Thursday, 19 May 2016

Review of Jean Haines new book "Paint Yourself Calm"

As I have been reading about the preparation and build up for this book the overall impression I have had is that it would be different and that is just what it is.... different!

Not the usual format of materials, techniques, step by steps.... there is a small section on materials where Jean talks about what you will need to get started and how good paper is the most important thing, but this book doesn't dwell too much on things mundane!! It does however dwell on the joy and happiness we can find by pursuing this lovely pastime, how painting somehow helps us find a special place unknown to us before we painted.

Since reading it I have been trying to think where it might fit into the painting population at large and I have come to the conclusion that although it isn't an instructional painting book per se it actually transcends all abilities and levels and I found myself once again inspired by Jean Haines, this time in a totally different way.

As I am a painter who teaches, sells my work and occasionally exhibits I have worked hard on the techniques I have been taught by Jean and a number of other artists to the point where I have more recently been finding my own way but decided that as I have all Jean's other books I "needed" this one to add to my collection. While it isn't a teaching book in the way her others are, it has some wonderful inspiration, some beautiful illustrations ( I do like pictures in a book!!) and it gives a "can do " message to its' readers which a lot of painters need.  I had read some of Jeans' blogs where she has talked about the book and how it was a departure from her previous publications and I honestly think this book is one which would be a fit for artists at any level including complete beginners.

I have always felt that painting is available to anyone and everyone and it is very encouraging to read Jean's conviction that anyone can paint, how painting can enrich lives beyond comprehension and that no-one needs any special talent or skill to start. Joy to my ears!

Art Therapy is known to have very beneficial effects and while we're not actually talking about that here Jean talks about aspects of colour and it's mood enhancing qualities, about the joy of creating, not for a finished masterpiece, but for the sole purpose of enjoyment and how painting for it's own sake can bring about a wonderful calmness and contentment. She very eloquently puts into words what a lot of us who are passionate about our art feel as we are creating and have the brush in our hand.

As for my own inspiration, I don't tend to spend as much time playing with my paint as I once did and have had some art work I want to do for my own home which has been on the back burner for some time. Having read this book and looked at some of the simple exercises Jean has put together to get people started I have had lots of ideas as to how I might go about creating this illusive work!! The exercises look quite simple but the end results in turn look so effective leading me to feel that the book is worth buying for these little studies alone.

I don't want to say anything frivolous about this book as it carries a more serious message beyond that of regular painting books. It talks about the mental benefits of painting, how we can escape to our little painting havens and become completely consumed and absorbed during the time we spend watching the paint and water do their magic on the paper. It also provides very persuasive arguments for allowing us to spend time painting...

Finally, I loved the quote

"It was only when I made a conscious decision to treat painting like eating, as part of my daily routine that my life and art career changed"

That really struck a chord and separates the artists from the wannabes and something I need to incorporate into my daily routine too, another snippet of inspiration.


  1. Good review I haven't purchased it yet as postage to Australia is expensive and still for some reason feel I need or want instructional books and not just inspirational books but you have talked it up and will consider purchasing it I have her other books and like you I don't like to think I've missed out on something lol how many little demos does she do in it approx ??

  2. Interesting review Judith - I knew this book was coming out and was planning on buying it - painting has been a great therapy to me over the past few years since I started but it's not working that way at the moment and I've lost the desire or motivation to pick up a brush - I may go back to it soon or it may be longer I don't know - maybe I never will but I hope I do. This book may give me the inspiration I need when I'm ready.

  3. I have completely missed ALL the hype about this book - this is the first I've heard of it. But that quote at the end is perfect! I am always telling people that art is my therapy. I came back to it at 30 after giving up in my teens and it has had a huge effect on my mental well being. I'll be checking it out.


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