very exciting in that our youngest son Haydn announced his engagement to Armelle, his beautiful French girlfriend. We had already been looking forward to our eldest sons wedding this year so to now realise that both sons will be getting married was a time when my heart felt fit to burst with happinness as a Mum. But then I had a few hiccups that stopped me painting. I had a lump under my right eye which yesterday was drained and I can now see fully. The pressure on my eye was so sore it held me back for a while but as you can see I am now happily back in my studio and painting again and I am so thrilled to be  here and sharing again. I'm afraid I hate moaning so to admit something was wrong didn't come easily to me. I like my blog to be a happy place! 

So this morning I woke to brilliant sunshine and headed to my studio. Here I loved seeing the view, as I always do. The sky had a pure white line of clouds through it and frost lay on the ground, melting in the morning sun as it warmed.  I grabbed a scrap of paper to record what I was seeing. 

I would suggest a cobalt blue or cerulean blue for this scene usually with possibly a touch of violet in the upper corner if you wanted to paint it accurately. I use artistic license when I paint to add drama or even more beauty. 

I took several photographs to gain a few ideas on future compositions.

I can easily just add a fence or hedge as a foreground to my above painting which could be quite interesting. Allowing nature to guide us is a great way to learn. Especially if you consider these simple options

 1) One option for a painting is adding a dramatic foreground to highlight the white cloud formation

 2) Another option could be to add the trees as a distant backdrop to the foreground but this then makes the painting become slightly fussy. Notice in this  shot the clouds have disappeared so the excitement  element has too. Now the focus moves elsewhere.

3) Option three is adding a simple tree and perhaps not have the foreground  so detailed. 

It is amazing in how just a few moments you can gain so many ideas for a painting. I took the photograph below with my landscape study painting in sunlight and shadow. And this too gave me more ideas for a new painting.

 The benefit of photographing your work in shadow and sunlight is  that you can discover further options on how to paint the same scene but in a variety of ways using colour to darken or soften the result in sections.

For now I am going to paint and have a ball doing so. Its' a new year and I am going to be painting so many new subjects with so many new approaches and I cannot wait.

Roll on the next twelve months of watercolour!

Here's to an exciting 2016!


Thursday, 14 January 2016

A New Romance : 2016


I have been given a very special request and that is to paint love.  At least that is how I see this beautiful project that I am currently working on.

This isn't just a painting of roses. It has to carry a feeling of love within it, which is being used with every single brushstroke flowing into the paintings creation.

I have shared this paintings' progress previously from an idea to this stage with soft gentle additions of detail and background colouring to enhance the main subjects. Two roses nestled side by side. One leaning on the other slightly with a connection between the two that forms a union that is completely unique. Like a young couple learning to lean on each other and depend on each other.

This painting represents life. It has new energy in it. From a new beginning of a blank piece of white paper waiting to be painted. Leading to this creation that has filled me with happiness each time I have worked on it. The sections where colour is missing represent hope of things to come.

Which is love, pure and simple

 As always I can find a painting within a painting. The cropped version below is beautiful too. So a single rose works well. But when you add the second rose, as in the composition above, together these flowers create harmony and a gorgeous unison that sings far better than whene there is just the solitary flower.

I am back in my studio painting and my head is filled with amazing scenes that I wish to create.

But what a wonderful first painting of 2016.

One filled with love.

Happy painting.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Thank you

Pure Simplicity
White roses representing love, pure and simple 

I should have known the best place to visit was my blog!

I have just read some of the most wonderful replies on here as well as reading touching emails about my workshops and watercolours that I had not even seen. 

Thank you so much.

If ever there was a time to read such  lovely words it was now.

Thank you for lifting my spirits. 

I will be back online very soon.


The Sad Goodbye

Buster, painted on a scrap of watercolour paper

Its' been some time since I wrote on my blog and I am so sorry. Firstly there was the wonderful excitement of looking forward to Christmas. Then Christmas itself after which New Year took over and I meant to visit here so often. To wish everyone well. But behind the scenes our home has been dealing with what we knew was inevitable. The agonising farewell to a well loved family pet. I  am afraid I didn't want to come online until I felt my usual cheerful, happy self. It didn't seem fair to share my sadness.And after all. Buster is just a cat. Not a member of the family. Or so that is how some people may feel.

But to be honest Buster, our cat,  was a huge part of my life. I took his photographs on every workshop with me and artists from all over the world have eagerly painted him. He was a huge fluffy monster of a cat that even managed to get into magazine features when I have been interviewed at my cottage. He always seemed to steal the show somehow. Like the time we invited artists back to our home after an international workshop in UK last year. As everyone delightedly wandered around the garden taking photos of the scenery and flowers out pranced Buster to become centre of attention. Everyone immediately turned their cameras on him and he played to the audience.

He had a loud purr which I used to love listening to.

His roar when he caught mice to present to me I actually do miss even though I thought I never would. At times like this I would always look at my husband John and ask him to deal with the little lifeless form. Which Buster seemed to be very proud of.

During Christmas we went to the vet twice expecting not to come home with our fluffy monster. But we did. Joking that was anotehr of his nine lives gone feeling huge relief to have him for more time. Buster has had his last Christmas with us. Last week we made the dreaded decision not to let our sweet cat suffer and took him to the vet for the last nightmare visit. I tierd unsuccessfully to hold back teh tears as we made our way to the veterinary centre. Once there I felt I was quite brave. I listened and we all knew what was best for our pet.  At this point my husband offered to take Buster from my arms. But I couldn't let him go. Years ago it was my choice to have cats and I naively thought I wouldn't get as attached to them as to my dogs. How wrong I was.

The vet told us we were being kind and wise. 

I held Buster and stroked him fo rthe last time. My heart was breaking as he purred loudly in my arms even while he drifted into his final sleep. This is the  moment is when your world falls apart and you feel ashamed because you know there are far worse things happening in life all over the world. But tears streamed down my face. I know that I have happy memories of a kitten that wasn't supposed to live but survived for eleven and a half years having a ball until the nightmare that is Cancer appeared in the form of a tumour and bone cancer . By the time it was discovered it had spread to become inoperable. Given only months to live then by the vets  Buster went on to live for years so we have already had borrowed time with him. Ovet the last few months we waited worrying about how we would know when it was the right "time" to lose him. Not too soon and not too late.

It has been agony. And I have not felt like painting initially or even coming online which is so unusual for me.

But painting is healing. And it brings a peaceful calm. I faced my easel this week and couldn't bear to paint on a new piece of white paper. I knew my heart had slowly sunk to a rare point of lowness for me. Finally, I looked in my paper bin and pulled out a torn scrap of paper that I had previously discarded and started painting from an old photo of Buster that was nearby, Tears flowed eventually and I let my feelings out. I miss this silly old fluffball.  I miss picking up his heavy weight each morning to feed him as he preferred being placed near his cat bowl kept well out of Baileys reach on a worktop in the utility room. I miss him staring at me when he has noticed I am watching a film intently. It has always seemed to be his mission in life to gain attention when he knows you least want to give it.

And how I would give anything to have a film interrupted again.

So my blog has gone quiet. And I am so sorry. And I have a zillion emails to reply to. And so much happy news to share too. Lots of workshop information and talks in USA.  Yes, I need to get back to work. And I will.