Botanical art workshops

This last weekend I had a very select group enjoying the peace and quiet of Bosham as well as individual botanical art tuition. The weather is gradually improving and picking subjects in the garden (the Magnolia) or in the vicinity (Eucalyptus), is no longer a trial. The following are a couple of photographs from the weekend:

© 1.IMG_1621 © 2.IMG_3428 © 3.IMG_3429

There are more workshops lined up, the next one is Friday and Saturday 8 -9 April.

So many people have asked me to have a workshop that focuses on drawing and shading. Now is your opportunity. It is called: Botanical drawing and shading in graphite.

So what is it that you want to draw in graphite? Is it a delicate flower, some twigs, leaves or what is it that takes your fancy?

Many plants started flowering in January and even before, but surprisingly enough there are still plenty of spring flowers. I am surprised that so many daffodils are flowering and there are swathes of them wherever you go.

I’m afraid that the Magnolia really suffered this year. Its been trying to flower since the beginning of January, but with the recent cold snap it hasn’t been happy. As you see, one of my students at the weekend produced a really lovely picture. The tree normally flowers in early April and is hugely spectacular – but I doubt that we will see much of its glory by then.

But there is still a lot of last years plants drying out in the hedgerows and they provide very interesting subjects for graphite. Some leaves just have skeletal remains and these are really attractive.

Do get in touch soon to book your place.

© Graphite daffodil 8bit+sig

Another workshop happening this year is in Norway, June 24 – July 1. If you want to save a little on this holiday, book and pay your deposit by 31 March. Go to the page on this website specifically dedicated to the holiday.

June and July is a very beautiful time of year to visit Norway and if you haven’t been there before, it is likely to give you a taste for more. That of course is in addition to the teaching – which I am told, is good.

Imagine being able to concentrate on doing what you love – or interested in starting, in the most amazingly beautiful surroundings. You will have a view over the Oslo Fjord and you will experience the crystal clean air and sparkling colours that derive from this.

Do get in touch if you have anything you are wondering about in relation to workshops in Bosham or the Workshop holiday in Norway.



A blog about paper testing!

I hope you will be interested in the topic of this blog! There are loads of photos that can be perceived as dull if you are not interested in the subject. I have used my iPhone for some pictures, in addition to two different microscopes connected to the computer. If I call myself a botanical artist, why not use the equipment to find out about the paper we use.

The topic of the day is to find a paper as good as Fabriano paper, loved by many botanical artists. Some may have heard that Fabriano hot pressed paper seems to have changed recently. The manufactures have apparently changed their process for commercial reasons. But one result seems to be that people find that the paper is no longer as smooth as it was.

The papers that seem affected are Fabriano Classico 5 and Fabriano Artistico – both hot pressed. I have used Fabriano since the early eighties, so the thought of having to find something else was a little upsetting. But put into context with all the terrible things going on in the world, it is a minute problem.

R.K.Burt’s in London identified the problem earlier in the year and contacted St Cuthberts Mill, the company that makes Saunders Waterford paper. They immediately put everything in place to come to our aid and have even changed their sizing process. The sizing seems to be the main reason why we all like Fabriano – but of course it may not be the only reason.

I have decided to put the photos in four different galleries. I compared Fabriano 5 with the two Saunders Waterford’s papers – Botanical Ultra Smooth (50% cotton replacement for Fabriano 5) and High White (100% cotton replacement for Artistic0).

  1. First Fabriano 5 painted on the non-mesh side:

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2)  Saunders Waterford High White painted on non-mesh side (except for one example). The non-mesh side held the label, :

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3) Saunders Waterford Botanical Ultra smooth. Painted on mesh side (with label) :

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4) Saunders Waterford Botanical ultra painted on non-mesh side:

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My opinion so far, not having painted a complete picture with either media on the two new papers:

There seems to be a clear difference between the mesh pattern and non mesh patterned sides, but more significantly with the Botanical Ultra Smooth. I found it easier to get better layers and deeper colour on the non-mesh sides of both papers. I also found that the coloured pencil result was not good on the Botanical Ultra Smooth mesh side, but worked well on the reverse. It seemed pale and fluffy on the mesh side, but much easier to get depth of colour on the reverse. In fact, although I didn’t Use as many layers as I might in a complete picture, I liked it the result.

The effect wasn’t quite the same with the High White as neither side became fluffy with CP.

With the watercolour washes on both Saunders Waterford papers, close views of the washes seemed to show the white of the paper in between the fibres. This became accentuated with more layers. This was quite strange. Also it wasn’t easy to get an ultra clean edge to the pigment line although I particularly went over with a damp brush, using a magnifying glass.

Looking at the views in the microscope, one can almost understand why. I used the microscope, because when looking at the mesh-side of the Botanical Ultra Smooth in the sunshine, the surface seemed to be covered with fibres that weren’t visible before I did anything on the paper. That could also explain the fluffiness of the CP on that side.

But comparing Fabriano with Saunders Waterford, the length of the fibres seemed different and the way the fibres accepted colour seemed different too. It also seemed that with watercolour, the pigment tracked out along the filaments on the edge of the painted section, much more with the Saunders than the Fabriano. Trying to go along the edge with a damp brush and magnifying glass didn’t make much difference.

I think that we might have found replacements for the coloured pencil paper, as long as I use the right side of the paper,  the non-mesh side. By the way, it is even more difficult to determine the right side with Saunders than the Fabriano, as the mesh pattern is very faint.

I am writing the coloured pencil section of my online botanical art course at the moment, so I intend to use this paper for the demonstrations and YouTube videos. I probably won’t be doing so much watercolour whilst I am doing this, so I hope others will be able to give more useful information about that.

I hope that what I have written so far will useful.



I forgot to give YouTube link in my last blog!

Do read my last blog in conjunction with this one. I posted it a few hours ago, but forgot to give the link to the YouTube video! How absent-minded can I get? My excuse is that I was called up to the house from the shed at the bottom of the garden.

Although my husband says he always adds a few minutes to things when I am needed for something or other, I still felt the pressure and rushed without checking properly. I just wanted to get the blog posted. More haste less speed.

The link to the new YouTube video is here: How to paint Shallots in watercolour – part 1

Again, this is the picture that is being painted.


The Botanical art workshop in April, Botanical Drawing and shading in graphite is 8-9 April.

Link to the Workshop page: Gaynor’s Flora workshops

Bearded Iris

A new Youtube video – painting Shallots in watercolour

I have just this minute finished downloading two videos to YouTube. The first one is fully accessible and the second is only accessible at the moment through the online botanical art course.

Obviously doing these videos is the best way of actually seeing how a technique is done and, they are easy to film. What is not easy is all the work that needs to go into refining the video so that people both learn something from it and don’t get bored.

Botanical art is painstaking and can take quite a long time. Each stroke has to be thought about before it is applied. It therefore takes time. But with a video, people aren’t interested in seeing you spend time thinking! They want to see you apply that stroke and if there is anything special about it, they want to see what you need to do before you apply the stroke – how you fill your brush as an example. Unfortunately that bit is in the second video!

Another thing that is a source of interest, is seeing the painting develop, layer for layer – but in a reasonable time span.

The two videos are based on the same picture. The first one is a demonstration of the first washes on the three shallots, showing how the under-layer can also start creating form. It then goes on to show the painting of two of the shallots using time lapse photography. A short sequence in the middle is done in real time. Here is the link: How to paint Shallots in watercolour – part 1

The second video demonstrates the painting of the third shallot in detail. I have shown short sections in real time, to guide through the techniques I use. The rest is the real-time video speeded up a little. But at the moment this one is only available to those signed up for the online course.

Before I forget to mention it~the botanical art workshop in April is Friday & Saturday 8-9 April and is called ‘Botanical drawing and shading in graphite’. You will find the details and booking form under the section on Workshops. I look forward to hearing from you.


Next botanical art workshop in Bosham

The next botanical art workshop in Bosham is Friday to Sunday, 18-20 March. The topic is ’Spring is on the way: flowers and bulbs’.

There is a huge opportunity to paint almost anything flowering in the garden, but particularly plants with their bulbs. I have noticed over the years that people love to see a flowering bulb. Painting the bulb is almost a welcome relief from the detail of the plant itself. Also, the difference in texture between the softness of the bloom and the solidness of the bulb gives additional opportunities for learning.

What is likely to be around then? It is only two weeks away and there is already a lot out there. I have some Crocosmia Lucifer corms growing in the garden, which you are very welcome to use as we have too much. The way they grow is quite intriguing and although they won’t have any flowers on them yet, the green spikes of the new leaves will be showing.

There are loads of flowering bulbs at the garden centre, such as small Irises, late flowering tiny daffs and even Fritillaria. If you have any in your garden, more the better. I know that normally the garden centre sell the flowering bulbs much earlier than they pop up in the garden. The Fritillaria below is the result of one such example. I don’t think they have begun to show in the garden yet, but the garden centres are selling them.

You can use either watercolour or coloured pencil. A delicious lunch is served each day as well as plenty of coffee, tea and biscuits.

Anyway, I still have some places available, so get in touch quickly to book your place.

Fritillaria meleagris FB event