Jean Haines' Passion for Watercolour

by Cass Art

Watercolour artist Jean Haines has travelled across the globe to satisfy her passion for the medium. Her craft has been influenced from her experiences of living and travelling through a variety of cultures and contients including Asia, The Middle East and Europe. Winner of the Anthony J Lester Award in 2009 and a member of the Society for Women Artists, as well as author of best-selling book 'Atmospheric Watercolours', her passion is alive and thriving. We tracked her down for an insight into her watercolour world.

1. When was it that watercolour became your speciality? What was it that kept you keen?

I have always loved watercolour over any other medium.  I started my art life as a Botanical artist.  Later I studied Asian brushwork whilst living in Hong Kong, then I moved to Dubai where I fell in love with colour even more. Travelling added to my enthusiasm for the medium which I now am so passionate about.  I was invited to teach watercolour workshops at the Dubai International Art Centre and held my first solo exhibitions there. Whilst I have constantly been told that watercolour is the most difficult of mediums I find it to be the most fascinating.  I hold watercolour workshops in Europe. Australia, USA and they are always fully booked well in advance, so I am not alone in my feelings for this incredible medium. Worldwide I am meeting artists of all levels who are fascinated with watercolour and, like me, cannot get enough of working in it or learning about it. It is brilliant!  I have even been given a title of "Ambassador of Watercolour" because I love it so much and share as often as possible via my books, DVDs or watercolour tours.  Why do we all love watercolour?  The pigment interaction and watermark effects we can achieve by not trying to control it are magical.  It is unpredictable.  This suits my personality 100% as I tend to shun away from anything that is boring in life. I love vibrancy, excitement and vitality in art plus beauty. And watercolour gives me a sense of peace at times form watching the gentle flow of colour across paper. It is a very addictive medium to work in. I love meeting people who try painting in watercolour for the very first time, it’s as though a veil has been lifted from their eyes and they are seeing life for the very first time.  And the most beautiful point is that you are never too old or too young to take up painting. Just do it!

Jean Haines passion for watercolour, donkey and flower image

2. What materials are your favourite to use with watercolour? What couldn't you live without?

I use a variety of materials. You sell Winsor & Newton, I love it!  The Artist Quality is best. I am happy to recommend from your range. And you sell Saunders Waterford paper. I love rough surface, heavier weights. I have my own personalised brushes but good sable are best.  I prefer tubes of colour to pans and love deep pan palettes.

3. Where do you go to seek inspiration? What is your working process like?

Inspiration surrounds me. I love walking my dog in the countryside enjoying the seasons. I love my cottage garden and plant to add to my growing collection of favourite flowers to paint. Not a day passes where I don't see something new to capture in watercolour or create in a new technique.  Being an artist makes us see differently. We enter a world of creation with a sight that non artists often can't comprehend.  I love life and my enthusiasm for living shines in all that I do. After all being here is not a rehearsal. What we capture in watercolour today can be a stunning memory that we can enjoy for all of our tomorrows. And by painting we also often give joy to others as well as ourselves.

My working process is to start each day with colourful washes. I have no pressure on my shoulders of aiming to achieve a masterpiece straight away. I relax and get into my painting zone. My personal world where nothing else exists. It is just me and my brushes. And colour of course!. From here I paint where my heart leads me. I am in many exhibitions so I work on collections, choosing favourite subjects as my mood takes me. But I do not paint to sell and I think that is what makes my work more collectible. I paint from my heart, what I want to and when I want to. Which possibly makes waiting for my one and only hare or cockerel paintings worthwhile. When one is painted they are full of the excitement I feel from not repeating daily or weekly the same thing in the same way. I love variety and believe it is the spice of life.  I keep my painting routine as fresh and new as I can. Interestingly after all these years I still race to paint as if it was the first time I ever picked up a brush. But that is only because watercolour never gives me the same results twice! You just cannot get bored with it! But you can become addicted.

Jean Haines, Atmospheric watercolours

4. Do you have any tricks of the trade for achieving the perfect piece?

Yes. Don't aim for perfect! Life is not perfect so why should art?  Celebrate each tiny imperfection because that is what makes the perfect sections of your art more fantastic!

Paint what you love and it will show your results.

Don’t try to be someone else, be you and your art will shine with your own personality.

Very importantly though, please use good quality watercolour products. You won't get good results from using cheap paper, good brushes make a huge difference to your enjoyment in painting and an owning fabulous variety of watercolour shades will give your life and results that extra zing!

5. What would you advise a budding artist interested in this practice?

Enjoy every door that opens to you in your art adventure. Painting in watercolour changes your life. It enriches it. Just a little time painting each day can be so therapeutic to the hobbyist but it can also lead to a wonderful career.  It’s a way of life that introduces you to other likeminded people so you make new friends by joining art groups or societies. If you paint at home and cannot get out, the internet has some terrific web sites where you can link with other artists.  I meet artists of all levels on my international watercolour tours and they all have one thing in common. A passion for painting. We share this love worldwide which bonds many people across the world in such unlikely ways. I never dreamed that I would be writing books on watercolour, or travelling the world doing something that I love so much. This could easily be you.  So to a budding artist? If you love painting then go for it. Do not let your own lack of confidence hold you back and listen to your own instincts. Believe in yourself and study from artists whose work you admire. Practise as often as you can if you want a career in art. But if you want to add to your life by painting just for you, there has never been a better time to take up watercolour.

You can catch Jean's paintings in her upcoming solo show "A Brush with a Woman" at the Windrush Gallery from Friday 23rd September 2016. You can also find more of her work on Jean’s website or you can keep up to date with her recent work by following her on Twitter or Facebook

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