Friday, 21 April 2017

Disappearing Moorhens

Disappearing Moorhens
Work in progress

I have been unable to paint today.  I have been too upset. My heart sank as I watched vegetation removed from the canal by our cottage because I know this is where the moorhens nest each year. It has been a nightmare of a week. I love nature and I adore living here being able to see the young each year on the canal banks. Over time I have learnt that the birds have a very tough time protecting their young from predators such as magpie and heron who seem intent on killing all the young birds as fast as they are hatched. But this is the first year living here that I have witnessed humans create a problem for these nesting birds.

My husband and I watched in dismay recently as a barge delivered repair materials and left piles of items to be used later along the canal bank. Even this delivery was painful to watch as the barge disturbed the vegetation along the bank which houses the moorhens nests each year in Spring. But worse was to follow. I have been enjoying watching one particular moorhen swim back and forth daily adding the best bit of  reeds etc they could find to their nest, building it carefully to lay her eggs. But sadly this spot was exactly where the barge came. I really felt for the bird after all their hard work. But I was surprised and very impressed to see them start all over again building a second nest to replace the first. I contacted the local authorities to let them know that a nest and breeding was taking place exactly where the canal was to be repaired.

I don't know what I expected to be honest. A delay in the work? Time allowed for the birds to hatch their eggs and move on with their young? That was obviously too much to expect because yesterday  a work party arrived and a group of men started repairing the canal bank. I talked to one of the men and pointed out where I had seen nests being built. He looked at the spot and said he could see no evidence of nests. From his viewpoint above I am sure he couldn't. The moorhens make their nests hidden amongst the reeds to protect their young.

And today the whole bank on the usual breeding site has had vegetation removed. I haven't seen a single moorhen all day. But this evening the moorhens are back swimming the length of the cleared canal bank as if they are looking for their home.

I am heartbroken. I know there are far more important  issues in the world than a few moorhens breeding and I am telling myself off for being so stupidly upset about this. But when we first moved into our cottage there was only one pair of moorhens. Now the numbers have grown. But I know, this year there will be no young despite my informing authorities of nests in this area.

How very sad.

And how very thoughtless of the local council to approve this repair work at this time of year.

One very sad artist here hence the appalling painting above but it represent my feelings

"Disappearing moorhens!"

Moorhen chick from last year


Monday, 17 April 2017

Getting It Wrong


 On my workshops I am often asked " How often do you put work in the bin? " 
( Trash can to my American friends! )

I think there is a myth that every professional artist only paints a masterpiece every single time they pick up their brushes. And many do. But there are also many artists who enjoy experimenting with technique, or who are not completely satisfied with their results so they bin a painting to start a new one. But no painting time is wasted. By painting repeatedly we are instilling good painting ways into our creative sessions. The mistakes we make improve our work. Without paintings that are going wrong we are simply standing still in time, and possibly not getting anywhere in our personal art journey. That is, of course, unless we have reached the level we originally aimed to be as artists. At which point it is wonderful to enjoy it. But not everyone is that lucky or happy with reaching their destination.

I enjoy the journey in learning continually and growing each time I pick up my brush but i do make mistakes which I still learn from.

The funniest mistake I made recently was not with painting. Swans visit our cottage garden daily and almost live here. I can't help it, I name all the wildlife that inhabits our garden. We have Hector the heron, Russell crow and many other daily visitors. But a new young swan arrived this Spring and I eventually gave him the name Sebastian. He accompanied Sydney, our regular swan visitor,  but Sydney didn't seem very happy at first with the extra guest here and he often showed his disapproval.

Or so I thought.

This week the display of aggression by Sydney turned into an act of courtship and I quickly realised that Sebastian needed a new name. Hence the title " Sabrina" for the swan watercolour study above.

As I spring cleaned my art studio today I watched as these two swans glided by, on the water outside. They looked so regal and Sabrina seemed to be smiling. In fact I  am sure she winked at me. But that could just be my artists' imagination. Either way, she made a delightful distraction from hanging paintings in my studio and generally cleaning up. Tomorrow I can walk into my painting space and enjoy painting and get back to working on my book.

And my painting of Sabrina, painted in between clearing up, will greet me and smile at me.

What a lovely way to start my day!

Pleased to see you!


Artists Tips

1) Don't stress over paintings that don't work out. Learn from them.
2) Paint and more importantly, enjoy painting.  
3) Prepare your painting space for the next day and look forward to using it.
4) Think about what subject you would like to paint most of all and how, the night before you wake to paint!

Happy painting


Bluebell Madness

Bluebell works on my easel this morning

There is no doubt about it. Spring Fever has hit me badly. I am gardening, spring cleaning and painting, working on a new collection and experimenting for my new book.

There is also no doubt that as an artist I have changed. My style is evolving as happens from time to time. My colours have gradually become more vibrant but a new boldness is also touching some of my recent compositions. I seem to drift between soft muted shades to the more dramatic contemporary way of working and I love the differences. As they effect my results on a variety of old favourite subjects.

Like bluebells.

From the light touch of yesterday, deep atmospheric woodland scenes are now emerging on my easel full of colour and excitement.

Where this artistic "woodland" path will lead me I have no idea but ,oh boy, my next book is going to be rich in information and ideas to get everyone racing for their brushes in the way that it has me racing to paint each day just from writing it.

Spring Fever?

"Jean Haines Fever " maybe!

I love it!


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Woodland Walk : Bluebell Woods

"Woodland Walk"
Bluebell woods in watercolour

I know I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, near bluebell woods that are so calming to walk through at the end of the day. And I am aware that some of my friends are going through so much right now as life, at times, has a way of being so unfair. 

To my friends who need this, a calming poem and woodland walk.

Walk with me and take my hand
I'll listen and try to understand
Whatever ails you, let it go
Take in natures' beauty
While you breath out , really slow

Listen to bird song , so soft and sweet
Enjoying the woodland path beneath your feet
Your worries you can leave, for now, far behind
 As the peace of this haven
Brings you peace of mind

Its'  hard to feel stressed when  surrounded by calm
At one with nature,  where nothing can harm
Just fresh air and blue skies
No clouds to be seen
Simple colours around you. Healing blue and green

Rest your soul , rest your body
With nature be one
As you take in last rays of the afternoon sun

And love at Easter

To all



Happy Easter : Bluebell Inspiration 2017

 Bluebell Study in Watercolour

I have been working really hard in my cottage garden. Each day I have woken early , raced into the garden and attacked my days' new project with enthusiasm and energy. I set myself challenges to meet for each gardening session. Taking one flower bed at a time, removing weeds, deadheading, sowing seeds, dividing plants and taking cuttings. It has been heaven. At the end of each gardening session I am absolutely exhausted, aching all over from digging, pushing a heavily laden wheelbarrow from one end of the garden to the other and from walking continuously from one part of our large garden to the next.

I love designing the flower borders and I enjoy imagining what colours would work where and how. But at the end of each gardening day I am eager to paint , no matter how tired I may be feeling.

This afternoon I took my paints to the woodland section of our garden and sat quietly to work out which colours I could use to paint bluebells. I always joke each year that they are not blue flowers at all as they look more violet to me than a real blue.

This year Daniel Smith brought out a new watercolour shade called " Lavender" and it has worked amazingly well for these beautiful flowers. I have added other colours to bring this little piece to life but it is so soft.

As I painted the sun shone on my shoulders, birds were singing sweetly and the blackbirds flew in and out of our potting shed, where their nest is, to feed their noisy young who chirped eagerly for their evening meal. Every now and then a canal barge passed by on the water and I would stop painting to just soak in the calming atmosphere.

Our cottage is so pretty and the garden, as hard work as it is, gives me endless inspiration.

I understand that nothing in life worth having comes without very hard work to attain it. Hours and energy put in to the garden give me hours of gorgeous inspiration of beautiful things to paint. My gardening improves my art and I am continually learning from nature.

 Happy Easter to all who celebrate this time of year. New life, new energy, renewed love and passion for all that is good in life. And hope for the future, always.

"Bluebell Light"


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Never Give Up

"Violets Too"
Copyright Jean Haines

I loved painting the violet gift I was given yesterday. So much so that I started my day by painting another version of the same piece. My wonderful friend Christine had shown me two varieties of violets in her garden. The darker, more domesticated variety which is larger than the pale wild little violets that grow on the countryside verges around here.

These smaller violets are a more delicate hue and quite complex to paint with their tiny petals.

Today I looked again at what I had painted yesterday and attempted the same painting with the pale little wild violets as my subject. I loved what happened as soon as this little study appeared on paper. With very little effort my subject was there. Minus pencil lines. Minus all the little details. This is a vase of violets. It is far more delicate than yesterdays' painting and I love it. I don't think you can get the real feel of this piece on line but off screen it is gorgeous.

It made me think about all my workshops this year and some things I kept repeating when teaching my classes.

1) Don't always try too hard. 
2) Over thinking can kill a painting.
3) Never give up! 

In my relaxed state this morning a natural painting occurred of a simple little flower and a new memory was created of a fabulous painting day.

Whatever you are working on, enjoy it, relax and let the colours flow to tell the story simply and beautifully.

Happy painting!


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Scented Violets: Spring 2017

"Sweet Violets"

This afternoon I visited Christine who used to handle my UK workshop bookings. In her garden she has a wonderful path that is covered with wild  violets and she kindly gave me a small posy which I  hastily painted on my return to my studio. The posy is now on my easel, as seen above,  as these delicate flowers don't last very long in a vase.

As I painted them I smiled because Christine once came to vist me some time back ,with a tiny glass jar full of violets from her garden which I also painted. After a while  I gave Christine her little glass jar back but by this time I had fallen in love with it. It wasn't special. It was just like a little jam pot but incredibly small and sweet. Perfect for holding small flowers like violets.

Christine later, knowing me well,  gave me a gift one Christmas which was a box full of things I loved but wrapped amongst these treasures was one better than any other. It was my own little glass jar to put violets in. I loved the kind gesture.

I now have my own violets  starting to bloom in my own cottage garden. Not as many as in Christines' garden yet but in time there will be more, as they self seed and plant themselves everywhere. Each time I see this little flower I always think of Christine now.

I enjoyed playing with colours this afternoon to create this quick little study. Seen above. And I loved the happy memories it brought back to me.

Isn't it funny how one little thing can lead you to thinking of so many others?