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Meet the author: Jean Haines

Well known for her enthusiasm and passion for art, Jean Haines covers a wide range of subjects in a loose and interpretive style. In the 1990s she studied Chinese Brushwork in Hong Kong, which she now incorporates in her expressive watercolours. Light, colour and sections left to the viewers' imagination play a vital role in her paintings. In 1997 Jean moved to Dubai where she held workshops and courses and participated in many prestigious events at major galleries.

Her work soon became collectible and she has since sold many pieces which are now in homes all over the world. Following a short period in both France and Belgium, Jean returned to the UK in 2006, and now regularly exhibits and hosts international watercolour workshops for artists from all over the world. She has won many awards for her outstanding work, most recently the Society for All Artists' Professional Artist of the Year, Experimental and Abstract Award.

An Interview with Jean

Where were you born?

Cardiff, South Wales

What is your educational background?

Grammar School & College. Studying with professional masters all over the world in all mediums.

What first got you interested in art?

As a small child, I was taken to my Grandparents home by my Father when his marriage broke up. I heard the phrase 'children should be seen and not heard' for most of this time and withdrew into a silent world, hardly daring to speak. But my Grandmother, in her own way of keeping a child quiet, gave me the most precious gift of all - she placed huge wax crayons in my hand, sat me at a table and gave me paper. I escaped daily by drawing the dog I was never allowed to own and the flowers I was never allowed to pick and loved playing with the bright colours I never seemed to be allowed to wear as they were not practical for a child. My paintings were full of fun and happier than I was at the time. It was my own world, one I surprisingly still retreat to with ease when I become one with my brush, although now I must be one of the happiest people on the planet!

How long have you been painting?

Since childhood

Where do you get your materials?

I have materials from all over the world, including brushes that were given to me in Asia where I studied with a fantastic artist from Shanghai, her brushwork inspires the majority of my work to this day. I adore W&N products. I tend to have my materials delivered these days as it is so much easier and I buy in bulk - there is nothing more tempting than seeing new gorgeous watercolour paper arrive, I can never wait to open the packages and use them.

How/Where did Search Press discover you?

Via the S.A.A (Society for All Artists). I had been writing features for the SAA Paint Magazine after winning an award for Professional Artist of the Year Abstract and Experimental category. I mentioned I had always wanted to write a book to the editor and many followers who enjoy my workshops and demonstrations were continually urging me to publish one and share my techniques. I first spoke to Roz Dace at Search Press last year and I will never forget the conversation - Roz was just as enthusiastic as I was!
I was offered a contract for a book in a series commissioned by W&N. I jumped at the opportunity - I was delighted to have the chance to write my first book. I believe Search Press were looking for an unpublished artist at the time and as my style is unique I fitted the criteria. My journey into writing had begun.

What were your first thoughts when asked to write a book?

I have longed to write for a very long time, in fact it has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Over the years I have moved so much due to my husbands career - Living in Asia, Dubai and Europe has given me wonderful opportunities to meet fantastic artists and grow as an artist myself, but it hasn't allowed me the freedom to make my own dreams come true. When I spoke to Search Press I finally believed it could happen and more importantly I knew I was with the right people who were professional and knew how to guide me in my first publication.

Has being a published author changed your life in anyway?

Yes, in a way I had not expected. I thought by sharing my techniques in a book, I would be giving to those who can't attend my workshops. Small tips like how I was advised to use my brush in China and how I see and use colour were included in sections of my book. But while compiling each chapter I had time to absorb how I paint as though I was sitting in on one of my own workshops. These are attended by artists from all over the world and I am constantly told my enthusiasm is addictive. I am aware people come to me because they want to paint in a loose and free style minus the restrictions of pencil sketching. But I haven't been able to see what they see until now. For the very first time I can see 'me' and how I paint through other peoples eyes. I was amazed to find that I could feel even more enthusiastic that I already did about watercolour, but it is true...I am! Capturing a variety of subjects in ways that are unique and full of life and energy - I sleep and wake thinking of what I would like to paint next. And I also imagine what I would put in my next book. This too is happily a dream coming true and this next book will be full of surprises.
It has also changed my life in that more artists are now aware of my name, which means I read wonderful emails daily letting me know how much my style is enjoyed - I hear from beginners and advanced artists who say they wish to paint like me, I hear from artists who are starting their careers asking me for advice. This helps me understand how far I have come from when I first starting painting - I was asking the very same questions to artists I admired! It feels strange to be the one answering the questions, but very wonderful at the same time. And I so want to reach out and help as many artists as possible from all walks of life and see their own dreams come true - whatever they may be.

Any tips for beginners?


Firstly, believe you can paint - because you really can. Try to understand that everyone sees the faults in their work and it takes time to really see the beauty in what you can achieve.

Follow an artist whose work you really admire and learn from their style without being a clone. Be brave enough to be unique so that one day others may follow you and not say your work reminds them of someone else.

Avoid copying, unless you are learning. Start to work from your own ideas as early as possible in your art journey, so you don't fall into the trap of missing the chance to find your own creative spirit.

Don't be put off by anyone negative. Only absorb the positives in life and grow from them.

Stop long before you think your painting is finished, and enjoy every stage of it from the first brushstroke to the last.

Love what you paint and this feeling will show in your results, love painting and the creative process.

What is your favourite art tool?

My imagination! But if I had to choose one, my huge squirrel mop brush as it loads with so much water!

Have you travelled for your art?

Oh my! I moved to Hong Kong in 1989, from there to Dubai, from there to France and returned to Hong Kong before living in Belgium for a few years. While in each country I travelled extensively. Each place I visited I always either went to exhibitions or searched for local artists. I tried paper from all over the world especially in Egypt, China and Japan. The colours I saw in many countries influenced my style - as did national dress, customs and dance. Bali, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, Switzerland, many wonderful places in the world I have been blessed to see. I have been given such gifts of gorgeous memories and images to paint - I can escape to any of these wonderful locations in a heartbeat via my brush.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Mainly from the nature and life all around me. In Dubai I became known for painting camels, at first, and then wonderful Arab Portraits, it was here that I fell in love with colour. Asia taught me peace more than anything else and the importance of just allowing quiet sections of white paper to balance a composition, as well as how a simple move of the arm can place a brushstroke so delicately, you could imagine feeling the wind moving a bamboo leaf or cherry blossom petal. In France I adored the pretty markets and cafe scenes.
At the moment I live in a wonderful cottage where I start each day by feeding ducks, swans and moorhens. I walk my dogs in gorgeous countryside and paint flowers and foliage throughout the seasons. I love action scenes so market places or racing scenes are my most favourite subjects, but above all I still adore painting faces. I studied portraiture in Dubai under wonderful mentors who, to this day, may have no idea how much their influence has guided me through the years. I am in love with life and believe nothing is unpaintable. Everything and everyone is a new challenge and subject. I am a true watercolour addict because I am never happier than when a brush is in my hand.


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Awards 2020

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