If watercolor is part of your mixed-media repertoire—or you’d like it to be—I would love to introduce you to Jean Haines. This UK-based artist and author has tons of fantastic watercolor techniques to share with you, including warm-up exercises, color mixing, creating with mindfulness, plus tips for painting gorgeous flowers, animals, and more. In this guest blog, Jean talks about how to enrich your art practice and find your unique style, and she’s included a great watercolor tutorial as well. Don’t miss the information at the end on the Watercolor Workout with Jean Haines Video Collection, a bundle that’s a must-have for your library. Here’s Jean! ~ Jeannine
To be good at anything in life, we have to learn the skill first and find out if we are good at it, or enjoy it. When it comes to painting, so many people over complicate things, making their approach really daunting. That’s such a shame, as painting can be rewarding in many ways, including being therapeutic and relaxing. Painting doesn’t have to be a career choice. It can be enjoyed for the sake of simply creating. No matter where you are in your art practice and what your goals are, here are some of my tips for artists, which I’ve related to a simple step-by-step watercolor technique.
1. Learn about the products you are using. Research and find the very best materials that suit your style and make your painting time a joy. To be a great craftsman you need to understand what you are using and how to use it. I love Daniel Smith watercolors, but since they have such a fabulous range I could muddle things by using far too many shades in one painting. Instead, I simplify my art as often as possible, regularly incorporating three colors for an effective composition. However, I choose these three colors carefully.
In the photo below, using three shades of Daniel Smith watercolor (Perylene Red, Hansa Yellow Medium, and Aussie Red Gold) gives me an interesting first wash on a scrap of paper.
2. Focus on what you wish to achieve with your art. Have a goal and understand what it is. Ask yourself if you are painting to enjoy the creative process, or if you want more, such as an art career. One road will be relaxing, and the other will demand a lot of time to improve your skills to where you can sell, teach, or write about your work. You can choose from many careers if you adore painting. My main focus is and always has been my passion for creating, and it is this love of working in watercolor that has led me to where I am today in my career.
Below, I added simple dark centers to my initial wash of color, which became paler when dry. The painting hints at flowers appearing softly.
3. Enjoy your creative journey. No one achieves success overnight. Many artists study for years before becoming well known. Remember that talent alone will not thrust you into the limelight, but hard work combined with talent is a heady mix, and one that’s hard to ignore! Consider other artists who you think are successful, and research their backgrounds. How did they get to where they are today?
In the watercolor painting, creating a background to separate the individual flowers adds depth and interest to this study.
4. Believe in yourself. Humans are a funny species. Many people can tell us our art is great, and we’ll often think about their comments, but if just one person tells us our work is awful, we take their words seriously to heart. Of course, it should be the other way around. We should ignore negativity. Having self-confidence is key to being successful in anything in life. So, be bold, go for gold, and believe you can achieve anything you wish to achieve. To succeed at being an artist also means being unique, so find a different way of doing things. Think of the masters and how amazing their work is. Which artists stand out to you, and why?
Incorporate this same idea in the painting: First create a wash of red color, but this time use a stronger, bolder pigment on a larger piece of paper, and then create patterns by placing cling wrap on top while the color is still wet.
5. Be Unique. Dare to be different. Be you. Allow your personality to shine in your artwork. Try to avoid being a copy of someone else. By all means learn from other artists, but find a way to express yourself that is distinctive. I truly believe this is the key to getting anywhere as an artist. Of course, it’s nice to be different in any walk of life. We are all original works of art!
Painting is something I do each day. It lifts my spirits, and takes me to a wonderfully peaceful place where nothing else matters. Doing what I love accidentally led me to an incredible career path where I travel, teach, write, and exhibit constantly. But when I wake, I paint because I love painting. And doing what we love in life brings far more riches that any other reason for picking up a brush.
“Seeing Red” was painted using vibrant red watercolor to create hints of poppies. This work was energizing, relaxing, and so much fun to paint.
Jean Haines holds popular and highly sought-after art workshops in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of six books and hosts several instructional DVDs, available at northlightshop.com. With awards and exhibitions across the UK, US, and internationally, Jean is a member of the Society of Women Artists and a recipient of the Anthony J. Lester Award. To learn more about Jeans’ work, visit her website: jeanhaines.com