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! 


Friday, 30 June 2017

Follow Your Heart : Duck Family in Watercolour

"Love A Duck"

This year I have watched so many duck families visit our cottage garden. The tiny ducklings have to overcome so much to survive as they often dwindle from an original large brood of up to thirteen babes to one. The chicks are taken by magpies, crows, heron, jays and even pike so the water they swim in has certain dangers for them too. But I take delight in watching the proud Mums with their young parading them across our lawn, watching as they feed and as often as not, one duckling will be the trouble maker never staying with the group out of harms' reach.

I was determined at some point to paint a duck family but as the year has passed, to date, I haven't had time. But now majority of the ducklings are almost fully grown so my subjects look very different these days. Apart from one last surprise visit. Maybe this particular Mum had a late start with hatching her young. But I was delighted to see yet another family visit and waddle past my studio regularly recently.

And here they are in watercolour.

But why the title of my blog post " Follow Your Heart"?

Yesterday I started painting this family scene. I was in my wonderful peaceful world , completely wrapped up in what was happening on my paper in front of my eyes. Only the eye of the mother duck was evident in the early stage of my painting but even without the detail you could tell my first wash was going to be a duck family. I was thrilled with the life and energy this piece already magically held.

And then my husband walked into my studio.

" I love that" he said and I was pleased.

"Its' going to look fantastic once the detail is added"  he commented before leaving.

His words rang in my mind and all I could think of now was "adding detail". I was there, back in a place I didn't want to be. Seeing every feather on the Mother duck and every outline of each tiny duckling. I had to go for a wander around my garden and put my mind back where it had been before I continued to paint. So that I would be capturing the story with as little information as possible, but enough to tell the tale.

There is nothing wrong with adding every detail to a painting. In fact this piece would have been gorgeous had I done so. But I wanted to follow my heart, my own instincts and create a painting that was "me". A Jean Haines interpretation of the happy family moment I had witnessed. I meet so many people on my courses who are trying so hard to be someone else when they paint when their own talent and style is so fabulous and only needing a tiny bit of nurturing. Its' very hard to have the confidence to actually "like" what you paint but you need it to survive as an artist, like the little ducklings faced with so many obstacles.  So if you hear criticism of your work or feel nervous about how you paint, take heart. You may be doing something that is new or different. But you should be painting to make yourself feel happy, not others around you. 
But of course if you make others happy around you thats' good too! 
Just be careful what knocks you allow to put you down or off course in style!

I feel in my heart I have added more detail than I initially intended to but this is just what I am seeing on my lawn. The little ducklings are actually nestled in grass so their feet are hidden. Mum is proudly circling them until she too settles in the sun. A lovely memory.

This could have had so many titles.

A Ducks Tail
Going Quackers

But I remembered a saying that I used to hear as a child so " Love a Duck" it is! 

And it will now be in my solo exhibition as already there is interest in this painting but I am going to enjoy it for now. Here in my studio!

And my husband has just seen it finished and he loves it too.


The Frame Gallery hosting my solo exhibition "A Brush With a Woman" which opens on 1st September is local to where I live in Hampshire, UK so I will be at the Preview Event and there the following Saturday morning.

Please contact me if you would like an invitation to the preview.

Its' going to be such a wonderful occasion!


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Once in Love With Daisy

West Highland White Terrier coming to life on my easel
Without pencil lines to guide me I depend on placing chunks of colour in the right places to make an animal come to life. Daisy is obliging quite sweetly!

Oh boy!
This  is the week that was! In that it was meant to be the week we filmed for my new book. But as the filming was to take place outside and torrential rain was forecast the filming has now been postponed until next Monday. Having worked so hard in my garden getting it perfect for the shoot I was, to say the least, disappointed. The rain has flattened the wild flowers and woodland section where I intended starting the shoot. But hey ho, life goes on and there are far worse things to be upset about.

As it happens the rain was actually on my side as I spent the day starting the catalogue for my next solo exhibition. My next "Brush With a Woman" Solo Exhibition highlighting a gorgeous new collection of original watercolours  opens in September at the wonderful "The Frame Gallery" in Odiham, Hampshire.

Yesterday I sent the first images of some of my work from the show to the owner Jan and to her promotional team. Immediately I received fantastic and excited responses of " Oh I love this one"  and "Oh my word, this is my favourite" , followed by "No this is, no this one now is"! Jan loves my new work which hasn't been shown yet. My favourite comment from Jan, that this is my strongest body of work to date with the gallery in a show, and I am thrilled as I have been putting my favourite paintings by especially for this exhibition.

There will be something for everyone. Wildlife, florals, architecture and a few surprises.

Please, if you would like an invite to the Preview Evening which will be held at the gallery do let me know via email. Contact me on

Save the date. September 1st, 2017!

Oh and Daisy? Daisy is the little West Highland White Terrier owned by  such a fabulous friend, Pauline. And maybe she will be in the show but at the moment this sweet little pup is devouring my Opera Rose which seems to suit her very well. An Opera Rose Sweetheart. Maybe that should be the title of this piece!

Please wish me luck with the weather for filming next week! 


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Heat Wave

 "Summer Haze"
Inspired by the wild flowers in our cottage woodland garden.

I am trying to work on my new book but a heatwave has hit UK. As much as I adore writing, concentration isn't coming very easily to me right now. I still get the urge to go "freckle collecting" when the sun shines even though I know it is supposed to be bad for me. But it feels so good to have sunshine on my shoulders especially when I live in England and these very hot temperatures are so few and far between.

But I did work on my book today and the section I have been putting together is almost complete and it looks beautiful. To be honest. I am learning so much from writing this new publication. I am having to think about why I paint in the way that I do in order to share techniques and tips that work for me. Also, trying to write in a way that readers can gain successful results rather than just look at pretty pictures means each word written has to be brilliantly explanatory and inspirational. I am a tough task master when it comes to writing each new book I take on as a project. And I am being very hard on myself with this one because it is gorgeous and I want everyone who reads it to feel they simply have to paint after reading each section.

But at the end of today I felt I deserved a treat. So I went and sat quietly in the woodland section of our cottage garden with the intention of painting the white ox eye daisies growing wild there. This section of our garden has been deliberately left to grow wild for the wildlife to enjoy. Before I even picked up my brushes a pair of dancing copper butterflies drifted past and before I knew it I was sat silently watching butterflies and not painting. But this silent time drew me into a beautiful mood of silence where only bird song interrupted the connection between me and my brushstrokes.

Soon the hazy daisies came to life on my paper and I felt peaceful, happy and relaxed.

As always I cannot wait to paint tomorrow.

I am inspired with new energy to pour into the next pages of my new book.

My artists tip for today?

Stop what you are doing, find something beautiful and paint it in silence. Just for a few minutes clear your mind and escape into the world of watercolour. It is after all the most magical of worlds. And we are so privileged to be able to escape into it from time to time.

 Woodland section of our cottage garden. A grass pathway leads you through beautiful wild flowers and natural grasses.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Dreaded Words

"Delphinium Rhapsody"
Delphinium painted in my cottage garden this afternoon

An exhausting day. I have tidied my studio. And every single time I do this I have an incredible urge to paint and mess it up again which actually isn't a good idea, or is it.

Why is my blog post called " The Dreaded Words" you may ask.  Well when I had the first meeting with my publisher for my next new book they told me that they would come to me this time with the photography crew, to film the step by steps. In my studio. Wow, I thought at the time. That's fantastic. No packing my car and worrying about leaving anything important behind. No unpacking and packing again at the photography studio. No having to stay in hotels overnight while the filming was taking place. And how easy this would be with everything I need at hand, here in my studio.

Then the dreaded words sunk in.

" In my studio"




I have been putting off tidying up and making room for the cameras etc. Constantly making excuses of more important things to do. Like collecting freckles in my garden if the sun is shining, as well as painting of course.

 I kept putting it off, until today when I could put it off no longer. Last night I went to bed imagining how enthusiastically I would race to my studio this morning and set about  tidying. Re arranging things and making it look wonderful.

But when I woke this morning all my good intentions of heading to my studio seemed to evaporate within minutes as my feet headed straight for the potting shed in my garden and the next thing I knew I was gardening. While I was gardening I fell in love with the above delphinium and just had to paint it straight away. All the while telling myself that afterwards I would definitely sort out my studio. But then a sale came through which meant wrapping a painting for a gallery urgently. And then a second gallery contacted me asking me if I had any Venice scenes but the one the gallery's client wanted had just sold, only minutes before.  So instead of sorting out my studio I helped the second gallery by forwarding images of paintings that may be suitable for their client instead.

Finally as evening drew near I made myself get on with the task I had been putting off all day. Now my studio looks fabulous. In fact, it looks too fabulous.

A tidy studio?

What kind of artist works in a tidy studio?

This won't do at all.

Tonight I am going to bed with the notion of waking to mess my studio back up again.

I am sure you will be eager to see whether my studio is a mess or organised in my new book.

But what the heck, I actually just want to paint delphiniums now so my studio, messy or tidy will have to wait.

Happy painting!


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Every Life Matters

"So Small"
Butterfly on wild flower in our cottage garden.

As always I am busy. I am now totally engrossed in writing my new book. I am at the middle of creating this next exciting publication and I am afraid each new chapter draws me further into the book. So much so that I find it impossible to leave it. Even to share posts here on my blog. This often happens when you really fall in love with what you are doing. It consumes you. You eat, sleep and wake thinking of what is going to happen next. It is a fantastic and energising feeling. But, I know there will be a stage in the process where I feel very unhappy. And that will be when I know I am about to write the last few chapters. A part I dread when writing any book. Because the process is like a love affair between the creation and the creator.  Or the bond between a Mother and a child. It is hard to let go when the time comes, as it has to. But that time is way off in the distance. For now I am in the ecstatic mode of wanting to write and paint every single minute of each day and I love it.

In our cottage garden there is so much in the way of wildlife to distract me from my goal of writing each day. Happily this just gives me another excuse to paint.

Today I watched a tiny delicate butterfly as it danced around the flowers in our garden. So small, so dainty and yet so beautiful.

With an election in UK this week I can't help but wonder just who is looking out for our environment in the world. So that for generations to come in the years ahead, our grandchildrens' grandchildren can feel the thrill I do when I observe the beauty of nature.

Yes, there are many important issues our world leaders need to  consider. 
I just wish one would seriously consider the planet and protect oru wildlife too.

But for now, I am back to writing and painting which is far more relaxing.

Happy painting!


Monday, 29 May 2017

"Fed Up"

"Fed Up"

At the foot of our cottage garden are a few sheds, one is a potting shed that has become home annually to several birds. This year the blackbird family have laid two batches of eggs. I try to avoid disturbing them during this period especially while they are sitting on their nests. I even put off my gardening chores until all the fledglings have left.  

But this year Mrs Blackbrid has outdone herself. She is now sitting on the second new brood and looking thoroughly sorry for herself. In fact she looks downright "Fed Up" . Which became the title for this fun painting as the subject was far too much fun to resist working on. 

Her face says it all!

Fed Up! 


Friday, 26 May 2017

Art and Soul Exhibition 2017 : June 3rd - 18th . Surrey . U.K


Art and Soul Exhibition 2017 
June 3rd - 18th . Surrey . U.K 

I am delighted to be taking part in the Art and Soul Exhibition which opens in Surrey next week on 3rd June 2017 .

Paintings I have in the exhibition include my favourite subjects and this now  well loved cockerel which will be on sale.

"A New Day " 
Size 60 x 52cms   
Medium : Watercolour 
Price £525

"A New Day" features on the exhibition invitation and flyer.
It is vibrant when seen off screen and a new favourite piece of many visitors to my studio where it has been waiting for this show .

Another fabulous painting is my kingfisher

"Kingfisher Reflection "
 Size : 50 x 42 cms  
 Medium: Watercolour  
 Price  £535

Again, this new kingfisher has to be seen off screen for the intensity of colour and watercolour effects. 

I also have sheep and a floral in the exhibition. It will be a case of first come first served for these newly released paintings. 

For full exhibition information please see this link:-

Thursday, 25 May 2017

White Roses in Watercolour : Peace and Love

 "Peace and Love"

At the foot of our cottage garden is a woodland area. Here, right at the very end of our garden, is where plants are moved to if they are on the way out or looking poorly.  It is the "last chance" area. When we first moved into our cottage we planted white roses by the front door. We had thought we had bought shrub roses but the plants had been accidentally mislabelled.  Over time, as they grew,  the roses sprawled over the ground rather than give us the gorgeous display we were yearning for. Then they started looking sickly and the right decision was made to dig them up. But I couldn't bear to part with them. They were roses after all and no rose should ever be thrown away.

The poor things were planted behind an old tree which is the home of our resident woodpecker bird. The tree itself looks bedraggled with hundreds of holes driven in it from the rather noisy woodpecker and its young over the years.  Consistent checks by me on this plant proved we were right to move it. It was dying.  But I still left it there. I felt sorry for it. But as time went the plant became forgotten completely and untended. It was there, but out of view.

This week while gardening I walked deliberately to look and see what was happening to the poorly plants and each one has not only survived but is flowering beautifully. I couldn't resist painting their beauty. And I sat listening to birdsong as I created the above painting.

I started by  forming my background. Readers of my book "Paint Yourself Calm" will know just how this effect was achieved. I let all troubles disappear, as in the the "boulders on my shoulders" chapter. Sadness drifted away as I worked.  It isn't that I have worries. It is the heartbreaking news that has upset me.  This week youngsters lost their lives needlessly at a concert via the hands of one young man who could never have understood the joy in their lives to have acted so cruelly. I have cried unashamedly for the parents, families and friends who faced the worse news ever this week. Their lives will never be the same. And as always I found peace in painting. Especially using my "Paint Yourself Calm" techniques which led me to this rose painting outcome. 

Softly and gently,  I caressed the bloom to life on paper. 
Softly and gently, like tears falling for a loved one who will never be at your side again.

There is a lovely saying "I am not gone. I am simply waiting in another room". I like to think of loss this way. In fact at a Mums' funeral some time ago, one of her twins gave a reading. She spoke fondly of her Mum and described a school trip where she had gone in a canoe for the first time. Unknown to her, her Mum had quietly followed the school coach and watched her daughter without her even knowing. The daughter explained she didn't know her Mum was there but she was, just hidden from view. And now always will be, there but not in sight. A touching thought.

My rose painting started quietly. From this early first stage of my painting the flowers could be seen. And so I added very little to complete the piece.

First stage of my white rose painting


"Peace and Love "

 In loving memory.
Manchester 2017


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Summer Delight: Lupin in Watercolour

"Summer Delight"
Lupins in Watercolour
Painted in my cottage garden

This week has been really busy and I am delighted to have  worked so hard on my new book. The latest chapter additions are full of inspirational ideas. And simply by writing them I have felt strongly moved to paint. Finally today I had time to sit quietly in my garden and do just that. 

I set up my painting table, outside, by a gorgeous lupin that has burst into flower this week. I will confess that the gardening bug has hit me really hard this year and this is one of the plants that I have been feeding with my own home made nettle feed. The extra care has paid off  because now I have huge, glorious blooms that are irresistible to an artist to pass up the opportunity of painting.

This afternoon, the sun is so strong in this part of my garden that the lupins are bathed in glowing, soft summer light making them even more attractive to me as a subject.

When I first started writing this new book I thought about its' content and would there be enough material to fill it. How I am going to break it to my publishers that all my ideas will not fit into this one new publication I don't know. But the joy for me will be my putting in it the most wonderful demonstrations to follow and my favourite ideas that have had me racing for my own brushes. With the intention of  my books 'readers feeling the same way.

In fact, I can't sit still to type, I have just had another wonderful idea so I am going to paint and see if it works , right now!

Whatever you are doing, I hope you feel as happy as I do.

Happy painting!


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Fighting a Ghost

Foxgloves painted in my cottage garden this afternoon
To be completed

She is there every time I paint a flower and she won't be ignored which at times can be so frustrating. The botanical artist that I used to be will never leave me. She is like a ghost in my soul that keeps making an appearance, always when I least expect her too. 

The gardening bug has hit me and as it wasn't raining ( finally) today I caught up with a few tasks in our cottage garden. The flower borders fall on my shoulders to work on as my husband can be over enthusiastic at removing what he thinks are weeds, when in fact they are seedlings. One year he "over enthusiastically" removed all my fox glove seedlings and I was completely heartbroken. As I love painting them.

But this year the seedlings are safe as I  am caring for them again. But I have to admit, I am getting a little carried away. It started with my seeing nettles and reading about their uses. I remember my Grandfather, years ago when I was a child, making nettle feed to feed his plants. He used mainly natural products with very little bought from a garden centre as gardeners often do today. He collected his own seeds, grew his own plants and created his own fertiliser. So as nettle feed seemed very easy to make I made some and my plants are now looking fantastic.  They do indeed love it.

But I didn't stop there. 

Next, I purchased seed packets and now I have trays of seedlings that will all need planting. I did carefully thin them out and transplant them. They too look fabulous.  But where on earth does this new addiction of  doing everything from scratch leave time for my painting and writing. Especially as I am working on a new book at the moment. 

You may well ask " How does she find the time?"

I don't know!

All I do know is that I wake at the crack of dawn each day to see what the weather is like. If it is fine I spend an hour or two in the garden and from there I bring inspiration and my happy mood into my studio to paint or write. Listening to bird song while I garden really does make me feel so energised and cheerful. 

Yesterday I worked on my new book all day until late in the evening and was so pleased with the chapter I had completed. It read back so beautifully this afternoon.

After gardening today I wandered around my garden taking photographs in sunlight and the first flowering foxglove caught my attention. I knew I had to paint it , there and then. Hence the painting above because I quickly raced to get my art equipment to paint outside . I eagerly began capturing the sunlight on the upper buds of the foxglove plant in my garden. I loved the start of the painting. It was full of energy and life but there came that moment when the rigger brush was in my hand and the ghost of my "artist past" appeared. I had to fight her off  as she beckoned me to consider adding every single dot in every single foxglove bell shape.

I do like the above watercolour study but I have a far more exciting foxglove wash just waiting for me to paint flowers on top of it tomorrow. But when I do paint tomorrow I am hoping the "botanical ghost" of yesteryear doesn't appear and persuade me to add too much detail. She is pretty strong minded that ghost ,and I have a constant battle with her.

I started my art career as a botanical artist and I thought I had left that ghost way behind me . But she seems to have found me again and she won't let me go.

Lets' see who wins tomorrow. The ghost or me!


Friday, 12 May 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons

"Facing The Sun"

I am working so hard on my new book which will be out next year. To create it, I needed to really take time out to think about what is already out there on the market book wise. I  also considered why my past books have become so popular. I am constantly told it is because my directions on how to paint are easy to follow. But I am more importantly told I encourage everyone to believe they can paint and well.  And I do strongly believe this. If you can find the right help and guidance to keep you enthusiastic and focused when learning. This can be very hard if you are living somewhere rural or unable to attend art classes or groups. This is where art books and DVDs are invaluable. Good ones that is, with great instruction. And I want my next publication to be just that. A great inspirational book.

I have found that writing is a part of my soul. As a voice that will not be silenced. Right now I am taking a journey back in time to who taught me, who inspired me the most as I learnt how to paint. At this very moment I am thinking of an art mentor of mine who lived in Dubai. They taught at the same art centre that I taught at when I lived there. They worked in every single medium as I did at that time of my art life. I loved learning from them. They helped me see how unusual use of colour could give me exciting and dramatic effects.  They taught me never to head towards the ordinary and I never have. But that side  of me was already part of my make up. Ever since I was a tiny child I loved working with colour in ways that everyone around me did not. For example I never accepted that certain colours couldn't be worn together and always opted to put two together that I was advised against in my teens. Maybe that is why I dress so quirkily! But I love odd colour combinations in my art. I thrive on them.

This weeks chapter that I am writing in my new book has been so exciting as I  am encouraging readers of my next book to try something new, using new techniques even to me. I have tested them and they work. Breathing life and energy into results. I have never felt so exhilarated when painting. I know I am now leaping into a new stage of my art life and I am not hesitating. I am throwing myself head long towards this new direction. And loving it. I hope you will too when you see my new book next year.


The title of this blog post is " When Life Gives you Lemons" because I am surrounded by a few fabulous friends who are going through really traumatic experiences. Finding the positives in life at times like this is really difficult. But when life gives us lemons we can either make lemonade or aim for a new fruit all together. Mango juice perhaps? Either way, I am sending huge  warm wishes, love and prayers to all my friends who right now need a spirit lift. Life may be throwing you a few obstacles but together we will make sunshine  to follow the rain.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Finding Daisy : West Highland White, Continued

 "Finding Daisy"

An unfinished painting has a voice. It continually calls to you until it is heard when you listen to make the final touches and complete it. Until the painting is finished the voice will not be silenced. Nor will the restlessness in a true artists soul.

This morning I headed for my studio to work on my new book. I have a fabulous new chapter to work on that is really thrilling me. And yet I couldn't ignore the call to finish my painting of Daisy, the West Highland White terrier that I shared on my blog yesterday. Bearing in mind that this painting is merely a study to work from in a later larger creation, it is now looking so intriguing that I am wanting to show Daisy's owner. I hadn't wished to until I painted the real thing. There is a feeling of connection between myself, the little dog and the moment I watched her play in my garden in this study. A connection that may be lost in the real painting, because as time passes my emotions will soften and change as I work on new paintings instead. Paintings that lead me further away from Daisy.

I have now strengthened the detail on the face of my terrier study. You can see I did indeed make the decision not to add the tongue showing. The inquisitive expression of the face seemed more interesting with the mouth closed. I have also hinted at one paw being raised which to me looks cute and hints at action about to happen . As if Daisy could indeed dart away at any second, as she did on the day in real life.

I like the last stage seen below as well. The white of the rear coat worked well so I may go back to this idea for my full large painting.

 Yesterdays closing stage of my study of Daisy.

It is hard to imagine that below is the starting stage, or was, of this little painting. Just a few colour marks for an outline, hints of eyes and a nose and the suggestion of what my subject could be is there. Minus any of the later work involved in the study at the top of this blog post. The whole point of a study exercise is to learn. To learn about form, colour combinations and ideas that may bring a subject to life in a way that is pleasing. Each brushstroke leads me further into loving painting this breed of dog that I love so much.

 Perhaps Daisy needs a soul mate in my next painting with a new model! We will see. 
But for now, I am "Finding Daisy" in watercolour

How my study of Daisy originally started before it grew to the above painting.


Artists Tips for the day

1) Learn to "listen" to what a painting tells you it needs
2) Take a break from a painting overnight, so you can look at it with fresh eyes the next morning to see what it needs.
3) Listen to your heart when it tells you to paint!


Monday, 8 May 2017

Finland Watercolour Workshops August 2017

Watercolour Workshops

Workshop 1.  31st July /1st August 2017
Workshop 2.  3rd/4th  August 2017

I haven't had time to share the news on my blog that I will be holding two watercolour workshops in Finland in August this year.

At the moment there are currently only a few places left so please contact me urgently if you would like to come!

The workshops are aimed at being highly motivational and inspirational. 

You can contact me to be put in touch with the wonderful organiser by my email 


"Daisy Do" West Highland White in Watercolour

 West Highland White in Watercolour

Head study of Daisy
A West Highland White Terrier
No preliminary sketch.

Yesterday friends called around to collect a painting. While they were here their fabulous little West Highland White called "Daisy" raced around our garden. Daisy delighted us all with her happy frolic as she hurtled around, taking in the excitement of new scents in the way that only dogs can. This little lady was so much fun to watch and her enthusiasm for life was infectious.

I couldn't resist starting a small study of Daisy  in watercolour this afternoon, at the end of my serious painting session. This little study will act as a platform for a new larger painting to be created later when I have more free time. I needed to paint the study today to remember the sunshine of yesterday and Daisy's obvious joy. She was such a delightful little bundle of energy. 

Unfortunately for me, no matter how much Daisy raced around our garden she never seemed to tire so gaining a great photograph of her sat or stood still to paint from was absolutely impossible. I did however manage to get one shot just before she darted in another playful direction, daring us all to chase after her.

"Catch me if you can!"
First Stage 

I started my painting by finding the outline of this beautiful little dog. I usually start painting animals by their eyes but the energy of this pup was more important to me. I then added the eyes and nose, and some green grass for Daisy to stand on.

Once I had a good loose background to build on, as a foundation for my painting, I then added detail to the face. Strengthening the eyes, nose and whisker area around the mouth. Having owned dogs with white faces I knew I could fall back on a touch of gold here to brighten my white subject up as a watercolour. My own dogs faces were rarely snow white around the mouth!

 Adding detail to the face

 Close up of face detail

 I then had a decision to make. As an artist I could paint what I saw or change the tail position. Daisy was about to dart away to play so I kept the tail pointing as in my photograph . As if she was about to hurtle into action rather than change the tail into a wagging upright and more "show" dog position. But in the larger painting I may place Daisy in a show dog pose with her tail proudly held high.  Next, I have another decision to make. In my photograph Daisy has her tongue out, hence the blur and space left in my study painting. I can either add the tongue or hint at the under side of a little bit of beard here. I think I prefer the latter idea.

Daisy , study so far.

This is a beautiful study to work a larger painting from. I have gleaned so much information that the larger painting will be a joy to work on. Now I just need the time to create this fabulous painting of a gorgeous little character that I have fallen in love with hook, line and sinker!


Artists Tips for the day

1) If you fall in love with something try to find time to paint even a small study of it while the memory of the moment, mood and colour are still very much alive in your mind.
2) Try painting small studies of new subjects before attempting to paint larger pieces. That way any mistakes can be corrected with the real thing.
3) Learn from small studies. Take what you like into your next painting and simply dismiss colour combinations or ideas that didn't work well.

Most importantly.

Try to paint daily even if it is for ten minutes only!  It is the best way to improve your painting skills.