Saturday, 7 July 2012

Jean Haines `Atmospheric Watercolours'

If ever there was an artist who can be said to be flavour of the year, last year as well as this one, it is Jean Haines. In the 1990s she studied Chinese brushwork in Hong Kong and has travelled extensively, with spells in Dubai, France and Belgium. According to the introduction in her first book `How to Paint Colour & Light in Watercolour' (Search Press 2010 softback 64 pages £8.99 US $17.95)  her work was already in collections all over the World and she has particpated in many prestigious events at major galleries. I had not heard of her until the first book came out, which I bought, but this has provided a launching pad to propel her to dizzy heights and she appears exhilarated by it as one might be. At the recent Patchings Art Festival her demos were booked solid with a large crowd unable to get in. She has a huge and growing following on Facebook and the new hardback is selling very well, according to her latest remarks.

Hardback Search Press 2012 174 pages £19.99p US $35

I purchased this book pre-publication from Amazon, £12.99 including carriage! It is profusely illustrated and  much more substantial than the previous softback. In the preface she talks about  quote`the many new tecniques and exciting colour combinations found on these pages' end of quote. Perhaps I am misinterpreting some of her comments as implying many of these tecniques are somehow original. Clingfilm and salt tecniques have been used by some artists, particularly in America, for years and one book I have `Watercolor Tricks & Tecniques by Cathy Johnson North Light Books 1987 covers all sorts of things. It isn't the only one by any means. Possibly, as she calls the clingfilm/salt combination her `Venetian Tecnique, she means the way in which she gets them to interact. She says in one place you should not use black and brown, some would agree but other good artists might disagree.

Since the first book - only two years ago - Jean has moved on in some ways and this applies to her palette. She has discovered - as have many of us - the delights of Daniel Smith watercolours and also mentions  a Schminke colour Transparent Orange which she enthuses about in her expressive way. This is an interesting colour which I have just received from Jacksons on her recommendation. Until recently it was the only colour to use PO71 Pyrrole Orange, although Lukas have now introduced it as `Permanent Orange'. Basically this, together with one or two other Pyrrole Orange pigments, is a transparent and non-toxic alternative to the opaque Cadmium Orange. 

Where do we go from here?  In my humble opinion, although she might not agree, Jean could be described as an English proponent of the realistic abstract way of painting brought to prominence in the original Dutch  book by Keest Van Aalst  ( English Edition - Realistic Abstracts - Search Press 2010  £12.99 US $25.95) and in this respect all her tecniques are not so new. She certainly uses the wet into wet tecnique quite dramatically, but this again isn't new, as many other artists do something similar. Her brush work is heavily influenced by her Chinese teachings and she clearly explains and illustrates her methods. It's very rare however that someone invents something utterly unique. She certainly uses brilliant colour but so does Viktoria Prischedko, one of the artists featured in the Van Aalst book. I also have the impression she is becoming ever more abstract and some of her latest work doesn't appeal to me in quite the same way. I suggest you look at her current exhibition at the Wey Gallery where you can download a pdf file of the paintings or view online, which are selling so well that additional ones have had to be brought in. She is also commanding quite high prices, although as you can see below some of her works are much larger than the average watercolour. The well-heeled art buyer seems to have bought into the Jean Haines experience. Her website is:

Jean Haines at the Wey Gallery. Large paintings indeed.

How do I sum things up? This is an interesting and individual book from a talented lady who has a large and growing following. The way she paints is a bit of a minefield for any but the more experienced because her methods need considerable skill and ability. It just doesn't happen by chance.  Beginners should be very wary of plunging into the water without careful thought, and in order to benefit from her teachings you do need some experience. Is she pioneering new ways of painting in watercolour?  I'm a lover of loose and impressionistic paintings, but there are also many other artists who are producing exciting and dynamic work. I shall feature some more in future posts.

I shall be on holiday for the next week so there will be no more postngs until I return. 


Anns Art said...

Nice and objective review Peter. I have watched JH on Youtube as well as TV, and find it fascinating to watch, but then I love watching any artist work. Hope you have a lovely holiday (word of advice: if you are on holiday in the UK, take a brolly!).

Judy said...

I am glad you are not totally an JH follower, Peter, and I like your objective review. I think that her work is getting less attractive and in my opinion she is repeating herself too often. But that is just my opinion.

artist said...

I have never seen her work or her books before, thanks for bring her to my attention. I find her work has a definite abstract bent.

Having watched the YouTube video of her demoing(thanks for the link). I don't think that she has a new way of salting a watercolor. Zoltan Szabo had that technique in his book from the 70's. And I believe that Herb Olsen had it in his books in the 60's.

She is however very enthusiastic.

Rui said...

HI Peter,

Thank you very much for your review of Jean Haines. I have been on and off about buying her books / dvd. I think you have now made up my mind.

As to Schmincke's Translucent Orange (PO71) it is one of my standard palette's colours (I very seldom use cadmium colours, almost never) together with its partner Translucent Yellow (PY150). At the moment I am also evaluating another of their colours, Translucent Brown (PBr41) but I still have not made my mind about this one.

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Thank you Ann and Judy for commenting. You obviously realised what I was getting at!

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Artist for commenting. I can't honestly see that many of JH's tecniques are that new. Maybe tweaked a little but that's it.

Peter Ward said...

Hi there Rui. Beaten me to it again! I shall be evaluating Translucent Orange against other oranges. I have the Rowney Warm Orange (PO36). According to Handprint these transparent oranges, especially the Pyrrole ones are not too disimilar.

Yvonne Harry said...

A very interesting read, Peter. I will have a closer look at some of her work

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Yvonne. If you follow the links you'll see her latest work.

Sharon Whitley said...

A really good objective review - I have just bought the book as I had heard so much about it although I haven't looked at it properly yet - I did notice the clingfilm and salt techniques in there and have to admit I've read about these techniques before online and in the books I already have, she's a business lady as well as a very talented artist and markets her work very very well, great blog by the way!

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Sharon for your comments. I don't doubt Jean Haines is a fine artist but I think there is a tendency to go over the top - see some of the reviews in the art mags. There are many other exciting watercolour artists out there and she is just one of them.