What an exciting few days I've had!! I set off on Tuesday morning to catch the train to Euston then the tube to meet my friend Helen with whom I was staying for a couple of nights as we had booked on a Jean Haines workshop.
We visited the RI watercolour exhibition at the Mall galleries in the afternoon which I have to say was not at all what I was expecting and maybe least said about it the better!! Helen and her husband very kindly took me out for dinner and we had a very pleasant walk back to their flat in what was a beautiful balmy evening.
After an early night we set off at the ungodly hour of 7.00 am to catch the the train from Waterloo to Winchfield in Hampshire for a 10.00 am start. Jean was already there when we arrived... I don't know what she's on but I could do with some, she is so full of energy and enthusiasm and the room was quickly filled with laughter and flowers!!
Jean began her session by showing us how she starts her day and as the workshop title was Spring fever,, challenged us to produce some little washes using Spring colours... greens, blues, yellows etc as our first short exercise and then went on to demonstrate a couple of florals and a sheep constantly sharing tips, hints and techniques, in fact it is difficult to remember everything she shares and I did notice some people taking notes which I should certainly have done, and will do next time!!
I had taken a reference I have attempted numerous times with little success, an image of a Lupin and I was hoping with a little of Jean's magic I could finally be pointed in the right direction!! I painted a wash which both Jean and I were quite happy with (phew!!) and then I was a bit stuck for where to go next. Jean gave me some guidance and I am tempted to say I have almost cracked it.... I have overworked it this afternoon (well did it a bit at the workshop) but will certainly have another go.
A workshop with Jean is an experience and while good work may not be achieved on the day is full of learning and tuition and the learning experience continues for weeks and months after. As I found on the first workshop with her she has an enviable eye for subtle detail, she is a mistress of colour and how to make it sing across a painting.
Even though I have seen Jean demonstrate a few times now, I never tire of seeing her paint and this was no more evident than in her "cool down" piece which she did at the end of day. She was initially going to demonstrate how to paint the eye of a hare... again sharing quite a few tips of the trade, however as she was waiting for the eye to dry continued to paint the rest of the head..... this was just magical as the head started to appear, a delicate variety of brush strokes caressing the paper, beautiful colours, softly creating the form of the head, a lovely fresh painting which literally appeared from nowhere!! I was hypnotised and mesmerised by this final painting and although Jean said she wasn't too happy with it as her reference image had strangely small ears for a hare and a little artistic licence was needed, it was for me an unexpected highlight.... I wondered whether I would get used to seeing Jean paint having been lucky enough to have attended a few sessions now but having seen this demo I know I need not fear!!
When the workshop finished, Lindsay Berry joined us, someone I have known online for a while now but never met and she took us to the Frame gallery where an exhibition of Jean's work had just started. Lovely to see a collection of her work with a few red stickers already!! We then had supper at a really nice gastro pub with Esther, another new friend who stole the show at the workshop with 2 amazing paintings.
Helen and I then made our way back to London and got home just before 11.00pm tired but happy after our fun packed day!! I arrived back in Manchester the following day having nearly had a disaster when the train I was happily settled on was cancelled and we all had to catch the next train which was platforms away... not easy when you are carrying not only luggage but painting gear too!! We were only delayed 20 minutes in the end so not too bad. So a lovely few days ... a big thank you to Helen for putting me up and to Lindsay for chauffeuring us about in Hampshire, am really grateful as without their help I would struggle to get to a workshop like this. The last one I went to was the start of a short "road trip" where we stayed overnight then went on to see friends in London for the weekend. Otherwise it is a 2 night stay B&B somewhere local or a one night stay and a very long journey back in rush hour traffic on the dreaded M6!!