The above picture was taken last night by Charles Francis and the book was apparently meant to be a surprise Christmas present from Robin. Dr. Shirley Sherwood is in the process of signing her latest edition and I am told more was written, but I am not allowed to see this until Christmas Day.
Robin and I were invited to the preview of the latest exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. Many people may know that this is the only purpose built botanical art gallery in the world. It introduces people to plants in a completely new way, encouraging people to look at and appreciate them with different eyes.
Dr Sherwood has over a 1000 botanical art pictures in her collection and as she said yesterday, this exhibition and the accompanying book is a retrospective of her collecting. She says that she had a huge problem in deciding which pictures should be included in the exhibition as of course she didn’t have room in the gallery to show them all.
It was a really lovely evening where we met artists from around the world. It was a really good time to catch up with old friends, make new acquaintances, but above all, study the artwork. There is some amazing work there which if possible you need to see with your own eyes. I know this isn’t possible for everyone and that is why the book is a good additional opportunity to see the pictures. Elaine Allison will be reviewing the book on the ABBA website in due course.
When we arrived at the gallery, we immediately saw Charles Francis and his daughter who were both there to represent Mally who had painted one of Dr Sherwood’s last acquisitions; Babbington’s Leek. It was so good to see them again as the last time I saw Mally and Charles was the day the picture was bought.
Now to the ‘more’ as promised above.
This weekend I will be taking part in the Bosham Christmas Craft Trail. We call it a craft trail because although we are all serious artists, the majority of those taking part are makers rather than fine artists. The only two fine artists on the trail are Tamsin Saunders and myself. Our styles are completely different ranging from my tight botanical art style, to her much looser more abstract style of painting. Tamsin is joining me at:
Saltings, Windmill Field, Bosham, West Sussex, PO 18 8LH.
Do come and join us and enjoy mince pies and mulled wine whilst you browse.
You will get to see my latest piece of work:
Three Blueberry Leaves painted on natural calfskin vellum.
The last time I wrote a blog was at the beginning of April. That is a long time ago for a blog, but the time has been filled to the limit.
I won’t go into the intricate details, just enough to let you know what I have been doing.
I don’t think I have mentioned in any great detail the formation of the Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA), initially just to allow the UK (England and Wales) to participate in the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition. At the American SBA conference in Pittsburgh in 2016 we were faced with the possibility that the UK would not participate because we were all too busy! I couldn’t let that happen. In the end 25 countries took part.
At a meeting back home in November, three of us met and agreed to form a steering group with me as main co-ordinator; we launched ABBA at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Botanical art show in February 2017 and the process for participating in the Worldwide Botanical Art Exhibition began to take shape. A few more botanical artists joined the steering group and we were away.
We decided we wanted to hold the exhibition ‘up north’ as everything happens ‘down south’, doesn’t it? We found an exhibition space in Lancaster and ‘In Ruskin’s Footsteps’ (the name of the UK exhibition) started to develop. An RHS Dawn Jolliffe bursary was applied for and granted, so now we had something with which to pay for some of the things we had to pay for!
In November submissions of botanical art pictures arrived from all over the country and our amazing judges took care of that- initially digitally (with signatures removed) and the last phase ready framed at Kew in January. 40 beautiful pictures were chosen for the exhibition to be held 18th May to 9th June.
Several other institutions in London decided they wanted to work with us for the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art 2018, which was on 18 May. Therefore, together there was a lot going on behind the scenes on these events too.
After some wobbles and lots of hard work, the time to set up the exhibition arrived, now to be held at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University. It is a fantastic exhibition space and people working there plus the previous curator at the Ruskin Library, were very helpful and supportive.
We had the pre-view on the evening of the 17th May, with speeches by the curator Richard Smith, myself and the opening of the exhibition by Professor Stephen Wildman. That in itself was a lovely event (I think!) and many of the exhibiting artists came along.
For more information about the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition; In Ruskin’s Footsteps, go to
www.britishbotanicalartists.com.The exhibition is on until 9th June 2018. Generally botanical artists are there demonstrating and on the last day there will be a tour of the pictures and a talk.
In between all of this I have managed to squeeze in the Chichester Open Studios weekends and I had quite a few interested visitors. Each evening though it was back to working until the early hours of the morning, on ‘In Ruskin’s Footsteps’.
To show you a little of my own demos whilst in Lancaster I am including the unfinished picture I worked on in coloured pencil. I chose a Lily of Valley as so many people worry about white flowers. I wanted to show how best to do it. I used a lamp to highlight from the left and some of the leaves became backlit creating a beautiful architectural plant. The picture will remain unfinished as the flowers are now long gone, but it will be useful to demo on.
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I hope you now have an idea as to why I have been focusing on native plants recently?
For those who are still not aware, we have formed a new organisation for all UK botanical artists whether they belong to an organisation or not. It is called ABBA, the Association of British Botanical Artists, although slightly a misnomer as this also includes Norther Ireland.
Why was this started? Well, the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) initiated a worldwide botanical art day for May 2018, inviting all nations to to join them in organising a botanical art exhibition in each country. Some of us felt it particularly important that the UK was represented because we have some brilliant botanical artists here. Some of them remain independent and have no allegiance to any organisation. Therefore having an association inviting everyone, was the answer.
For more information about the exhibition, please look on the ABBA website:
But, today during my latest workshop, I was looking through my sketchbook and found the following drawing. I know that I did it through a microscope at an Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators (IAPI) meeting, about mosses and liverworts. The problem is I was stupid enough not to write what it was. Can anyone help me, and is it native to the UK?
I have a strong suspicion that this is a Bryophyte capsule, but of course it doesn’t tell me which one and therefore I don’t know if it native.
My next sketch is native and is Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna). I think this is a really beautiful plant, although, if walking past it the colours of the flowers are rather dull. But of course the plant is often seen with flowers and large, shiny black berries at the same time. One day I hope to paint it, but I will have to be careful with it.
Next week, 24 and 25 February, ABBA will have a table at the RHS botanical art exhibition in the Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, London. We are there to tell you about the exhibition in May 2018 and how you can take part. Additionally, over the two days, Sarah Morrish will be demonstrating on Vellum, Lucy Smith in pen and ink, and I will be doing a graphite and watercolour worksheet.
Thank you to all the lovely people who have visited us over the weekend during the Open Studio event. It was good to meet new faces, put faces to names and of course see those who come regularly. It was a lovely weekend and the weather also put on a smiling face.
We still have a lot to put away, but this is Robin hard at it!
I have continued to work on the Liriope muscari picture. But continuing on from the last photos, these are days 5 and 6.
What a busy life, but who would have it any other way! This is both a progress report on the Liriope picture. Two days worth again, although I didn’t get anything done yesterday as we were preparing to welcome all those wise people who have decided to come and visit our home this weekend.
We are now ready and waiting for your visit during the Open Studio event – or at any time. Welcome!
But what you are really wanting to see is the Liriope muscari. Come and see me working on it this weekend.
There are a number of artists in Bosham and each year we get together just before Christmas to create an art trail. As I am the only fine artist, and all the others are makers, we have decided to call it the “Bosham Christmas Craft Trail”.
For those who have visited Bosham at this time in years gone by, you will know this is a trail worth doing.
Robin and I will welcome you in our home whether you are just looking at my work or want to buy. There is plenty to choose from for that special present; a single card, a print, an original, or even a voucher for a workshop or the workshop holiday at Le Manoir next September.
Browse or buy with a warm mince pie and mulled wine or a nice cup of tea. Donations go to St Wilfrid’s Hospice. At the same time I will be continuing this picture from these sketches. See how far I’ve got by the time you arrive.
I hope to post the painting of the Liriope muscari picture as it develops. It is in watercolour on paper and includes an enlargement of the flower spike as it is so small, but with the growth habit in natural size.
Which artists to visit on the trail, and where you can find them. I look forward to seeing you:
Please excuse some of the limitations with this blog as I am trying to write it with a very slow wifi connection. Added to which I am so tired that I am falling asleep.
Suffice it to say that I personally was extremely honoured by having my work accepted for the prestigious ASBA exhibition and being at the opening today was an experience I wouldn’t have missed.
Dr Shirley Sherwood opened the exhibition and all of the artists at the opening spoke for a few minutes about their work. It was interesting hearing about how their artwork came to fruition.
Although there was work from five British artists out of the 48 pictures selected for the exhibition, Dianne Sutherland and I were the only British artists present. However, three of the awards went to British artists including one to Dianne. Congratulations!
Unfortunately the last photo showing Lizzie Sanders picture did not turn out. I hope she will excuse the exclusion.
Over the next two weekends I am taking part in the Chichester Open studios event.
Our conservatory will be ably manned by Robin and he is looking forward to see people arriving to look at my botanical art which is hung there for the occasion. Whether or not the weather remains cold, you will be welcome to have a cup of tea – or coffee with us.
However, I will be down in the shed painting. Some people have watched the development of the Indian corn picture, which has only been done at open studio events or exhibitions. One of these days I will have to find a subject that is equally long lasting. But I know that several people have been coming on a regular basis to see the development of this picture. This is what it looked like following a demonstration in November last year.
Additionally I am also painting a Fritillary for a commission, so you might very well see me doing some of that. These are some of the sketches in my sketchbook .
The commission is in watercolour.
I am looking forward to seeing you here. Don’t forget to tell me who you are and where you come from. Here is the link on my website giving you the address to head for: https://gaynorsflora.com/exhibitions/
Thank you all those who visited our home this weekend during the Bosham Christmas Craft Trail.
In May, Chichester Open Studios art trail involves artists who live in or around our lovely city. But in recent years it seems that there are more and more serious artists living in Bosham, a village just outside the city, who are taking part. Over the years, one of the artists has opened her house each November and invited some of the Bosham artists to exhibit with her. But as there are so many of us, she can no longer accommodate all of us, so last year we decided to have a craft trail in our own homes – it was successful.
Most of the artists who have taken part the last two years are makers (except for me), thus the title ‘craft’. The other artists taking part work with glass, ceramic, driftwood, jewellery, fabrics and also artwork for the garden. When thinking of your Christmas presents for next year, think of taking a relaxing weekend break in Bosham. We have yet to decide on the date, but although a lot of people visited us this year, Black Friday seems to have taken a stranglehold in the UK now, so our craft trail is very likely to be the week before!
During the craft trail, I moved my easel to the house, as it has now become rather a muddy experience walking down to the shed. Robin also said it was nice to have my company for a change (oops)! As usual I had some work hanging in the conservatory – I’m afraid we forgot to take any photos as it was quite busy. But I was also demonstrating what I do. The original intention had been to work on my Indian Corn picture in coloured pencil, and I did do a little more on that; but getting questions about watercolour too, I needed that available as well.
My daughter’s cat was recently very ill and the vet’s surgery put themselves out to help. As a thank you she wanted me to do a ‘quick’ sketch of the cat for her to give them. The word ‘quick’ doesn’t rhyme too well with what I do – although I did and do try!
‘Tigger” is a Russian Blue. Tigger is a very descriptive name, although he does have a very beautiful face. Someone pointed out to me today, that she wished photos were taken that hid her neck! In this picture, he isn’t too blue yet, but the green eyes are there as well as the start of the extremely upright ears. The sheepskin he is lying on hides one of the reasons for his name! He is a lovely and very affectionate cat – particularly around meal times.