Chichester Open Studio event

I spent a lovely day last Friday painting bugs and beasties with Sarah Morrish. For once I was on the receiving end and sitting down trying to get a good result from painting. Sarah showed us what to look out for when painting bugs and we concentrated mostly on Butterflies and Moths. She also gave us some good tips in an effort to get a good result. I started a Spurge Hawkmoth, but I was so busy enjoying myself I didn’t get it finished!

Spurge Hawkmoth

Since Friday I have been working hard to catch up (of course). I had quite a few assignments to look at for the London Art College where I am the botanical art tutor. But now it is preparation for the Chichester Open Studio event that is taking place over the next two weekends, including the bank holiday Monday. I was preparing some of the pictures a couple of weeks ago and now it is time for preparing the house and garden.

Everything is growing so quickly in the garden already. The Magnolia feels as though it is long gone. The lilac tree standing next to it is just about to open its buds. The Wisteria flower buds have been swelling gently over a few weeks and now it looks as though they are about to burst.

But Robin thought that we should change the name of our house to Crab apples. Because I painted crab apples for the last series I exhibited at the RHS, we now have quite a few crab apple trees. We have four in the front garden and three in the back garden. They are an absolutely amazing display this year. But in addition to those we also have some eating apple trees in full bloom (something ate round the base of the Bramley apple tree last year, so it is struggling), a cherry tree and the Canary Rose has started to bloom. That will be an incredible sight too.

But for everything to look good, the weeds need to be removed. I have spent a long time digging up three-cornered garlic in the front garden. It looks really lovely but it seems to kill off everything else. In removing it one needs to be very careful and lift it gently so that all the new tiny bulbs don’t break off into the soil. One day I will get on top of it! Robin has been removing the same from his Fern patch before they become taken over.

A couple of days ago I removed the weeds from one of the kitchen garden beds, but today I have been weeding around the shed at the bottom of the garden. For those who haven’t already heard this, the shed is where I paint. This will be the place that hopefully you will come and visit sometime over the next two weekends.

In the house, we will move the table that I use for my classes and workshops, and hang botanical art pictures. This will include those that I have been dealing with the last few weeks. Robin looks after this side of things as I am much better at showing and telling people how I do it. With any luck we might interest more people to take up botanical art.

Do come and join us. Bosham is a lovely place to come and see at anytime of year, but during the Chichester Open studios art trail there are a lot of artists who are inviting people in to look at their artwork and to watch how they make it. Our address is in the trail catalogue which can be picked up almost anywhere, but it is also in the ‘exhibitions’ page of this website. In particular the little enclave where I live – Critchfield Rd and Windmill Field, there are several artists. But as I am the last one you get to, please don’t wear yourself out before you Reach me. You can always come for a sit-down and a cup of tea, have a wander in the garden, visit the shed (and me) at the bottom of the garden and my husband in the house. The trail is open 10:30-17:30 each day.

These pictures are all from the front garden.

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The other side of being an artist

This is the time of year for a botanical artist, in the UK,  when there are the most exhibitions and opportunities to promote ones work. You only need to see the list of dates and places on my ‘Exhibitions’ page to see all the occasions for which I need to prepare my work.

I love painting with watercolour and coloured pencil, or drawing with graphite or pen and ink. Many of my subjects are at their most beautiful at this time of year, but this doesn’t always mean that they are at their most interesting. People starting out in botanical art are often surprised to find that there is something of interest all year round.

I don’t love having to prepare my work for exhibitions! The reason for this is that it takes me away from doing what I do best and enjoy most – creating the actual artwork. But it has to be done.

For the last week I have not done any real painting as I have been preparing what I have done to exhibit. I try to keep on top of preparing each painting for printing as I finish that painting and rarely allow myself a backlog of more than two. This alone can take about two full days for each picture, where I use Photoshop to match the colours as closely as possible to the painting.

Luckily I haven’t had to do any colour matching on the pictures that I have been framing or mounting this week, as I had done it previously. But I do have some small pictures that will soon have to be done.

I got into the mounting and framing mode a week ago when my husband, Robin, needed to prepare some of his work for an exhibition. He did most of the work himself and I just helped him. After all, he does an awful lot in supporting me at my exhibitions and shows. So I just carried on from his framing to my framing.

The large table used for classes and workshops comes in very useful when mounting and framing artwork – but it’s never large enough!

The working table - at work
The working table – at work

 

You will hopefully recognise all but one of the pictures. The nightshade is one that I had intended to do as a series, but other subjects became very interesting!

'Young or old and still spiky'; Acanthus.
‘Young or old and still spiky’; Acanthus.
Daffodil; 51 shades of grey.
Daffodil; 51 shades of grey.
'Fatal attraction' ; Dipladenia and 'Solanum x dulcamara'; Bittersweet nightshade.
‘Fatal attraction’ ; Dipladenia and ‘Solanum x dulcamera’; Bittersweet nightshade.

 

Before I forget, the hanging of the pictures at the SBA exhibition at Westminster Central Hall in London, seems better this year. the exhibition continues until this coming Sunday, so I hope you get a chance to see it. Five of my six Crab apple paintings in coloured pencil from my exhibit at the RHS last year, are hanging there. Although not mentioned in the SBA catalogue, the series won a Silver Gilt medal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London

It is 11:30 in the morning and I am sitting in the Chelsea Physic Garden, drinking a cup of coffee, looking out over beautifully sunny flower beds. I am recovering from a shock – a very pleasant one, but still a shock.

I had applied for membership with the Chelsea Florilegium and was invited to submit five pictures for review today. My ‘bag carrier’ Robin (his phrase – not mine) and I took the early train from Bosham and arrived here precisely on time at 11:00. I delivered my pictures and was told that we would be collected from downstairs about 20 minutes later.

I think it was about five minutes or so and they came to tell me the good news. I have been accepted. I am still recovering.

No doubt as time goes on you will hear more about my involvement with the Florilegium, but today I am taking advantage of a very pleasant day out, in beautiful relaxing surroundings. However, it will mean a bit of gardening when we get home as I have spotted some ‘must have’ plants!

Me, writing the words of this blog post to you.
Me, writing the words of this blog post to you.

I’m afraid that after we were given the good news, Robin did spoil me for the rest of the day. We spent the rest of the time meandering around the garden, with a break for a lovely lunch. I’m glad that it was so early in the year as not everything was above soil level – but even today there was so much to look at. Although I had forgotten my phone and camera, I was able to take one or two pics with Robin’s iPad.

How to plant what size bulbs at which depth!
How to plant what size bulbs at which depth!

We noticed this super idea in a bed that was about to be filled.With the aid of pot fragments, they had created the shape of a flower pot, laid different size bulbs at different depths from the soil surface to show how deep bulbs of certain sizes should be planted. It looked really good and certainly brought home how to plant bulbs.

Ribes speciosum
Ribes speciosum

 

I was intrigued by this plant. It is Ribes speciosum,  the common name is apparently ‘fuchsia-flowered gooseberry’. It was growing up a wall. The flowers were small and elongated, very delicate as well as attractive.

Rosa chinensis 'Crimson Bengal'
Rosa chinensis ‘Crimson Bengal’

 

Roses at this time of year! I thought that the Canary Bird Rose was one of the earliest. We have quite a large on in our garden, but it hasn’t begun to flower yet. But this Rosa Chinensis ‘Crimson Bengal’ was in full flower. Again very attractive and in particular at this time of year before so much has started flowering.

Rosa chinensis 'Crimson Bengal'
Rosa chinensis ‘Crimson Bengal’

 

It won’t be too long before everything in the garden begins to run rampant. So being able to study fewer plants in more detail, is quite a treat.

 

If you take a trip to London – do go to the Chelsea Physic Garden too. It is well worth it. It is the second oldest botanical garden in England after the one in Oxford, and is from 1673.

My garden challenge; all the plants I want to paint – today!

Anyone following my blog will see that I have posted three pages which are new, into my Portfolio. They are not blog posts. The reason for this is that my daughter in Norway convinced me that I could really improve my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com. I was having problems with the platform I was using for the website and it wasn’t easy to make any changes to it. She felt that I could turn my Blog into my website – with her help.

Well, in the last few days you will have seen the changes she has made using the basic WordPress platform. My daughter changed my old website to point to WordPress (she is into all of this stuff!), changed the template and I believe she has made it look stunning. By the way, she and my son convinced me to design the logo about a year ago. That was a difficult period before they thought the suggestions I made were good enough!

Now a lot is up to me to populate the pages she has created, so that now I am uploading a lot of my paintings (not all of them), onto the Portfolio page of the website. This will obviously take time as I want to do justice to my daughter who has spent so much time on it. Depending upon how this all works I will most likely upgrade my WordPress account, but I don’t think that will affect the address that is now shown.

Speaking of which – I have noticed that some people who have links to my old website might also have an additional pointer in that address. Unfortunately, this means that in some instances they get a message saying there is nothing there. If you make sure that your links are pointing to http://www.gaynorsflora.com – without any additions to the address, there shouldn’t be any problem and it should be easy to navigate to the page you want from the menu.

Yesterday and today I took a load of pictures in the garden. It has been a very mild winter and quite a bit arrived very early, other plants didn’t do their normal winter thing – like the everlasting spinach! If anyone can tell me the name of the small Japanese flowering cherry in one of the pictures, I would be most grateful. I seem to remember it started with a ‘K’, but I have lost the label.

When looking at the pictures, imagine the birdsong; several black birds, a Song Thrush, Robins, Tits – bearded and otherwise, Chaffinches and Goldfinch etc. An amazing musical background to these lovely plants.

When I have sent this off, I have to do some gardening (weeding), and mark some LAC assignments that are mounting up over Easter. Then maybe I will be able to get back to the painting.

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