Back to the Easel

For a short time yesterday and a lot of today I was able to get back to my easel.

Because of all the preparation to the RHS, I haven’t done anything since the middle of March. It feels such a long time. But I returned to a picture I had already started.

I will show you a snapshot of it at the end of this blog. It is a picture in pen & ink. Initially it looks complicated, but as it’s in monochrome this simplifies. Additionally, I feel that when I am using this style of pen & ink work I can relax a little more than I normally do when painting. Although I stay true to what I have in front of me, I feel I work a little less tightly. The difference between botanical art and botanical illustration.

The flower is a Hydrangea with quite large bracts. My husband bought it for me a few months ago and it dried beautifully on the stem. I felt that it would be lovely in ink and a suitable challenge at the same time. You will be able to determine if I have been successful or not.

After the problems that I had with my website following the RHS, my daughter in Norway decided that enough was enough. She is in the process of designing me a new one, which she feels will be easier for me to maintain. It will obviously take a while before this is up and running as she is fitting it in between other projects. I just hope that she doesn’t mind me mentioning it at this early stage.

On Monday I am off to Kent to teach a workshop for two days. It is a lovely place to go. Goodnestone Gardens not far from Canterbury, is a peaceful place. There is a walled garden and we are allowed to pick whatever flowers we want – including a lot of lovely Auriculas. They always tempt me, but whether I will even have time to start one is another matter.

This year I have three different workshops at Goodnestone. If you want to join us, get in touch with Field Breaks who arrange these botanical art workshops.

My next workshop in Bosham on the south coast near Chichester, is 29 – 31 May. If you are interested in that one contact me via my website which is working at the moment, or by responding to this blog.

My Hydrangea in Black and white.

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A website that works and some amazing students!

I absolutely love what I do. I can’t believe that I am doing what I have always wanted to do.

After several days work and a terrible broadband reception after 15:00 each day during Easter, my website: gaynorsflora.com now works properly. Thank goodness. I suppose that because the people who sold the ‘take-away-site’ to me, made such a mistake and cut me off, they probably did me a favour. I went through everything on the website and hopefully now everything functions as it should.

So, I am still catching up. I have had a class today, sorted out some paperwork, wrote feedback for an assignment for London Art College where I am the botanical art tutor and took some new assignments off the website in preparation for marking at the weekend. It is these assignments that I am so exhilarated about. The one I did today was really good and with a short glimpse of the new ones, I can’t believe my luck. They too are very good. People who are so interested in botanical art, are learning so much¬†and who I am sure you will know about before too long. Obviously I can’t mention names but I wish I could. One day…..

Tomorrow I am going to put aside all paperwork and paint for the first time in a while. At least I will during the afternoon and evening while my husband is at his art class.

My face is healing. The blue-black colour that it has been from eye to under my chin is now a mauvish-grey with a little jaundiced yellow in between. The high cheekbone is still a solid lump, but I am sure that will reduce eventually. My pulled muscles and tendons prevents strenuous exercise just yet, but then I can paint. Tomorrow is the day! I will show you some of it at the end of the day РI hope.

But, I still have some pictures that I got permission to put on this blog. This time its Sharon Tingey. She was on the other side of the stand to me at the RHS. Sharon’s work was Helianthus – Sunflowers and it won a Gold. It was really beautiful work and she had actively used her knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence to paint it.

By the way, I had a student today with whom I was discussing the spiral and she referred to it as the ‘Liberace spiral’! Luckily she really understood the funny side of this and has allowed me to mention it.

Do enjoy Sharon’s work and let her know that you have done so.

Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 3
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 3
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 2
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 2
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 1
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 1

Catching up!

How many things to catch up on. Made much worse by problems on my website.

Yesterday, I spent as much time as I could preparing the Crab apple series for getting some notelets printed. But everything always takes much longer than you think. I took time out In the evening to go to the Maundy Thursday service as it is an important preparation for this coming weekend. On my return I sorted my to-do list ready for today.

Just before the RHS exhibition, I had said that i would post each picture properly on my website. I had done most of the preparation for it with only some minor adjustments to be made. So I thought!

I went into the back of the website only to find that most of what I had done, was no longer there. I looked on other pages and all my pictures were gone. I expect one or two of you may already be aware of this, but when I went into the front of the website, there was none. It told the world that I hadn’t paid my dues!

I was very upset as anyone can imagine. I had actually paid my subscription a month ago to avoid any problems in this very busy period. Eventually I was able to do an online chat with the company who sells the services for this website package. They sorted it out, but said I had to wait a few hours for it to go live. But there was absolutely no apology – even when I suggested it was appropriate.

I didn’t have to wait a few hours, but all of this did take a rather long time. Since then I have been even further behind and I’m still trying to catch my tail. The Crab apple explored page is now on the website – but I’m not a happy bunny.

Just so there is no confusion, the website package is not WordPress. WordPress seems to work remarkably well and might be worth considering for the main website.

My next workshop is 29 – 31 May, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The topic is flowers from the garden. Have you seen flower heads floating upturned in a bowl of water? Well this is the suggestion.

Have you also noticed that all flowers, no matter what their colour – go together? Nature is so fantastic that there are no colour clashes in our gardens. Don’t you find that amazing? Hopefully those who come to the workshop can replicate this.

This time you should be able to look at my website page http://www.gaynorsflora.com/page9.htm to get the details. You know how to get in touch with me if you are interested.

Looking ahead as the days have been getting a little warmer and brighter, I have been reminded of the summer workshop holiday 29 June to 6 July in Norway. Luckily the cost of taking a flight to the small airport not far from where the hotel is, is in fact very reasonable. I daren’t say cheap In case they put the prices up. – but ………

Norway is an absolutely beautiful country, so if you love botanical art. – or want to learn how to do it and, you want to visit Norway during their warm summer season, then join us. The places have been filling and I have but a few left. http://www.gaynorsflora.com/page10.htm

In the meantime, another botanical artist from the RHS exhibition. Nikki Marks who was awarded a Gold medal for her work on the Arisaema Genus.

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Congratulations Nikki!

Completion of a good workshop

For the last two days I have been running a workshop with the title of Spring Bulbs. I have already commented how out of place that title was. However, it was still a good group who found suitable botanical subjects to paint.

The coloured pencil artists outnumbered the watercolour ones, but I was very grateful for being able to use my brushes having concentrated so much on coloured pencils recently.

As a group we had great fun. Everyone got on well together and were encouraging to each other. We had plenty of lovely weather, warm and sunny. But, the sun moves and the warmth affects the plants!!

Aren’t we hopeless, we want the sun – to stand still and in the right place; we want the warmth – at just the right time and the right temperature; we want to paint living plants – that act dead, but look alive!! We are impossible beings.

This is the lovely group.

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Now the results. These came from people who hadn’t before, through to those with good experience. I am very pleased with the results . Thank you to everyone who allowed me to show their work. By the way. Notice that one of the pictures is actually done twice. The artist did it first, then decided to do it again incorporating what she had learnt. She (and I) were well pleased.

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The next workshop will be Thursday 29 – Saturday 31 May. Have a look on http://www.gaynorsflora.com, on the Tuition page. I hope to see you here in Bosham then.

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Botanical Art workshop

Now I am back into the swing of things with a two- day botanical art workshop. The title was based on pictures I took at this time last year; spring bulbs! Bad mistake. Most spring bulbs are finished now.

I trawled through the local garden centre and found some worn out tulips, fading well in their pots, and some Fritillary. I therefore bought the latter, and some Osteospermum. One student found some Lily of the Valley and another brought some more Fritillary from the garden. Challenges galore.

I think that the greatest challenge was the pattern on the Fritillary and this was tried both in watercolour and coloured pencil. Thank goodness for a little knowledge about Fibonacci. It certainly helps in knowing about the spiral when planning the pattern.

For those who might not know, Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician and he worked out the mathematical process behind the spiral which we basically find in nature and in good design. For example, the spiral of segments in a pineapple and it’s leaves, a pine cone, the centre of a sunflower – and of course the pattern on a Fritillary petal.

Hopefully I will be back with some pictures from the workshop tomorrow. Things look promising, but I have students who have not painted since they were at school, and those who are very experienced. Believe it or not, it is those with experience who feel most challenged as it is generally very specific problems that they want to overcome.

I think it fitting that I show you Diane Sutherland’s exhibit for the RHS. She painted these Fritillary on vellum. In fact, the largest piece of vellum in this series is from Rory McEwen’s vellum left to the Hunt Institute of Botanical Art in Pittsburgh.

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Monday after the RHS botanical art exhibition

I expect that my day has been very similar to the other artists who took part in the RHS exhibition. Beginning to clear up after our last massive input into the exhibition.

For me, I have a lot of paperwork to clear up and finish off. But the shed looks an absolute mess. And, tomorrow I am starting a two- day workshop. I know that some will be using watercolour and some coloured pencils. It will be lovely to get into it again.

We have re-arranged the conservatory cum sitting room so that the work table is as big as possible. Two extra tables are brought up to the house from the shed and everything is in place for arrivals tomorrow. We also ordered good weather with good light, so what more do we want? Good humour!

What you really want to see are some more pictures from the exhibition. I know that some of the same or similar ones will be found in other places on the net too, but I don’t think you will see one of these. It is of all the artists who took part in the RHS exhibition this year. As I have already said , they are. Lovely lot of people.

The second picture is of Isik Guner. She is a fantastic botanical artist and also a very bubbly person. The picture she is standing beside is the one that was best in show. But each of her pictures were very beautifully done.

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The day after the night before (RHS botanical art exhibition)

Last night I slept like a log. I stayed in bed this morning and even had breakfast there. Lazy! My face is a little less swollen, but more purple!

Today has obviously been used to clear up a bit. I tried to stay out of the shed but had to prepare a couple of paintings to be exhibited at the Oxmarket Centre of Arts in Chichester for the next couple of weeks. This is a sort of preview to the Chichester Art trail at the beginning of May in which I am taking part. If you are able do visit the Oxmarket, do. But even better if you are able to come to my Open studios the first two weekends in May.

But, there is no peace for the wicked and I will be having a workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I went to the garden centre to pick up some plants in preparation for this. What an incredible assortment at the moment. I am sure everyone will find something that they will be thrilled to paint.

Anyway, I am going to show you one or two of the RHS exhibits over the next few blogs – except for when I send pictures of the workshop. I won’t be able to show you something of every exhibit as not everyone gave permission for me to show their picture on the blog.

I expect that you are wondering whose exhibit I am going to show now. It is Bee orchids by Louise Lane. Louise got a Gold for her exhibit. In addition to her final pictures she also included her initial sketches showing exactly where they were done.

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Last day of RHS botanical art exhibition in London

This is a very short blog as I am finished. I intend to write a little more tomorrow.

Normally at the end of an exhibition you are tired but exhilarated. I am exhausted and although it is a happy culmination of three years work, as you who have read my recent blogs will know, it has been eventful for me.

I met so many people today. Many who were so immersed in the paintings that they didn’t notice my face, others who were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say, and a few who either asked outright or commented that I had Been clever at matching my jacket to the colour of my face. It didn’t look good. In fact the bruising is now even under my chin. But my face only looks bad unless I touch it. My arm feels bad.

It was so good to meet so many interested people today at the RHS exhibition. It really helped to take my mind off things for a while. Quite a few people were very surprised to find out that my Crab apple pictures were in coloured pencil and not watercolour. Hopefully I can encourage more people to start using it as a serious medium.

It was lovely having the opportunity to meet so many other botanical artists from all over the world. The whole botanical art environment seems like one big family. People I met at the RHS when I exhibited in 2011, I met up with again in Pittsburgh at the opening of the Hunt Institute exhibition; who in turn introduced me to new faces (British and American) that I met again here at the RHS in the last few days. I had been introduced to the idea of the Hunt(Pittsburgh, USA) by an Italian artist when I exhibited in Lucca, Italy.

It is a very small world and I am very lucky – and happy.

This picture was sent to me by Alena Lang Phillips, who I met for the first time today – but have corresponded with via this blog. Thank you Alena. You have done a good job of making me look almost normal!

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RHS Botanical art exhibition in London today.

Apart from my news about an unusual and unforeseen start to a day, that should have been the culmination and relaxation after 2 1/2 years of preparation work, I have little to report.

I had intended spending all the day with my pictures to answer any questions people might have. I’m afraid that this afternoon after my return from hospital, I wasn’t very focused and kept on wandering away to view other peoples work.

I got to see what awards had been won and I would have liked to show them here, but the pictures I actually took were too late in the day to ask for permission to put on this blog. So sorry, there will be nothing to liven up this bit of writing!

Although we were told as a group that the pictures this year were of an unusually high standard, there were few golds. I understand that they did this on purpose as an adjustment because the standard has gradually increased from year to year. They were certainly more strict than I have seen them previously.

Regarding the feedback I got, I was happy with their comments as these coincided with my own thoughts on the pictures. I learnt one new and important thing, the botanists were not happy with the elements ( normally stamens) where I had drawn a scale at an angle. It must be either vertical or horizontal.

Otherwise, I understand they were very happy with my painting. One thing though, no-one realised until they were giving me feedback and read my labels, that it was in coloured pencil. They thought it was in watercolour. I asked if they would gave given me more marks if they had noticed this before – but no such luck.

Tomorrow is another day and the last one at the RHS this time around. Of course as I didn’t get my gold I will have to try again. Dogged determination.