Jan Baker, the owner of The Frame Gallery asks artisit Jean Haines….
What makes you/motivates you to paint?
Just about everything! My style is really colour orientated so when I see something in gorgeous colours I simply have to paint it. I find it very easy to be inspired as my technique involves working directly with colour rather than sketching first. The very act of watching colour flow across paper is relaxing and rewarding. I am constantly in a good mood because of the cheerful subjects I fall in love with. Buyers who collect my art tell me they enjoy it for exactly the same reason.
When did you start painting?
As a child. I was brought up by my grandparents who believed children should be seen and not heard. They gave me huge crayons to keep me quiet and my passion from art grew from there.
Why do you only paint in water colour?
Not many people know that I used to work in oil and pastel. The soft effects from pastel were ideal for capturing animal portraits. In oil I would work with very detailed still life in an almost Dutch style. With dark backgrounds and my main focal points in bright light. But in each of these mediums something was missing. Oil was too easy to control and pastel didn’t give me the satisfaction that watercolour does, the interaction of pigments are different each time you work with it. Which to me is far more exciting and magical. Nothing in art as a medium compares to watercolour for me. Some say its’ the most difficult of mediums to control but I don’t even try to. I work with watercolour as my friend and allow it to work at its best naturally, creating patterns on paper which again oil, acrylic and pastel cannot do.
What do you consider to be the best painting you have ever done?
Oh that is such a tough question as each time I paint I feel my last painting is the best I have achieved! I am particularly excited about my new collections in 2013.
Do you find certain paper, paints or brushes make a big difference to how you paint?
Absolutely. I always use the best paper for my gallery work and a heavy weight. As for brushes, due to my time living in Asia I am really particular about the range I use. Last year I launched my own personalised brushes and they have become very popular worldwide. After several prototypes I now have a fabulous range that is superb to work with. They can be purchased on my web site. They are made of the finest pure Kolinsky Sable and are a dream to paint with. The reason I opted for my own personalised line of brushes was due to several artists attending my workshops who were bringing inferior brushes, but expecting great results from them. Kolinsky Sable is often very expensive but I have a personalised designer range at affordable prices, which was a great goal to achieve.
What has painting given back to you?
So much! My life is far richer from the people I meet all over the world who love my art. I am often overwhelmed by responses to certain paintings and my style. Reading emails or hearing from buyers of my work is an incredible experience.
How does living in such a lovely place in the country help with/influence your painting?
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see something I want to paint because I am surrounded by nature which I believe is the best teacher to an artist. The light, peaceful setting and sounds of delightful birdsong make my heart skip a beat quite often. This positive energy flows into my watercolours. Collectors feel this peace and joy in my work often too.
Likewise has having lived in Hong Kong and the middle east influenced your painting?
When I originally lived in England my mind was closed to what a good painting should consist of. I had almost been “brainwashed” into how an artist should paint in watercolour. But when I arrived in Hong Kong I learned from masters who moved their brushes in ways I have still never seen here in the West. Next we moved to Dubai and I witnessed fabulous sunrises and sunsets and fell in love with portraiture of strong characters there. I have been so lucky to move around the world as I have, because it has definitely opened my eyes to possibilities as an evolving artist who never settles for an existing idea in art.
We know you enjoy running your workshops around the world – is teaching something you would like to do more of?
As much as I love teaching, over the last few years the number of workshops I can physically hold are lessening. This is due to the fact that the gallery side of my career and exhibiting is very important to me and as each year passes I find I need more solitude in my own studio to create for shows. And to write. In future years my workshops will become less and less but I do adore holding them.
You have many worldwide fans what is the most memorable thing a fan has done to get to see you?
Oh goodness. If I answer this honestly you may be surprised but I have often been moved to tears. Happy ones because I am constantly stunned by how far people have travelled to meet me. In Hampshire I have had artists attending my sessions from all over the world including countries like Korea, Iceland, Vietnam, USA, Canada, Italy, Sweden and South Africa. In Texas one lady drove for fifteen hours to attend one of my workshops there. It is incredible. I feel very overwhelmed but really I am so happy that people love my style so much.
Tell us something of your recent trip to The USA and getting struck there after the hurricane?
I had been invited to hold a workshop in Texas a few years ago and as time got nearer a second workshop in New York was added to the tour. I loved my first time teaching in USA and my workshops were quickly fully booked. On the last day when I was in New York a warning that Hurricane Sandy was about to hit came on the news. While I taught on the Sunday,the last day, my husband tried to get us flights out that night. But all the airports were closed that morning so we were stranded. I will admit I was so touched by the artists who stayed at the workshop rather than return to their homes because they were more aware of how bad the hurricane would be than I. One artist told me she knew it may be a long time before she ever saw me again and she wouldn’t miss a second of my session. So the class went ahead and we all had fun. That night my husband and I drove to a safer hotel near the airport and were stranded for a few days until we could get on a flight home. But I wouldn’t have missed my time there over a hurricane!
When and where is your next big Tour?
In April 2013 I will be visiting Australia for the first time for workshops there. On the way home I will be holding workshops in Hong Kong. In October 2013 I have been invited to hold workshops in USA again so will return plus I will be holding workshops in Mexico for the first time in November. On this visit I have agreed to double the number of workshops to allow more artists to attend. I am also inundated with requests for workshops abroad in 2014 and 2015 so I am planning my future tours well in advance.
What new things are you working on?
I have started writing my next book which is a secret at the moment but its going to be a very special publication! I have some wonderful exhibitions lined up this year and as my latest book “Atmospheric Watercolours” is to be launched in Italian so I have workshops in Italy planned for next year.