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.


Judy said...

Thank you for joining my blog. These washes are really inspiring, just what I need to hopefully improve my technique. You are so lucky to have followed a workshop by Jean.

Sophia Khan said...

Hello Judy, You are very welcome and thanks so much for following back. It's definitely an experience working with Jean :)

I am so happy to have discovered your lovely work, through Vandy Massey, and look forward to seeing your future posts.