Book Review: Paint Yourself Calm.

 I recently picked up Jean Haine’s “Paint Yourself Calm. Colourful, Creative Mindfulness through Watercolour.This is published by Search Press and is a lovely, full colour book by a renowned British painter known for her loose, vibrant style.

It is beautifully written, like a conversation with an old friend.  In her book, Jean Haines gives gentle encouragement and includes personal stories of how painting has changed her life for the better.

She begins by explaining that watercolour is for everyone and that it can be enjoyable for people of all skill levels and backgrounds. She acknowledges the pressure we put on ourselves to create something beautiful and advises us to paint for the sake of painting, not with the intention of creating a masterpiece every time. This resonated deeply with me, as I have always taught my students that Creativity takes Courage. I love how she refers to the process of painting as “simply moving a brush.”

Jean’s main message is based on the principal that through mindfulness, we have the ability to alter our mood. From stress relief, to finding energy and strength, she teaches us to use painting and colour to take control of our lives.

Throughout the book are well illustrated exercises to demonstrate these practices. I loved these exercises. They even inspired me to do a series of simple, abstract florals. I encourage you to go through and try as many as you can. I found these also make great warm up exercises in the studio.

It was interesting to apply Jean’s more philosophical and psychological approach to colour theory. She talks about choosing colours to gain what we need from a painting session. She explores the different colours in the rainbow and how they can affect us emotionally, from calming greens, to sunny, optimistic yellows. What a unique and liberating approach to choosing a colour palette!

In the end, she advises us to stay positive and continue painting and to see where it takes us. I highly recommend this book to any artist of any level looking to loosen up and bring more emotional qualities into their work. It truly is a lovely book that will get you thinking about colour and painting in a new and different way.

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