Florilegium – a gathering of flowers at Cranleigh Arts Centre

Today we had the last day of the Chichester Open Studios art trail. Boy, what a warm day, particularly when we haven’t been used to it. But it meant that lots of people came out to visit us in Bosham. Generally people seemed to find their way down to the shed for a natter with me, before going up to the house to see the botanical art. It was a busy and interesting two weekends.

But so we have to clear up!

However, in the process I am getting ready the work that is going to the Cranleigh Arts Centre, 1 High Street, Cranleigh. This is an exhibition in partnership with RHS Wisley who want to show some of their herbarium specimens. In addition, they wished to combine this with showing some botanical art and I was honoured to be asked to do this. The third person showing work in the exhibition is Celia Henderson a photographer. I have seen her work of flora and it is particularly beautiful.

The exhibition opens on May 10th to June 11th. I do hope that you will be able to come and see what is on display.

A6 PV invite v2 copy

At last the Fuchsia microphylla picture

Yesterday we spent a super day in London, visiting Kew gardens. We had a lovely time and lunch with a good friend (also a botanical artist) at Kew, before going to have a look at the latest exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood gallery. The pieces that struck me most, were a series of Poppies by Denise Ramsay. If you get the chance to go and see them, please do.

We had been invited to an exhibition at the Herbarium in the early evening. The artist was Gustavo Marigo from Brazil, who had been on the Margaret Mee Fellowship programme. Watch this space, the last piece he worked on right up to the exhibition had so much depth and was quite beautiful.

The weather yesterday was so miserable and wet; we never thought, when we got up that the day would be so interesting.

Today I have been in the shed finishing off the Fuchsia microphylla. I mentioned last time that I had one or two problems because of the intense colours. Like anything else, when one sees a plant up close the colours become very clear and stronger than they might seem from a distance.

I had intended to draw a snippet of the plant actual size, in graphite. However the graphite appeared so subdued against the strong colours.

Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with graphite section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with graphite section actual size.

Robin suggested that i change the graphite section to ink to balance the picture. I was very dubious, but traced the section in ink on a sheet of acetate.



Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with trial ink section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with trial ink section actual size.




Doesn’t look too bad does it? So I took the plunge.

Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with ink section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with ink section actual size.

Here is the final painting. Try and imagine it without the watermark as it unbalances the actual composition:

Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.
Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.

Summer Open Studio – Botanical art

Its that time of year again. Children are on holiday and the waterways (as well as motorways) are bustling. The sun is shining and the bees are buzzing, making sure we get the produce from our kitchen gardens and seeds for next year.

From my shed (studio), I can hear happy sailors in the creek, as well as curlews as they land. There seem also to be a lot of children and teenagers learning the ropes out on the water. But I am happy painting away with the sun pouring in through the open door and the cats curled up asleep as company; oblivious to anything.

Do come and experience my little haven during the next couple of weekends. You will be most welcome.

2015 Summer Open Studios flyer

One of the pieces I will be working on is my latest challenge. Fuchsia microphylla. Microphylla means small leaves. Everyone knows more or less what a Fuchsia looks like as for some it seems to be a challenge to find as many different sorts as possibly – whether hardy in the UK climate, or not. This plant is hardy but intriguing. The flowers are tiny, as are the leaves, but the fruit is also quite small although seeming to get somewhat larger than the flower.

Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla flowers
Fuchsia microphylla flowers

I have started to paint a picture in watercolour. The composition is the real challenge and how I am going to express this on paper, with dissections. Come and see how I intend to try and solve the problems. Comments and suggestions will be most welcome.

Fuchsia microphylla painting started
Fuchsia microphylla painting started

My husband commented today that he didn’t realise that the colours in the plant were so vibrant. I had done a tad more on the painting by the time he made this comment. But it is like all things botanical, once you get down to the detail – even in grasses – the colours are amazing.


Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.
Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.

Robin will be ably manning the gallery and I look forward to you joining me down in the shed.

Stunning Irises workshop in Bosham

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with my blogging as there has been so much going on this month. We came back from our weekend away, back into the thick of things and preparation for the three-day workshop that has just happened.

A few weeks ago I held a workshop for Fieldbreaks at Goodnestone Park in Kent. That was a great success (according to the students) and it was time to do the same thing here in Bosham. Irises is really the thing at the moment. Unfortunately they are so short lived. Stately and elegant in their glorious drapery; some with beards, some without; some very slim and sylph-like, others plump and very ‘Reuben-ish’. If you remember, he liked to paint women with something to them – buxom and a bit more.

We had something of everything here. The simplest in appearance were the ones you get in the supermarkets – we had a lot of them! Others brought beautiful bearded Irises and some, very beautiful slim yellow irises or blue irises with highly patterned falls (the name of one of the petals). Common for all was the way God has assembled them for us.

So that we would have a better idea of how an Iris really looks and how it is assembled, we actually took a few of them to pieces and there was a queue for the three microscopes. Initially, no-one on the workshop was interested in botanical illustration. After they had looked through the microscopes I actually saw some of them drawing what they had seen! It is exciting.

We were a little late in starting to paint the irises as a fair amount of time went into examining them and drawing them ready to paint. In fact unusually, no-one started painting until the next day. But it seems that the knowledge of what they were doing (i.e. careful observation of the plant), actually seemed to help them both in the drawing of their subjects and painting them.

The sun actually shone on the second day – but it did cast some strong shadows for some of these photos.

IMG_0916 IMG_0915


Work in Watercolour and Coloured pencil on the second day.

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And the paintings at the end of the three days. All took Irises home with them to complete their work.

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So what now? Tomorrow, all day,  I will be demonstrating Coloured pencil in botanical art at the Society of Floral Painters Exhibition at the Oxmarket in Chichester.  The exhibition is open until Sunday midday, when it will be taken down. Do try and take the opportunity to go there to have a look.

I will be having my penultimate botanical weekly art class for this school year, on Wednesday, and Thursday we will be setting up for the Stansted Garden Show due to happen from Friday until Sunday. There will be a lot to see there and I will be continuing my demonstration in coloured pencil. I understand that the weather is to improve for the occasion. I hope to see you.

In the midst of Chichester Open Studios 2015

Thursday and Friday last week was spent with tidying, clearing, cleaning and picture preparation. I even cleaned out the shed! But at least it now looks fairly respectable.

This weekend including tomorrow and next weekend is the Chichester Open Studio event. My shed is open to the public – thus the cleaning, and the conservatory hung as an exhibition.

I won’t say more except that it has been very good for us so far, with loads of interested visitors. Apparently the ones that came had highlighted our venue and made a beeline, or had been here before and wanted to see more of my work. For whatever reason I am very happy so far. The interest has been really good and people who have been to the house have been generous in their comments.

If you are in a reasonable distance of our home, do come and see us, tomorrow Monday, or next Saturday and Sunday. Our address is elsewhere in this blog.

Periwinkle flower
Periwinkle flower
Periwinkle line drawing.
Periwinkle line drawing.








Now a few pictures from our back garden today with a lot of early blooming plants, the shed and a couple of pictures from inside the ‘exhibition ‘space.


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Painting a Pineapple – a labour of love!

I love painting, be it with watercolour, coloured pencil ink or just graphite. Many consider using some of these materials is ‘mark making’, rather than painting, but…….

Today I haven’t been painting at all. I have been getting things ready to take some work up to London tomorrow; hand-in for the annual SBA botanical art exhibition at Westminster central hall in April. I hate this aspect of painting, getting work ready for exhibitions! But tomorrow I get to meet old friends and other members of the SBA when they also hand in their work.

Then back to painting. But before I show a couple more pictures of the pineapple, a touch of Spring!




Some more pictures of the pineapple progression. I don’t know whether you notice this or not, but once I have had the first wash on an area, I use a lot of fairly dry brush work to do the detail for each segment. As I mentioned above, starting to paint a pineapple is a labour of love. But every single segment is so different and of course each one faces in a different direction.





Bosham Christmas Craft Trail starts today!

I don’t think that I have ever been so late at putting together everything when participating in an art trail – or in this case a craft trail!

I have hardly had time to think these last few months because of the SBA exhibition at PalmengArten. I thought I would get a bit of a break whilst the exhibition is on, but I forgot that I need to use that time preparing for the next stage – return of unsold paintings. Having said that, Sue Henon has worked solidly the last month for us.

Anyway, all of the above meant that I was not as well prepared as I should have been. But, it looks as though the ‘gallery’ is ready for a few visitors when it opens in the morning. We just need to bring my easel up to the house and the picture I started months ago; Acanthus – Bears Britches. It is much too wet and muddy for people to traipse down to the shed, so it will be lovely and cosy and everything in the house.

Just imagine; a nice warm, light area to view the paintings and the smell of Mulled wine and Mince pies. Do come and join us. Your invitation and instructions to find me are attached. I am number 6.


Palmengarten botanical art exhibition – Wednesday last week

A good class this morning and progression with the brochure for the Norwegian botanical art holiday.

I have heard from Sue Henon that we have two further red dots on pictures. I am so glad that botanical art is being so warmly appreciated in Frankfurt. It would be lovely if we could awaken a similar interest in Norway.

Some more pictures. This time they are three pictures by Norma Gregory. I first met Norma when I first exhibited with the RHS. She won another Gold Medal with her fantastic paintings of roots. Amongst others was a Rhubarb plant which I will never forget. The RHS added that picture to their Lindley collection.

Solanum tuberosum 'Potato'. Watercolour by © Norma Gregory
Solanum tuberosum ‘Potato’. Watercolour by © Norma Gregory
Cynara scolymus 'Globe artichoke'. watercolour by © Norma Gregory
Cynara scolymus ‘Globe artichoke’. watercolour by © Norma Gregory
Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' Rosa Mundi. Watercolour by © Norma Gregory
Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’ Rosa Mundi. Watercolour by © Norma Gregory

But now you are possibly ready for a couple of pictures in a different style coloured pencil than those shown yesterday. These two pictures are by Sue Henon and are on coloured paper.

Hyacinthus orientalis , 'Hyacinth I'. Coloured pencil by © Sue Henon
Hyacinthus orientalis , ‘Hyacinth I’. Coloured pencil by © Sue Henon
Hyacinthus orientalis , 'Hyacinth II'. Coloured pencil by © Sue Henon
Hyacinthus orientalis , ‘Hyacinth II’. Coloured pencil by © Sue Henon


Palmengarten exhibition – Last Tuesday

In trying to catch up my own paperwork today (not that I have succeeded), I have at least put in the forms for the Chichester Open Studio event starting the weekend of the May Bank holiday in 2015. One box ticked off.

Since then I have been putting together my brochure for the Botanical Art Holiday in Norway 28th June to 5th July at Åsgårdstrand, near Tønsberg in south eastern Norway. A beautiful area, with lovely light and very peaceful. The brochure still isn’t finished.

People who might have their pictures returned from Palmengarten after the exhibition are arranging dates with me for collection. That is good as I will want to put my family up for Christmas!

I have my weekday class tomorrow morning and then its back to the grindstone in the shed.

Many of the artworks at Palmengarten have made quite an impression on me and some the artists have helped me considerably on my journey. The pictures that I will show for the rest of the week are a mix of these.

I love working with coloured pencil and although all of these pictures are not CP, the ones I am showing you today are by the artist who first taught me to use this medium – Susan Christopher Coulson.

The fourth picture by Maggie Fitzpatrick is just a picture that stood out for me. It isn’t big and flamboyant, but beautifully delicate. Please enjoy them as much as I have. Sorry they are wonky!


The Dose Makes the Poison - Coloured pencil. Susan Christopher Coulson
The Dose Makes the Poison – Coloured pencil. Susan Christopher Coulson
Medieval Medicinals from an Apothecary’s Garden. Coloured Pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson
Medieval Medicinals from an Apothecary’s Garden. Coloured Pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson
Cures from the Potager Garden. Coloured pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson
Cures from the Potager Garden. Coloured pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson
 Ivy &White Bryony on Horse Chestnut branch. Watercolour by Maggie Fitzpatrick
Ivy &White Bryony on Horse Chestnut branch. Watercolour by Maggie Fitzpatrick