ABBA and busy bees!

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You might very well wonder what the connection is particularly if you didn’t read my last blog a month ago! ABBA stands for Association of British Botanical Artists. For some of us working with ABBA during the last year, at times we have been so busy that we felt as though we could buzzzzzzzzz away to something more relaxing. But we stuck with it and had a lovely exhibition at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University.

That was the start of ABBA, formed to take part in the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition where we were one of 25 countries taking part. For my part, I co-ordinated the UK offering.

But, whilst doing this it became very clear that there was a wish for ABBA to develop into an organisation that catered for everyone interested in botanical art. We are now putting things together to develop ABBA. Do come to the RHS Art & Plant Fair at the RHS Lindley & Lawrence Halls in London 11-12th July where we have a stand. You will be able to talk with me and my colleagues about our plans for ABBA’s future. Hopefully we can encourage you to join.

If I get time, I will be having some work there to demonstrate on, but I haven’t decided in which medium. That can be a surprise!

So what has been going on with me since my last blog?

I had a very interesting workshop at the end of May, where we concentrated on colour mixing. This is the sort of workshop that everyone says they want to do, but when it actually happens, life has taken over. But some people did sign up with an attendee from a loooooooong way away.

Although there was the opportunity to work in watercolour, people chose colour pencil. The results were amazing and there were pencils everywhere! In fact, it became so thoroughly interesting that I continued with my weekly class on one colour found to be a real challenge.

See if you can find a solution. I have to say it was slightly easier in watercolour than colour pencil. But a lot of layers are necessary no matter what medium you choose.

Following on from that was the event at the Stansted Park Garden show. We again had a really super show and met a lot of lovely people and the weather was perfect.

I notice that I am listing up events, which is not what my blog has normally been about. I want to show you work that I have been doing, but everything has been done in small bites as we race around the country setting up, taking down and planning.

But I did work some more on my Indian Corn in colour pencil. Luckily the fruit part of the corn doesn’t change too much over time as long as you look after it and keep it away from the light and gnawing bugs. But it is different with the leaves. I do need fresh supplies of those if the colour is to remain vibrant. 

I hope to see you at the RHS in a couple of weeks time. Do let me know if you have read my blog!

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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/

Botanical art and the Stansted Park Garden Show

It is now the Thursday following the Stansted Park Garden Show. I can’t understand it, but everytime I write Stansted, it auto corrects to ‘stagnated’. That just is not what I want to say and definitely not what the show was like!

There was a lot of preparation for the show, in addition to everything else going on. Soon I am going to start having to say ‘no’. But it is difficult when you get asked; 1) Because others want you to take part and 2), because they like your work or your teaching.

The weather forecast for the weekend was mixed. We expected thunderstorms and rain. In actual fact, it was sunny but windy for most of the time and the rain came at night or early in the morning. Anyway, the car got packed up – thanks to Robin. But he wasn’t happy with all that had to go into it.

© 5.Stansted 15

© 6.Stansted 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily we don’t live too far away from Stansted and a few hours later we made our way home leaving the stand covered in case of storms (but not floods).

© 3.Stansted 15

The rest of the pictures tell a tale of three lovely days spent at the show, meeting lots of new people visiting the show and, of course reuniting with the stand holders who returned from last year.

We got home fairly late in the evening of Sunday having packed everything up again. But, although we unpacked the car, the sorting waited until Monday.

Now I am catching up with London Art College assignments and the next important event on the Calendar – Norway.

 

© 1.Stansted 15 © 2.Stansted 15 © 4.Stansted 15

Notice the reflection in the Umpha - umpha!
Notice the reflection in the Umpha – umpha!

© 8.Stansted 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the work during the Show? I have to be honest, I started the Indian Corn a long time ago and pick it up now and again. The corn doesn’t change you see, although I will need new leaves when I get that far.

The botanical art demonstration - Indian corn in coloured pencil
The botanical art demonstration – Indian corn in coloured pencil

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.

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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.

Spotting the near miss with a Dipladenia leaf

The sun has just come round and is shining in the shed door. It is the only period during the day that I risk the sun coming directly into the shed and shining onto my work. I had just done loads of detail on a leaf and was doing a gentle wash on top. The sun suddenly appeared and I made a mistake. Hopefully it is recoverable.

I therefore took a couple of deep breaths, went out into the vegetable garden directly outside – picked a runner bean and chewed on it to gather my wits. Whilst the work is drying I have decided to do this blog.

Did you see the detail that I showed you yesterday, which was a near miss? In actual fact I did make the mistake and it wasn’t until I was checking over the days work that I saw it.

In the top left hand corner of the second picture I showed you yesterday, there is a leaf going off the page. To the right of it is a tendril of new growth. It was meant to appear from under the leaf. Guess what I did. Without thinking I had painted the petiole of the leaf (rather than curling it round behind and out of sight) and I connected the tendril and the leaf petiole!!!! How stupid can you get? My picture therefore had the a leaf with a petiole and the tendril as a continuation of the petiole! i.e a tendril with the tip completing one end and a leaf completing the other!

I don’t know how many times I say to students, paint what you see and not what you think you see. That also applies if composing a picture from various parts of a plant to make a cohesive whole. The details in the picture have to be completely botanically correct even though taking elements from different parts of the plant.

To correct the whole, I had to lift the edge of the leaf, petiole and end of the tendril – luckily it doesn’t show. I re-painted the tendril to disappear a little lower down the leaf, and then added a stem coming in from above the leaf. That meant I also had to slightly change the direction of the stem coming out from below the leaf. All very complicated and of course that mistake has knock-on effects with the composition in other areas. Hopefully I have managed it reasonably well.

I know that some people will find the above explanation and detail unnecessary in a blog such as this. But I am already being very honest about this picture, so why not go into the detail. It might even help someone else avoid similar stupid mistakes.

Anyway, the first of today’s pictures is the corrected view. The second picture is more leaves that I have done. These include views of the underside of Dipladenia leaves, foreshortened views and a full frontal view(!). The last is not finished yet.

By the way, I have found that for these leaves I have needed to use smaller brushes than I normally use and a dryer mixture.

Finished leaf and tendril.
Finished leaf and tendril.
More leaves
More leaves
Last adult Dipladenia leaf
Last adult Dipladenia leaf

 

The Dipladenia leaf start. Help!

Well, now the start of the leaves. I am on tender-hooks all the way. I am hoping that as I am extra careful at each stage, that I will overcome this fear – whatever the fear or blockage is.

The first whole leaf actually took a whole day and I will let you be the judge as to its success or not. The result is still not as I am wanting it and I can’t even define what it is I want. I am very much a detail person, and it may be that I am concentrating too much on this without thinking enough of the overall result.

This is a picture of the start of the leaf.

A leaf or two in progress.
A leaf or two in progress.

My fingers, toes and everything else are crossed.

The start of a leaf and part of a tendril
The start of a leaf and part of a tendril

Spot the mistake leading to a near miss!

Dipladenia progression

I have to be honest that the photos I am sending out in my blog are ones taken during work done over the last couple of weeks.  I suppose that rather than show you them as I am doing them, I am still hesitant as to where the painting will go and if I will get over my fear of doing it badly yet again!

I am still spending quite a bit of time on the Palmengarten exhibition organisation which means that some days I have virtually no time to paint.  Additionally I mark the assignments for the two botanical art courses at the London Art College. It all takes time off the actual painting. But, I am enjoying seeing the assignments that come in and the development of the students.

Do have a look at the London Art College website if you are interested in doing botanical painting either in watercolour or coloured pencil. Obviously getting hands-on tuition is the best, but sometimes distances preclude this and the distance learning is a good option.

 

Now a couple more photos from the Dipladenia picture.

Dipladenia flower pair with bud and a flower having lots its fused, tubular petals.
Dipladenia flower pair with bud and a flower having lost its fused, tubular petals.
Dipladenia flower shrivelling & two buds.
Dipladenia flower shrivelling & two buds.

Dipladenia – again

I am now on my 6th attempt – I think. I’m losing count.

It is a while since I last wrote a blog and since then I have been trying to get my head around my temporary(!) lack of skills. I had decided to paint a Dipladenia plant for the Botanical art exhibition at Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. The title of the exhibition is Poisonous and Medicinal plants.

Prior to going to Norway I had sketched out and gently started the picture. For those who may not know, the Dipladenia is as poisonous as Poinsettia. But it grows long tendrils and these are a temptation to a playful cat. Unfortunately I didn’t know how poisonous the plant was and I now know that when the cat suddenly became seriously ill before we went away, that in fact he had been poisoned by the plant.The trouble is it also seems to have had a negative affect on my painting skills.

The plant is now in the shed – well away from playful cats, and will be given away once the picture is finished. I will not give up.

This time I have reduced the design and have painted most of the flowers first. I suppose that is asking for trouble as I seem to get a blockage when I get to the leaves. I know what I want to do, but somehow there is a disconnect between my head and the messages sent to my hand and skills with the brush, pigment and water!

I am taking some photos as I go along.

Dipladenia flower 1
Dipladenia flower 1

First layer of the dipladenia flower. Note what looks like a heavy dark tracing. It is in fact not heavy and is traced in the method I have demonstrated in an earlier blog. Because no sharp tool, even a pencil is used to do the tracing, the graphite is easily lifted off completely with a putty rubber, leaving NO indent.

Dipladenia flower 2
Dipladenia flower 2

The layers of watercolour are almost complete.

In between botanical art demonstrations.

Following my botanical art demonstration at Westminster Central Hall during the SBA exhibition, I have hardly done any painting until today.

We had a few days good weather last week, so I did some much needed weeding in the garden. My husband and I also sorted what vegetables were to go into our new raised beds in the kitchen garden (he did the work). And I spent one day colour matching on Photoshop two pictures that I have just had framed. One is of Hellebore heads and the other was the large Hydrangea head in black and white.

I also had to mount some prints in preparation for the Society of Floral Painters (SFP) exhibition in Chichester handing in was on Monday and I was on one of the two assessment teams.

The arrangement of teams was quite impressive. The SFP is Floral and not necessarily botanical. I am strictly botanical, and as a counter balance, one artists paints very loosely and the third member is in between. In this way we got quite a good selection of paintings.

Once all the pictures had gone through the selection process, we were again divided into teams to hang the pictures. My husband had been a runner during the morning session and was also now hanging the pictures. In the end the SFP committee thought they would to adopt him!

Hanging the pictures lasted two days with the opening on Tuesday evening. Do go and visit the Oxmarket Art Centre in Chichester. It is a good exhibition and there is something there to suit all artistic tastes, as long as it is in relation to the kingdom of plants.

I am demonstrating coloured pencil and botanical art this first Sunday between 11:00 and 16:30. Do come and watch and ask questions if there is something you would like to know. I will be demonstrating again the following Sunday 1 June, but this time watercolour. Other artists will be demonstrating other techniques whilst the exhibition is on. Have a look at my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com/page12.htm for the address, dates and times of the exhibition.

On Wednesday my husband and I drove up to London to collect pictures following the SBA exhibition at Westminster and to attend the AGM meeting. One of the topics was the exhibition that the SBA are providing pictures for at Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. We are both heavily involved with collecting the pictures from across the UK and getting them to Frankfurt. But more about that at a later stage. But we managed to start the collection of paintings during the AGM. We are off to a good start.

Today was my usual weekly class and since then I have been painting.

Do you remember the Irises that I did in watercolour and then demonstrated in coloured pencil at Westminster? I have continued with that today and will be using the same to demonstrate on Sunday. I think I have been doing myself a disservice in trying to keep it true to the watercolour as it is quite different to the iris I am now painting from. I’m tying myself up in knots.

This is it so far. The completed watercolour one first followed by the very incomplete coloured pencil one.

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