Watercolor artist Jean Haines, featured in the October 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist, is known for painting a wide range of subjects in a loose and interpretive style. Light, color and sections left to the viewers’ imagination play a vital role in her work.
“One of the ways I’ve found to challenge myself and advance my skills as an artist is by taking the strong parts of a painting and carrying them into a new work,” Haines says. That new work may be a loose interpretation of the former. “By allowing myself to be creative and use a previous painting or reference photo as a starting point, I feel I can produce something far more interesting and engaging.
“We’re often our own best teachers, but we sometimes don’t realize it,” she continues. “I always recommend keeping paintings and looking at them one year later to see how you’ve grown as an artist. I regularly learn from my past work, studying what I liked about it and what I’d wish to improve. In fact, I think we artists push ourselves the most when we’re trying to improve what we’ve painted before. In this way, we also can set our own unique challenges.
For example, see the dark, detailed study of a cowboy [below], followed by an atmospheric study of the same cowboy. “With so much detail missing in the latter version, a great deal is left to the imagination,” Haines says. “Both evocative and charming, it highlights the magic of watercolor, as the watermarks create both drama and interest. To me, any further detail would detract from the mystery and freshness of the piece.”
Excerpted with permission from Jean Haines’ World of Watercolour (Search Press, 2015). See more of Haines’ loose and expressive paintings—and get practical guidance and in-depth exercises from her on a variety of topics, including flowers, animals, people and places—in her book, available at a discount at NorthLightShop.com.
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