UK native plants packed for RHS botanical art exhibition

Packed and ready to go.

Tomorrow two of us are travelling up to London to set up the ABBA table in the RHS Lindley Hall, Vincent Square near Victoria Station. It will be the RHS botanical art show with the best of International botanical artists showing their work. Neither of us are exhibiting our own work this time, but we will be demonstrating different techniques.

The main reason for having the table at the exhibition is to talk about the plans for the Worldwide Botanical art day in May 2018 and to encourage British botanical artists to take part. A new Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA) formed to do this has put an initial ‘call for entries’ on it

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On  Friday and Saturday this week, I have chosen to demonstrate a sketch book or study page in graphite and watercolour from  one of the native plants I have packed to take with me. Come along and see how I do this.

Apart from the Primrose, do you know what these plants are called?

The one on the right, with hardly any leaves just yet, is a Bilberry. This is a small wild blue berry. It doesn’ look very interesting at the moment, but if you are going to paint the portrait of a plant, including something from various stages in its life cycle, makes the resulting picture more interesting.

The plant above  the Bilberry with the small oval leaves is Cowberry and has small red berries. You might know it as Lignonberry and has smaller and sharper tasting berries than cranberries. This plant has the beginnings of tiny flower buds.

The one above the Primrose is a Crowberry and will eventually have small, almost black berries. Again the plant doesn’t seem so interesting in this stage of its life, but I think might offer some challenges whilst painting its portrait.

Common for for all three species ( not the Primrose) is that they all produce fruit that is edible.

I am lucky enough to be able to do some sketches now, while the plants are only just coming out of their winter state. This will be particularly useful for me and for future work I have planned.

Do come and see us at the RHS, Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, Friday and Saturday.

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.

Pittsburgh and ASBA 2016

What a wonderful event!

I was in Pittsburgh for the ASBA conference, three years ago when I had a picture included in the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Robin, felt that as the ASBA was again in Pittsburgh for the opening of the new Hunt exhibition (it is every three years), that it was time we came again.

When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was really good to meet up with old friends from the last time we were here, and new friends made on Facebook. It was quite strange meeting up with some of the latter, as they had become ‘friends’ on the net and we never met in person. But now we had the opportunity to get to know these familiar faces.

The Facebook phenomenon is a really interesting as it has opened up connections in the botanical art world allowing us to communicate worldwide across borders. We are now learning from each other without restriction – something we never could have imagined only a few years ago.

What have we done since being in Pittsburgh?

The first morning started off with a Portfolio sharing session. Anyone who wanted to could take part in this and I too had a table. The response for me was brilliant and was quite a surprise.

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There were several workshops and during one of them a cry went up that Barack Obama was leaving the building next door to us. We had been told that he was due to give a talk in the University and we knew that many of the streets had been closed off round our hotel. But we had no idea that he was so close.

I get the impression that in America, Obama is a president much loved and respected.

Obama leaving
Obama leaving

Last night, after the opening of the new Hunt exhibition, we met an ‘old’ friend from my nurses training days in Birmingham, fifty one years ago! It was a treat we thoroughly enjoyed.

Today has been particularly busy for me, starting at 09:00 doing a coloured pencil demonstration. Apparently the ASBA hasn’t done ongoing demonstrations from the tutors before this. As far as I can judge it was received extremely well. A lot of people turned up early to watch the demonstrations and once I had finished I was able to watch John Pastoriza-Pinol from Australia take over from me, followed by another highly regarded American botanical artist Robin Jess.

Interestingly enough, I was able to use a couple of comments I heard during these two demonstrations, in my own workshop also held today. Yes, it has been an extremely busy day.

These are some of the pictures from my own workshop.

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I was amazed at how quickly people started picking up the technique. It was a thorough enjoyable class with a lot of very nice people.

I think I have commented before about how much pleasure I get from working with such lovely people. Botanical artists seem to have a lot of joy in what they do.

 

On the way to Pittsburgh!

We have been welcomed to the USA with open arms – except for the people at border control who were extremely serious about their roles!

Our first few days were with some marvellous friends of ours who live just south of Boston. Apart from being taken to beautiful beaches, the oldest Tavern in the US at Newport, Rhode Island, a children’s party right on the water’s edge at Buzzards Bay, and an end of season evening at a local tennis club, we also went to see Cranberry Harvesting.

Did you know that Ocean Spray, the company whose name we might be aware of if we drink Cranberry juice, harvest their cranberries in at least two different ways.

Mass production of the large cranberries used for their drinks means that they are grown in ‘fields’ of bogs. I have normally seen them grow relatively sparsely in the wild in the mountains of Norway, but here the bogs are just carpets of the plants. They are lovingly tended all year round and at harvest time the bogs are flooded, a machine gently disturbs the growth of submerged plants and the fruit floats to the surface. The fruit is then manually lensed towards a suction pump which draws the fruit up into a washing facility and then transferred to a waiting truck. The trailer was about 60 feet long!

The process certainly made me think and we only saw a minute section of this vast production.

Although we didn’t see it, apparently fruit that is sold as fresh, frozen or dried fruit is picked dry by hand. In this instance the fruit appears riper than that seen in the pictures below.

I was told that there are quite a few varieties used for in their production and the ones in the wet bog are called Early Blacks.

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Today we have had a really long day. We started driving at 10:00 and arrived at our overnight destination of State College, at 19:30. But we had some amazing views of the changing colour of the leaves. We are due to arrive in Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon, but this time it is a very few hours travelling in comparison to today.

Autumn colour
Autumn colour

The last SFP workshop and the next Gaynor’s Flora workshop

This seems a very busy time of year! Two weekends ago I had a pen and ink workshop with IAPI(Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators), and this last Saturday I had my last workshop with SFP (Society of Floral Painters). This coming weekend will be a three-day workshop in Bosham – Colour in the Hedgerows. This will be the last workshop before I travel to Pittsburgh to teach a workshop at the ASBA (American Society of Botanical Artists) annual conference.

All of that was in one paragraph and one breath! As I said it is a busy time of year.

But before I tell you about the next workshop where there are places available, I will tell you about the lovely but sad time spent with members of the SFP in Pitton near Salisbury.

Unfortunately the SFP has had to make the decision to wind up the Society for the time being. In actual fact they were a really good Society, although I’m not too sure how many members there were. They were very good at producing a regular newsletter throughout the year, with a lot of useful information to help and support artists interested in developing their skills in floral painting or drawing. In addition to the newsletter, they offered workshops to members and one day a year was allotted to selection of applicants to full membership. It wasn’t left to a simple yes or no, but good feedback was given about the reasoning behind each decision that was made.

But I wanted to show you a little from the workshop near Salisbury. AS usual it was a lovely group of people who got along well and encouraged each other throughout the day. The rest can be shown in pictures rather than words. Although I will give you information about the next workshop in the UK.

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SFP coloured pencil workshop

After I return from the USA, there will be another three-day workshop in Bosham. The subject this time is Autumn colours. Wow! The date is Friday 28 – Sunday 30 October. For those who book in time, I will give you a recipe on preserving some of those gorgeous leaves so that they stay reasonably still to allow you to paint them. So book now!

Look at some of the work being painted at the SFP workshop.

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To book your place on the next workshop contact me via the form below.

 

 

Workshop last weekend and this weekend

Last weekend started off pretty laid back in comparison to how it developed. I had a botanical art workshop on pen and ink with IAPI (Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators)at Leicester Botanical Gardens. Apart from getting there slightly later than planned, we had a lovely day and again with a lovely group of people. The group is composed of Botanical artists and Botanists. The aim is to work together to document botanical subjects. We learn from each other to produce the documentation needed to identify plants.

IAPI at Leicester Botanical gardens
Well into the subject in pen and ink

After the workshop, we took a plane directly to Amsterdam to watch my son and daughter do the Dam to Dam 16 km run.

It was a great privilege to see them take off. They are the ones with their arms in the air. Believe it or not, Robin and I cycled to meet them at the finish line, but they arrived there 15 minutes before we did! By the time we got there, worn out, they were full of beans and raring to go. It really put us to shame.
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I don’t normally talk about things we do, keeping the blog mostly to botanical art. But I was very proud of them.

The trouble is, after the run, they got transport back to Amsterdam and we had to cycle – getting lost on the way! At 20:00 in the evening, they were about to send out a search party when we eventually got back.

Age is apparently taking its toll.

Now I am in the process of preparing for the last workshop with the SFP (Society of Floral painters). Unfortunately, it is now folding due to lack of offers to take on some of the committee roles. The Society has been spoilt for years with the same people doing the work. But after all this time they too need to take a breather.

I want to use this small opportunity to thank the SFP for all that they have done over the years.

First botanical art picture accepted by Chelsea Physic Garden

I am so excited. I got a letter in the post today to tell me that my first picture has been accepted by the Chelsea Garden Florilegium, without needing to be adjusted in any way. On top of that, the comments from the Kew Botanists who evaluated the work, were pretty good too – that made the acceptance even more special.

I applied to and was accepted as a member of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium in the middle of last year; full membership is limited making membership even more exciting. The intention of membership is to document all the plants that are in the Chelsea Physic Garden. As you can imagine, there are thousands, so it will take a long time.

For the privilege of being a full member, everyone is meant to submit a picture each year, of one of the plants in the garden. Of course, a plant needs to be chosen that is not already in the archives. As I became a member half-way through the year I was in reality excused from painting a picture until 2016, but those who know me know I like a challenge.

I painted the Fuchsia microphylla. As the name suggests the leaves are minuscule, as are the flowers, although I was surprised by the size of the fruit. Except for the pen & ink habit drawing, which is life-size, the rest of the painting is on a larger scale. Once the scale of anything is increased, the colours become much more intense. Anyone who has looked through a microscope to see the detail of grey-looking grass, will know how intense the multitude of colours is in reality. The Fuchsia microphylla was painted enlarged because it was so tiny and I wanted to convey its real beauty.

I have posted the picture before, but here it is again, now as part of the archives of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

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

Fruit & Vegetable workshop + gluttons for botanical art workshop (punishment).

Yes, gluttons for punishment! On Tuesday and Wednesday I was teaching the Gloucestershire society of Botanical illustration. Two from that group took the long trip to Bosham for the Fruit & Veg botanical art workshop, when they had already been on the pen & ink one at the beginning of the week. They assured me that it was really Robin’s cooking they came for. I have to say, his lunches are getting really good.

Anyway, once again I am told that the students who attended the workshop over the last couple of days, had a good time and learnt a lot. The group included a couple who hadn’t done any botanical art before and a couple who wanted to learn to use either coloured pencil or watercolour, when they had used the opposite very successfully for many years. They did well, although I know from experience it can be a struggle converting one to the other. It will be interesting to see if they try the new medium again. I hope so, as it is useful to be able to ‘master’ more than just the one medium. Although, I don’t think anyone can claim to ‘master’ any of them. It would be useful to hear if anyone thinks this possible?

We had incredible weather over the two days, so there were some frequent trips to the kitchen garden.

The first picture only includes a few of the students. I’m afraid I forgot to take these until the other tables had already packed up.
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Now the gallery of pictures. Make sure that you have a reasonably good Internet connection. Unfortunately, it seems that when out and about, some of the connections limit what you can pick up and sometimes one is unable to see the pictures until you have a full broadband.

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Gloucestershire Society of Botanical Illustration workshops -2nd day

Whilst in Gloucester I had been asked to do a second one-day workshop with different members. I felt it was as successful as the first day and here are the results for you to see. You will notice that in fact two of the students came for a second day and continued with their pictures.

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Watch this space for the results of the ‘Fruit & Veg; strawberries & cream’ workshop happening this Friday and Saturday in Bosham.