'Every year I look forward to summer and every year it flies by far too quickly,' says Jean Haines. 'However, being an artist I can easily take myself back to my favourite months with the touch of a brush.
'Summer flowers, such as roses from my cottage garden, have long been my favourite demonstration subject in workshops or tutorials. Initially my passion for painting these heavenly flowers was with very soft pastel colours such as heavily diluted alizarin crimson.
'Recently I have been experimenting with Daniel Smith watercolours in red shades.
Make a colour chart
When testing new products I always start by making a colour chart to see how the pigment flows, dries and interacts.
I have been using this method of learning about pigment for years and now have many colour charts that I can refer to for inspiration and guidance.
Over time this testing process has aided my watercolour skills.
How to use a colour chart
Wandering around my garden with my completed red colour chart in my hand was a great experience.
I could match the depth of these colours with subjects from life and this gave me a great indication of how useful they may be for future paintings, as shown by the example below.
My summer paintings were about to take on a whole new life. Even more thrilling is the knowledge that, when working ahead for autumn exhibitions, I now have great ideas to play with in my new collection.
We shouldn't stand still as artists – we should always have our eyes open for new ways to improve our skills and painting results. I think I may just have done that with my new discoveries.
Some colours and techniques instantly make me think of summer, red shades in particular.
If I close my eyes and just imagine the word summer, childhood memories come flooding back, not only of my own youth but of my children's. Long lazy days on the beach, playing in sand and feeling the sunshine on my shoulders.
I yearn for the first rose to flower each year and always find myself racing to paint it. As weeks pass my enthusiasm grows with each new flower that tempts my brushes to capture its beauty.
What I am doing is more or less acting like a squirrel, because I am not only painting what I see from life, I am storing the memory so that in the winter months I can return to these heady wonderful days and paint the subjects more easily due to the time spent observing while I had the opportunity.
The effect of time away
I have been busy on book signing tours in USA, Australia and Mexico, meeting fantastic artists in every workshop location and each time, sharing favourite watercolour pigment knowledge. The results, on returning home after each trip, have been fascinating.
I suppose my previous English floral work has been quite quiet when compared to the stronger colours Daniel Smith colours that I have recently fallen head over heels in love with.
Now, I am going to be honest. I dragged my artist’s heels at first when I came across these products as I was so used to painting with my own favourite watercolour shades, but their vibrancy carries far more impact and drama.
To be completely honest, I am not ready to let go of my softer, quiet English florals but I do love the idea of leaping into a whole new world of bold, vibrant colour as a contrast.
I have found that by layering with strong pigment over pale first washes the effect can be very exciting. In fact, the quieter colours give the brighter ones the edge to shine more brightly.
So a mix of bright and soft works well in my compositions. Just like the most beautiful of music that echoes with a variety of notes. And they do say variety is the spice of life!
Discover Jean's very own collections of Daniel Smith watercolours
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