A Gaynor’s Flora Update!

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.

The RHS Launch February 2017

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.

Our esteemed judges: Martyn Rix, Christabel King, Helen Allen, Ann Swan & Brent Elliott

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!

Packing after the judging: Christabel King, Deborah Lambkin, Sarah Morrish, me, Lucy Smith.

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.

Martin Allen, Sarah Morrish & me just before the preview 17th May 2018
Worldwide Botanical Art Day in the Peter Scott Gallery at Lancaster University.

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.

Starting a Colour pencil demonstration of Lily of the Valley. Worldwide Day of Botanical Art 18 May 2018
A little further along with the demo on Monday 21 May

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’.

At Chichester Open Studios art trail, starting off the final work for a commission. A Bramley Apple in watercolour.

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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Does anyone know what this is and is it native?

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:

abba2018.wordpress.com

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?

? Bryophyte capsule
? Bryophyte capsule

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.

Atropa Belladonna - Deadly Nightshade.
Atropa Belladonna – Deadly Nightshade.

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.

Please make yourself known when you visit us.

Thank you and the Liriope mascara

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!

Robin doing the heavy work after Open Studio
Robin doing the heavy work after Open Studio

I have continued to work on the Liriope muscari picture. But continuing on from the last photos, these are days 5 and 6.

Day 5
Day 5
Day 6
Day 6

Liriope & Open Studio

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!

Robin and I welcome you!
Robin and I welcome you!

But what you are really wanting to see is the Liriope muscari. Come and see me working on it this weekend.

Day 3
Day 3
Day 4
Day 4

Open studio in Bosham this weekend: Friday to Sunday

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.

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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:
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The opening of the Hort exhibition

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!

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Unfortunately the last photo showing Lizzie Sanders picture did not turn out. I hope she will excuse the exclusion.

Visit me during the Chichester Art Trail

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.

Indian Corn in coloured pencil
Indian Corn in coloured pencil

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 .

Fritillaria meleagris in coloured pencil.
Fritillaria meleagris in coloured pencil.

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/

Demonstrating botanical art in Coloured pencil!

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.

Indian corn in coloured pencil, or Tigger in watercolour?
Indian corn in coloured pencil, or Tigger in watercolour?
'Tigger', a Russian Blue in Pink, with green eyes! Watercolour.
‘Tigger’, a Russian Blue in Pink, with green eyes! Watercolour.
A long - haul 'Indian corn' in coloured pencil.
A long – haul ‘Indian corn’ in coloured pencil.

Bosham Christmas Craft Trail 2015

When we got together last year to arrange this for the first time, we had a huge discussion about what we should call this trail.

In Bosham there is quite a community of artists and all of us are serious about what we do. We agreed that the common denominator was Art, but what would that signify? Several of those wanting to take part didn’t want to classify themselves as fine artists (paints and brushes) as they were makers -although definitely artists. Additionally we didn’t want some long title to classify the scope of the trail, but neither did we want people to think that this was an ‘arts and crafts’ event. We therefore agreed on Bosham Christmas Craft Trail.

Next weekend – Friday 27 – Sunday 29 November, we are opening our homes to help you choose your special Christmas gift for your special person – or yourself of course. You will find small gifts, to large ones and all of them are crafted by well known artists.

Of course my special area is Botanical art and some of my original work will be hanging for you to see, or as limited edition prints ready for you to give away; plus of course some cards.

This is a very special time of year where we meet a lot of old friends in the comfort of our homes. I hope to see you at some time during the weekend and of course at Saltings, we will be serving a little mulled wine and mince pie.

But prior to that I am starting my final workshop of 2015 tomorrow. Please don’t laugh at the title: All those Autumn Colours; stunning leaves and things. In previous years the workshop has been popular and I worked out the date according to the best time for such colours in recent years.

For people who live in the UK, they will know that the leaves died a death weeks ago. Here in the south coast, they usually last a little longer. Unfortunately at the end of September, beginning of October, there was a long cold snap and the leaves started turning then. The colours were amazing and my Acer was spectacular – but that lasted but a few days and the leaves fell off the tree forming a golden carpet. I didn’t take a picture as I was so upset!

However, where I live there are some lovely neighbours! They called me yesterday and said that the wind was beginning to take its toll on their Maple – did I want some of the leaves. Did I?! I now have some really beautiful leaves for people to paint, if they haven’t already found subjects themselves.

Watch this space for some of the results in the next few days.

Your invite to the Bosham Christmas Craft trail. Our open home address is; Saltings, Windmill Field, Bosham, PO18 8LH. Welcome!

Bos-A5-Flyer-2015