Watercolor Washes & Studies with Jean Haines

The expectation to paint a frameable finished watercolor each time you preciously carve out the space and time to paint can be a hindrance to one's creative growth.  This is one of the many beautiful lessons I have gained from my watercolor studies with Jean Haines.

I've had the wonderful opportunity to study with Jean for a second time, earlier this year.  Studying with her is both refreshing, inspiring, motivating and incredibly fun, while at the same time encouraging you to better your own skills.  While Jean has her own unique style of painting, she also has the ability to pinpoint everyone's individual strengths and provide just the right amount of challenge to take you to the next step of your journey as an artist.

I first contacted Jean in 2011, when I learned of her incredible work.  I was thrilled to hear back from her and to eventually learn of her workshops in the USA.  I knew I could learn much from her, and I had booked right away. 

And learn much from her I did indeed. 

Perhaps the most important lesson I walked away from her workshops with is the joy and beauty of the watercolor wash.  Jean encourages doing loose washes as warm up exercises prior to starting a finished work.  She likens it to working out, where you wouldn't start lifting the heavy weights without warming up with the lighter ones first.  

Allowing water and pigment to flow and interact freely without any preconceived visual ideas of what you want to happen, is also an extremely serene and peaceful process, almost meditative.  Interestingly, it has a connection to one of my philosophies towards life itself;  not always setting rigid goals for yourself and allowing the beauty of  life to unfold and shift with your interests, passions, and dreams as they evolve over time.

I like my watercolors to be a combination of planning, and allowing some of the magic of the medium to occur during the process of painting.  The watercolor wash is the perfect start for this process.   I'll have to be honest and say some of my watercolors, which I might consider frameable, ended up being warm up exercises painted on the backs of other washes.   By freeing yourself from any pressure, you often end up with so much more then you expected.

Many thanks to Jean, for this gift.  If you happen to work in the wonderful medium of watercolor, and would like to learn more about washes, you can have a look at Jean's wonderful DVD, in which she starts by demonstrating these.   Another great resource for washes is the work of watercolor artist Jane Minter.

(using Jean Haines' "Venetian technique" as explained in her latest book)

For now, I have purchased some new and exciting watercolors that I learned of from Jean and am eager to continue experimenting with them.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday ahead, and a lovely start to the new year.  New Year...perhaps it is no coincidence I am reflecting on the preparatory wash as the new year is ahead.  Beginnings are wonderful moments for reflection, inspiration, calm, and tranquility from which to ever so elegantly move forward.  As with anything else in life, and perhaps especially creativity, this is the most beautiful way to approach and begin the journey be it for the moment, the day, the years, or a lifetime.

 A link to my review of Jean's latest book can be seen here.


Some New Works and my Shop Opening

Ca' d'Oro, Venice, Celebration 
watercolor on Arches paper
copyright © Sophia Khan

Venice, Arrival
watercolor on Arches paper
copyright © Sophia Khan

Monreale Cloister, capital detail
watercolor on Arches paper
copyright © Sophia Khan

It's been quite a while since I have posted here.  I must admit, most of my blogging has been taking place over at my website.  But I did want to update my work here as well, to share a bit of my latest creative endeavors.  Above are three recent watercolors.  I've experimenting a bit with some new colors and techniques and, I must admit, am quite pleased with where this is taking me so far.  

Venice has been a favorite subject for some time, but I can never tire of seeing it and painting it in new ways. Some thoughts of Venice can be seen in my diary here.

The cloister in Monreale is a new subject for me, and I've enjoyed painting the intricacies and details of the beautiful capital.  My reflections on this can be seen in my diary here.

I am also excited to say that I have opened up two new online shops.  One on my website here.  The other, for smaller prints, on Etsy here.  If you are interested in making a purchase on my website, please do use coupon code HOLIDAY15%4U (valid through next weekend).

I hope you are enjoying the start of the holiday season and wishing you enjoy your weekend.


Ca' d'Oro Venice Sketch

© Sophia Khan

A crop of a small watercolor sketch of the Ca' d'Oro in Venice, done as a study for a larger painting

If you are new here, be sure to have a look at my website for more work here.


New Website

Royal Palace doorknocker, Fez
© Sophia Khan

I am excited to announce the launch of my new fine art website here.  I have additional plans for it in the future as well, but this is where I am right now.  I will still be blogging and sharing my work here, and I continue to look forward to interactions with followers, visitors, and fellow creatives.